Wall Switch- newbie needs help!!


  #1  
Old 11-03-03, 04:10 PM
Lyle77
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Wall Switch- newbie needs help!!

Hello. I have a problem.

I have a light in our utility room that keeps going off. I want to attempt to change the wall switch. I need to know what I am doing, pretty much step-by-step. I have taken off the wall plate, and there are two wires: black on the left, white on the right, each wrapped around a screw. Please help me. Thanks.
 
  #2  
Old 11-03-03, 04:20 PM
J
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I encourage you to get a book or two on home wiring. If you don't want to buy one at your home improvement center, you can check one out at your local public library.

Changing a switch is pretty easy. Go buy a switch of the same kind. If the old switch says "on" and "off" on the lever, make sure the new one does too.

First, shut off the circuit breaker. If you are unsure of which breaker it is, shut off the main breaker. Remove the two screws holding the switch to the box. Gently pull the old switch out of the box. Take the two wires (and grounding wire if present) off it without disturbing any of the other wires in the box (if any). Attach the grounding wire (if any) to the green screw on your new switch, and attach the other two wires to the other two screws (order doesn't matter). The wires should wrap clockwise around the screws. Carefully repack the wires back into the box, making sure the grounding wire (if any) stays well away from either of the other two screws.

If that fails to solve your problem, post back for other ideas.
 
  #3  
Old 11-03-03, 04:38 PM
Lyle77
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Thank you very much. I'll get right to it and let you know.
 
  #4  
Old 11-03-03, 05:25 PM
Lyle77
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Ok, I put in the new switch, and now it doesn't work at all. I noticed that the switch that I used didn't say on or off on it, and it had 2 screws on each side, one gold and one black each. I'm assuming the black ones were for ground wires, and I have no ground wire, just the white and black. The old switch only had two screws, one on each side. Did I use a wrong switch? Please let me know. Thanks.
 
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Old 11-03-03, 05:36 PM
R
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Yes, you used the wrong kind of switch. However, the switch will work just fine for what you want it to do.

All of that aisde, I suggest you go get a simple 2 way switch, rather than use what you have.

I also agree with John. Read up on electricity.

I am guessing that there is nothing wrong with your original switch at all, but rather some other problem.
 
  #6  
Old 11-03-03, 06:09 PM
Lyle77
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The light turned on with the old switch, it just kept blinking off. Now with this other switch, it doesn't even turn on. I'll try to get a 2-way tomorrow, and if that doesn't work, do I need an electrician? That's not something I really want to do, but I will if I must.
 
  #7  
Old 11-03-03, 06:27 PM
J
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You can use this switch if you want to. Just move one of the wires to another screw. If it still doesn't work, move that same wire to the last remaining screw (but don't put it on the grounding screw).
 
  #8  
Old 11-03-03, 11:29 PM
Lyle77
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Thank you so much for the help. I had three different rooms doing this, and normal logic would say that it was something other than the wall switches, but I replaced all three tonight, and they all work like a charm now. I am grateful for your help. We bought a kinda' starter house and I would like to use it to try and learn as much as I can in terms of fixing it up. This is a small step in that direction, and I intend on posting quite a bit more here. Once again, thank you.
 
  #9  
Old 11-04-03, 04:48 AM
R
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The switch you installed sounds like a four way switch. These switches are used in conjunction with 2 three way switches to control a circuit from three (or more) locations.

As you discovered, you can use a four way switch as a regular switch. You can also use a three way switch in the same manner. There are, however, two issues with this. The first is cost. three way and four way switches cost more than regular switches. This is not a problem if you have the switch laying around, or if your doing just a single switch or two, but you woulodn't want to wire a whole house this way.

The second issue is perhaps more important. three way and four way switches are not marked on and off, for obvious reasons. When used as three and four way switches the circuit may be on with the switch in either position. My understnading is that your use of a four way switch in your situation violates code. I am not a code expert, and do not have access to a copy of the code, so I cannot verify this. Perhaps I am remembering a local addition to the code. I am sure that there are others out tthere who can confirm or refute the code issue.

All of that aside, I would not use a four way switch as you have, at least not for the long term. I prefer switches to be marked on and off appropriately, and your switch is not.

Good luck with your house.
 
 

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