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Posted: 9/6/2004 5:40:21 PM EST
Ok, a flourescent light crapped out, and I'm responsible for replacing it. I got a new one, wired it up, and no luck....... Checked the two wires, no juice coming from them. Went to the switch (old house, bulit in the 40'2-60's) and pulled it. Total of three wires in box, two wired together then to the switch, with the other wire on the other terminal of the switch. I put in a different switch, no luck. I pulled all of the wires apart and checked them for juice. The two that were wired together (then to one terminal on the switch) show 120V when I put the leads on the two wires and the lone wire(wired to other terminal of switch) does'nt show anything compared to the others.

So I go thru and reconnect all the wires as they were, no luck.

WTH?
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 5:45:31 PM EST
your description is clear as mud.
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 5:48:41 PM EST
What if you put all the wires from the switch together?
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 5:50:00 PM EST
Ballast bad?

Don't know what type fluourescent light you have, but I replace ballasts at work all the time.
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 5:50:04 PM EST
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 5:50:56 PM EST
Touch the wires with your tounge to make sure there is no current.
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 5:52:17 PM EST

Originally Posted By Paul:

Originally Posted By michael_seltenright:
What if you put all the wires from the switch together?



NO!

Let me think here.



YES! All that would do would be isolate the switch from the circuit. If the light comes on problem is with the switch. If not bad ballast, or wiring to the fixture.

Mike
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 5:54:46 PM EST
here read through this site to make sure everything is hooked up right

www.diynet.com/diy/el_cords_outlets_wiring/0,2036,DIY_13803,00.html
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 5:54:49 PM EST
I've read it like 20 times, and it makes no sense. Step back and gimmie that meter, boy.
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 5:55:28 PM EST
Should only be 2 wires to switch. One should have 120V. It would be ok to wire together and eliminate the switch. just to make sure it's not the problem.

I think thatyou lost the neutral.

The white wire has lost connection somewhere either in the switch box or the junction above the light or even in the light itself.
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 5:56:07 PM EST

Originally Posted By michael_seltenright:

Originally Posted By Paul:

Originally Posted By michael_seltenright:
What if you put all the wires from the switch together?



NO!

Let me think here.



YES! All that would do would be isolate the switch from the circuit. If the light comes on problem is with the switch. If not bad ballast, or wiring to the fixture.

Mike



and also give you a 110 volt hairstyle
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 5:56:32 PM EST
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 5:57:19 PM EST
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 5:57:49 PM EST
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 5:58:09 PM EST
old house=anything goes
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 5:58:30 PM EST

Originally Posted By Neolock:
Should only be 2 wires to switch. One should have 120V. It would be ok to wire together and eliminate the switch. just to make sure it's not the problem.

I think thatyou lost the neutral.

The white wire has lost connection somewhere either in the switch box or the junction above the light or even in the light itself.



Not necessarily, they just dropped the feed to the switch, then ran off to feed something else on the same circuit.

Mike
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 5:59:45 PM EST

Originally Posted By Neolock:
Should only be 2 wires to switch. One should have 120V. .



No, from what I understand is there is a hot wire coming in, wired out to another box, (as was common during that era) and either taped or wired nut togethor, with a wire going to the switch. That is your hot wire. The other wire is your wire going to the light. In those days, they did not drop the nuetrals to the switch boxes. If you have power at the box, then either your switch is bad, your wiring is wrong, such as you've got your hot and nuetral backwards, or the ballast is bad. Check those things.
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 5:59:49 PM EST
sounds like the two wired together are the running ground. One of the other two are hot. tap these two together while a testing the two on your ceiling fixture. This will give you some better indication of continuity.
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 6:00:35 PM EST
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 6:02:05 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/6/2004 6:07:47 PM EST by AZ-K9]
Damnit!


The two wires, if I check them with the thing, show 123V. These two wires were nutted together, with a lead from them going to one pole on the switch. The third wire, when checked against the other two, shows nothing. If I get the above correct, the two wires with current are the "hot" wires, and the one without carries the current to the light? I wonder what other appliance is on this circuit that the other wire goes to?
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 6:04:49 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/6/2004 6:05:37 PM EST by michael_seltenright]

Originally Posted By AZ-K9:
Damnit!
img.photobucket.com/albums/v77/jsinz/Wiring.jpg



So that's all you have in the box? The 2 went to one terminal on the switch, and the 1 went to the other side of the switch. Do I understand correctly?

