Polarized Recepticle for hot wire

booger2011August 11, 2010

I'm installing a hot wire to contain horses, and have a question.

Old farm built circa 1973, but with copper wire and good breaker box.

In the well house, 20 feet from the house is a receptical, it is coming off the well pump electrical supply. Using just 1 hot, thus only 110 volts, and the ground/neutral.

Just 2 wires!!!

Is there anyway to safely plug in my polarized fence charger? Even though the receptical has a polarized plug. I realize that it isn't really polorized-used just a 2 wire hookup.

If you can understand this mumblejumble, I'd appreciate your advice.....

Thank You,


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Even in 1973, the circuit to the pump house should have had separate neutral and ground wires, unless you are saying that the circuit to the pump house has two hot legs, one ground (bare or green) and no neutral (white).
If there is no neutral wire, you should not have any 110v receptacles. (The ground wire is not to be used for a substitute for the neutral.)
With a neutral and no ground you can use a GFCI receptacle but you should not plug in any equipment that is intended for a grounded receptacle. If your charger has a two-pronged plug, one blade being wider than the other (i.e. Polarized), this should work fine.
If you have both a neutral and a ground wire present, install a GFCI receptacle and this would also work with your polarized plug, as well as a grounded one.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 11:59AM
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I had to go look to make sure, 2 hot wires coming from the house into a small fuse box. Then a ground from the fuse box to the copper water line.
These 3 wires then feed the power to the well pump.
Also from the fusebox is 3 wires to the recepticle(110V).
Of course the neutral and ground are bonded.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 12:25PM
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You do not have a proper or safe 110v receptacle. You must run new cable to the pumphouse.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 1:01PM
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Was this legal when installed?

There are a few things running off this, are they in danger ?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 5:23PM
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It was never legal. Sounds like the pump is 240 volts and someone illegally installed a 120 receptacle using the hot and ground to make up the missing neutral wire.

Very dangerous situation. If the ground ever becomes open between the house and the pump, everything connected to ground will become hot if anything is plugged into the receptacle.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 6:18PM
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That was my original question actually, there is no ground from the house, just the 2 hot wires.
They go to a sub panel, which has a ground going to the copper water line.
This then feeds the well, and one leg feeds the receptacle.
Even the swimming pool pump is running on this set up !!!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 6:44PM
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If the pool pump is 240 volt it is OK if you put a GFCI on it. The 120 receptacle has to be removed.

To make this right you must bring a four wire feeder to that sub panel.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 8:15AM
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There has never been a time when a water pipe could be used as a current carrying conductor.

It was allowed as a place to attach a safety ground many code revs back (and washing machines often came with a clamp for this purpose).

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 10:06AM
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After having Dish Network installed a dish it has come to light that I have 14 recepticles showing there is an open ground (according to a Klein Tools 3-Prong Tester). I switched the white and black wires to opposite sides of the recepticals (which I believe is incorrect) and the 3-Prong Tester shows no open grounds now, but according to a Klein Tools Non-Contact Tester the wiring shows to be incorrect, and the hold-down brackets are now hot according to the Klein Tools Non-Contact Tester. Temporarily I tapped into another recepticle ( a good receptical ) to get around the problem (a fuzzy TV) for the time-being, but I still need to correct this problem I feel is a hazard. Any suggestions . . . Please help . . . I'm lost on this. henryl80@hotmail or 832.971.8089 . . . . Thanks

    Bookmark   January 1, 2012 at 11:13PM
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Henryl80, please start a new thread with this topic. Switching the wires was not a good thing to do. To fix this problem you probably will need to completely rewire the circuits in question, pulling new wire from the circuit breaker (or fuse) box.

I'm guessing that the house was built before the 1950s (or 60s) when circuit grounds became a requirement. It may only present a moderate hazard, but as you have noticed, modern electronics don't always play nicely without a ground.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 10:55PM
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