Wiring Problem

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  #1  
Old 12-13-00, 01:44 PM
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Angry

I need your opinion on a wiring project that I am currently frustrated with. I have removed the drop ceiling from my bedroom and replaced it with sheetrock. While I was at it I decided to install 2 recessed lighting units. I spliced into the original wiring from the switch that ran to the sockets in the wall, and ran the wire from the switch to the first unit and onto the second, from there I ran the wire back to the original wire that goes to the sockets. I replaced the switch with a dimmer switch. There are two sockets on opposite walls that are controlled by the switch. My problem is that when you place a bulb into both units, the fixtures DO NOT go off, and when you try to turn the light up, one bulb dims and the other brightens. To further complicate the matter , the fixtures are also effected by the sockets, if I plug anything into the sockets, the lights will not turn off. Please help me fix this problem. Any ideas will be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.
 
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  #2  
Old 12-13-00, 04:28 PM
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I'm betting that there is only one cable coming into the switch box, with only one white and one black wire, and that both these wires are connected to the switch. If this is correct, you're in trouble.

If you have really do have two cables (at least two black wires and two white wires) in the switch box, come back and say so and we'll devise a solution (which will be relatively easy).

But if my assumption in paragraph one is correct, then be prepared to take down the drywall. Sorry.

Let us know what you've got, and we'll help you figure out what to do next.
 
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Old 12-13-00, 05:30 PM
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Angry Unfortuanantly

This dont seem to get any better. I only have one of each in the switch box. Please enlighten me on what my problem is,and I am not really thrilled about taking down drywall that is already taped up into place. Let me know what my options are, since I REALLY want to get these fixtures working on the same level.
 
  #4  
Old 12-13-00, 07:17 PM
sprky
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hello NitrousBoy,
what you have in this switch box is a switch loop, power is in the light along with the grounded conductor(white wire that goes back to the panel) which is required for a light. the white wire that is in this switch box brings power to the switch and the black returns power to the light. you cant simply drop in a new wire into this switch box and connect to new lights as there is no grounded conductor. from the info in your post it looks to me as there is no alternitive but to open up the celling and correct the wireing. you will have to replace the wireing as it was and then come off the wall sockets to the new lights. be sure that any splices you make r in junction boxes and they r excessabel, not conseled in the celling.
 
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Old 12-13-00, 07:41 PM
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Well, I don't know if you'll have to take down drywall, but you will need to run more wire.

I hate switches at the end of the run, and I absolutely never wire them that way. But unfortunately, it is quite a standard practice.

(Forgive me Wg, but I'm going to use the word "neutral" incorrectly in this post. It's just too awkward to keep saying "grounded conductor".)

To describe your problem, I need to describe what you had before you started your changes. Each light and outlet needs one hot and one neutral. You have a cable coming into the switched outlet (let's temporarily ignore the other outlet) with exactly that: one hot and one neutral. But you don't want to use that hot, since the outlet is switched. So you must allow the hot to pass through that box without connecting to anything in it. So the outlet gets its neutral from that cable, but it must get its hot from the black wire coming back from the switch. That leaves one white wire going to the switch, which must provide power for the switch to switch.

As you can see, the neutral wire arrives at the outlet box, but never leave it. If you connect a light between the outlet and the switch, where is that light supposed to get its neutral??? The answer: it cannot!!! And therefore it cannot function properly.

So what to do??? There are a number of options, but I'm only going to give you two. To make things simple, I'm going to assume that you no longer need that outlet to be switched. Here is solution #1:

(1) Run a new 2-wire cable (the bare grounding wire is assumed and never mentioned) from the outlet to the switch. This is the only new cable you need. You no longer need the cable from the outlet to one of the lights (remove or cut short this cable so that it cannot be used).
(2) At the outlet, connect all the black wires you have together and connect them to the brass screws. Use a pigtail and a wire nut if necessary.
(3) Also at the outlet, connect all the white wires you have together and connect them to the silver screws. Again, use a pigtail if necessary.
(4) At the switch, you will now have two black wires and two white wires (now that you've added a new cable). Connect the two white wires to each other but not to the switch. Connect the two black wires to the two brass screws of the switch.
(5) At each light, connect all black wires together and all white wires together.
(6) For that last cable that goes back to the outlet, again remove or cut short this cable -- do not use it.

