Cable Salad

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  #1  
Old 03-17-13, 06:29 PM
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Cable Salad

Hello,

I was trying to replace some switches today. There are two in one outlet box in my bedroom.
I bought a house a few month ago and never tried the fan in the bed room which I always thought one of the switched belongs to, but the right one does nothing. There are wires connected but I have no idea where they go and what the switch is for. It does nothing.
The left switch has two black wires which goes up on the wall. When I turn them on or off the lights on the fan and the fan goes on. (Lights are on the fan) I thought fan and light were separated.
One black wire goes from the left switch to the right one.
A red and a black wire go down the wall.
I tried to which one has the 125 V, but my voltmeter shows nothing.
When I test the outlets it shows 125 Volts.
Weird.


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  #2  
Old 03-17-13, 07:29 PM
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It is likely that switch with the red wire on it controls a receptacle on the wall. Plug a lamp into the top of the receptacle closest to the door. It should go on and off with the switch. Have you replaced any receptacles? It may pay to remove them once you remove the power to them, and check to see if any have a red wire attached to one of the screws. Let us know and we'll go from there.
 
  #3  
Old 03-17-13, 08:54 PM
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Is the switch on the right a 3-way switch or does it have ON/OFF molded into the toggle? How ie the black wire that you labeled "Goes down" connected?
 
  #4  
Old 03-18-13, 04:22 AM
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Bill, while we await an answer....I think the black wire with paint is the feed through to the switches, the solid clean black is a stab back to a receptacle hot all the time and the red is a switched lead to a receptacle top half and it doesn't have the tab broken off. Let's see if that is the case.
 
  #5  
Old 03-18-13, 05:36 AM
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Has he checked the fan itself? You can operate the fan speed by the pull down chain located on the fan. It has 4 settings, one of which is "off". That would cause the switch to do nothing when flipped. Doesn't make sense why the red wire wouldn't be the extra feed to the fan.
 
  #6  
Old 03-18-13, 02:57 PM
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Hello and thank you for your replies.

The switches have only on/off on it. There is a red wire going to two outlet boxes on the the opposite wall, but they do nothing or stay on when I turn the right switch with the red wire on or off. (Lamp stays on)
The fan turns on when I turn the left switch on.

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  #7  
Old 03-18-13, 03:19 PM
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I can see from the top pix the tab is not broken on the hot side of the receptacle. Have you pulled these receptacles, yet? If not, de-energize them and pull them out of the wall. It appears there is a black wire attached to the bottom half of the receptacle and a red wire attached to the top one. If that is the case, the tab must be broken off between the two screws for it to allow operation from the switch. Only the top half of the receptacle will work with the switch. Let us know what you find out, or post more pix of the receptacles pulled out.
 
  #8  
Old 03-18-13, 03:57 PM
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I'm in agreement with your guess, Larry, but I don't see the black wire on the receptacles. We'll see.
 
  #9  
Old 03-18-13, 04:12 PM
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Top pix has black and white on right side, along with a grounding wire too close to the screws to suit me. I do agree that the other receptacle may be a switch control only as the black is not visible. Like you said, we'll see.
 
  #10  
Old 03-18-13, 06:13 PM
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I pulled out one of the outlet boxes. A lot wires and I still have no clue.
Sorry for the bad pics. I forgot my other camera at work.

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  #11  
Old 03-18-13, 06:51 PM
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The duplex receptacle in this set of pics looks like it was wired - incorrectly - with the intention of making half of it switch controlled and the other half always hot.

If that is the way you'd like to have it, you need to kill the power, remove all of the wires except the ground wire from the receptacle, and break off the tab connecting the two brass screw terminals. Splice the two white wires together with a pigtail and connect that pigtail to one of the two silver screw terminals. Tighten both silver screws.

