Electrical Wiring in the Home/earth ground as neutral wire

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Question
I wish to add a duplex outlet in my pantry adjacent to a light switch. The problem is that this switch has only a hot switch wire  and a ground wire with no white neutral wire.  Can I tap onto the hot wire and then use the earth wire as my neutral in the new duplex outlet?  I see no real problem with this as both the earth ground and the neutral wires in the main panel are connected together anyway.  Your thoughts? Please explain fully. Thank you,  Rob in Wisconsin

Answer
Rob,

The simple answer is no you can not.

The ONLY time voltage/current is supposed to be on the bare grounding wire in Romex cable or on the spiraling exterior metal covering of BX cable is when there is a short circuit condition. These components in each respective cable assembly are there for that purpose only. Except in the case of BX the outer metal covering is also there to protect the wires inside the cable.

If you were to do what you propose it would create a potentially dangerous condition. Neutral current from the receptacle would be traveling back to the panel in a way that no one would be aware of or expect. In other words if anyone were to take apart the ground wires in any j box up stream of the receptacle you want to add, they would be interupting the neutral current from the receptacle going back to the panel and subject to potential shock. Like wise if it were BX cable and some one removed the BX cables from a J box up stream towards the panel they would also be interupting the current flow on the metal cable and subject to potential shock.  

So while its true the Neutral (white wire) and bare ground wires are connected together in a common location in the MAIN panel,they can not be connected together any where beyond that which is what you would in effect be doing.

Bob
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PASCACK VALLEY ELECTRIC Bob Mossman

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Licensed Master Electrician (32 years) 6165B Contractor in Closter New Jersey with 40 years total experience in Residential - Commercial - Industrial work. Emergency Service - General trouble shooting and repair work - ONAN & GENERAC generator installation - Paddle fans - Kitchen & Bath exhaust fans - AC lines - Smoke detectors - Telephone lines - Cable TV lines - Computer network cabling - Exterior lighting - Recessed lighting - Security lighting - (200 - 150 - 100 amp service up grades) - Electric Heat - New circuits - New appliance hook ups - and more ! FREE ESTIMATES 201-358-1552 Fully Insured

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Licensed contractor in Closter New Jersey.

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"The Frank Williams School of Electrical Construction". My dear old boss is 100 ! and still going God Bless him. I started working for "Tenafly Electric" right out of high school at 19. He was tough but I learned more working for him in 8 and half years than most guys. We did mostly industrial work while doing some commercial and residential so I was fortunate to be exposed to all 3 areas of electrical construction. The guys I worked with were all good guys and I stay in touch with some of them still. Most of us went into our own buisness's which says something about the caliber of the guys I worked with. We had some interesting clients : Wella Corp. of shampoo fame, Farah Fawcett etc, I didn't buy shampoo for 10 years. It was a great place to work. Pan Am the former airline just before they went under, another great place to work, nice clean environment. C&C Metals, the largest button manufacturer in the US at that time, a not so clean environment but a very interesting place to work, lots of machine's cranking out buttons of all kinds but you had to be on your toes, it was a potentially dangerous place to be . All kinds of action going on around you.

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