What's wrong with this wiring?


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Old 08-15-08, 04:48 PM
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What's wrong with this wiring?

Hi...new user here and new home owner. I know very basic electronic trouble shooting.
I'm trying to figure out why my outdoor light won't turn on. I just replaced it with a motion sensor light because the previous one wasn't working and because the way this is wired the light has to stay on all the time. But since I hooked it up, it's STILL not working.

Basically the switch from inside the house runs to a junction box out in the garage. Inside that junction box three devices are hooked together via wire nuts. Two receptacles (one hosting the garage door opener and the other just sitting as an outside outlet) and then a cable running up to the light above the garage (outside the side door to the house).

Maybe this image will make sense:
http://img177.imageshack.us/img177/2945/15849310nf5.jpg
(the ground wires are all tied together...I just left them off)

The two outlets work fine. It's just the motion light that doesn't. I guess what I'm asking is everything wired fine? Could it just be the cable has gone bad? I inspected the cable inside the garage and it doesn't appear to be frayed or anything.
Should the black wire be tied to the black wire instead of the red?

Any help would be appreciated.
 
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Old 08-15-08, 04:58 PM
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Did you check for power at the flood light location? Start there, if there is power, then the problem is with the flood.
 
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Old 08-15-08, 05:36 PM
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What are the connections at the floodlight? Have you tried checked to see if the test switch on the fixture is on test?
 
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Old 08-15-08, 05:39 PM
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It looks okay, but I can't see the connections inside the switch box.

Most such lighting fixtures have some kind of on/off sequence that puts the light into various modes. Make sure you read the instructions that came with the light fixture.
 
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Old 08-15-08, 08:47 PM
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thanks for the replies

the light just has black and white wires connecting with wire nuts to the black and white wires coming from the junction box (plus ground)
I've double checked wiring with the light to make sure everything is secure. I'll remove the plate from the switch box this weekend and let you know how the wiring is in there...didn't think that maybe the red wire has come disconnected at that point.

I have double checked instructions on installing the flood light. In test mode, once you turn it on the first time it should still flip on after five seconds to set itself and it never did. Even when I switch it over to regular working mode it still doesn't work. It's a motion sensor light with an optical sensor to tell if it's daytime or not.

I brought home a volt meter from work this weekend that I will test on the light connection hopefully tomorrow.
 
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Old 08-15-08, 10:04 PM
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Best to use an analog volt meter. A digital can give you a wrong answer. Search the forum for ghost voltage and phantom voltage to understand why.
 
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Old 08-15-08, 11:12 PM
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You said the previous light fixture wasn't working, have you tested or replaced the switch ?

The way you have it wired looks ok, although like John said, we can't see the wiring in the switch box.

The red wire tells me that one of those switches controls the light fixture. I would open up the switch box and test the switch with the red wire connected to it. Or just do the old shotgun method, kill power and replace both switches
 
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Old 08-16-08, 10:34 AM
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the switch on the left controls everything in that junction box. Turn it off and none of the outlets or light work (it's always on because the garage door opener is hooked up to it)

the one on the right is a three way switch to the fan/light in the kitchen (the other switch is on the other side of the room)

here's what I found when I removed the plate:
http://img244.imageshack.us/img244/310/38659165uq6.jpg

I'm guessing the cable on the left goes to the garage and the other two have to do with the fan/light in the kitchen?
 
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Old 08-16-08, 02:50 PM
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The cable on the right is your incoming power feed, the middle cable is for kitchen fan / light and cable on left is the garage

The switch on the left is a 3 way also, are you sure there is not another switch for the garage area ?

Reason I say that is because if it is a 3 way and it was not wired correctly, the light/garage outlet would stop working if somebody hit the other switch.

If there is not another switch, then somebody put in the wrong switch and crossed the wiring. If this is what happened, do the following in the switch box :

The black from the garage j box gets tied in with the black from the incoming power ( this will make outlets always on ) , the red from the garage would go to a single pole switch (replaces the existing 3 way on left ) and would control the light
 
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Old 08-16-08, 03:09 PM
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here is pic of what I'm talking about


http://i165.photobucket.com/albums/u78/rich3236/diy.jpg
 
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Old 08-17-08, 02:07 PM
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okay, i opened up the switch box and saw something new that I missed earlier. The black wire tying from the main power to the left switch IS the same black wire leading to the second switch. It looks like someone just stripped the wire there and wrapped it around the terminal.

so does that adjust what you suggested?
I hope this made sense...thanks for your help again.
 
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Old 08-17-08, 03:47 PM
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It will still be the same. Make sure to check for another 3 way switch in the garage before changing the wiring around
 
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Old 08-17-08, 04:45 PM
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so then does anything connect to the screw at the top of the single pole switch?
from your drawing I understand it as being tie together the garage and main power black wires with a wire nut, and then tie the two top screws of the switches together with a black wire?....is that right?
if so, then do I need to cut the one black wire coming from the main power so that I can wire nut it with the garage?


I can't seem to find a three way switch anywhere else.
 
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Old 08-17-08, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by nswords34 View Post
so then does anything connect to the screw at the top of the single pole switch?
from your drawing I understand it as being tie together the garage and main power black wires with a wire nut, and then tie the two top screws of the switches together with a black wire?....is that right?
if so, then do I need to cut the one black wire coming from the main power so that I can wire nut it with the garage?


I can't seem to find a three way switch anywhere else.


The red wire will go to other screw of single pole switch ( same red that goes to garage j box )

If the main power wire is looped around screw like you said, you can cut it to make the splice. If there is enough copper exposed on the loop you can just squeeze it together without cutting it.

To make even simpler, leave the switch on the right side alone.

Take all of the black wires off of the switch on left, tie them together with a tail to go to one screw of single pole switch. The red wire will go to the other screw
 
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Old 08-17-08, 07:31 PM
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just to make sure I understand everything before I try anything...is this how I'm hearing you:

take the black wires from the main power (which is the same as the black wire leading to the right switch) and tie it together with the black wire going to the garage. Tie those all to the top screw on a single pole switch to replace the current three way one. And tie the red lead to the other screw...

is that right? I'm much more a visual person as you can tell from my wonderful diagrams above
 
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Old 08-17-08, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by nswords34 View Post
just to make sure I understand everything before I try anything...is this how I'm hearing you:

take the black wires from the main power (which is the same as the black wire leading to the right switch) and tie it together with the black wire going to the garage. Tie those all to the top screw on a single pole switch to replace the current three way one. And tie the red lead to the other screw...

is that right? I'm much more a visual person as you can tell from my wonderful diagrams above


Yes that is exactly what I mean

Should look like this when done ( note the awesome paint shop skills )

http://i165.photobucket.com/albums/u...3236/diy-1.jpg
 
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Old 08-18-08, 06:48 PM
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awesome!! thank you much....that got it working finally. And after I finally figured out how to get out of the test mode I now have a working motion sensor light!

however, instead of wiring all the black wires to a nut and then using a jumper wire to tie them to the top screw on the single pole...I just tied all of the black wires to the screw on the single pole. That's not a problem is it?

Thanks again for your help!!!
 
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Old 08-18-08, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by nswords34 View Post

however, instead of wiring all the black wires to a nut and then using a jumper wire to tie them to the top screw on the single pole...I just tied all of the black wires to the screw on the single pole. That's not a problem is it?

Glad you got it working, putting all the wires under one screw will work for testing purposes, but from a code standpoint you are only allowed 1 wire per screw and is why you need a tail.

Now that you got it figured out, just get a wire nut and a short piece of black wire and make a tail
 
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Old 08-18-08, 08:20 PM
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okay, i'll get that taken care of. Thanks again for helping me solve this!!
 
 

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