Electrician question - Voltage coming through an off switched outlet. - BMW Luxury Touring Community
 
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post #1 of 15 Old Sep 6th, 2012, 2:18 pm Thread Starter
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Electrician question - Voltage coming through an off switched outlet.

I noticed a low voltage (florescent) bulb in a lamp flickering last night after the wall switch was turned off. Could not believe this was happening so I measured the voltage coming directly from the outlet and it measured about 10% of the regular voltage.

Something does not seem right! Can anyone explain this?

Dano
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post #2 of 15 Old Sep 6th, 2012, 4:58 pm
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Re: Electrician question - Voltage coming through an off switched outlet.

Time for a new switch ? maybe a mouse removal


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post #3 of 15 Old Sep 6th, 2012, 6:35 pm
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Re: Electrician question - Voltage coming through an off switched outlet.

One possibility is that something else up the chain is on, and too many connections in the neutral (white) wire between that and the electrical panel. A voltage drop can show up in the neutral line can show up as voltage in a light fixture.

Use your volt meter to test between the white wire and a good ground, it normally should be at or very near zero. If more than that, you have "dirty" neutral wiring.

One common cause is a "non solid" neutral, with it open at some point. White neutral wires should never be seperated in a fixture so that removing them from the fixture results in an "open" neutral. Anywhere a neutral circuit is wired into a fixture, switch, etc., it should be with a pigtail crimped or wire nutted to the two white wires coming into the box. Most fixtures will not have more than one, unless fixtures are in parallel.

I have seen people put the two white wires under the screws on a switch or fixture, but removing them to replace the device leaves other devices upstream without a return, and can be dangerous.

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post #4 of 15 Old Sep 6th, 2012, 7:25 pm
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Re: Electrician question - Voltage coming through an off switched outlet.

What David said. Got me a big surprise one day changing out a ceiling fan. Someone had wire nutted several neutral wires together and I found the live return when I took the nut off to attach the fan. OUCH!!!!!


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post #5 of 15 Old Sep 6th, 2012, 7:44 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Electrician question - Voltage coming through an off switched outlet.

Thanks David,

I'll pull the switch first and then check to see if it looks ok. My guess is that there is a neutral not connected correctly. I have noticed that plugs in the same outlet spark when plugged in.

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post #6 of 15 Old Sep 6th, 2012, 11:08 pm
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Re: Electrician question - Voltage coming through an off switched outlet.

Is there a dimmer somewhere in the circuit? If so, check to see if it has a nightlight feature on the dimmer (a small neon glow behind the button or rocker when off). If so, this is the source of your Voltage.

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post #7 of 15 Old Sep 7th, 2012, 7:18 am Thread Starter
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Re: Electrician question - Voltage coming through an off switched outlet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LJSMITH1
Is there a dimmer somewhere in the circuit? If so, check to see if it has a nightlight feature on the dimmer (a small neon glow behind the button or rocker when off). If so, this is the source of your Voltage.

No dimmer. There is a wall switch that controls 1/2 of a two prong outlet. My guess now is that there is a bad ground or white wire possible in the two prong outlet. It really is spooky to have the switch off and the lamp flickering!

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post #8 of 15 Old Sep 7th, 2012, 8:49 am
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Re: Electrician question - Voltage coming through an off switched outlet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanDiver
No dimmer. There is a wall switch that controls 1/2 of a two prong outlet. My guess now is that there is a bad ground or white wire possible in the two prong outlet. It really is spooky to have the switch off and the lamp flickering!
How do you get a switch to only control half of an outlet?
I thought there was one inlet for both plugs.
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post #9 of 15 Old Sep 7th, 2012, 9:50 am
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Re: Electrician question - Voltage coming through an off switched outlet.

DanMartin,

If you look at the outlet on the side there is a break off tab. Wire the power to bottom of the outlet, break off the tab and wire the switch to top of the outlet.

Most all room entry switches that do not control an overhead light are wired to a wall outlet and swith the top of the outlet. HTH

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post #10 of 15 Old Sep 7th, 2012, 1:06 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Electrician question - Voltage coming through an off switched outlet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanMartin
How do you get a switch to only control half of an outlet?
I thought there was one inlet for both plugs.
We have a lot of them like that. Switch controls several lamps in the room but does not turn off things plugged into the top. Works well, most of the time!

Dano
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post #11 of 15 Old Sep 7th, 2012, 8:01 pm
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Re: Electrician question - Voltage coming through an off switched outlet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanDiver
We have a lot of them like that. Switch controls several lamps in the room but does not turn off things plugged into the top. Works well, most of the time!
Dan,
Must be a regional thing...north vs south.

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post #12 of 15 Old Sep 7th, 2012, 8:17 pm
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Re: Electrician question - Voltage coming through an off switched outlet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanDiver
We have a lot of them like that. Switch controls several lamps in the room but does not turn off things plugged into the top. Works well, most of the time!
That is the way most electricians will wire them, bottom switched, top always hot. Lamps plugged into the bottom switched, allowing easier plugging in other items (better visibility on top rather than reaching under the lamp wires).

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post #13 of 15 Old Sep 8th, 2012, 7:39 am
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Re: Electrician question - Voltage coming through an off switched outlet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dshealey
That is the way most electricians will wire them, bottom switched, top always hot. Lamps plugged into the bottom switched, allowing easier plugging in other items (better visibility on top rather than reaching under the lamp wires).
Also, in most newly constructed homes, the electrician will turn the receptacle around, so all the "normal" receptacles will have the ground at the bottom on the hot and neutrals, while the combination plug will have the ground on top of the hot and neutrals. This way you can walk into a room and immediately tell which outlet is controlled by a wall switch.

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post #14 of 15 Old Sep 8th, 2012, 9:19 pm
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Re: Electrician question - Voltage coming through an off switched outlet.

Dan, pull the wires from the switch and then check voltage, we get small sugar ants in Fl and they love switch devices. Ping me if you get stumped. I am a state Mechanical contractor & Master Electrician. Don't ignore this.

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post #15 of 15 Old Sep 9th, 2012, 2:39 pm
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Re: Electrician question - Voltage coming through an off switched outlet.

Broken neutral somewhere. Might be a loose neural connection.

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