White or Black wire?

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  #1  
Old 06-21-08, 09:34 AM
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White or Black wire?

I am trying to wire a new light fixture in my kitchen. The house was built in 1968. I did not make note of the white and black wires when I took the old light down. Here is my problem. The wires coming in from the left side of the junction box are one black and two brown. The wires coming in from the right side of the junction box are one black and two brown. The black wires are joined together with a wire cap and sit up in the junction box. One brown wire from the left side goes to either the white or black wire on the light fixture. The other brown wire from the left side joins the two from the right side and these three were also either attached to the white or the black to the light fixture. There are two switches to this light. My question is how do I know which one is black and which one is white? Any help would be appreciated.
 
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Old 06-21-08, 11:21 AM
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Are you in the U.S.? Are these wires run through conduit? The brown wires might be seen in commercial U.S. wiring but are very unusual in residential.
 
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Old 06-21-08, 01:17 PM
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http://www.selfhelpandmore.com/switch-outlet/3-way/

Here's a page that shows the wiring for a 3-way circuit. You should be able to use an ohm-meter and figure out which wires are which. I'm guessing the black one is the hot lead from the breaker, but that's obviously a guess.
 
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Old 06-21-08, 01:52 PM
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I am located in the United States. I have replace other fixtures in this house and this is the first time I have come across brown wires.
 
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Old 06-21-08, 01:55 PM
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They are unusual, obviously the electrician had some left-over wire that he was using up. Normally, you'd see black & white for 2 plus ground, and red for the extra wire on 3 plus ground residential wiring.
 
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Old 06-21-08, 02:21 PM
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I'm thinking that your brown wires might really be heat-cooked white wires....
Maybe.
 
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Old 06-21-08, 04:34 PM
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Andrew pretty much hit the target on that one.

Very common on older home and some pretty new home as well the netural wire can get cook up pretty good espcally if someone overwattage the luminaire and build up so much heat and make the wires charred.

But becarefull when you see the wires insulating materals they can be very brittle and crack.

If the wires are still plieable [ can bend ] without cracking the insulating materals then you should be fine.

Just make sure you don't go over the max wattage on the luminaire they will state the max wattage if the indsencent bulbs don't give out the light you want on brightness then you can use the CFL they can kick alot more light for watt to watt.

{ becarefull some of the CFL can't use with dimmer or photocontrolled and some case rescessed luminaires or some enclosed luminaires }

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 06-21-08, 11:44 PM
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If you really mean brown not light tan I had a scary thought... lamp cord. Are the conductors solid or are they stranded wire?
 
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Old 06-22-08, 06:27 AM
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The wires are in perfect condition. They are just brown in color. How do I know which one goes to the black wire on the fixture and which one goes to the white wire on the fixture?
 
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Old 06-22-08, 03:57 PM
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Any Chance you are near or in Chicago area ??

The reason why I have a hunch on this one.,,

Anyway do you have test light with you ??

If so.,, you will need to verify which one is switched leg and hot conductor and netural.

Normally black is hot and some case switched leg while your brown is possiblty a netural or switch loop circuit so take a test light verify it.
Run the test light from black to junction box [ if metal and grounded properly ] if the test light do light up and test with the wall switch if go off propely then you got the switched leg there and i am thinking that the brown is used for return leg test that from brown wire to metal box with test light if not lit up then what you do is take the test light from black wire to brown wire if that lit up then you got a circuit there. repeat that test with wall switch if go off then you got it.

If more question just holler here.

Merci,Marc
 
 

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