2 hots in light box + fixture screw question

ardmiOctober 22, 2013

I replaced a standard procelin light fixture in my basement with a similar replacement. It and a second light are controled by 4 way switches (controlled at 3 locations).

Inside the box there was 3-12g wires. (1 neutral, 1 black hot, 1 red hot). The red hot was connected to the light fixture and the black was heavily wrapped in electrical tape and a red wire nut.

I hooked up the new fixture like the old and removed the electrical tape and put on a yellow wirenut and did not wrap with electrical tape. I mention this because of one of my following questions.

1. In that configuration, why is there a second hot wire in a light fixture box??

2. I was concerned that the second hot in box could at sometime come in contact with the exposed screws of the fixture. I figured that why it was wrapped heavy in tape.

Its placed at the top of the box and dont see it coming in contact with screws but it could occur I suppos and I didnt otherwise want to gum it up with electrical tape..... Should I be concerned with this scenario?


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Ron Natalie

Are you saying that the black wire was not connected to anything (fixture or other wires)?

Any chance there used to be a ceiling fan at this location?

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 2:33PM
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The black was not connected to anything. I thought it was a switch leg but its on 4 way switches so I am confused.

No ceiling fan either, its a basic lampholder in an octagon box.

Is that strange? No neutral? 240?

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 2:49PM
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If its not a switchleg and doesnt have anything to do with the 4 way switches maybe it extended the circuit and that outlet/light/whatever was removed at some point leaving the lone black?

And if that is the case, is having a capped hot in the box as described a hazard?

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 3:04PM
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Ron Natalie

Capped of lines are not a problem.

What do you mean there is no neutral. WHat is the lamp fixture connected to?

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 4:39PM
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THanks Ron.

I guess I always think of wires in pairs hot/neutral. So what I meant was there wasnt a second neutral to go with the second hot. I assume it was removed (at one time tied with the neutral that the fixture connects too).

Lamp fixture has neutral in box.

I capped the wire with an ideal yellow. Eventhough its a lone wire I stripped it to the manufacture recomandation anyway instead of just snipping and connecting nut to insualtion.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 5:05PM
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How are those porcelain socket/outlet combos constructed? Is there a way to connect them so power can be put to the outlet even though a remote switch has the light turned off (break a connecting tab and use separate connectors)? I am thinking of a situation like a switched/unswitched duplex outlet.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 2:31PM
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Its a Leviton pullstring bulb holder with 2 screws. Does have a grounded outlet on it but no tab that I see to make it independent of the bulb holder.

THe one I replaced was very old and cracked. To get at the screws on that one you had to unscrew the bulb holder as they were recessed into the fixture. I didnt get a brandname off it, Ive been replacing old Hubbell, Eagle and Arrow brand devices so perhaps one of those.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 4:11PM
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A neutral can be shared by 2 circuits.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 4:14PM
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Indeed. But the capped hot is on the same circuit of the device.

Unless I am missing something in regards to 4 way switching, I think the capped hot extended the circuit into a small watercloset that was removed long before I came around.

Do you all think its neccessary to remove the wire totally or does keeping it capped in the fixture box safe/satisfactory?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 4:19PM
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