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#10950 06/24/02 09:43 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 11
Looee Offline OP
I just finished my first year in an electrician program and I got a summer job working for an electrician. Now in school we were taught that we need to tape a white wire black if it is used to carry current, like the code book says. My boss says don't worry about it, nobody actually does it and the inspector doesn't care if it isn't taped black. Do other electricians re-identify any current carrying white wires? And are there a lot of code rules that people really don't follow?


Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 324
We identify the white conductor if it is used as a hot. You will find that there are a lot of ol'timers who only worry about passing inspection and not about the code. That's just the way it is. Sad but true!

Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,236
Likes: 1

If I may explain further...

The grounded conductor (sometimes referred to as "neutral") does indeed carry current, as should be either white or grey. If it is used as an ungrounded conductor in a switch loop or for a 240V circuit, it must be permanently marked with a color other than white, grey, green, or green with a yellow stripe.

In switch loops, it is also important to use the marked white wire as the unswitched leg of the loop, and returning the hot on the black wire.

Residential/Commercial Inspector
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Joined: Oct 2000
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66' nails it Looee ,
but you've a point in the real world not subscribing to the letter of the NEC [Linked Image]

Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 2,056
Wasn't re-identification of a white wire in a NM cable used as a switch loop only recently REQUIRED. I know many people have always done it anyway, but I think the requirement actually appeared only within the past few code cycles. The assumption used to be that only qualified persons would be working on the circuit, and would recognize the practice.
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, please.

Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 280

My boss says don't worry about it, nobody actually does it and the inspector doesn't care if it isn't taped black. Do other electricians re-identify any current carrying white wires?
I do its is code and as written shall be done, sorta like carved in stone tablets.
I believe this code change is one cycle old, and it used to be that and acccepted practice
that any white wire tied to blacks was the first part of the switch leg, and everybody knew it, but things change. Even then I knew of people who would Re-identify that switch wire even before it was mandatory.
I look at it in two ways First it code and must be done, and Second there is a liability issue by not complying with the code, either one should be enough to convince even older Electricians to go along with the change.

Just my opinion.


[This message has been edited by motor-T (edited 06-25-2002).]

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 558
The 99 NEC is the first addition to require re-identification of the white wire when uses for switch loops. If the area your working in is still using the 96 addition such as in CA re-identification is optional.

Curt Swartz
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 914
While I'm not that much of an old timer(33,started at 16), I just recently started re-marking the white when used as a "hot". The code says permantent and durable marking, so I use a Sharpie to color the wire. I'm affraid some inspector will say that tape isn't permanent or durable enough.

I recently had a customer call me that had tried to wire something with out me. They couldn't figure out why the breaker tripped every time they flipped the switch. Upon inspection I found that she, yes she, took appart a j-box and put it back with all whites together and all blacks together. She couldn't understand why a white was supposed to be with the blacks. This is one reason for the need to mark the wire.

Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 324
Funny how things work out sometimes. Today I had an emergency job at a dentist office that I had wired on two years ago. We had done the addition which had a couple of patient rooms, the dentist's office, lab, sterilization room and lots of x-ray equipment ( if you've never done one, try it, it's gobs of fun). But the old existing building had been wired in greenfield. So I get a frantic call from their office yesterday that the lights are out and the breaker shoots fire when you try to reset it. To make a long story short the insulation on one of the lighting circuits had deteriorated and was arcing out. We told them to shut down and we would gut the old greefield and solve the problem. So today thats exactly what we did.
Now I had one of my helpers open up a switch box to see if it was fed from old or new wiring. He said well there's only one new BX in the box and it's tagged red on the white wire. He didn't get it being a newbie, but when I explained the rule it hit him. "OK, so when you change a white to a hot you've got to mark it so you don't get bit"... I said "that's right"!

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