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Posted: 1/12/2005 1:19:21 PM EDT
whoakay.... I'm still trying to fix my hall light.
( the light flicks on for a half second, then goes out. - I have 120V at the switch)

I opened up the lightswitch box..but I'm not sure what I have.

two black wires and a bare ground wire attached to switch. BUT, there are 2 or 3 'groups' of wires- each w/ white, black and ground. ie - 3 different romex cables comming in- the 3 white wires are pigtailed w/ a nut, 3 bare ground wires pigtailed together, and 2 black wires going to the back of the switch.

Is this the right type of switch???

My research shows that's it's common to install the wrong type of switch, but no one could explain the differences, or which type of switch I would need.

can anyone shed some light on this for me???

Link Posted: 1/12/2005 1:23:22 PM EDT
Looks like someone tapped into the switch to get juice elsewhere.
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 1:26:01 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Only_Hits_Count:
If you have 2 light switches controlling the hall light, you need a 3 way switch.

Other wise, you just need a single pole...
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 1:26:55 PM EDT
If the light comes on and then goes out, first thing to try would be to replace the switch.

Did it work before? Is this problem recent?

Link Posted: 1/12/2005 1:27:26 PM EDT
far as I can tell... It runs off of another outlet in the bedroom- on the same circuit.

I don't know why there are 3 cables coming in though.....I would think it would only be two- 1 from the outlet to the switch, and then the wiring to the socket from the switch.
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 1:31:37 PM EDT

Originally Posted By heavily_armed:
If the light comes on and then goes out, first thing to try would be to replace the switch.

Did it work before? Is this problem recent?



agreed...but I'm confused between whether I need a single pole or a 3 way.

The switch only controls the hall light -as far as I know.
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 1:32:25 PM EDT
Hell,
I thought this was some gay sex thread.
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 1:35:33 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Sylvan:
Hell,
I thought this was some gay sex thread.




EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 1:36:53 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Only_Hits_Count:

Originally Posted By heavily_armed:
If the light comes on and then goes out, first thing to try would be to replace the switch.

Did it work before? Is this problem recent?



agreed...but I'm confused between whether I need a single pole or a 3 way.

The switch only controls the hall light -as far as I know.



Wait a minute..... You didn't answer his question.   How many switches control the light?  1, 2, or 3?
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 1:37:50 PM EDT
1. where is the 3rd black wire?
2. How many switches control the light?
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 1:43:25 PM EDT
First, don't ever assume you know what wires go to an outlet, unless you test it with a continuity tester.  You're looking to get fried.

Second, If you don't know if you need a single or double pole switch, you need to secure the circuit, and call an electrician, you'll either get fried or burn the house down.

No flame intended, but if you don't have the basic knowledge of household circuitry to tell what's going on, pay $50 and have a pro fix it (and show you what he's doing)
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 1:44:26 PM EDT

Originally Posted By cjgem:
1. where is the 3rd black wire?
2. How many switches control the light?



"where is the 3rd black wire" - damn good question-I couldn't see the wire too well...where should it go???

Just one switch for the hall light as far as I can tell. There are no 'unaccountted for' switches.
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 1:46:11 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Only_Hits_Count:
whoakay.... I'm still trying to fix my hall light.
( the light flicks on for a half second, then goes out. - I have 120V at the switch)

I opened up the lightswitch box..but I'm not sure what I have.

two black wires and a bare ground wire attached to switch. BUT, there are 2 or 3 'groups' of wires- each w/ white, black and ground. ie - 3 different romex cables comming in- the 3 white wires are pigtailed w/ a nut, 3 bare ground wires pigtailed together, and 2 black wires going to the back of the switch.

Is this the right type of switch???

My research shows that's it's common to install the wrong type of switch, but no one could explain the differences, or which type of switch I would need.

can anyone shed some light on this for me???





( Electrician chiming in )

I can pack as many actual wires in ANY box, as the code allows.

