Unusual wiring configuration for wall switch

Reply

  #1  
Old 08-22-12, 06:34 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 7
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Unusual wiring configuration for wall switch


I am attempting to replace a bedroom wall switch with a vacancy sensing switch. The wall plate has two switches, one for the overhead light, the other for a wall outlet. When I shut off the power and removed the switches I found an unusual configuration:
There are three black wires coming into the box that have been spliced and taped with black electrical tape so there is only one black wire. This black wire goes to one terminal on the wall outlet switch. On the back of this switch is a red wire that comes out and links to the overhead light switch terminal. There are two red wires going from the box to each of the switch terminals. To summarize: The overhead switch terminals have two red wires - one from the box, one from the back of the outlet switch. The outlet switch terminals have one black and one red wire.
The vacancy sensor switch has one red, one black and one green. I planned to replace the outlet switch with a new "flat" switch, but the wiring configuration has me stumped. I have attached a couple photos.
Name:  Image00009.jpg
Views: 7855
Size:  24.4 KB
 
Attached Images  
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 08-22-12, 06:50 PM
chandler's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 39,967
Received 2 Votes on 2 Posts
Welcome to the forums! Couple of things to correct. One is we don't use stab back connections on switches or receptacles as a practice. The red and black wire that go to the same position on the switch should be pigtailed (connected to a third wire and the third wire connected to the screw). But before you do that, kill the power and take all that ugly tape off that connection and see what is under it. You may need to do some house cleaning prior to putting it back in the box. The wires are hot and probably feed receptacles in the room, so they are fine. Post a pix of the connection without the tape so we can see what needs to be done.
The red wire that jumps from switch to switch is just that, a jumper taking power to the second switch. The other red wires go to the outlets (keep in mind an outlet can be a light or a receptacle)
You would connect your new switch with the hot wire going to the black wire on the switch and the red wire going to your red wire feeding that outlet.
Don't know what a "flat" switch is, but am open to education.
 
  #3  
Old 08-22-12, 06:50 PM
braether3's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: wisconsin
Posts: 415
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Your 3 black wires are where your power is coming from the red wire linking the two switches carries power to the right switch.

You will connect the existing black and red from the bottom of left switch to the black wire on the occupancy sensor, then connect the top red wire to occ sensors red wire. Green to ground. If replacing the right hand switch with the decorator style(assume that's what you mean by flat), just wire it the same as the old one.
 
  #4  
Old 08-22-12, 06:53 PM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,943
Received 30 Votes on 26 Posts
The blacks that are improperly spliced are an incoming hot, and outgoing hot and a pigtail to feed the switches. The red between the 2 switches just feeds power to the 2nd switch. The two reds are going to the receptacle and the light.

To fix the splice add two short lengths of wire to the two blacks and cap with a wire nut.
 
  #5  
Old 08-22-12, 07:00 PM
braether3's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: wisconsin
Posts: 415
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
His new vacancy switch has pigtails on it not screws so he only needs wire nuts not additional pigtails
 
  #6  
Old 08-22-12, 07:15 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 7
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
More graphic photos of the "weird splice"

I got brave and undid the black electrical tape tape around the 3 black wires to 1 black wire. There is a copper crimp that holds the 3 incoming wires to the single wire. I have a couple photos that show it better. Should this be retaped and left as is or "repaired?" And, how do I do it? In the 2nd photo the crimp is blurry, but the red "jumper" wire is "put" in the back of the outlet switch somehow and is not wrapped on the terminal itself (I don't think).

Also a note: I want to replace the switch on the right (the one with the 2 red wires) with the vacancy sensor switch. The switch on the left with the black and red wire connections is the outlet which I will replace with a "flat" decorator switch.
Name:  Image00010.jpg
Views: 4065
Size:  26.1 KBName:  Image00011.jpg
Views: 4409
Size:  33.8 KB

I just replaced the ceiling light switch in another bedroom with a vacancy sensor switch (with your help in an earlier thread), but this 3 black wire-1black wire with a red wire jumper has me confused.
 
  #7  
Old 08-22-12, 07:33 PM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,943
Received 30 Votes on 26 Posts
That crimp should have had an insulating cap installed over it but the conductors should have all come from one direction. You can cut it off and add a wire nut.
 
  #8  
Old 08-22-12, 07:41 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 7
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Okay, cut the crimp, put a cap (wire nut) over the three wires and have the one black wire going to the outlet switch and red jumper wire from the outlet switch to the vacancy sensor switch? Do I have that correct?
I there any reason I couldn't put the three wires together with a cap and have two black wires coming one one going to the outlet switch and one going to the vacancy sensor switch and forget about the jumper?

Last question, can I use any screw at the back of the box to attach the ground wire?
 
  #9  
Old 08-22-12, 07:47 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
I there any reason I couldn't put the three wires together with a cap and have two black wires coming one one going to the outlet switch and one going to the vacancy sensor switch
That would be the correct/best way. There can only be one wire per terminal so you can't add a jumper unless you use the less then desirable back stab.
 
  #10  
Old 08-22-12, 09:31 PM
Nashkat1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 8,470
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
I there any reason I couldn't put the three wires together with a cap and have two black wires coming one one going to the outlet switch and one going to the vacancy sensor switch and forget about the jumper?
Since your new vacancy switch has pigtails instead of screw terminals, you only need to have one pigtail, to go to the new switch for the outlet. The black wire splice should have the three incoming black wires, the short piece of black for the outlet switch, and the black pigtail that is made onto the vacancy switch.

can I use any screw at the back of the box to attach the ground wire?
You can use any hole that will accept a ground screw. You must use an approved ground screw: green, hex-headed, and 10/32 thread.

You can buy those by the 10-pack at the big box stores.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: