I'm evaluating a situation in a home I recently moved into.

A previous owner did some DIY and installed a switch in the wall of our kitchen pantry. The pantry is made of wood and the switch is housed in a plastic j-box that was stapled (many staples) from the inside of the box into the pantry cabinet. The switch is a dimmer that is wired correctly per the instructions I found online - it's fed by a hot (black) wire and another load (black) wire continues from the switch to the light. The neutral bypasses the switch and goes directly to the light. The switch is grounded.

The NM cable both running into the jbox and out of the jbox run along the interior walls of the pantry with intermittent stapling. (Nothing in conduits).

When the switch is on... With my non contact voltage sensor I pick up 70-1000V AC when I touch shelves in the pantry cabinet that are up to 1 foot away from the switch or nearest NM cable.

I have never observed a reading like this so far from a known voltage source, so it had me concerned.

Any thoughts? How is this possible? Nobody has ever been shocked by the switch or the cabinet and we've been in the home a couple of years...

  • 1
    Not particularly (er) shocking. Not-contact meters rely on electric fields similar to radio waves, and they will often sense a nearby set of wiring when there is no actual contact. You need an old-fashioned contact-style voltmeter to sort out a situation like this.
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 8 at 22:24
  • 2
    What are the shelves made of? Metal ones could act as an antenna for this purpose.
    – Ecnerwal
    Aug 8 at 23:25
  • You should check the neutral in the lighting fixture. May it comes from another place and neutral wire I the switch box does not carry return current.
    – user263983
    Aug 9 at 0:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.