They don't have to be related to the light/switch AT ALL.......

Just because you have more than two wires in the switchbox, means nothing.

Any box can be used for a multitude of splicing needs, including feed-thru splices, taps, etc.


Just kill the power and replace the switch....... It's probably going bad, judging on what you've posted here.




Hope that helps  

JB



Link Posted: 1/12/2005 1:47:06 PM EDT
then you need a single pole switch.

but i agree, no offense, but you dont have tthe knowlege to do this, Im in my last semester of Electrical school, and Im having a hard time of seeing what youre trying to describe, you just never know where wires come from, etc.

get an electrician.
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 1:50:41 PM EDT

Originally Posted By xanadu:
First, don't ever assume you know what wires go to an outlet, unless you test it with a continuity tester.  You're looking to get fried.

Second, If you don't know if you need a single or double pole switch, you need to secure the circuit, and call an electrician, you'll either get fried or burn the house down.

No flame intended, but if you don't have the basic knowledge of household circuitry to tell what's going on, pay $50 and have a pro fix it (and show you what he's doing)



+1
He needs someone there to do it right, not try it himself by remote control.  The consequences are too grim.
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 1:51:23 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/12/2005 1:58:22 PM EDT by cjgem]
OK, The 3rd black wire is most likley taking power to another point in your house and they just used your switch box as a juction.  You only need a single pole switch.  I'm at agreement with an earler post that your swith is most likely bad.  It could also be the light socket or fixture.  Oh yah.  Before you mess around with taking off any wires:

1. kill the power
2. mark your wires so you can reattach correctly.
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 1:54:48 PM EDT
Kill the juice, get a single pole switch, and hook it up exactly as the original switch.  Don't light your hair on fire!
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 1:55:14 PM EDT
I can handle the wiring...I just need a coherent explanation of 3 way vs. single pole.

I'll check the continuity from the outlet I think is feeding the switch.

and find where the other wire go.

from some info I found:

"Electricians get many repair calls when a homeowner has wired a three-way switch incorrectly. Or, an old three-way switch has been accidentally replaced with a single-pole switch, which won't operate the light correctly.

It's not necessary to understand the whole theory of how a three-way switch system is wired. But it's important to remember which wire was connected to the common screw of the old switch.


Before doing any electrical work, turn off the circuit. Double-check it with a circuit tester to make sure that it's dead.


Put one test lead on the ground (copper or green color) wire or box if it's metal, and the other test lead on the hot wire, then the neutral wire. If the light stays off, the circuit is dead.


Take off the cover plate and unscrew the switch from the box. It's easy to identify a three-way switch because it has three screws (two brass and one dark).


Pull the switch out and label the wire hooked to the dark "common" screw.


Unhook the old switch and hook up the new one: ground wire pigtailed to the box, travelers to the light-colored screws (interchangeable), and most important, the labeled wire to the darker "common" screw.


Fold the wires back in the box, attach the switch to the box, and put on the cover plate.

"
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 2:06:21 PM EDT

this should help, pics always help
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 2:10:13 PM EDT
Guess you chose not to read my post above.........


Keep poking at it though.........  Maybe Magic will fix it



btw, with ONLY black & white wires in your switch box, you CANNOT have a 3 way switch.........


Maybe that'll clear things up for you.


Replace the switch.


JB
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 2:20:23 PM EDT

Originally Posted By JB69:
Guess you chose not to read my post above.........


Keep poking at it though.........  Maybe Magic will fix it



btw, with ONLY black & white wires in your switch box, you CANNOT have a 3 way switch.........


Maybe that'll clear things up for you.


Replace the switch.


JB



Yeah, I trust colors of wires as far as I can throw the "electrician" who wired them.

We've had at least 2 incidents where electricians used the wrong color wire to get something done. We've also had one electrician use colored tape on the end of black wire to indicate common/ground.

