Can't Switch Off Ceiling Light Fixture


Old 11-11-00, 09:09 AM
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I installed a ceiling fixture and followed the directions - black-to-black, white-to-white, and ground to ground. The light goes on when I turn on the power, but the switch on the wall won't operate the fixture. The box in the ceiling box had a red wire as well. Was I supposed to do anything with that? The wall switch appears to be a 3-way. Does this have something to do with the problem?
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Old 11-11-00, 05:04 PM
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The black-to-black and white-to-white instructions work well if your light is at the end of the run. In your case, it obviously is not.

Is there only one black wire, one white wire, and one red wire in the ceiling box? Or might there be other wires you didn't mention? And you say that the switch "appears" to be 3-way -- is there also a second 3-way? Does the switch lever have "on" and "off" printed on it or not?

Somebody else may feel comfortable making a guess without this information, but I'd prefer to know the answers to the above questions before suggesting a solution.

I'm sure there's a simple solution.
Old 11-11-00, 06:09 PM
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Red face

There are only the 3 wires and a ground copper wire in the ceiling box. And yes, there are two 3-way switches. Both have "on" and "off" printed on them. The first operated a lamp that was plugged into an outlet. Since you asked about it, I tested the first switch and discovered it is no longer operating the lamp.

There is quite a bit of wiring in the switch box. There appear to be 4 sets of wires entering the box. Two of them have red wires which are attached to the top part of the switches. The other two do not have red wires; only white, black and copper. There is a short piece of black wire which goes from switch #2(the ceiling light switch)to switch #1. Another piece of black wire leaves switch #2 and joins the 4 black wires in the box under a wire cap. All four of the white wires are twisted together and capped. The ground wires are also twisted together and held together with a small metal clamp.

I hope this is the info you needed.
Old 11-11-00, 07:59 PM
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If your switches have on-off markings on them, they are not 3-way switches. Probably what you had was 1 switch that controlled the outlet, and 1 switch that controlled the ceiling light. Try hooking up your light to the red wire, along with the white wire. This may solve the problem.

Did you do anything with the switches, like replace them? What about the switch controlled outlet? Did you replace it? Let us know about these other items.

Old 11-12-00, 04:26 AM
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Red face

I tried your suggestion. However, when I turned the power back on the light came on even though the switch was in the "off" position. When I flipped the switch to "on" it tripped the power at the service panel.

The house is not quite a year old so all of the wiring is original. I haven't replaced any of the outlets or switches.

I live in Florida so all the ceiling boxes are supposed to handle a ceiling fan. Don't know if that makes a difference.
Old 11-12-00, 07:32 AM
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Try this, connect the black from the fixture
to the red in the box instead of the black, and cap the black wire. I suppose, since this box is supposed to be capable of hosting
a fan, the black is a continuous hot.
Old 11-12-00, 11:41 AM
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I think Gary is right.

This light will operate on either the black and white pair, or the red and white pair (actually, it should operate on either depending on which switch you want to use to turn it on -- the other switch will do nothing and that's okay).

I think the mistake you made was not capping off the wire you were not using, thus allowing it to short out to ground. Also be careful with the ground wire, and not allow it to contact any other color wire.

We were confused because you said the switch was a 3-way. This is a terminology problem. As Rick said, you do not have a 3-way switch.

One other thing to be careful. Since you opened the switch box, you may have dislodged a connection there, or allowed wires not previously touching to touch. Be very careful packing these wires back into the box.

Good luck.
Old 11-12-00, 03:34 PM
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Not-too-handy (or becoming more handy)

If you don't have it fixed yet, this may help clarify things. When Rick M said "Try hooking up your light to the red wire, along with the white wire."; he meant to hook the red to the black and white to white on the fixture. Yes and do cap off the black wire in the box for the light fixture. If you hooked up the red and white wires together together onto the lights white wire and the black to black this explains throwing the breaker when you turned on the lights.

It appears to me like all of your black wires are hot all of the time (connected together in the switch box). The red wires are the switched hot for the light and the receptacle.

By the way, three way switches are used when one light is turned on and off from two different locations; like both ends of a hallway. They are wired differently. Let us know how it goes. Also, your receptacle for a lamp may be wired so that one half has power all the time and the other half is switched.

Good Luck,
Phil H

P.S. Also, hook up your ground for your light

[This message has been edited by Phil H (edited November 12, 2000).]
Old 11-12-00, 04:25 PM
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Thumbs up

Hooray!!! I connected the red from the box to the black on the fixture and everything's working fine.

Thanks so much guys for all the help! And for the useful tips.
Old 11-12-00, 05:57 PM
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Just reread my post, and I can see how there could have been some misunderstanding. Sorry about that.

Anyway, you got it working correctly! Hurrah!!


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