Edit to add: what do you have at the fixture?
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 6:08:18 PM EST
Still think that he lost the neutral.
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 6:09:05 PM EST

Originally Posted By michael_seltenright:

Originally Posted By AZ-K9:
Damnit!
img.photobucket.com/albums/v77/jsinz/Wiring.jpg



So that's all you have in the box? The 2 went to one terminal on the switch, and the 1 went to the other side of the switch. Do I understand correctly?

Edit to add: what do you have at the fixture?


Yes, that's all in the box, three wires, two nutted together and going to one pole, the other going to the other pole.

Nothing at the fixture, for now. I'm checking results with a meter.
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 6:29:10 PM EST
At the fixture, see if you can see where the white wire goes... Is the fixture mounted on top of an electrical box or just a piece of cable coming out of the wall/ceiling?
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 6:35:53 PM EST

Originally Posted By Tallbob:
At the fixture, see if you can see where the white wire goes... Is the fixture mounted on top of an electrical box or just a piece of cable coming out of the wall/ceiling?

Just comes out of the ceiling.


The light worked yesterday. We thought it was a ballast and got a new one, along with new light. I wired it up and it didn't work, which led me to the swtich box. This mess is what I uncovered after pulling the switch box apart.
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 7:03:30 PM EST
Three words: seek perfeshinul help

Messing with a light last week at the new office that some redneck (other than me) had wired open neutral (or some such BS according to my perfeshinul help I sought) and welded a pair of pliers on a light that was off.

Electricity freaks me out. All kinds of stuff doesn't bother me in the least, but 'the juice' just scares me
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 7:13:09 PM EST
AZ tell us what color of wire you have in the boxes as your description is confusing. Also something to check if this is a two bulb florescent light fixture make sure that you have the light fixture wired correctly according to the diagram on the ballast or the light will not work.
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 7:16:16 PM EST
IM sent
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 7:20:23 PM EST
White's all right
Green's serene
Touch the red, you fry, you're dead


Link Posted: 9/6/2004 7:31:56 PM EST
ok, we have a piece of cable from the ceiling, that shows no voltage between the white and black.

In the switch box there are only three wires, two wire nutted together with a tail to the switch, and another wire going to the other terminal on the switch.

How did you connect the meter to read 120V on the two wires? ie where was the second lead connected ?

I'm trying to figure out where the neutral is in this senario. usually they are wire nutted together and stuffed into the back of the box.

When you measured at the fixture, was the ballast connected? Or just the meter to the two wires from the ceiling. When you measured the wires in the switch box, what did you measure it to? ie, where was the other lead from the meter connected?

Is there a ground (bare or green) in the cable coming out of the ceiling? Did you measure between white and black? What does it measure between black and ground? (assuming switch replaced and turned on)

Here is what I'm trying to figure out. The white (neutral) should be connected to other white wire all the way to the panel box. The two wires together in the switch box (if black) would lead me to believe the circuit is feeding something else than just the light.

I have seen some strange stuff in older buildings, expecially when somebody decided to 'add on' not knowing enough to do it properly. From what you are describing (only three wires in switch box) and no junction box at fixure, some wires are 'missing'.

This is getting close to call an electrician.
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 7:39:54 PM EST
<action movie bomb cliche'> Cut the blue wire. NO! green! <action movie bomb cliche'>

I'll do almost any household fix it work but electrical stuff scares the bejeebers out of me.
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 7:46:42 PM EST
Nah...I hate plumbing. Always seems to end up taking three or more trips to the plumbing supply house or HD or Lowes, getting out the Mapp torch, or replacing the fixture. Give me electric anytime. I won't mess with natural gas. Call my professional friends when it is connected to the gas line.
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 8:09:38 PM EST
Link Posted: 9/6/2004 8:35:00 PM EST
I'm an electrician..... IM sent.... Please feel free to reply

Be more than happy to help out, rather than see you try some of the suggestions I see posted here hollar