Splice the two black wires together with a black pigtail and connect that pigtail to the brass screw terminal opposite the receptacle that will be lower when the duplex is in the wall. Splice the two red wires together with a red pigtail and connect that pigtail to the brass screw terminal opposite the receptacle that will be higher when the duplex is in the wall. Tighten both brass screws, mount the duplex in the wall and turn the power back on. The top half should be switch controlled and the bottom half should be always hot.
 
  #12  
Old 03-19-13, 09:04 AM
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But then I have two outlets which I can turn off and on through the switch. I was hoping to control the fan with this switch. It looks like that I have to pull new wires down to this switch right?
 
  #13  
Old 03-19-13, 02:09 PM
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I was hoping to control the fan with this switch. It looks like that I have to pull new wires down to this switch right?
If you want to control the fan motor with a hard-wired wall switch that's separate from the switch for the fan light then yes, you'll have to ass wiring from the ceiling box to the switch box.

But I'm curious. Why do you want to do that? It will take a fair amount of work and materials to do it, and the result will be that you will have a switch that you seldom use and, unless you install a fan motor control there or religiously turn the fan on High with its pull chain before you switch it off, can damage the fan motor. Plus there are several other ways to control the fan and light that don't require new wiring and are better for the equipment - and, IMO, give you much more flexibility than a pair of wall switches will.

How do you control the fan motor now? With its pull chain?
 
  #14  
Old 03-19-13, 02:20 PM
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Plus there are several other ways to control the fan and light that don't require new wiring and are better for the equipment
What ways would this be?

I have this fan control and tought I could use it.

Shop Lutron Rotary 300-Watt White and Ivory 3-Speed Rotary Ceiling Fan Control at Lowes.com

But why would I need two outlets which I can control with a switch for on and off?
 
  #15  
Old 03-19-13, 03:36 PM
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It's just the way the house was wired. Code calls for a switch controlled "outlet" in each room. ("outlet" meaning anwhere electricity falls out as in a light fixture, receptacle) It is possible the ceiling fan was not there originally and the receptacles were code compliant. Now, we can get you to have only one receptacle controlled by the switch if you like. Just ask. IMO, you will not like that ceiling fan control as it has a tendency to burn out. I would opt for a bell mounted remote control and mount the remote holder on the wall next to the light switch.
 
  #16  
Old 03-19-13, 03:43 PM
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Oh, thank you. I will return that fan control. But what is a bell mounted remote control? Can't find it on google and is it for the fan then?
 
  #17  
Old 03-19-13, 05:22 PM
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Mad, a bell mounted remote control can be found at the box stores. It is wired in the ceiling bell and hidden there. Remote usually works both lights and fan.
 
  #18  
Old 03-20-13, 03:09 PM
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I have this fan control and tought I could use it.
You could, if you had two wires for switched power between the ceiling and the switch box.

What ways would this be?
I like any of three ways. One is to wire the fan motor so that it can only be controlled by the pull chain and to wire the light so that it can be controlled by a switch, including a dimmer, on the wall. The motors on my fans run 24/7/365, except when I turn them off for 20 minutes in the spring and fall to clean them, do any other maintenance, and reverse the direction they blow. So that works for me.

Another is a wall-mounted switch that will control both the fan motor and the light with your existing wiring. The All Fan/Light Wall Mount Control from Hunter is one example.

The third is a two-part remote transmitter and receiver such as Larry suggested. If you go that route, make sure that you get one with dimming for the lights, if you want that. Also, once you have that installed, ignore the wall switch. A remote receiver should only be switched off to do work on the wiring to the fan.
 
  #19  
Old 03-20-13, 03:26 PM
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@ chandler

When I put the search terms "bell mounted remote control" into google I only get "bell remote controls" as results.

And I like

@ Nashkat1

Fan/Light Wall Mount Control

a lot.

And I will brake those red wires to control the outlet boxes. Not a bad idea to have lamps plugged in and dim it with a dimmer on the wall. (For romantic hours )
 
  #20  
Old 03-20-13, 04:08 PM
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I like

@ Nashkat1

Fan/Light Wall Mount Control

a lot.
Make sure to put dimmable bulbs in the fan light.