Can you get to the can lights from above? If so, there is another solution that only requires a new cable between the two light fixtures. Here is that solution #2:

(1) At the outlet, connect all the black wires you have together and connect them to the brass screws. Use a pigtail and a wire nut if necessary.
(2) Also at the outlet, connect all the white wires you have together and connect them to the silver screws. Again, use a pigtail if necessary.
(3) Run a new 2-wire cable between the two lights (in addition to the old 2-wire cable you already have between the two lights).
(4) At each light, you will now have three black wires and three white wires.
(5) At the light closest to the outlet: connect the black from the outlet to the black from the new cable you ran. This black is carrying uninterrupted hot to the switch. Then connect the black coming on the old 2-wire cable from the other light to the black of the light fixture (this is the switched hot). Then connect all four white wires together.
(6) At the light closes to the switch: connect the black from the new cable to the white going to the switch (uninterrupted hot). Connect the black coming from the switch to the black of the light and the black of the old 2-wire cable between the lights (switched hot). Connect the white from both cables between the lights to the white of the light fixture (neutral).

Solution #2 gives you a redundant neutral between the lights, but I don't believe this violates any code.

Throughout all this discussion, I have ignored the second outlet in your room. I'm hoping that these two outlet are directly connected to each other and whatever happens to one happens to the other.

Also throughout, I have ignored ground. Hook them all together and to each fixture.

One other thing. You didn't say, but if only half of the outlet was switched, then it had a tab on it broken off. The easiest fix is to buy a new outlet.

Good luck. And be sure to let us know how it comes out. We desperately need feedback.
 
  #6  
Old 12-13-00, 08:33 PM
Wgoodrich
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. I spliced into the original wiring from the switch that ran to the sockets in the wall, and ran the wire from the switch to the first unit and onto the second, from there I ran the wire back to the original wire that goes to the sockets. I replaced the switch with a dimmer switch.

I don't know that I am reading this right or you are saying what I am reading in my mind.

John and Sparky, look at the above copy if his statement and see if you read it the way I describe below.

Skip the first part of the question and start where he says that "to the first unit and onto the second unit, from there I ran the wire back to the origianl wire that goes to the sockets.

Am I reading this right? I think that he ran a 12/2 from the switch to the first tank, then daisy chained a 12/2 to the second tank, then daisy chained a 12/2 to the original sockets. [is that the original fixture controlled by the switch.

I think he wired a circle.

Is it possible to disconnect the wire from the switch to the first light and connect black to black and white to white on the two light tanks and then black to black and white to white in the original light and run all lights on the same switch with the tanks as two lights extended from that original light fixture.

I may be way off base but the way I read his statement he is getting power to the two tanks from the original light fixture when the switch is turned on, and then getting power from the switch on both the white and the black with the white hot when turned on causing a back feed to ground.

IF MY THOUGHTS ARE TRUE WE HAVE A LIFE SAFETY ISSUE!

Sparky and John look at this idea quick and see what you think! I am a bit worried about this one.

What do you think?

Wg
 
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Old 12-13-00, 08:46 PM
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Wg, I didn't read it the same way you did. I assumed (I know I always warn against unstated assumptions) that "spliced in" meant he replaced the cable from the outlet to the switch with the other cables me mentioned -- remember he said that he only had one black and one white wire at the switch.

I hope he really did not in fact splice into the middle of the cable.

But Wg, you raise a good point. Only NitrousBoy can clarify and I hope he does. I've got a lot of time invested in him now.
 
  #8  
Old 12-13-00, 08:57 PM
Wgoodrich
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I don't know John, if he wired black to black and white to white and didn't cut that cable he tapped into, but left it connected then wouldn't the results be the same. connecting the hot switch leg to the white grounded leg of the light fixtures grounded from the original light?

I hope he reads this and de-energizes his circuit until he can get in here to you or Sparky to make sure I'm wrong!

Thanks for your quick look, I needed you on this one.

