Electrical

Electrical Questions? Ask an Electrician Online.

Ask an Expert,
Get an Answer ASAP!

I have an old house and have wired a light with a single…

Customer Question
i have an old house...
i have an old house and have wired a light with a single pole switch. when i turn on the switch the breaker flips. i have the switch interrupting the live wire. can i wire it so its interrupting the neutral?
Submitted: 7 months ago.Category: Electrical
Show More
Show Less
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Answered in 3 minutes by:
12/12/2017
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago
Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 4,411
Experience: 31 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License
Verified

Hello and welcome to Just Answer. My name is ***** ***** I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question.

1) It is a code violation to switch a neutral wire. Only hot wires are allowed to be switched.

2) Since the breaker trips, most likely there is a short circuit that is causing the breaker to trip. Double check the wall switch to make sure no bare ground wires are coming into direct contact with the side screws on the switch.

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
i have done that and taped the switch. it works when i switch the neutral and its how it was wired before, is there any other explanation for this?
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) Neutral wires were allowed to be switched back in the 1920's or 1930's, but not anymore. If this was the original configuration, that was common back in the day, but not anymore. If the switch was replaced over the years, the hot wire and the switched loop wire should only be switched.

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
how should i go about fixing this?
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
because when i wire it the way which is up to code it trips the breaker
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) There is a short circuit either on the hot wire or on the switched loop wire that is causing the breaker to trip. The problem needs to be troubleshooted and isolated.

2) Do you have a continuity tester or an Ohm meter?

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
no i do not
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
how would i use one to solve the problem
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) Then you either need to obtain a continuity tester or a multimeter to troubleshoot the problem or you need to hire a licensed electrician to resolve the problem.

2) Remove the hot wire at the breaker and the neutral wire from the neutral bus bar in the panel. Place a continuity tester on the 2 wires looking downstream from the panel. Activate the wall switch back and forth. Most likely, will show a direct short.

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
i have other lights on this circuit that are wired to code on single pole switches and they work correctly. does this give indication of anything?
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) Does the breaker trip on the problem light when the other switches are turned to the ON position?

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
when i install the switch the correct way on the problem light all the other lights work fine including there respective switches . The breaker only trips when i turn the problem light switch on. When the problem switch is off ( power is going to it because my voltage meter tells me) everything is fine. I then turn on the problem switch , i see the problem light go on for a milisecond then the breaker pops.
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) Does the breaker still trip when wiring the problem switch the correct way while the other switches are in the ON position?

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) Temporarily remove the light an turn the switch ON/OFF, does the breaker trip under a "no load" condition?

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
no. it only trips when i turn the problem switch to the on position.
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
ok let me do that
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
i will wire the switch directly to both the neutral and hot?
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

OK, then that suggests the problem switch is upstream from the other switches or lights.

1) No, just remove the light fixture and leave the switch wired to the hot and to the switched loop wire. Flip the switch ON /OFF and confirm if the breaker still trips when the light fixture is disconnected. Leave the switch "as-is".

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
when you say switch looped wire do you mean the neutral?
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) A single pole switch contains 2 wires.....ie... 1 wire is always hot which is the circuit feed. The 2nd wire is called the switched loop wire which leaves the switch and extends out to the light fixture. Most likely a black wire.

2) All you need to do is remove the light fixture and flit the switch ON/OFF to confirm if the breaker still trips without a load.

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) A switched loop wire is a hot wire and is not a neutral wire.

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
there will be no neutral connection, only a hot to the switch?
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
the power source is at the light in the ceiling. it runs down to the switch with a white wire and where will i connect the switch loop Black as it returns to the light? both will be connected the the hot wire?
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) I mentioned that in my original reply.....ie........ "It is a code violation to switch a neutral wire. Only hot wires are allowed to be switched"

2) 2 wires to the switch ........a hot wire and a switched loop wire only. Neutral wires are not switched. See diagram shown below for a simple single pole light switch circuit diagram:

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) If the switch has a white wire terminated to it, that is a hot wire and not a neutral wire. Therefore at the light box, the switch white wire is spliced to a black wire or another group of black wires.

2) You need a meter to troubleshoot the problem, otherwise, we are both wasting our time and just guessing.

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

I will opt out of the question. Perhaps another expert can better assist you. No need to reply back to me. You will be notified once your question is picked up.

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Electrician: Mike G., Master Electrician replied 7 months ago
Mike G.
Mike G., Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 8,313
Experience: Proven Professional 49 years Experience
Verified

Hi, I'm Mike G and I'll be assisting you. Did the problem start after replacing the light fixture?

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Was this answer helpful?