And I will brake those red wires to control the outlet boxes. Not a bad idea to have lamps plugged in and dim it with a dimmer on the wall. (For romantic hours )
Ditto for the bulbs in those
 
  #21  
Old 03-24-13, 03:30 PM
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Hello,

I broke the tab on one of the outlet, but still nothing happen. I can't switch it on and off. It stays on. Do I may need to brake the tabs on both outlets?

Thank you
 
  #22  
Old 03-24-13, 04:12 PM
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Yes, the tab must be broken off on the hot side only on both receptacles. Let us know how it works.
 
  #23  
Old 03-24-13, 07:04 PM
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But I would like to have only one outlet switchable. How is this working then?

Thank you for helping
 
  #24  
Old 03-24-13, 07:11 PM
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OK, on the one you don't want switched, remove the red wires from the hot side and place Bcaps on them and stuff them back in the box, leave your tab intact and the black wires where they are.
 
  #25  
Old 04-27-13, 04:34 PM
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Hello all,

sorry, that I reply so later to all of you, but I have been busy.
I finally bought me this control

Lutron Maestro 1 Amp Multi-Location 7 Speed Combination Fan and Light Control - White-MA-LFQHW-WH at The Home Depot

I were able with the help of you guys to connect it, except two things I couldn't figure out.
There is still a third black wire going up and I have no idea were it goes.
When I turn the light on the what they call canopy module makes some humming noise and I also can not dim the light. The dimming may not working because I use energy bulbs. But I don't know for sure. I am guessing.

OK. actual there is a third issue I still have. The outlet is still not switchable. It is constantly on, even after breaking the tab.

Thank you

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  #26  
Old 04-27-13, 09:28 PM
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Tell us how you wired the canopy module. Tell us how you wired the receptacle that isn't working correctly and post a new picture of both sides of it and all the wiring in the box.
 
  #27  
Old 04-28-13, 06:17 PM
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After replacing the regular energy bulbs with dimmable energy bulbs, the light and fan is working like it should. The canopy is quite now.

On the receptacle I didn't do anything except braking the tab on one receptacle.
All the wires are still like they have been before on the old switch.
There are two receptacle with the red wire. May I have to brake both tabs on both receptacle? But I would like to have only one receptacle to work with the switch.
 
  #28  
Old 04-28-13, 08:32 PM
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The unswitched hot wire and only the unswitched hot wire should go to the screw of the receptacle with the intact tab.

If half switched:
At the half switched receptacle with the broken tab there should be only one wire on each of the brass screws. On one screw the constant hot. On the other screw the switched hot. Assuming multiple switched and unswitched wires in that box. The switched wires to one pigtail and that pigtail to one side of the receptacle. The constant hot wires to another pigtail and that pigtail to the other brass screw. I

If you want both halves switched:
To fully switch one receptacle the constant hots would be connected to each other but not the the both halves switched receptacle.

There are two receptacle with the red wire.
But it should only be connected to one of the receptacles if that is the switched hot.

All the wires are still like they have been before on the old switch.
YOur picture shows the backstabs being used and the screws missing. Best practice is to use the screws not the backstabs.
 
  #29  
Old 04-29-13, 07:53 AM
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Hello,

tha switch is going to be replaced with a new one of course.

Here are some pictures of the receptacle I would like to control via switch.

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And I have no idea what you mean with half switched. Sorry.
 
  #30  
Old 04-29-13, 10:47 AM
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Except that it is backstabbed* that looks correct. Half switched means one plug-in, half the receptacle, is switched and the other pllug-in is always hot.

Is this the first receptacle after the switch? Pigtail the red wires as is best practice. Do the same for the black wires and the white wires. Using a multimeter measure the voltage between the white pigtail and the red pigtail and the black pigtail with the switch off. Does either pigtail show ~0 volts to the white pigtail with the switch of?

