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Having trouble understanding this light switch wiring. Bottom black is hot.

  1. why is the neutral wire (bottom left) grounded?
  2. switch appears to switch on two wires (top black and bottom white wired directly into the back) up to the ceiling.

Both 1) and 2) seem atypical to me? Why is neutral connected to ground? Why do both the white and black wires receive power from the switch?

For more context on 2), this light switch powers a ceiling fan ( both the light / fan are on or both are off when the switch is toggled). Confused as to what the other white wire is powering? I can control either the light or fan through a remote but i think that's through a separate remote device installed in the fan. enter image description here

  • 3
    Switches usually do not use neutral, but often they use the white wire as hot and black as switched hot(known as a switch loop). Can you add a picture of the white being grounded. Switches usually have a green screw for connect ground wire.
    – crip659
    Dec 30, 2022 at 1:40
  • @crip659 see above. If this was a switch loop shouldn't there only be one 2 wire cable coming down from the light? Thanks for the help Dec 30, 2022 at 12:28
  • 1
    Usually just one(for one light). That white on the ground is a no-no, probably someone in the pass got lazy and did not bother to look for a broken wire/bad connection(neutral) in the circuit, so using ground as a cheap/fast bypass. Can you post a picture of the connections at the light/fan?
    – crip659
    Dec 30, 2022 at 12:40

1 Answer 1


That's almost certainly not the original wiring (as evidenced by the cut off remnant in the top backstab on the switch).
Someone decided they wanted to pull power from that switch location, and then discovered that there is no Neutral in the box because it's wired as a "switch loop" with only "always hot" and "switched hot". The white wire connected together with the black wire at the bottom of the switch should be marked as hot, usually with some colored tape wrapped around it, and that white wire should be the "always hot" wire which gets supplied from the box in the ceiling, while the black wire alone at the top of the switch is the "switched hot" which returns back up the the box in the ceiling and turns the light/fan combo on & off.

So on discovering that there's no Neutral in the box, this someone didn't make alternative plans, they decided instead to "bootleg" their Neutral off the Ground wire. This is against code, and unsafe. Neutral is not Ground!
You'll also notice that this someone didn't even bother to properly connect the ground wires - the new addition is just loosely wrapped around the old one.

You probably have an outlet nearby which will stop working when you remove this abomination.

  • One thing I'm still confused about is that the bottom white / black wires come from the same cable? While the other pair is the switched top black and white going to ground. Dec 30, 2022 at 18:34
  • If it was a switch loop the bottom white would be paired with top black right? And the bottom black would be pair with neutral going to ground (e.g. for always powering a socket) Dec 30, 2022 at 18:45

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