I am cleaning up my basement and came across an open junction in a closet between 2 adjacent rooms; I will call them "paint room" and "radio room". I know open junctions are not good so after turning off the power, I was going to disconnect it all and put in a junction box mounted on a stud and hook everything back up. But after taking what must have been half a roll of electrical tape off I am not sure about the entire thing.

There is one 14/2 wire that runs between the light fixture in the radio room and the light fixture in the paint room. The covering is stripped off this wire at the open junction. There is a 2nd wire - 12/3 coming in from direction of the main panel. The 3rd wire (red color, not ground) in this 12/3 is snipped off. The black wire from the 12/3 goes to the 14/2 black wire in the radio room. The white wire from the 12/3 goes to the 14/2 black wire in the paint room. The white wire between the radio and paint rooms (remember it is 1 14/2 wire between the 2 rooms), is not broken, nor is the ground wire, though the ground wire from the 12/3 goes to nowhere. I thought the white "neutral" wire in the 12/3 had no power?? There are separate wall mounted switches that are wired directly to the light, and not from the panel. Still don't understand it.

Picture of open junction

I probably should have left well enough alone..but my question is, is it safe? Should I even mess with it any further??? Picture attached.



It looks like they spliced in a switch loop in the middle of the run. The bottom bunble will end up in a switch that controls the light in one of the rooms.

However the colors are not correctly matched. and the ground to the switch is missing.

The proper way to wire it is first of all in a junction box.

Then the whites (neutrals) should be pigtailed together. So should the grounds.

Then the black should be connected to the power source and red to the light being switched.

At the switch itself you cap of the white, connect the ground to the ground screw and connect the black and red to be switched.

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I think your assumptions about where the wiring goes from and to are wrong. That wiring makes sense if the 12/3 is actually the switch for one of the two rooms; that 12/3 is not coming from the main panel.

To really fix this, you're going to have to figure out for certain where those wires are going. At a minimum, that junction will have to go in a junction box. The gauge of the wire could be fine, although not quite kosher.

You owe it to yourself and the continued safety of your house and family to inspect as much electrical wiring as possible. If this particular junction is representative of the quality of the rest of your house, then you've got an accident just waiting to happen.

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  • 1
    I did a little more investigation. You are correct; the 12/3 comes from the switch in the paint room. I took a photo of the area between the joists where the leg going to right (to the radio room) is. Looks like the power comes in there to a junction box from the left. I say that because there is a receptacle on that side of the room with 2 blacks and 2 whites (& grounds tied together). s28.postimg.org/4c233rf31/photo.jpg – Roberto Jan 31 '15 at 23:10

That's not electrician work, that's bozo work right there -- a clear and present violation of 300.15 in the NEC (2014 edition linked):

Boxes, Conduit Bodies, or Fittings - Where Required. A box shall be installed at each outlet and switch point for concealed knob-and-tube wiring.

Fittings and connectors shall be used only with the specific wiring methods for which they are designed and listed.

Where the wiring method is conduit, tubing, Type AC cable, Type MC cable, Type MI cable, nonmetallic-sheathed cable, or other cables, a box or conduit body shall be installed at each conductor splice point, outlet point, switch point, junction point, termination point, or pull point, unless otherwise permitted in 300. 15(A) through (L).

Turn the power off, take it apart (tag or otherwise note which wires are hooked together!), put a screw-in box in (you should be able to screw it to the joist), feed the cables into the box (make sure they are clamped or otherwise fastened securely both as they enter the box and within 12" of the box), reassemble the junction inside said box, bond the box to the EGCs with a bare or green pigtail, and put a cover plate on the box. Then, go on a Code violation Easter-egg hunt; if you happen to have friends who are in the electrical trade, feel free to invite them along as well ;)

(BTW: the box I linked is simply an example -- if any of the electricians roaming around here want to suggest a better box for this job, just leave it in the comments and I'll update the link :)

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