How to check if the ground/neutral wire is present

shaurya

Member
Hello,

Sorry not sure if its ground or neutral thats requied with all the new automated switches.

I recently moved into my new house. As the house was built last year, it probably has the ground/neutral wire at almost all locations. I would like to know if there is any tool I can use to test the presence, without openining up the switch/outlet.

During the construction phase, the builder connected the coach and porch light to the same switch. After I pointed it out he fixed it to my surprise in 1 hr and I had 2 swithces, 1 for porch and 1 for coach light. Further investigation revealed that he stole the ground/neutral wire to provide the power to the second light. They later ran a new wire from the new switch to one of the lights. I would like to check this as well ...Is there any tool that can be used for this.

I would like to get this fixed before I am out of warranty.

Regards,
Shaurya
 

mustangcoupe

Senior Member
Sorry not sure if its ground or neutral thats requied with all the new automated switches.

It is a Neutral that is requires in most of the newer switches.

I recently moved into my new house. As the house was built last year, it probably has the ground/neutral wire at almost all locations.

That assumption may or may not be correct... some electricians may take the "easy" way out and not run the neutral to all switches as you only break the hot wire.

I would like to know if there is any tool I can use to test the presence, without openining up the switch/outlet.

There is a plugin tool found at your local hardware store to quickly check if the outlets are wired correctly without removing the outlet or faceplate

But I do not know of a tool or easy way to do this with switches. You have to unscrew the faceplate and the switch and look to see how it is wired.
 

ano

Senior Member
Open up a a switch you have. (After shutting off the power, of course). Pull out the switch and look at it. You will see that the switch has two black wires going to it. Now look in the back of the box. Chances are you'll see two wirenuts. The first has two or more bare copper wires all connected together, Thats the ground. Hopefully you'll also see two or more white wires connected together. That's the neutrals. That's all you need.

With todays wiring, an electrician really has to go out of his way NOT to put in neutrals. I'd be surprised if you didn't find these white wires in a house build last year. They will be in the back of the box, so use a flashlight.
 

kwilcox

Active Member
what your electrician did was perfectly to code. He's allowed to steal a white neutral wire for power simply by "coding it black". Check any white wires in the box to see if they have a black electrical tape band around them near the switch. This means they are hot. Hopefully he didn't make your box into a "switch end run" in this manner though. It is hopeful that he didn't because you state that he ran another wire later.

At any rate, if you see white wires in the box that haven't been "coded black" then you're good to go for automation switches.
 
Top