If it was working before, nobody has messed with it, and I can see exactly how it was/is hooked up... THEN I trust the wiring well enough to go with the (usual) color scheme.

If any of those 3 aren't possible, I test everything.

Don't ASSUME everything is always done right.
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 2:24:10 PM EDT
While sober,  turn off the power to the switch, verify by testing each combination of connections with an AC voltmeter--should have almost no voltage showing.

Take out the switch, label each wire exactly what it connected to. Draw a picture,  before unscrewing the wires.

Take the switch to Ace or a hardware store and tell them you want an exact replacement.

Rewire as it was before. Rewire it EXACTLY like it was before.

Turn the juice back on. If it still acts wierd, call an electrician. You could have a short or a damaged connection or wire.

I'm not an electrician. Safety First. Always assume a wire is live.
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 2:29:43 PM EDT

Originally Posted By steenkybastage:
Yeah, I trust colors of wires as far as I can throw the "electrician" who wired them.

We've had at least 2 incidents where electricians used the wrong color wire to get something done. We've also had one electrician use colored tape on the end of black wire to indicate common/ground.

If it was working before, nobody has messed with it, and I can see exactly how it was/is hooked up... THEN I trust the wiring well enough to go with the (usual) color scheme.

If any of those 3 aren't possible, I test everything.

Don't ASSUME everything is always done right.

Thats legal... as long as the white wire was re-identified as well... its actually required in certian instances...  So Im thinking you were wrong in that spot.
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 2:33:14 PM EDT

Originally Posted By steenkybastage:

Originally Posted By JB69:
Guess you chose not to read my post above.........


Keep poking at it though.........  Maybe Magic will fix it



btw, with ONLY black & white wires in your switch box, you CANNOT have a 3 way switch.........


Maybe that'll clear things up for you.


Replace the switch.


JB



Yeah, I trust colors of wires as far as I can throw the "electrician" who wired them.

We've had at least 2 incidents where electricians used the wrong color wire to get something done. We've also had one electrician use colored tape on the end of black wire to indicate common/ground.

If it was working before, nobody has messed with it, and I can see exactly how it was/is hooked up... THEN I trust the wiring well enough to go with the (usual) color scheme.

If any of those 3 aren't possible, I test everything.

Don't ASSUME everything is always done right.





Not assuming anything.  Going by what was posted.  

2 black wires, and 1 bare ground.......

Just ISN'T any way you can make that into a 3-way switch.

And, BTW....... the green tape is a completely legitimate AND code-legal manner in marking / identifying a conductor.   It's listed right in the NEC book....

Not saying there aren't hacks out there that THINK they're electricians,  or homeowners that butcher things right & left.... it happens WAY too often...

Again,  Just going by what was posted.....


Take it as you wish.

Link Posted: 1/12/2005 2:47:05 PM EDT

Originally Posted By xanadu:
First, don't ever assume you know what wires go to an outlet, unless you test it with a continuity tester.  You're looking to get fried.

Second, If you don't know if you need a single or double pole switch, you need to secure the circuit, and call an electrician, you'll either get fried or burn the house down.

No flame intended, but if you don't have the basic knowledge of household circuitry to tell what's going on, pay $50 and have a pro fix it (and show you what he's doing)



MAJOR +1
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 2:53:24 PM EDT
     If you only have two screws on the switch not counting the ground wire then you have a single pole switch.  If that is the case then you don't have to worry about which black wire goes where on that switch.  Three way switches have 3 screws not counting the ground. They are always used in pairs to control a light or lights from two different locations.  For example at each end of a hallway or top and bottom of a stair well.  To really upset things if you have 3 or more locations that you want to control a light or lights then you need two 3 way sw's plus 4 way switches.
      Now you know why the the apprenticeship is 5 years long.  That includes 3hrs of night school 2 nights a week.
 
