Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Dandridge (Near Knoxville), TN, USA
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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