confused with wiring switch


Old 01-10-08, 04:06 PM
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confused with wiring switch

I changed switches a while back on a two switch outlet plate. I left one switch off/vacant because I didn't know what it controlled. Afterwards, I had a neaby outlet not work - no juice to it. And, the switch that I left vacant is what confuses me. It has a set of wires comming from top and bottom. The wh wire from each are connected to eachother, and the black wires are as well. Then one red wire. Both black wires and one red wire is always hot. Is this normal for three wires to be hot?

The other switch on this plate is a 3way but, it it has to be on in order for the switch accross the room to work the light. Both of these have one set of the same colored wires, wh, rd, blk. I can't figure this out either.

Any recommended resources for electrical know how? We have 28 units that I maintain too. Fixtures and outlet changing is about as far as I can get. Currently, I would like something to tell me exactly how to wire in new cieling lights. One new light, I want to use the first problem switch above.


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Old 01-10-08, 07:47 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
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You should not be doing this kind of work in a commercial building without knowing what you are doing. more importantly, someone before you did not know what he or she was doing. Improper or lack of knowledge can lead to fires. Fires can lead to death. Death (in this type of situation) can lead to jail time.

Think very carefully if you want that sort of liability on your shoulders. If I were in your shoes, I would politely decline to do electrical work.

In my opinion, your doing anything beyond replacing an occasional light or switch would be very unwise. No offense, but I would not want to live in a residence that someone with your lack of knowledge installed a new light in.

The issue you have raised are trivial to correct. ANY book on home wiring will address them. Books are readily available at the library and at the big box stores.

Someone replaced a receptacle that was partially switched and had no idea that they needed to break the tab off for the new receptacle, or they intentionally wired the new receptacle to always be hot. Find the receptacle that has a red wire attached to one of the brass screws and a black wire to the other. Break off the tab and the switch will control the receptacle. It's possible that more than one receptacle need to be fixed, so you may have lots of work to do.

Three way switches can only be wired in three ways that are electrically unique. What is important is the wire attached to the common screw. Three times three equals nine. There are only nine unique ways to wire the switches. One of them will be correct. Or you can look at the light and see how that is wired. It will immediately tell you how to wire the switches.

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