Black and White Wires Connected Together [Explained]

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Seeing the black wire connected to the white in your electrical box can tense you up. We totally get that. However, not knowing why they’re connected can result in a risky situation. 

Why are black and white wires connected together in the switch outlet? 

If you see both sides connected together, it means it’s a switch loop. The white wire that’s connected to the black wire carries power to the switch. And the black wire that’s in the same cable carries back that switched power to the outlet. But keep in mind what you should do when the wires are connected.

Now, these are only the basics which aren’t good enough for you. That’s why we’ve provided more info about this issue. For example, what happens if you connect them and what to do if they’re already connected. 

Therefore, we hope you’ll continue to read for your own safety! 

Why Are the Black Wire and White Wire Tied Together? 

Now, we’ve already mentioned the reasons. But we wanted to explain a bit more. 

The black wire is known as the hot wire. Thus, it’s the positive wire. On the other hand, the white wire is the neutral wire. So, it’s the negative one. 

Therefore, they’re completely different and can’t be connected together. 

If you see them tied together, it signals that you’ve got a wired switch loop

Now, not all white wires are neutral. They can be hot wires as well. And that’s because of the switch loop.  Furthermore, for this reason, the two wires are connected without causing any trouble. 

What To Do If Black and White Wire Connected Together?

The solution might depend on what you’re intending to do. Therefore, we’ve discussed two solutions for this- 

At first, if you’re trying to move a light fixture- 

It’s best to not move the wires around. You need to connect your new fixture to the white and black wires. Those are tied to the existing fixture. 

To be aware of the white being a hot wire, wrap the white wire with black tape. Or you can even mark it black. 

Then you might be planning on replacing a switched outlet. And if you see the white wire twisted with the black one- 

Now to get a half switched and the other one, just follow our lead-

Wire the outlet like before. Then move on to the tab that’s on the black side. And break it. 

Be careful, don’t work or touch on the white side’s tab. Lastly, attach a black wire. The direction should be from the wire nut to the hot screw that’s empty. 

If you think you don’t want to deal with this issue, call a professional. 

Because doing something wrong can cause a short circuit. Just how messing up while undoing your backstabbed wires can put you at risk. 

What Happens if You Connect White Wire to Black Wire? 

You know why the wires are connected together. And what you should do if you see them connected. 

You might have a question come to mind like- 

What happens if black and white wires touch? 

We’ve come up with some answers that you should definitely know- 

First of all, nothing will happen, if the two wires aren’t connected to any power source. Therefore, you won’t have much to worry about. 

You’re mainly wanting to connect an active hot wire to a neutral wire. So, in this case-

Even if you just let the bare wires touch each other, you’ll encounter a short circuit. Plus this will result in producing a large spark. And lastly, it can blow a fuse. Or even trip your breaker. 

You might wire the black and white together. Then turn on the power afterward. In that case, that same spark will take place at the fuse or breaker. 

Both cases are really dangerous.

You shouldn’t connect the black and white wires together! 

You might want to use the white wire as an alternative to the black. Or vice versa. This thought can come into mind if you’re out of wires. 

You need to get rid of that thought. Because that’s dangerous and can even cause a fire. 

Don’t try to mess with the wiring in your house. If you don’t have any clue about them!! 

Important Things to Consider When Working on the Wiring

Now, there’s a possibility you want to do the job yourself. But let us tell you-

It’s not as easy as leveling your base cabinets for a granite countertop. Therefore, you need to consider a few things before getting to work:

  • Never touch the wiring with wet hands. This is a must!! You might be in a hurry or just reckless. However, this is something you shouldn’t do.
  • Always wear gloves that can protect you when touching the wires. Because no one wants to get electric shock!! 
  • Don’t touch the wires if you don’t have any idea about them. That can lead you to a dangerous situation. 
  • Remember to take help from someone when you’re working with wires. Because it isn’t a wise decision to work alone if you are inexperienced.

These four tips can be helpful when attaching a 15 amp switch for your 20 amp circuit too. 

One more thing to keep in mind. You should wear thick nitrile gloves when working with the wires. Therefore, we’ve suggested some of our preferred nitrile gloves for you:

Heavy Duty Nitrile Gloves, Infi-Touch Strong & ToughCheck Current Price
SAS Safety 66519 Raven Powder-Free Nitrile Disposable GlovesCheck Current Price

Use these gloves to keep yourself and your house safe!

FAQs

Question: What are electrical black and white wires?
Answer: Well, the black one is the wire that’s actually termed as the hot wire. It carries electricity to your light source or switches from your breaker panel. Then the white is one is known as the common or neutral wire. This wire sends back unused electricity to that same breaker panel. 

Question: Can both black and white wires be hot?
Answer: To be honest, yes! A white wire can be hot too. And to identify it you can use black tape and wrap it around.

Question: Is it dangerous to connect black and white wire together?
Answer: Yup, it is. Because they aren’t the same type of wires. And connecting them can cause a fuse to blow or trip a circuit breaker. 

Wrapping Up 

Well, there you have it! Everything you needed to know on black and white wires connected together

Did you get your answer regarding the two wires? 

We hope you did! Lastly, remember to stay safe when handling work like this!

Melissa Hawkins