Wiring Mystery - Removed outlets, now power is down...

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  #1  
Old 04-10-06, 09:28 AM
susurran
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Wiring Mystery - Removed outlets, now power is down...

I'm a complete electrical dunce, so I'm perplexed by the situation at hand: I have a sunroom that leaks like a collander and so I wanted to remove all the exposed wiring runs to outlets that were exposed when I took out the rotting, moldy drywall. It appeared, before I began, that the two outlets in the room were simply splices of the main line that also powers the detached garage (there's an indoor switch that controls the outdoor garage lighting), so I simply unwired the black/white/ground runs from the mains and pulled out the outlets. Simple.

But when I went to rewire the garage line and threw the breakers back, the garage is completely without power. I'm not 100% certain I got the wiring correct (I thought everything was just black/black, white/white), so could I have blown out the fuse by doing it wrong the first time? The bigger question: Did removing the other splices somehow break the circuit? I can't imagine that's the case, I think I've either rewired wrong or blown a fuse. But I'm very confused.

The switch that controls the garage lighting is a 3-wire (red/black/white) switch fed from a simple two-wire main. The problem is there are TWO "main" runs -- one goes out to the garage (I think) and the other must be coming up from the breaker. Of the 3 wires coming out of the switch, I didn't need to mess with these two to get the other outlets out: red to black and black to white; all that's left to wire up is the white, which I assumed went to the other whites.

I know this is a total mess. Any thoughts are appreciated but I have no expectations of help.

Thanks,

Clay
 
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  #2  
Old 04-10-06, 09:52 AM
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Question Outlets removed

When you removed the outlets, did you connect the wires together in the boxes? Black to black, white to white, and ground to ground? When two sets of wires are connected to an outlet, the outlet serves as a connection between the wires "feeding" the outlet and those supplying current to the next outlet in the circuit.
 
  #3  
Old 04-10-06, 10:02 AM
susurran
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As far as I can tell, I put everything back the way it was prior to pulling the outlets. In other words, in the gangbox that houses the main and the garage run, there are no free-standing wires, white has been screwed back to white and black to black. I just want to be sure that by removing the outlet and the other two-wire run, I didn't open the garage circuit in some way.

So in the gangbox where the garage switch is fed and where the mainline and the garage run go down into the floor, there was an outlet AND a 2-wire splice that ran off down the wall to feed another outlet, which ITSELF then ran a 2-wire splice out to another outlet. I pulled the first run's cable from the "main" gangbox, removed the second outlet, and then just cut the second 2-wire run down to the quick and tucked it up under the cap edge, since it has no power now that it's removed from the other run. None of that should have anything to do with the splicing at the main gangbox though, right?
 
  #4  
Old 04-10-06, 10:17 AM
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"Black to white" does not sound good unless you removed a switch.

You need to get a tester and determine what you have. You may have removed the wrong wire, you may have miswired after you removed what you believe to be the receptacle wire.
 
  #5  
Old 04-10-06, 11:08 AM
susurran
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I didn't remove a switch but there IS another switch in the mix. A switch whose function has never been known to us, since we bought the house; it never seemed to do much of anything. So there are two switches, side-by-side, with both their wiring running down into the gangbox. See picture here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/126486836/

The Garage Light Switch black cable is a three-wire run (red, black, white) that was pre-wired when I opened the box to RUN A like this: Black to White, Red to Black, White to...I'm not sure now that I've unwired it. The Unknown Switch is a two-wire cable with simple W/W and B/B wiring. I'm still not sure which of the two in-ground runs goes out to the garage and which goes down to the breaker. I can find that out with a tester, I guess. Unless I've blown the breaker completely.

But given the picture posted above, and the 3-wire wiring described above, shouldn't the remaining white wire go with white, for sure? It's the only wire left un-wired when I took the outlet off; the red-to-black and black-to-white were already wired that way when it worked.

