Having issues with a dual wall switch

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  #1  
Old 12-14-10, 11:33 AM
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Having issues with a dual wall switch

Recently, my mom's dual wall switch started to make a buzzing noise whenever the switch for the outside light was on. The second switch controlled the kitchen light. Before calling an electrician, I decided to try to replace the wall switch to see if that was the problem.

It was. I replaced the wall switch and the buzzing noise stopped. The problem is that each switch turns both lights on. I wired the switch exactly as it was before.

I had three red wires a top, a ground in the middle, and a bottom.

Then I had ONE yellow wire that was split in the middle and bare at the end to go into the two screws on the other side. That one yellow wire was tied with two other yellow wires and joined with one of those electric caps.

So essentially I had three red wires, one of which was a ground. And then one yellow wire that got split between the two screws on the other side of the switch. It was wired the same as the old switch. But now both switches turn on and off both lights.

I'm going to post a link to a couple pictures as soon as I can get them up. But does anyone know what I did wrong?

I'm sorry that this is probably confusing, but I am confused and don't really know any of the terminology.

Here are the pictures:


 
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Old 12-14-10, 12:54 PM
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Recently, my mom's dual wall switch
Actually that is a duplex wall switch just so we are clear on terms.

Then I had ONE yellow wire that was split in the middle and bare at the end to go into the two screws on the other side. That one yellow wire was tied with two other yellow wires and joined with one of those electric caps.
That is probably the always hot. The original switch should have had the screws on one side joined by a metal tab. That it seems was broken off from your description so they jumpered it. If you haven't broken the tab off on the new switch the part of the yellow wire after the first place the insulation is stripped off can be cut off. The yellow wire only needs to go to one screw on the side with the tab.

So essentially I had three red wires, one of which was a ground
Red is never a ground. Two of the red wires are probably for the lights. I'm not sure about the third red wire. Does one of the switches control two lights.?
 
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Old 12-14-10, 12:59 PM
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Thank you! I didn't realize the yellow was the live wire. Even though I matched the switch to the old one, the screws were switched around. I had the live wire going into the switches and the switches on the live wire.

Again, I'm sorry, but I have no idea of the correct terminology. So I turned the switch around and it worked.

I'm having issues with the outside light not turning on, but I don't know if that's because of the wiring or the light being a pain again. We used those new CFL floodlights and they take a while to warm up when its cold out. I will check on it tonight to see if they turn on.

They had that third red line as the ground on the old switch. There are only two lights on the switches. This house is so messed up though, and has been since she bought it. So I have no idea what that red for ground wire is for.
 
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Old 12-14-10, 01:36 PM
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So I have no idea what that red for ground wire is for.
If it is fastened to the box or a green or bare wire replace it with a green wire. If it isn't fastened to the metal box or a green or bare wire remove it from the switch and cap it with a wire nut.

If there is no green or bare ground wire and metal conduit or cable was used. Fasten green ground wires from the box to both switches using a green ground screw in a tapped hole in the back of the box.

Above assumes box is metal.
 
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