Wiring/Lighting Problem

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  #1  
Old 10-12-05, 01:04 PM
jasonchang
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Wiring/Lighting Problem

I live in a 1920's condo (in New Jersey) that was upgraded with a circuit breaker. The wiring is copper.

I recently tried to replace a ceiling light fixture in my bedroom.

The existing j-box has 3 wires: 1-black with 1-white [#1], and 1-white [#2] (which is grouped with a bunch of other wires, incl. red).

I connected the new fixture to these 3 wires: black-black, white-white, green-white [#2].

I flipped the breaker switches back on, flipped the light switch & pop, the circuit blew. Not only that, the circuit to wall outlets in the bedroom also blew.

At that point, I decided to abandon the new ceiling fixture & go back to the old. The old fixture has only 2 wires: 1-black & 1-white.

I decided to connect black-black, white-white [#1], & simply put a wire-nut over white [#2]. The good news is that the lights are back on in my bedroom. But all the outlets are now controlled by the light switch to the ceiling fixture. Also, if I turn the ceiling light on by itself, it's very dim. But when I turn other lights on in the room that are connected to the outlets, the ceilign light gets brighter with each fixture I flip on. Lastly, when I turn on the TV in the bedroom, it automatically turns off (in 1 sec).

Q1: Is there a safety concern (i.e. white [#2] wire capped]?

Q2: How do I re-wire so that the room works like before? Where the light switch controlled the ceiling light & the outlets operate independently. I forgot to take note of the configuration when I disconnected the ceiling light initially.
 
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Old 10-12-05, 01:13 PM
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I forgot to take note of the configuration when I disconnected the ceiling light initially
These words strike fear into the hearts of every electrician and electrical DIYer around the world. This is a major mistake.

This is a very common problem. It comes from not accurately recording the way the old fixture was connected, and not connecting the new fixture exactly as the old one.

Matching wires by color is not always correct. It is going to be possible to fix this, but it's going to be much, much harder than if you had carefully recorded the prior connections.

You need to give us a complete and accurate inventory of the wires in the ceiling box (not counting the ones from your new fixture). Tell us all the cables and all the wires within each cable. Be precise. Words like "bunch" are not allowed. We need exact numbers.
 
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Old 10-12-05, 01:21 PM
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The green wire from the light is a ground wire. It does not sound like your wiring includes a ground (which is okay, since it's old). In this case the green ground wire should be connected to the metal box and to nothing else.

The tripped circuit breaker is because you connected a hot wire to a return wire.

The dim light is because you ended up with the light in series with some other device or devices on the same circuit, like the TV. This won't hurt the light (it will just be dim) but it will hurt the TV and possibly whatever else is plugged in. Turn the breaker off, unplug everything on the circuit and don;t try to use it again until you sort the problem out.

As John said, provide us with a complete inventory of the wiring at the light and at the switch.
 
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Old 10-12-05, 03:17 PM
jasonchang
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John & racraft,

Yup, I should have recorded the original config. Next time.

Anyway, I'll try to clarify the existing wiring.

The box in the ceiling is old, brown in color, & circular.

2 wires comes out from the left side: 1-black & 1-white.

1 wire come out from the right side: 1-white. Also from the right, 3-4 red & black wires run through the box & back into the ceiling. They have nothing to do with the ceiling light. This white wire is the one that sparks (even with the breakers for the room 'off').

I described the scenario over the phone to Terry Peterman & he thinks that the white wire could be a 'loaded neutral'. He suggested that I reconnect the ceiling light: black-black & 2 whites-white.

Further evaluation is appreciated folks.
 
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Old 10-12-05, 03:37 PM
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I have never heard the term loaded neutral.

Please tell us the wires at the switch.

Do you remember anything at all about the original wiring? Do you have any testers of any sort?
 
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Old 10-12-05, 03:37 PM
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I've never heard the term "loaded neutral".

So the red and black wires the run through the box that have nothing to do with the ceiling light are unspliced within the box, right? They are continuous, unbroken, unspliced wires without wire nuts, right?

Your wiring corresponds to no known pattern. Anything we could say without further on-site investigation would be a pure guess.

Tell us the wiring in the switch box.
 
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