How JustAnswer works

step-image
Describe your issueThe assistant will guide you
step-image
Chat 1:1 with an electricianLicensed Experts are available 24/7
step-image
100% satisfaction guaranteeGet all the answers you need
Ask Mike Your Own Question
Mike
Mike
Mike, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 1,426
1,426 Satisfied Customers
Experience: Licensed Master Electrician - OnQ Certified Data Voice Audio Video Installer

Mike is online now

A new question is answered every 9 seconds

How JustAnswer works:

  • Ask an ExpertExperts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional AnswerVia email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction GuaranteeRate the answer you receive.

JustAnswer in the News:

Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.

What Customers are Saying:

You did one super job of explaining to me everything there is to know about this fridge. I'm looking forward to asking you questions in the future.

JimmyBagley, IA

Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help.

Mary C.Freshfield, Liverpool, UK

This expert is wonderful. They truly know what they are talking about, and they actually care about you. They really helped put my nerves at ease. Thank you so much!!!!

AlexLos Angeles, CA

Thank you for all your help. It is nice to know that this service is here for people like myself, who need answers fast and are not sure who to consult.

GPHesperia, CA

I couldn't be more satisfied! This is the site I will always come to when I need a second opinion.

JustinKernersville, NC

Just let me say that this encounter has been entirely professional and most helpful. I liked that I could ask additional questions and get answered in a very short turn around.

EstherWoodstock, NY

Thank you so much for taking your time and knowledge to support my concerns. Not only did you answer my questions, you even took it a step further with replying with more pertinent information I needed to know.

RobinElkton, Maryland

< Previous | Next >

Meet the Experts:

Mike

Mike

Master Electrician

1,426 satisfied customers

Licensed Master Electrician - OnQ Certified Data Voice Audio Video Installer

Jason

Jason

Service Technician

3,958 satisfied customers

Over 20 years of experience in all types of installations, troubleshooting, and repairs.

Mike G.

Mike G.

Master Electrician

8,313 satisfied customers

Proven Professional 49 years Experience

Kevin

Kevin

Licensed Electrical Contractor

4,411 satisfied customers

31 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License

AssuredElectrical

AssuredElectrical

Master Electrician

3,264 satisfied customers

Contractor-42+ Years in the ElectricalTrade

electrifier

electrifier

Master Electrician

1,458 satisfied customers

Electrical contractor and electrical inspector for over 24 years with phone and networking expertise

Rich

Rich

Master Electrician

1,117 satisfied customers

Over 35 years residential, commercial, industrial wiring, install, troubleshoot, service, maintain

