Switch won't turn off newly installed light fixture

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  #1  
Old 04-29-07, 04:17 PM
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Switch won't turn off newly installed light fixture

Assuming the wiring color coding is area specific, wanted to let forum users know that I live in Toronto, Canada.

I installed few flush mounts in a recently purchased condo. All of these went fine, as they had existing light fixtures that I was replacing. I simply connected the white to the fixtures white and black from junction box to the black wire in the fixture and the fixture's bare copper wire to the ground nut on the mounting strip.

Now here's the problem. I had a junction box controlled by just one switch above the dining area. There was no existing light here, so I just went to Home Depot and brought a 3 bulb, focusing type fixture. I installed it just like the others, but after I turn the power ON from the circuit breaker, the light won't turn OFF from the light switch.

I don't get what I did wrong.
The only thing I noticed when I removed the decorative plate from over the junction box was that, there were 3 wire nuts. There were 3 or so white wires bunched together and then there were 3 or so black wires buched togeter AND there was a lone yellow color wire with a wire-nut at the end.

I left the yellow wire and did not connect it to anything in the fixture. I was thinking it is the ground. Since I connected the fixtures ground wire to the screw in the mounting strip, I thought that is enough. I guess, after connecting the fixtures ground wire to the screw on the strip, I should also bunch it together to the yellow wire and put the plastic cap on.

Anyway, it was difficult to install the fixture, so I don't want to remove it to solve the problem of why the switch is not turning it off. There is no other switch and I know this is the only switch that controls it, as we were renting a condo in the same building with the same layout and I know this switch controlled the dining area light in the rented condo.

I don't have a multi-meter or wire tester to check if the black is really the hot wire. As the light is turning it ON, when I turn the breaker ON, I think I have the right one's. I am guessing there were more than one white in the junction box, as it might be used to power other outlets in the house.

Is it possible that the switch is bad ?
I am thinking of getting a new one and replacing just to test, without removing the fixture. If that does not work, not sure what else I can do, other than return the light to Home Depot and use the halogen floor lamp we have, which I hate to do as that is not energy efficient.

I have read other users post in the forum with similar problem, but he seemed to have 3 switches controlling one light. I just have one, for sure.
 
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  #2  
Old 04-29-07, 05:30 PM
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If you don't want to remove the light then you are stuck with it always on. However, if you want to fix your problem you will have to remove the light.

However, before you do, remove the the switch (with the power off, of course) and examine the wires there. That should provide you enough information to solve your problem. You will, of course, have to remove the light to do so.

If you still can't figure it out, then post back with the details of the switch wiring (all the wires in the switch box) and we will be glad to explain it to you.
 
  #3  
Old 04-29-07, 06:52 PM
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It sounds as if you have a "soft" switch, which means the contacts are no longer working properly, although the toggle moves. Removing and replacing it is about the only way to test it for sure. Sometimes we can tell by the feel of the switch when turned on and off, and be about 80% correct.
 
  #4  
Old 04-29-07, 07:07 PM
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I am going to tell you what I think Racraft wants you to find on your own. Connect the fixture black to the yellow instead of the black wires. You are going to find a yellow and a black wire connected to the switch.
 
  #5  
Old 04-29-07, 07:16 PM
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Hi Chandler,

From the clicking sound and feel, and comparing how it feels on another switch that works, I don't see a difference. But again I am not as experienced as you guys, so I may not be able to tell.

racraft,

I don't have a problem removing the fixture. I just wanted to check with you guys to see if it is wise to first trying and replacing the switch. Provided that's not difficult. I will check how the wires are and report back. And maybe if the forum provides for photo attachments, I can post a picture of it. Though I am not sure what you mean by....examining the wires will provide enough clues.

joed,
Your suggestion regarding connecting the fixtures black to yellow in junction box might be worth a try. Just was not sure of doing it on my own, due to fear I ill blow something, off before I heard from forum users. But if this setup works, then shouldn't the switch be connected to Yellow and White ? As it seems the black is not connected on the fixture end, what would it do if it's connected on the switch end. What's interested is that when I saw the cap of the yellow wire in the junction box falls off, I saw the end of that wire was not peeled off...meaning the plastic covering the bare copper wire was intact till all the way in the end. Not sure what the electrician was trying to indicate by that.

