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

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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: 4 months ago.Category: Electrical
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12/12/2017
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 4 months ago
Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 4,210
Experience: 31 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License
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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.

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Customer reply replied 4 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 4 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.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
how should i go about fixing this?
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
because when i wire it the way which is up to code it trips the breaker
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 4 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?

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
no i do not
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
how would i use one to solve the problem
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 4 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.

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Customer reply replied 4 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 4 months ago

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

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Customer reply replied 4 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 4 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?

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Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 4 months ago

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

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
no. it only trips when i turn the problem switch to the on position.
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
ok let me do that
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
i will wire the switch directly to both the neutral and hot?
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 4 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".

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
when you say switch looped wire do you mean the neutral?
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 4 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.

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Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 4 months ago

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

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
there will be no neutral connection, only a hot to the switch?
Customer reply replied 4 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 4 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:

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Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 4 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.

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Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 4 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.

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Electrician: Mike G., Master Electrician replied 4 months ago
Mike G.
Mike G., Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 8,164
Experience: Proven Professional 49 years Experience
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Hi, I'm Mike G and I'll be assisting you. Did the problem start after replacing the light fixture?

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