John
Link Posted: 9/7/2004 12:25:59 AM EST
[Last Edit: 9/7/2004 12:28:01 AM EST by serrada]
If you know how they were connected at the switch, wire them back the same way. Then you can check (with switch on) the wires at the light. Use a multimeter and go from the hot(usually black, if the wires are both the same color at the light, alternate between the two when checking) wire at the light to ground. If there is no ground at the light, put the lead on something that is grounded. This way you can check if you are getting voltage to the light. If you are getting voltage, then you lost the neutral on the other side of the light(were you pulling on any of the wires when you put the light in?). If no voltage, then it's the switch. This all assumes that you initially checked voltage at the two wires at the light with the switch on.
Link Posted: 9/7/2004 12:40:53 AM EST
Some of those older houses have two fuse boxes esp. if additions to living quarters have been added, one outside and one inside, Has someone been up in the attic lately that old stuff is pretty stout but can get brittle over the years when it get hot and cold alot, might have a broken wire.
Link Posted: 9/12/2004 1:52:10 PM EST

Originally Posted By DirtyDan:
Some of those older houses have two fuse boxes esp. if additions to living quarters have been added, one outside and one inside, Has someone been up in the attic lately that old stuff is pretty stout but can get brittle over the years when it get hot and cold alot, might have a broken wire.



Yes, my place has an add on. The fuse box for this circuit actually uses old school fuses.

Still havent figured it out yet.... gonna wire a new switch in right now and "git er done".
Link Posted: 9/12/2004 3:05:50 PM EST
Put the two wires and a short piece of wire back together with a wirenut. The short piece becomes the 120 volt "hot" for one switch terminal, traditionally the top screw on the switch. The wire that was on the other switch screw is the "load" side of the switch and should continue on, through the conduit, to the black wire on the ballast. (You did buy a 120 volt ballast, didn't you? They also come in 277 and look almost identical) The short wire piece wirenutted to the other two wires should have 120 volts to ground. The metal of the junction box SHOULD be a ground but isn't always. The single wire for the other switch screw should have no voltage. Now, before you wire up the switch... put your meter on "ohms" and test the continuity of the switch in the OFF and ON position. If it's good, install the switch. Now take your meter and put it back on "voltage". Test the black wire at the ceiling box by putting one lead on the wire and the other on the metal of the box. Is the switch ON? then you should have 120 volts between the black wire and the box. If you do not ... check whether the ceiling box is actually grounded. Remember; old house. If you do ... now test whether you have 120 volts between the hot wire and the white wire in the box. If you don't ... you have "lost" the neutral and probably should hire a pro. Mainly because nothing you have done would have caused this and, therefore it is going to take some educated guesswork. Now, if you have 120 volts between the black and white wire in the ceiling box, go ahead and connect the proper ballast. Still doesn't work? Try replacing with a fresh ballast ... QC isn't always the best. Then try lamps that are already working from another fixture. Good luck. IM me if you're stumped and don't use an aluminum ladder. Stay safe
Link Posted: 9/12/2004 3:10:59 PM EST




It worked.
Link Posted: 9/12/2004 3:14:44 PM EST
What you got there is a feed in, a feed out, a tap to the switch and the feed to the light. You won't have anything from the light's lead to ground...until it's wired to the switch and the switch is closed. Put the tap from the feed in/feed out to one side of the switch and the third wire to the other. Flip the switch so that the third wire is hot. Now check it at the leads to the fixture.

One thing here to help you understand and give better discriptions. There is voltage and amps. Voltage is like pressure and amps is like current flow. Unless there is a completed circuit you don't have current. You may have voltage however. That's what you're meassuring.
Link Posted: 9/12/2004 8:34:31 PM EST
Thinking out loud here - and for comments

DO NOT USE FOR NEC GUIDANCE JUST IDEAS

Hot inand out and pigtailed to switch (as noted above) (wires 1 and 2)

switch heats lead to light.

Return from light is via armored cable, conduit or ??? to box to ground side
OR
no ground, return from light goes back to a neutral or ground via some other path

in either of the two above nutting together just bypasses the switch and makes the lead to the light permanently hot

Check fuses again. You might have popped one and not noticed.

