can I combine three light switches into one?

Reply

  #1  
Old 05-26-13, 09:03 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 5
can I combine three light switches into one?

The original wiring in my '50s house has the basement lighting split into three separate switches. These three switches are all in one small box at the top of the stairs. They are all on one circuit. Several years ago, one of these switches burned out and I replaced it, but at that point the local electrical supplier had a hard time finding the replacement.

Today another switch burned out. Being fed up with having to flip three switches on every time I use the basement I thought I'd combine them, but ran into trouble.

What I found in the box is three copper pairs running into it, each with a black and white. Each pair was wired to its own switch. I presume each pair is the black/hot for each set of lights, but there are no other wires (e.g. neutrals) in the box.

Can I somehow tie these into one switch instead of three? I tried combining the blacks with a wire nut and the whites with their own nut and then used pigtails to put the blacks on one side and the whites on the other side of a single pole switch, but the lights just stayed on and the switch had no effect.

What am I missing? Can this be done?
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 05-26-13, 10:37 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 32,636
What I found in the box is three copper pairs running into it
Do you mean three 2-conductor cables?

each with a black and white.
So you have three switch loops. To accomplish your goal the changes will need to be made at the lights. Tell us the wiring at the lights and we can tell you how to use just one of those cables to control the lights.

One of the lights should have a 2-conductor cable that reads 120 volts between black and white when disconnected and the switches are off. (Either a multimeter or test light must be used. A non contact tester won't be accurate enough.) It is probably the light closest to the switches.
 
  #3  
Old 05-27-13, 02:03 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 5
yes, three two-conductor cables are in the box.

i'll grab my multimeter and try and figure out the lighting wiring tomorrow and will report back.
 
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
'