Need Help With Wiring. Probably Easy For Someone Here


Old 09-17-05, 07:30 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 65
Need Help With Wiring. Probably Easy For Someone Here

In my garage, I have an outlet and a light fixture in the ceiling. The outlet is for the garage door opener.

Since I bought the house, the light has had two places for light sockets, but only one has worked. SO I finally decided to replace the broken light socket so that I could have more light. I have also considered replacing the light fixture all together with a flourescent one. In fact, I bought one, but it would not cover the hole that is there from the current light. I think I can move the light around and get it into a stud and cover the hole, but that is for another day.

When I was taking the light down, I noticed that the 2nd socket was not connected to the white wire and that is why it would not work. The wiring did not seem right either. They had two sets of wires (Black, white and ground) all tied together (correctly of course), and I assumed that it was wrong. This house is a fixer upper and I figured since they had gotten most other stuff wrong, that this was wrong as well.

When I took the wires apart, I realized that the 2nd set of wires included a red wire as well. I did not know that some would have a 4th wire and had no idea what the red wire was for. I went to Home Depot and the guy in the electrical was in the back of the store "verifying" something and never came out to help. Heck, I was helping customers while I waited for him. Of course, what else could I expect from Home Depot. Their service has taken a major nose dive.

Anyway, I looked at some of the wiring books at HD, and saw that most did not say anything about a red wire. The best I could guess is that it is for a ballast, and of course the ballasts do not need their own line anymore.

The ground wires were wired together. The lights that determine if there is something blocking the doorway to the garage are direct wired to the outlet, and only work now when the light switch is turned on.

I tested the 2 sets of wires and found out the following:
WIre Set 1: (This set had electricity going to it)

Wire Set 2: (No electricity to it at all)

So I have figured out that the 1st set powers the 2nd set or wires. The 2nd set goes to the outlet in the ceiling.

I wired it back together like this:
1st set red to 2nd set black
whites together
grounds together
1st set black wrapped up by itself.

Now my problem is that everything works, but only if I have the light switch turned on. So I need to figure out how to wire it so that the garage opener stays on and is ready to go when you press the button and leave the light so that it is controlled by the switch.

How would I do the wiring to make that happen?
Can I leave the ground wires attached only to each other (or do they need to find some other metal to be attached to)?
Can I attach the ground wires to the metal bar that the light is screwed into to support it in the ceiling? (Once I get the wiring correct, I will probably go ahead and put up the new light).

Thanks in advance. I would have paid more attention when I was taking it apart, btu I figured that they screwed up as well.
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Old 09-17-05, 07:39 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
Cable that contains a red wire is most commonly used for two reasons.

One use for three and four way switches (2 or more switches that control that same light or receptacle). This is not your situation.

The other common use is for when it is necessary to bring constant power and switched power in the same cable. This is your case.

Your post is very vague and you have not clearly described your setup, but I will take a guess. I am guessing that your red wire also connects to the lights somehow. It should only connect to the lights. Connect the two black wires together (the ones from wire set 1 and wire set 2 in your description). This should solve your problem.

Let us know if it does or not. If it does not, post back with a better description of how the lights connect and also what the wiring is at the switch.

As for the ground wires, connect any and all ground wires together at each location. Also connect the ground wires to the box (if it is metal) and to the light, switch, or receptacle ground terminal or wire.
Old 09-17-05, 08:43 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 65
Thanks. Sorry for being vague. I thought I was giving too much information and was trying to cut it short so I did not bore people.

I will wire it as you said and let you know how it turns out.

Old 09-17-05, 08:50 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 65
What about the white wires?

This is what I will do:
Red wire to black wires on light
Black wire to black wire
White to white to white wires on light
ground to metal post that light screws to.

My setup is that I have a light in the garage (only one switch attached to it)and an outlet that is in the ceiling (the garage door opener is plugged into) and the lights that tell you if something is blocking the garage door are direct wired into that outlet.

I hope that describes it a little bit better.

Thanks again for the help.
Old 09-17-05, 09:21 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
I know nothing about the door sensor wiring. I would probably have to see it to understand it.

You are correct regarding the white wires. White wire are neutral wires.

Please read some books on wiring before your next attempt at electrical work. Electricity can kill. The book Wiring Simplified is a good place to start. It would have clearly explained the function of the wires you have been confused about, and you probably would not have had to post here.
Old 09-17-05, 10:32 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 65
Thanks for the help. That was exactly what it was for. The light works properly now.

I will look for that book asap. I looked at about 3 books at Home Depot, plus the Home Depot book that I have. None of them mentioned much about the red wire.

Thanks again

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