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Sam I
Sam I, Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 339
Experience:  Maintenance Electrician, Electrical Contractor, Locomotive Electrician
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In an old house, with just 2 poles wired on my old switch,

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In an old house, with just 2 poles wired on my old switch, how is supposed to be wired?
JA: I'll do all I can to help. How long have you been dealing with this?
Customer: 5minutes. trying to install a new timer for an outside light
JA: Do you plan on doing the work yourself?
Customer: yes
JA: Anything else we should know to help you best?
Customer: Woods 59108 7 day digital timer o replace standard switch

Hello, are there any other wires in the back of the box other than what is connected to the old switch?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
This is both a junction box and switch box. 4 wires in from the bottom. 2 out the top. Of the 4 from the bottom, 2 are tied together on one side of the standard switch. one passes (white) through to the light. one is capped. all are black except for the one white
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
is it possible that this could work without a neutral?

No, you will need to make a pigtail from the white bundle to the new timer. You will want to connect the black going up to the light to the red of the new timer switch. Power black from the old switch to black on the timer. White from timer to whites in box that pass through in the back. Grounds (green and bare copper) together.

if you don't know what a pigtail is see the picture I've uploaded

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
yeah, white doesn't stop here. I'd have to splice into it to make a pigtail to connect to the switch

You mean a white wire goes all the way through your box without a wire nut splice? Do you have conduit and wire or romex cables?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
conduit and wire

ah ok, is there a loop in the white or enough slack to cut it in the middle? You will definitely need a neutral connection to make this timer work.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
thanks. i came to that conclusion. not much slack. i need a "t" device that can cut through the insulation. not much slack. ya think wiring to the box is sufficient?

what do you mean wiring to the box?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
run wire straight to box. see if there is enough of a path to ground through the conduit

No, that's a code violation for neutral current to be run through the equipment grounding path. My recommendation is to get the T-tap, or see if you can pull some slack from the light fixture so you can splice at the box. Also, you could buy a length of white wire and pull a new section from the fixture to the switch box using the old section as a pull wire. You should be able to buy it by the foot or in short rolls at a hardware store.

*short rolls

Sam I and other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thanks.