Replacing Dimmer switch

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  #1  
Old 06-12-13, 10:32 AM
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Replacing Dimmer switch

I purchased LED light bulbs for a bedroom and they flicker with the old dimmer so I bought an LED compatible dimmer from Lutron.

All is well and good until I take out the old dimmer (which I believe is Leviton) and it has 2 black wires (and the ground) and one of the black wires is connected to TWO wires from the wall and the other one is connected to one wire. The ground isn't connected.

Why is one wire from the dimmer connected to 2 wires? Seems strange.

Also - the new dimmer doesn't have 2 black it has a black, red, red white (don't need this one - not doing a three way) and the ground.

Do I connect the black or the red to the two wires on the old setup? Or is this completely messed up and I should get an electrician to look at it.
 
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  #2  
Old 06-12-13, 10:40 AM
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The two blacks connected together are the power to the dimmer and a continuation of power to something else.

Read the instructions for the new dimmer. It will tell you which lead on the new dimmer should connect to the power. It is most likely the black wire. Connect the red as described in the instructions, it will most likely be the single black wire you have left in the wall box.
 
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Old 06-12-13, 10:41 AM
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The instructions should tell you whether the black or the red is the load of the dimmer. I suspect the red.

The two black are the power in and a power out. The single black goes to the light.
 
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Old 06-12-13, 10:46 AM
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There aren't two blacks in the wall - it's two orange or white wires coming out of the wall - can't remember for sure what color they are.

The old dimmer had one black wire going to the two orange or white wires and one black going to just one orange or white wire.

That makes sense though re "power going to something else" though - thank you. I was concerned that it was an incorrect install.
 
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Old 06-12-13, 10:49 AM
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The reason I'm asking if it was an incorrect or dangerous previous install by the old owner of the house was this result when I was googling for some answers online:

Caution: Call an electrician if the original switch is connected to two white wires. This may indicate a dangerous switched neutral.
http://www.familyhandyman.com/electrical/wiring-switches/how-to-install-a-dimmer-switch/view
 
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Old 06-12-13, 11:19 AM
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It is a common and safe practice. Actual wiring can vary from situation to situation and online tutorials often cover only one situation.
 
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Old 06-12-13, 11:22 AM
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Do you recommend any books or online resources for newbies to learn about home wiring and electrical for a diy-er?
 
  #8  
Old 06-12-13, 11:23 AM
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Orange wires would lead me to think that you have a conduit system rather than non-metallic cable. It is highly doubtful that the existing dimmer would have been connected to white wires.

Books? Did you ask about a book?
I ALWAYS recommend Wiring Simplified for anyone doing their own wiring. Wiring Simplified is THE bible for the DIYer. It has been in continuous print for more than fifty years, revised every three years to coincide with revisions to the National Electrical Code. The cost is less than ten dollars and it is readily available from most on-line book stores as well as usually available from decent hardware stores and mega-mart homecenters. It is generally NOT found in the books and magazine section but in the electrical aisles.
 
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Old 06-12-13, 11:27 AM
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I'll have to look at the colors again. What's a conduit system?
 
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Old 06-12-13, 11:32 AM
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A conduit system is where rigid or flexible "pipes" are run from the main (Service) circuit breaker panel to the various switches and receptacles in the house. After the conduit is run the actual wiring is pulled through the conduit. It makes for a safer installation, and can in some cases allow for the separate equipment grounding conductor (green or bare wire) to be dispensed with. Some older areas require conduit and prohibit any other wiring method. New York City and Chicago are the prime examples of this.
 
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Old 06-12-13, 11:33 AM
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Conduit is a type "pipe" that contains wire. Not normally used for residential except in NYC, LA, and Chicago.
 
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Old 06-12-13, 11:37 AM
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I'm in the Los Angeles area (Glendale) so it's possible and the house was built in the 1950s. I'll take a look again tomorrow morning at the color of the cables.

So there's no harm in me hooking the new one up to the 2 wires like before? I'm a complete newb - although I did replace a ceiling fan before and the house didn't explode. I'm afraid of messing something up... but I guess that feeling will pass.

I've usually just hired people to take of this stuff - but I want to start learning so I can do it myself and save some cash.
 
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Old 06-12-13, 11:45 AM
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Do you recommend any books or online resources for newbies to learn about home wiring and electrical for a diy-er?
Some of us refer to Wiring Simplified as the text for our little online seminar here. If you can't find it in the electrical aisle at your local hardware of home inprovement center, you can pick it up online. Furd just posted his jacket blurb for it.

For online resources, you can start with some of the sticky posts at the top of this forum. Troubleshooting a dead receptacle or light, Basic Terminology & Other info, for example. Don't trust any videos you find on YouTube about electrical work - there's no editorial control and no peer review there.

There is here!
 
  #14  
Old 06-12-13, 11:53 AM
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You must re-connect the two original wires as they were and then to the new dimmer. If you do not connect both originals then there is a 50-50 chance you will not connect the power and even if you do get the power wire then the "other" wire not connected would mean something else in the house would not work.

BTW, a "cable" is a factory-made unit consisting of two or more wires encased in an overall sheath. Cable is not used with conduit except in some very special cases.
 
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Old 06-14-13, 09:22 AM
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I know everyone was on the edge of their seat waiting with baited breath - but I finally got around to having time to finally switch out the switch and it appears to be working great.

I did peak into the switch box with a flashlight and yes the wires are orange and yes they are coming out of conduits or tubes.

Thank you to everyone for all of your help it is much appreciated. And I put holds on a couple of books at the library so I'm looking forward to reading those too.

My house is wired completely strange though - the breaker that turned off this switch apparently shut of the receptacle that's hooked up to my TV and Uverse hookup which is on the other side of the house. Go figure. And not only that - but the breaker that turned off the switch left all of the other things in that room on - there was another breaker for that.

I'll have to figure that out another day I'm sure.
 
  #16  
Old 06-14-13, 10:13 AM
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My house is wired completely strange though - the breaker that turned off this switch apparently shut of the receptacle that's hooked up to my TV and Uverse hookup which is on the other side of the house
But you are looking at finished walls and the electrician was looking at open walls and straight runs for conduit.

Glad it worked for you. Thanks for letting us know.
 
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