Terminology: A pigtail is a 6"-8" length of wire connected to two or more wires with a wire nut. Color and size should match the wires it is being connected to.

Note: While pigtailing may not be absolutely necessary it does make a better connection and makes testing much easier.

*Backstabs are less reliable then the screws. Best practice don't use them. It also is less confusing, especially for the next person, to use pigtails.
 
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Old 04-29-13, 11:43 AM
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I have no idea what you mean with half switched.
One of the two receptacles in the duplex is controlled by a switch and the other is always hot. The upper receptacle should be the one controlled by the switch, BTW.

Here are some pictures of the receptacle I would like to control via switch.
It appears that that recptacle has had the tab that connects the two terminals on the hot side removed, and that the tab on the neutral side is still in place. That is what you need. If that is not the case, replace the receptacle with a new one and remove the connecting tab on the hot side, only.

It is clear that there are two 3-conductor cables in this box - one feeding in and one feeding out - and that none of the feed-in-feed-out connections is made with a splice. You need to change that.

Cut three pigtails, white, black and red, and make up each color in a splice with its pigtail included. Terminate the ground, then terminate the neutral and tighten both neutral screws. Terminate the switch-controlled hot wire to the brass screw for the receptacle that you will mount upward, and terminate the always-hot pigtail to the brass screw for the other receptacle.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 04-29-13 at 01:05 PM. Reason: Typo-Switch/Receptacle.
  #32  
Old 04-29-13, 02:57 PM
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Is it a requirement to mount the switch controlled portion upward, or is it more of a convention and not required? I ask because in my house, all my switched controlled recepticals are switching on the lower half. The top is always hot.
 
  #33  
Old 04-29-13, 03:47 PM
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Convention only. Note: Receptacles actually have no up or down (or left or right if horizontal) so up in reference only refers to whichever way the installer decided to mount the receptacle when he got out of bed that morning.
 
  #34  
Old 04-29-13, 04:23 PM
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I thought that switching the upper receptacle was required when switching only one of the receptacles on a duplex yoke. If that's true, I haven't been able to find a reference to it. It may be, as you suggest, a convention.
 
  #35  
Old 04-30-13, 08:08 AM
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I have heard of it as convention before, but was unsure if it was a requirement. I've also heard it is typical to install a switch controlled receptical upside down (ground prong faces up instead of down) to indicate that it is switch controlled. However, in my case, neither of those conventions was followed when setting up the switch controlled recepticals in my living room. I was just curious if it was required or not.
 
  #36  
Old 04-30-13, 09:38 AM
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The NEC is mute on if the ground goes on top or bottom of the receptacle.
 
  #37  
Old 04-30-13, 06:29 PM
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Here is a picture of the second receptacle and it is the one which is farther away from the switch.
I would like to have the one closer to the switch with the more wires on to be switchable.

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  #38  
Old 04-30-13, 06:35 PM
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I would like to have the one closer to the switch with the more wires on to be switchable.
To have the further receptacle be always hot, replace it with one that has both bridging tabs in place. Connect only the neutral and the unswitched hot wire. Put a wire nut on the end of the switched hot wire.

Use the screw terminals, not the back stabs. Tighten all of the terminal screws.
 
  #39  
Old 04-30-13, 06:40 PM
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OK. But the closer one to the switch is still not working, means i can not turn it on and off. Or do I misunderstand something here?
 
  #40  
Old 04-30-13, 06:56 PM
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the closer one to the switch is still not working, means i can not turn it on and off. Or do I misunderstand something here?
For that one, use a receptacle with the bridging tab removed on the hot side. Then
Originally Posted by Nashkat1
Cut three pigtails, white, black and red, and make up each color in a splice with its pigtail included. Terminate the ground, then terminate the neutral and tighten both neutral screws. Terminate the switch-controlled hot wire to the brass screw for the receptacle that you will mount upward, and terminate the always-hot pigtail to the brass screw for the other receptacle.
 
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