< Previous | Next >

Related Electrical Questions
I am adding center lights to our three bedrooms that are on
I am adding center lights to our three bedrooms that are on the opposite end of the house than the circuit breaker is located. I thought I would tap into the source line. I am using 14/2 plus ground w… read more
Kevin
Kevin
Licensed Electrical Contractor
4,411 satisfied customers
I have hooked up a new outlet using the feed from another
I have hooked up a new outlet using the feed from another electrical outlet. In the existing old outlet a light switch, lights and another outlet are also hooked up to the feed. When I hooked everythi… read more
Mike G.
Mike G.
Master Electrician
8,313 satisfied customers
I am replacing a light switch in our kitchen with a dimmer.
I am replacing a light switch in our kitchen with a dimmer. I thought I had hooked it up correctly, but it sparked when I turned the breaker back on and would not work after that, so I went and got an… read more
Jason
Jason
Service Technician
Associate Degree
3,958 satisfied customers
I am replacing two 60w light sockets in my garage ceiling
I am replacing two 60w light sockets in my garage ceiling which are wired in parallel to one wall switch. I turned off the switch (the lights went off) and began to loosen the neutral connection screw… read more
Kevin
Kevin
Licensed Electrical Contractor
4,411 satisfied customers
I replaced an outdoor, motion detected flood light with a
I replaced an outdoor, motion detected flood light with a LED dusk to dawn light. Prior to switching, a wall mounted light switch by our front door controlled the light. After installing the LED dusk … read more
AssuredElectrical
AssuredElectrical
Master Electrician
High School or GED
3,264 satisfied customers
My house was built in the 1950s and still has unpolarized,
HI. My house was built in the 1950s and still has unpolarized, 2 prong outlets. I started working to replace the first outlet on the circuit in the kitchen with a GFCI outlet when I ran into a strange… read more
Mike G.
Mike G.
Master Electrician
8,313 satisfied customers
I have a single pole switch in a box with 1 14/3 and 1 14/2
I have a single pole switch in a box with 1 14/3 and 1 14/2 line coming in. They are on different circuits. The 2 black were on one pole of the swith and the red was on the other pole. The whites were… read more
AssuredElectrical
AssuredElectrical
Master Electrician
High School or GED
3,264 satisfied customers
I recently installed a timer switch (single pole) to control
I recently installed a timer switch (single pole) to control my outside lights. The switch is Leviton VPT24. The switch has four wires: Green - connected to Ground Black - Connected to Hot/Live White … read more
Mike G.
Mike G.
Master Electrician
8,313 satisfied customers
Im installing single pole 240 knob thermostats. Ive installed
I'm installing single pole 240 knob thermostats. I've installed two so far and no issues, but the third has me stumped. I have three sets of wires coming into the box. One set black and white is hot. … read more
Steve
Steve
Chief Engineer
9 satisfied customers
Trying to get a new Fujitsu Mini-Split heat pump running (Washington,
Trying to get a new Fujitsu Mini-Split heat pump running (Washington, DC, the time is now). It requires a 20 amp circuit breaker, and (looking at manual) a 2 cable + earth (Ground), 208/230 V for the … read more
Mike G.
Mike G.
Master Electrician
8,313 satisfied customers
just wired some recessed lights in kitchen ran new wire and
just wired some recessed lights in kitchen ran new wire and added breaker only thing that I didnt change was wire from switch. When I flipped on breaker lights came on even though switch was off. Flip… read more
Kevin
Kevin
Licensed Electrical Contractor
4,411 satisfied customers
I tried to install SunSmart Digital Timer. The current switch
I tried to install SunSmart Digital Timer. The current switch has 2 cable black & white, and ground. I connected black wire from timer to the black cable, white wire to white cable, and green wire to … read more
Alex
Alex
Owner
Bachelor\u0027s Degree
1,783 satisfied customers
I bought a concession trailer that has 2 regular 110 plugs
I bought a concession trailer that has 2 regular 110 plugs that lead to the electric panel in the trailer to run all of the outlets and lights. when i plug them into a generator it works but when i pl… read more
Mike G.
Mike G.
Master Electrician
8,313 satisfied customers
I have a wall swithch box with two switches and one red neutral
I have a wall swithch box with two switches and one red neutral wire. Can I splice both switches into a single neutral wire?… read more
Alex
Alex
Owner
Bachelor\u0027s Degree
1,783 satisfied customers
Hi I have a light switch that controls 8 can light and a pendant.
Hi I have a light switch that controls 8 can light and a pendant. It has worked fine for years. this morning the lights wouldnt turn off, when i flipped the switch. I purchased a new switch and when t… read more
Alex
Alex
Owner
Bachelor\u0027s Degree
1,783 satisfied customers
I purchased a GE 15071 7-day in-wall timer switch to replace
I purchased a GE 15071 7-day in-wall timer switch to replace the switch for an outside lantern above our entry door. The existing switch has a black (hot) wire and a load wire. The new GE 15071 timer … read more
Jason
Jason
Service Technician
Associate Degree
3,958 satisfied customers
I have a double pole switch with 2 romex wires entering the
I have a double pole switch with 2 romex wires entering the box the switch controls an exhaust fan in the kitchen but that samewiring is connected to bedroom outlets and lights when i hook up the swit… read more
Glenn
Glenn
Maintenance, Technician
Associate Degree
1,612 satisfied customers
I am replacing dimmer switch with a single pole switch. When
I am replacing dimmer switch with a single pole switch. When I put the whie wire with the other white wires in the box I throw the breaker. Can I safely put black wire on one side of single pole and t… read more
Jason
Jason
Service Technician
Associate Degree
3,958 satisfied customers
Disclaimer: Information in questions, answers, and other posts on this site ("Posts") comes from individual users, not JustAnswer; JustAnswer is not responsible for Posts. Posts are for general information, are not intended to substitute for informed professional advice (medical, legal, veterinary, financial, etc.), or to establish a professional-client relationship. The site and services are provided "as is" with no warranty or representations by JustAnswer regarding the qualifications of Experts. To see what credentials have been verified by a third-party service, please click on the "Verified" symbol in some Experts' profiles. JustAnswer is not intended or designed for EMERGENCY questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals.

Disclaimer: Information in questions, answers, and other posts on this site ("Posts") comes from individual users, not JustAnswer; JustAnswer is not responsible for Posts. Posts are for general information, are not intended to substitute for informed professional advice (medical, legal, veterinary, financial, etc.), or to establish a professional-client relationship. The site and services are provided "as is" with no warranty or representations by JustAnswer regarding the qualifications of Experts. To see what credentials have been verified by a third-party service, please click on the "Verified" symbol in some Experts' profiles. JustAnswer is not intended or designed for EMERGENCY questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals.

Show MoreShow Less

Ask Your Question

x