In general, should I get a multimeter for me to do the testing of the "hot wire" or is just a voltage tester enough. I was thinking a multimeter might come handy for other things around the house.
 
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Old 04-30-07, 04:11 AM
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You can post pictures on a site such as photobucket.com and give us the url, and we can see what you see.
 
  #7  
Old 04-30-07, 04:25 AM
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joed has given you the answer I wanted you to find on your own.
 
  #8  
Old 04-30-07, 08:57 AM
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Another possibility is that the switch you are talking about does not control the junction box. It might control one of the outlets on the wall. Try to plug in a lamp to the outlets one by one to test.
 
  #9  
Old 04-30-07, 03:26 PM
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Joed,

I opened the switch and you were right. On the switch, the top screw is connected to a Yellow wire and the bottom is connected to a Black wire.

There is also a green wire, which is connected to a screw at the back of the aluminium receptacle. I guess this is for the ground.

So just to be sure, you are asking that I try this connection.

Fixture Black to Junction box Yellow
Fixture White to Junction box white
Fixture ground to the ground screw on the mounting strip.

I will try this setup, just am still not clear why you are asking me to connect the fixture white to junction box white though. The white is no where connected in the switch.
I was thinking shouldn't I connect

Fixture Black to Junction box Black
Fixture White to Junction box Yellow
 
  #10  
Old 04-30-07, 03:53 PM
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Mission Accomplished

Thanks Joed and Racraft !!

That was it. Did this

Fixture Black to Junction box Yellow
Fixture White to Junction box white


And it turns the light ON and OFF now.

Just for education though, what is the

Fixture White to Junction box white connection accomplishing ?
As there is no white connected in the switch, I don't understand how white is still providing the ungrounded, assuming Yellow is the hot wire now.
 
  #11  
Old 04-30-07, 09:06 PM
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The electric current must make a complete path through the light and back to the power company. The white wire is the return path, or the neutral wire. The white wire is not connected to the switch because the switch does not need a neutral wire. The switch is sued to open and close the hot wire. When the switch is on the yellow wire is hot. When the switch is off the yellow wire is open (not connected to anything).

Please buy and read a the book "Wiring Simplified." It will explain all of this to you. It would have told you what to look for to make this connection. You really should NOT be doing this type of work without at least a basic understanding of electricity.
 
  #12  
Old 05-01-07, 09:35 AM
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Hi racraft,

I actually have a Bachelors in Electronics and am a Software Engineer by profession, so I do know few things about Electrical area. Just that my knowledge is not from the standards in Canada as my education was outside North America.

It's just that in this case, the person who did the work did not follow the protocol that is normally used to indicate a hot wire i.e a Black Wire.

When they sell these fixtures at HD, they have instructions that assume the protocol would be followed and give instructions accordlingly. It indeed was followed, because I successfully installed 4 other flush mount type fixtures at other places in my house. It was just at this place that did not follow the norm.
I really wouldn't want to call an Electrician for simple things like this and as a new home owner do want to learn to fix few things myself, doing things wisely.

Thanks for the explanation though, it makes sense now.
 
  #13  
Old 05-01-07, 10:22 AM
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You are mistaken. In this case a black wire would almost never be used. To make it easier to differentiate between the switched hot wire and the always hot wire, a wire of a different color would be used. I am not familiar with Canadian color codes, so I do not know if yellow is allowed in Canada for a hot wire.

But you should note that someone familiar with electrical wiring would have known immediately to use the yellow wire. They probably would have tested it first and.or examined the switch, but they certainly would not have made the mistake you made.
 
  #14  
Old 05-01-07, 10:57 AM
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For the most part, Canadian "standards and practices" are mostly the same as in the USA.

Your condo is wired with conduit, so using a yellow wire for a switchleg for a light is common in that situation.

Probably as typical is ceiling junctions, in where a circuit branches out to other locations, in which case you probably wouldn't connect a lighing fixture to the "bunch of blacks", but to a lone non-neutral wire that is probably, and in your case, is there.
 
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