MAKE CONTINUITY CHECKS WITH FUSES PULLED.

check continuity between switch box and known good ground

check hot continuity to other known good hot on same circuit

check to see if you have continuity from switch pole to feed at fixture check to see if you have continuity from fixture box

check for continuity with known good grounds.

check and DIAGRAM everything, include all other fixtures and outlets of circuit

Are you absolutely sure there isn't another wire around somewhere?

I'm thinking that you had a "handyguy" (not handyman) who was pennywise and pound foolish and took shortcuts that although they might work, they save a little money but aren't very safe.

your (very) basic circuit runs from Source Pole A along one wire to a switch that opens or closed the electron path to the "in" terminal on a device (motor, light, frammitz, etc) which converts the electrical energy to light, heat, kinetic energy or a combination through the device "out" terminal to the "BB" pole on the source.

The above applies to AC and DC, from millivolts to kilovolts. Same theory applies and doesn't include the ground wire which isn't required on a basic circuit. It appears that what you have here is the wire fron the "A" pole to just before the switch where it is tapped and the "pigtail" goes to the swicth and the wire goes on to source other devices. (In effect it is a WYE or TEE in the bottom and right to the switch and left off to ??? as another "Pole A Source" source ) The switch then is made or broken and the remaining wire goes off to the fixture. Heres the challenge where's the circuit path (not necessartly a wire, it could be through the conduit, to junction boxes, to fuse box or to other "grounds") back to source Pole "B" ?? It has to be there someplace, if it ain't something is acting like a permanent switch turned off on the return to B side.

If your diagram doesn't make it clear, and after you have used it as an excuse to get a new really nice multimeter, voltage detector, and any other nice needed electrical tools, you will probably need to call in a professional to fix things safely unless the diagram shows the problem and you can fix it safely. My advice is get an electrician.

I recently rebuilt my kitchen and I got a nice new multimeter, voltage detector and I found and fixed a variety of things, garbage disposer switch wired on neutral and not hot side of switch, ungrounded "grounded" outlets. One circuit contained west wall 2 outlets (stove vent and counter) fed by nm cable (new 3 conductor cable hot, neutral, ground, and one outlet with originla 2 conductor cable in and out and no ground although the "original" outlet was a 3 prong outlet, northwall refrigerator outlet 2 conductor original cable in again grounding outlet but no electrical ground and at least one ungrounded grounding outlet 20 feet away in the living room and had been tapped into to feed outlets in the garage..

At that point I threw up my hands and called an electrician in. He had lived on the same cul-de-sac and was a little familiar with some of the oddities. I put in a new vent/microwave and refrigerator circuits in and a sub-panel in the garage.

You oughta be able to get a multi-meter and maybe even a circuit out of this. Be advised the electrician and code may require replacing the fuse box with a circuit breaker box.
Link Posted: 9/12/2004 9:28:22 PM EST
guess you never got my IM, huh ?
Link Posted: 9/12/2004 11:26:41 PM EST

Originally Posted By PaDanby:
DO NOT USE FOR NEC GUIDANCE JUST IDEAS



Oh, sure. Somebody had to bring the Code into it...
Link Posted: 9/13/2004 12:52:22 AM EST
Did I say anywhere I followed the code in my kitchen???
Link Posted: 9/13/2004 9:15:51 AM EST
Try wiring up a three way, talk about fun. Not like shipboard wiring.
Link Posted: 9/13/2004 9:37:45 AM EST

Originally Posted By PanzerOfDoom:
Try wiring up a three way, talk about fun.



PITFA
Link Posted: 9/13/2004 9:47:19 AM EST

Originally Posted By AZ-K9:
Ok, a flourescent light crapped out, and I'm responsible for replacing it. I got a new one, wired it up, and no luck....... Checked the two wires, no juice coming from them. Went to the switch (old house, bulit in the 40'2-60's) and pulled it. Total of three wires in box, two wired together then to the switch, with the other wire on the other terminal of the switch. I put in a different switch, no luck. I pulled all of the wires apart and checked them for juice. The two that were wired together (then to one terminal on the switch) show 120V when I put the leads on the two wires and the lone wire(wired to other terminal of switch) does'nt show anything compared to the others.

So I go thru and reconnect all the wires as they were, no luck.

WTH?



Did you turn the breaker back on
Link Posted: 9/13/2004 10:10:48 AM EST
I wired my entire new addition and basment- still cant figure out theat 3-way crap....
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