too many wires

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  #1  
Old 06-23-04, 04:07 AM
anniejac
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too many wires

I just removed on older lighting fixutre from my dinning room. There two groups of wires to this fixture. I think one group of black, white, bare wires appears to come from a wall switch. The second appears to be going away from the fixture. My problem is now I will install a ceiling fan with light fixture. As I have not installed this yet none of the wires are connected. Leaving the wiring for another day I went upstairs only to find that the bed room had no power. Could this fixture and the bed room be a series? Why would a room upstairs and a room downstairs be electrically in line?
 
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  #2  
Old 06-23-04, 05:06 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
It is common, especially in older homes to have outlets all over the house on the same circuit. In newer construction this is less common, but with lights it can still be the case.

By the way, don't use the term series when describing this setup. You may confuse some of the people reading this. The cables may go in series from one outpet to the next, or they may go in a star fashion, or they may take both routes. Further confusing the issue is that all outlets are wired in parallel as far as the individual not and return conductors are concerned.

Now the lecture. You should know beforehand what outlets in your house are on each circuit. You should have known when you turned off the power to the dining room light what other rooms would be without power.

As soon as possible you should completely map out your entire house as far as electrical circuits are concerned. Your life or the life of a loved one may depend on you knowing exactly what circuit breaker controls a particular outlet.

Now to your situation. Did you pay attention to how the wires were connected before you removed the old light? Your new light will be wired in a similar manner. However, do you know if this ceiling box can support a fan? It might not be able to. being a dining room fixture it probably can, but you need to determine this before you begin to make sure.
 
  #3  
Old 06-23-04, 05:30 AM
anniejac
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too many wires - 2

I did notice that both ground wires were contected to each other and to the box for grounding. I'm having trouble figuring out which black and whites were wired together. I think I can determine which is the "hot" wire with use of a circut checker. Once I know that it's going to be hit or miss putting the loop back together. Any hints to make this easier?
 
  #4  
Old 06-23-04, 06:07 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Oregon
Posts: 1,219
First confirm that you did turn the power off prior to removing the light and opening up the junction box.

Next, record how the wires are connected, if any are still connected.

Next carefully separate all of the wires, and make sure that the ends are touching nothing. The next step requires power, and exposed wires, and is dangerous. If you are not comfortable using a circuit tester, then call an electrician.

Report back with the following information, and we can probably help:

1) How many cables enter the box.

2) How many and what color wires are in each cable.

3) What sort of box is installed.

4) Which wire(s) on which cable(s) is(are) 'hot'.

5) If anything changes based upon switch position.

6) Does your bedroom circuit get power again when you turn on the circuit breaker, even when the wires in the lamp junction box are disconnected.

A report might look something like this:

2 cables
cable 1: three wires: black, white, bare
cable 2: three wires: black, white with black tape on it, bare
the box is a round metal box about 3.5" around and 0.5" deep.
cable 1 black wire is 'hot'
no other wires are hot in all switch positions.

-Jon
 
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