I am concerned

Wg
 
  #9  
Old 12-14-00, 03:36 AM
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Well !!!

Not to sound to stupid, I did actually splice into the the original cable. The way I am perceiving how this cable is laid out is that it runs from the box which is on the right side of the room, runs to the first socket on the right side of the rrom, then to the second socket on the left hand side on the room then onto the switch. Now, I have accessed the wire, right before it goes to the switch, originaly thinking that power was going to the switch , then onto the sockets. I spliced in with a junction box and continued the wire thru the cans and back to the wire going on to the sockets. Now, I am a total fear fanatic when it comes to electricity, so I have had the power off to this room since the problem began. Let me know if this at all makes sense to you guys ? I am thinking about patching up the splice that I have made in that line, and then getting into the wall on the left side where there is a socket that is not controlled by the switch and running a line off of it up the wall, into the dimmer and then onto the the 2 light fixtures. Will this work, and be less of a electric/ fire hazard ? Believe me, I trully appreciate the time that you guys have put into my problem. I do not want to create a hazard in my home, or test the sharpness of my insurance agent when it comes to fire coverage. Thanks again.
 
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Old 12-14-00, 06:15 AM
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This wiring issue is being over-complicated.
This is an easy fix IF you didn't cut the cable that runs to the switch too short.
To simplify this matter, my advice is this:
1) Disconnect all wires that involve your lights.
This includes the switch and the cable you said "runs back to the outlets."
2) Reconfigure all outlets, run black to black and white to white, test all outlets to ensure power is available. Leave cable going to last light unconnected.
3) If you have all outlets working, now you're ready to draw power from a constant source. The easiest being the cable that goes to the last light.
4) Take this cable and connect black to black and white to white at the outlet box. Now you have constant power at light #2.
5) Now all you have to do is switch this power. If your switch cable terminates at light #2, this would be easy. If it terminates at light #1, (I believe it does), you have a small problem. You need to get another cable between light #1 and #2 to fix this. Or you need to get the switch cable over to light #2 where your power is at.
6) If your switch cable terminates at light 2. Connect white from your new source to white going to light 1 and 2.
Connect black from source to white going to switch. Connect black from switch to light 1 and 2 blacks.
7) If your switch cable terminates at light 1. Use the cable going between the lights to extend your new source power over to light one, then wire the same way, only now just light one will work. In order to get light two working, you will need to run an additional cable between the lights. This way, white will be connected to the whites, black to the second light will be connected to black coming from the switch.
I must say that your original wiring would have been the easiest solution. All you had to do was open up the box where the switch cable originated, and reconfigure it to where you had constant power, this would have involved moving two wires. So you had the right idea, just one mistake. Take heed others, before adding lights to a circuit, ensure you have a constant power source to tap into. A black and a white wire does not mean you have power.
 
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Old 12-14-00, 12:43 PM
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Bummer! I got in trouble with a bad assumption again!!

Rather than attempt another specific solution, here's a process:
(1) Draw out your circuit, showing the hot wires, the neutral wires, the switch, and all the outlets and fixtures.
(2) Make sure you can trace the neutral of every light and outlet to the neutral of all the other fixtures, and hence back to the panel. Make sure you have a direct path (i.e., the wire doesn't have to pass through anything else to get home).
(3) Do the same for the permanently hot wire. Make sure it is connected to every permanently hot outlet and to the switch. Make sure it doesn't have to go through anything to get to each outlet and the switch. Make sure this is not attached to any switched light.
(4) Make sure you can follow the switched hot wire from each light to the switch without having to go through any other fixture.

If your diagram meets these requirements, it will work.
 
  #12  
Old 12-14-00, 06:28 PM
sprky
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hello NitrousBoy,
after wg posted his thoughts on this and rereading your post and your reply, i 2 believe you wired a circle. im glade to hear the power was turned off since the problem, you probily save a fire. i am not abel to be there and look at what is going on, nor test any thing. i have a consern that there may be more wrong then meats the eye so i am recomending you contact a local electrician and have him look it over, it probily wount cost you much and in my opnion its $ well spent.
 
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