Wiring outlet and dimmer switch.. HELP!


Old 07-18-05, 09:24 AM
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Wiring outlet and dimmer switch.. HELP!

I currently have a standard switch and outlet wired together in my dining room. I want to replace the switch with a dimmer. I can't figure out how to complete the circuit. The house has old wiring (one black, one white and one white with black tape around it) as well as new white and black lines.

The outlet has black and white lines running out of it, along with 2 screws per side.

How do I complete this circuit? I spent hours on it yesterday and either tripped the circuit breaker, had the DR light "always on", or the DR light wouldn't work. The additional problem is some of the living room outlets are wired to this outlet/switch box. As it stands right now, if I turn on the DR light, the outlets in the LR go out! If I leave it off, the LR outlets work and the DR light is on very dim.

This can't be good.. Please help!
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Old 07-18-05, 11:09 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 973
Are you talking about a SINGLE device that has both a switch and a recepticle, similar to this? If so, are you wanting to replace it with a dimmer, thus eliminating the receptical completely?

If you are not talking about a single device, are you then talking about a standard duplex receptical that is in the same box as a standard switch? If so, how exactly are (were) they "wired together"?

On the wiring...How many *cables* come into this box, and what wires does each cable have (include any cables that are shoved in the back, wirenutted together, etc)?

Finally, how did everything connect BEFORE you began changing things?

Last edited by chirkware; 07-18-05 at 11:23 AM.
Old 07-18-05, 02:19 PM
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Clarifying questions, sort of..

First, I can't remember how things were hooked up prior to switching things around. I had wired the same set-up across the hall from this one but for some reason this isn't working.

There are 2 separate devices. One is an outlet with 2 plug-ins. There are copper and wire attachment points on the sides but there are also black and white lines running out the back. I did not have these lines on the one across the hall, so I think this might be part of my problem.

The other device is a regular toggle switch. That is what I'm looking to replace. The outlet would stay, though I'm thinking about switching that out and working with an outlet without the lines coming out the back of it.

If I understand your question correctly, there is one "cable" with a black, white and ground wire. The other lines coming in are old (covered with the old spongy exterior), including white, white with black electrical tape around in one spot, and a black line.

The wiring across the hall has "old" and "new" white run to the outlet. All black lines, including a piggy back line from the outlet, run together. He the last connection is the other lead from the dimmer switch to the "other" black line (lines across the hall are 2 black and 1 white).

I'm concerned, again, that the line out the back of the outlet on the one I'm trying to wire is causing my problem. Is there something else I'm missing? Does the wiring I mentioned above make sense?

Thanks in advance for your help!
Old 07-18-05, 02:32 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 973
Originally Posted by cscottski
If I understand your question correctly, there is one "cable" with a black, white and ground wire. The other lines coming in are old (covered with the old spongy exterior), including white, white with black electrical tape around in one spot, and a black line.

OK, so there is one "modern" cable that has a black, white, and a bare ground.

Then you mention other "lines"...here's where the picture is still muddy. You mention two whites (one with black tape) but only mention one black. Either there are two older cables (and thus another black that you have not mentioned), or these wires come in on conduit. Can you clarify that further?

Also, the white with black tape...do you recall whether this was one of the wires connected to the switch?

Do you recall whether any wires connected directly from the switch to the receptical?

Did the switch control the receptical, or did it work regardless of switch position?

Is all of this wiring controlled by the same breaker/fuse?
Old 07-18-05, 02:45 PM
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just to throw one out there... you said you did another one across the hall... were they three way switches? as in did both switches control the same light fixture? If so, things may get a little complicated... if you don't know for sure, look at the old switch if you still have it... and if there's two brass colored screws it's a regular switch, if there's 3 screws, then it's a three way switch (both examples didn't mention the green grounding screw which will be located on the frame of the swtich and not on the actual plastic body of the switch)

Edited to add: the "cable" with the black white and bare wire and the old wires with the spongy exterior, Is this all that's in the box total? as in this is all that was in the box for both the switch and the outlet? If so, then it's not a 3 way switch. I had just thought of that, and realized that my post may have been useless if that's the case... heh.

Also, the 2 screws per side on the outlet are quite simple... as long as the little silver/brass colored tabs that connect the two screws together are intact. the brass colored screws are the hot screws, and the silver screws are the neutral screws. in a typical situation, the hot wire will be black and the white wire will be the neutral.

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