Thanks!!!
 
  #6  
Old 04-10-06, 11:14 AM
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Describe in detail the wiring that yuo have.
 
  #7  
Old 04-10-06, 11:23 AM
susurran
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I don't know if I can get more detailed than my last post, unless you mean house-wide.

Outside garage light switch: 3-wire to Run A like this: Red to Black, Black to White, White to _____ ?

Unknown Switch: 2-wire run to ___ not sure if it went with the black/white on Run A or Run B, now that I've taken it all apart. Not even sure what Unknown Switch does, or where the white cable that comes out the top of it goes.

Is there any clue to be had from knowing how the garage light switch was wired before I messed with it? (Meaning the pre-existing Red/Black, Black/White? Does that tell us that Run A is or is not the Main to the breaker?
 
  #8  
Old 04-10-06, 11:38 AM
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> Is there any clue to be had from knowing how the garage light switch was wired before I messed with it?

A better clue is if you disconnect everything, turn on the breaker, and figure out where the power is.

You can't salvage this mess easily. Too much of it was done incorrectly. For example, there are no box connectors.
 
  #9  
Old 04-10-06, 11:39 AM
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I want, in detail to know each cable and what color wires are in each cable. Then I want to know, in detail, what those wires are connected to. Do this for each of the three boxes in the picture.
 
  #10  
Old 04-10-06, 12:14 PM
susurran
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Okay, I just removed a huge variable from the picture. Just IGNORE the Unknown Switch and its cabling entirely: I went up there just now and unscrewed the switchplate to find that it was completely UNATTACHED and that all of the black and white wires are detached and each end taped up with electrical tape. The ONLY THING going on in that second switch is the grounds are attached (the grounds between the cable above the switchbox and the cable below); that's IT. So none of the cabling into or out of the Unknown Switch box do anything; they're completely taped shut.

So, that means we only have to deal with Garage Light Switch and the two black runs coming up from the floor.

Having said that, the EXACT wiring of the Garage Light Switch is as follows:

BLACK CABLE running from SWITCH to GANG BOX is a 3-wire, Red/White/Black. Before I did ANYTHING, it was wired to RUN A like this:

Switch black wire to RUN A white wire.
Switch red wire to RUN A black wire.
Switch white wire to ______ ?

There's no reason for any of the wires going into Unknown Switch to be wired to ANYTHING because that was just a dead box. So shouldn't Run A be the one that goes out to the garage, and Run B down to the breaker?
 
  #11  
Old 04-10-06, 12:17 PM
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How are the wires attached to the switch?

What are the RUNB wires attached to?

Where did the cable that goes to the sun room connect?

Tell me each and every cable and each and every wire in the cable.

Did you trip the circuit breaker or blow the fuse?
 
  #12  
Old 04-10-06, 03:49 PM
susurran
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Okay, I have just about everything figured out now.

One of the runs I assumed was just a splice from the main at the gangbox was, in fact, the main itself. I went out and bought a tester and on a whim stuck the leads onto the ends of the run I'd tucked up under the cap; it was hot. Since that run doesn't reach the gangbox where all the trouble is, I had to splice it back to the second 2-wire run I pulled, and then splice THAT to the rat's nest in the gangbox. I've learned some important things.

1. In the photo provided, RUN B is the underground wire that powers the garage itself. Outlets, door opener, lights; that's all RUN B.
2. RUN A is the switched exterior lights. That's the one that's already wired to the switch in the configuration already noted (switch's red to black, switch's black to white).

Can a 3-wire switch have ONLY a white-wire connection to the main and work? Or was the outlet that was in the gangbox before I removed it working as some sort of bridge? Since I didn't mess with the red or black wires at all, there's only the white left; I'm wondering what to do with that wire.
 
  #13  
Old 04-10-06, 07:02 PM
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How are the wires attached to the switch?

Tell me each and every cable and each and every wire in the cable.
 
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