      AND MAKE SURE YOU TURN THE POWER OFF BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING!
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 2:59:29 PM EDT

and 2 black wires going to the back of the switch

Sounds to me like who ever trimmed out that switch used the "speed wire" holes on the rear of the switch body, they're notorius for leading to a bad connection over time.  Make sure the wires are pushed ALL the way in and that they lock in tight.

Could be the cause of your problem.  or not.  
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 3:17:52 PM EDT

Originally Posted By osprey21:

and 2 black wires going to the back of the switch

Sounds to me like who ever trimmed out that switch used the "speed wire" holes on the rear of the switch body, they're notorius for leading to a bad connection over time.  Make sure the wires are pushed ALL the way in and that they lock in tight.

Could be the cause of your problem.  or not.  





Those damn things are more problems than they were EVER worth....... stupid damn idea to begin with....

As I said above, just change the switch..... Problem solved........ and use the screws !


If not, repost what happens........


JB

Link Posted: 1/12/2005 3:38:32 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/12/2005 3:47:23 PM EDT by Only_Hits_Count]

Originally Posted By exgi:
     If you only have two screws on the switch not counting the ground wire then you have a single pole switch.  If that is the case then you don't have to worry about which black wire goes where on that switch.  Three way switches have 3 screws not counting the ground. They are always used in pairs to control a light or lights from two different locations.  For example at each end of a hallway or top and bottom of a stair well.  To really upset things if you have 3 or more locations that you want to control a light or lights then you need two 3 way sw's plus 4 way switches.
      Now you know why the the apprenticeship is 5 years long.  That includes 3hrs of night school 2 nights a week.
 
      AND MAKE SURE YOU TURN THE POWER OFF BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING!




That's what I was looking for. That helps a lot.

And thanks to everyone else as well.

I read all the previous posts- the lag while i'm typing put the responses out of order sometimes.




Sounds to me like who ever trimmed out that switch used the "speed wire" holes on the rear of the switch body, they're notorius for leading to a bad connection over time. Make sure the wires are pushed ALL the way in and that they lock in tight.

Could be the cause of your problem. or not



I wouldn't use the speed connections at all if I had a choice. One of the wires does show 1/16 in. or so of copper on the back of the outlet- I didn't know if it was stripped back too far, or if the wire was coming out.

and I don't trust the wires based on color alone- NFW!!!
The last tenants couldn't even replace broken outlets OR the face plates....so I doubt they changed the switch. But I could be wrong. I wanted to try a new switch first, i just couldn't find a good comparioson/ contrast of the two.

I know my terminology is rough.....but I came here hoping for some clarification.and help.
I've met electricians that I wouldn't entrust with care and feeding of a dog- another reason I wouldn't trust color/ wiring until i confirmed what everything was.

I work slowly, and double check everything I do. I've added circuits and breakers before, so I figure I can replace a switch. If that doesn't work, I'll defer to professional help.

Thanks again.

Link Posted: 1/12/2005 3:43:39 PM EDT

Originally Posted By exgi:
     If you only have two screws on the switch not counting the ground wire then you have a single pole switch.  If that is the case then you don't have to worry about which black wire goes where on that switch.  Three way switches have 3 screws not counting the ground. They are always used in pairs to control a light or lights from two different locations.  For example at each end of a hallway or top and bottom of a stair well.  To really upset things if you have 3 or more locations that you want to control a light or lights then you need two 3 way sw's plus 4 way switches.
      Now you know why the the apprenticeship is 5 years long.  That includes 3hrs of night school 2 nights a week.
 
      AND MAKE SURE YOU TURN THE POWER OFF BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING!

or you just got to a tech school for EC&M, and have 2 years of aprenticeship after that.... with no night school...
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 3:49:34 PM EDT

Originally Posted By JB69:

Originally Posted By osprey21:

and 2 black wires going to the back of the switch

Sounds to me like who ever trimmed out that switch used the "speed wire" holes on the rear of the switch body, they're notorius for leading to a bad connection over time.  Make sure the wires are pushed ALL the way in and that they lock in tight.

