Electrical Wiring in the Home/outside lamp post

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Question
Hi, Bob. This here is a question from GA. I have an exterior lamp post that does light up...only when I do the following--connect one wire from the fixture to one wire from the ground that is coming up through the pole and the other wire from the fixture is touching the metal pole. It works that way and I know that's not right. There are only two wires coming up from the pole and they are wrapped in fabric and I can't tell anything about the color of them. I don't even know where to ground this thing b/c the light fixture obviously has three wires-black, white, and copper. I'm knowledgeable-ish, but this one has me stumped. Thanks for any help.

Answer
It sounds to me that the pole may be grounded, and the wire coming up that works is the hot wire. The white neutral wire is probably disconnected somewhere.  It's not really safe to use the ground as one of the wires.  You should check the other end of wire at the switch, make make sure the neutral is connected there. You can also see if the cable has a ground it in it, at that point

There shouldn't be any fabric on the wires. If the wire is underground, then it should be UF cable, which is all plastic with no fabric or paper.

You may have to replace the wire, which is a pain, because you'll have to dig up the yard. The wire is normally buried 24 inches into the ground
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Electrical Wiring in the Home

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Bob Sponaugle

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Just about any home wiring question. (not appliance repair) I have done all kinds of home wiring for myself, including adding a new breaker box, etc. Please, questions from North America only. Please be specific with details.

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