No reward for virtue

Today I tried to be safe and do all the right things, but it still seemed like everything was conspiring to go wrong.

For example, I was trying to fix an outlet that had suffered physical damage. Not only the was the outlet itself damaged, but the wire-mold box that that outlet was in had been smashed hard enough that it was no longer attached to the wall. Using a circuit tracer, my partner in crime and I located that breaker that powered this outlet. We turned the breaker off and verified that there was no power going to the outlet.

Having done everything more or less by the book, my partner in crime left to get some parts while I began to remove the outlet. To make a long story short, I got shocked. It was not a really bad shock. But it woke me up.

How did I get shocked when I had made sure that power was off to this outlet? Simply put, the people who wired this building used the same neutral for multiple circuits.

Now, I have been told that a long time ago this was accepted practice. But even granting the people who wired the building that, I still would like to know why they had to make the connection between the two neutrals in the outlet itself instead of pig tailing off a junction.

At any rate, if you have a big enough load on a circuit, you can get shocked off the neutral. And if you share a neutral between several circuits, you will have a big enough load on the neutral to shock someone.

But the load that was on that neutral was nothing compared to the load on a neutral that I came across while working on another outlet later on in the day. I made sparks fly big time and caused various other problems.

And I was still trying to do everything right.

One Response to “No reward for virtue”

  1. Rundy says:

    It seems to me if you can get a shock from a neutral by following this wiring policy it should not be “acceptable” practice.

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