Could be the cause of your problem.  or not.  





Those damn things are more problems than they were EVER worth....... stupid damn idea to begin with....

As I said above, just change the switch..... Problem solved........ and use the screws !


If not, repost what happens........


JB





while we're on that subject......what kind of voltage readings would i get at the socket if the wiring at the switch was loose??? would it fluctuate??? or go to zero after the intial voltage lights the bulb???
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 7:16:53 PM EDT
    110volts + or - 10%   OR  nothing.  If for some reason you get any other reading you have got BIG problems and need the services of a pro.
Link Posted: 1/12/2005 7:38:02 PM EDT
JB69, dosn't this sh&* frustrate you? So simple.

Only_hits  - Change the switch, personally, JB or myself would probably use our Kliens to momentarily jump out the switch, see that the light works, than go out to truck and get a $4.00 switch (we'd use a good one, silent type) change the switch an be done. And we didn't even turn off the breaker, but you better.

If it's not the switch, re-post. I'm curious. Good luck.
Link Posted: 1/13/2005 6:23:17 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/13/2005 6:29:13 AM EDT by steenkybastage]

Originally Posted By Jeremiah_Johnson:

Originally Posted By steenkybastage:
Yeah, I trust colors of wires as far as I can throw the "electrician" who wired them.

We've had at least 2 incidents where electricians used the wrong color wire to get something done. We've also had one electrician use colored tape on the end of black wire to indicate common/ground.

If it was working before, nobody has messed with it, and I can see exactly how it was/is hooked up... THEN I trust the wiring well enough to go with the (usual) color scheme.

If any of those 3 aren't possible, I test everything.

Don't ASSUME everything is always done right.

Thats legal... as long as the white wire was re-identified as well... its actually required in certian instances...  So Im thinking you were wrong in that spot.



Well, it wasn't ME... Altho I was helping wire up the lighting system with 2 electricians (2 different occasions). The one I recall being the biggest PITA, was when the former "electrician" wired up some of the neutrals with yellow and some with light blue wire.

And it wasn't even like all the rest of the wires were the same color (other than the rest of the neutrals). There were probably 5 or 6 different colors used. I don't recall if there were any yellow or light blue wires that weren't neutral... I certainly hope not.

We spent a couple hours trying to figure out why there were only around 60 neutral (white)wires leading back to the junction box, but yet over 90 hot (colored) wires.

Fortunately, we actually counted, and tried to pair up each of them before we re-wired everything. The previous "electrician" didn't even have all the neutrals leading back to the same breaker box as where the hot wire was coming from.

Oh, the reason they were out there fixing everything on that occasion... The neutrals kept catching fire/melting where we spliced into them to extend the cables to the dimmer packs. The former "electrician" had crammed all of those cables (I think around 140 or 150) into 3 or 4 condouits. You literally couldn't have fit another wire thru there. Those condouits were BLISTERING hot when all the production lights were on for very long.

When I was a kid, we also had an "electrician" come out and hook back up a power line to our house that had been knocked down by a tree limb in a storm. He hooked something up backwards (I assume hot and ground... but dunno) and blew out everything in our house that was plugged in and turned on at the time. Our insurance company loved that one... I think they went after the "electricians" employer/insurance.
Link Posted: 1/13/2005 1:02:35 PM EDT
alllrightty!!!!


I changed out the switch - I used a higher quality 'prograde' Leviton switch.

Used the side screws- no speed slots- and wrapped the wires in a clockwise direction.

I now have a functioning hall light.

Thanks again.


Now, about my hot water heater.....


I put the multimeter on it...no voltage at the upper thermostat- directly wired from the power supply lines, no voltage at the heating elements.... I'm thinking maybe a bad breaker?????

But it's a 'double' breaker- 2- 20A fuses that operate as a pair.  
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