Replace Old Dimmer Switch With New One

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Old 03-12-08, 08:44 AM
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Replace Old Dimmer Switch With New One

For starters, I am not an electrician by any stretch of the imagination. But, I have wired GFCI outlets and single-pole switches. So, I am not a complete greenhorn.

My problem is this:

I have a bank of recessed lights controlled by 2 dimmer switches. One switch in the same room and one switch in another. My lights have been acting funny (flickering rapidly) for some time and finally went out completely. I tried the obvious in switching the light bulbs which did not work. So, I assumed the switch used predominately was bad.

I wanted to replace the dimmer with a standard 3-way switch but after seeing the mass of wires in my junction box (this box has 5 dimmers and 1 flip switch) I lost confidence in my "line-load" ability. I thought the easiest route would be to replace the dimmer switch with a new one. My confusion came when I noticed the old switch only had 3 wires and no ground all on one side. My new switch has 4 wires (2 on top and 2 on bottom). I tried using common sense in determining which wires went where. I connected the "single" wire from the old switch with the single wire next to the ground on the new switch. Likewise, I connected the two top wires (which came out of the same hole on the switch) from the old switch with the remaining wires on the new one.

Am I correct in guessing that the single black wire from the old switch was the "hot" and should have been connected to the single black on the bottom of the new switch? The reason I ask this is, after I connected the new switch up, the lights still did not work, meaning I either hooked it up wrong or the other switch is bad. If the latter is the case I want to insure I connect the new one up correctly.

Thanks. Hope this wasn't too confusing.
 
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Old 03-12-08, 10:44 AM
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A threeway dimmer should have three wires plus ground (green). Two of those wires will be the same color and are the travelers. One will be a distinct color from the other (but not green). That is the common. If you used a standard switch it would be two same colored screw and one distinctly colored screw. Wires should be switched based on color not position of wire or screw on switch because that can vary.

Do you mean your switch has four wires plus ground? Maybe it is a four way? It should have come with a wiring diagrams.
 
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Old 03-12-08, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
A threeway dimmer should have three wires plus ground (green). Two of those wires will be the same color and are the travelers. One will be a distinct color from the other (but not green). That is the common. If you used a standard switch it would be two same colored screw and one distinctly colored screw. Wires should be switched based on color not position of wire or screw on switch because that can vary.

Do you mean your switch has four wires plus ground? Maybe it is a four way? It should have come with a wiring diagrams.
My old dimmer only had 3 wires - 2 reds and a black - no ground green wire. It looked like the junction box was grounded from the incoming wall wires. My new dimmer has 2 reds, 1 black and one green.
After writing this I remember that I may have connected a red dimmer switch wire to a black wall wire but can't remember my reasoning without taking it out of the wall again.
 
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Old 03-12-08, 11:42 AM
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After taking the switch out of the wall again I noticed that it was connected to 1 red and 2 black wires coming from 2 separate wall wires. The set red and black wires came from a black coated wall wire and the other black wire came from a white coated wall wire. Either I chose the wrong black wire as the hot or something else is wrong.
 
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Old 03-12-08, 12:44 PM
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Problem fixed. I swapped the wiring in the new switch and replaced the 2nd dimmer with a flip switch (I sucked it up and attempted the line-load dilemma). Lights work from both switches and also dim.
 
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