Wall Switch


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Old 02-10-14, 08:23 PM
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Wall Switch

Hi people!

My new house has a single pole wall switch that doesn't work because the switch is not connected to the wires in the box. I also don't know what the switch would control if it were connected.

I'm thinking about just connecting the wires to the switch and then experimenting to figure out what the switch controls.

I would do the work after turning off the electricity at the circuit breaker and using a circuit tester to confirm it is off.

I have a few questions for you before I go ahead and do this.
1) Do you think it is safe to use the circuit tester to confirm that electricity reaches the switch?
2) Do you think there is anything else I need to do to be safe?
3) Do you have any other advice for this situation?

In case it helps, here is a photo of the wires in the box after I removed the plate and unmounted the switch. This is the URL imgur: the simple image sharer

If there is already a thread that explains this please just tell me what to search for.

Thank you!
 

Last edited by hellog; 02-10-14 at 08:58 PM.
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Old 02-10-14, 08:46 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

The board does not allow hot linking to tinypics. Imgur, photobucket are ok.
I don't know what the io in front of your link is and was not able to view your picture.
You can try posting it directly here. http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...-pictures.html
 
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Old 02-10-14, 11:07 PM
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Wall Switch

Looking at your photo it looks like you have an older home. I see a metal box with cable clamps and TW wiring with friction tape on the end.
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Assuming there are two blacks, I would pull them out into the clear. I don't see a ground so I would pull the white out of the box and turn the wire nut so you can push your test lead into it and read between the white and the blacks. You can take a reading from the blacks to the metal box but I am not sure it is grounded. One black should be hot and hopefully the other goes to a load. Once you know which black it hot, take a reading between the two blacks. If you get a reading then it is connected to a load at some point that is turned on. You should look to see if there are any lights and/or photo cells that could be on that circuit before you connect the two blacks to see what it controls so you can turn them off. You need to use caution when the circuit is energized, do not open the neutral (white) if there are other loads on that circuit because when you do, one wire will be at ground potential and the other will have 120V's creating a shock hazard.
 
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Old 02-12-14, 08:43 AM
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More info

Hi!

Thank you for the help!

I pulled the wires out into the clear to take a better photo. I also diagrammed the wires in case the photo isn't clear.

I confirmed that the two pairs of black wires are hot using the box as the ground for each test.

I'm a bit stuck now because I haven't found anything online that explains the situation when there are this many wires in the box.

It would be great if you can help!

Thank you
 
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Old 02-12-14, 09:15 AM
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I suspect the two blacks not taped were the leads to an old single pole switch.
 
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Old 02-12-14, 09:32 AM
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Wall Switch

Did you turn off the power, separate the blacks, turn power on and then take a reading from each individual black to the box? Need to find out which black is the feed and which is the load. Is this box on a interior wall of exterior, that may help determine what it may control.
 
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Old 02-12-14, 09:49 AM
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Thank you for looking at this!

I'm sorry that my diagram is not clear enough.
All of the black wires are taped.

There are 6 wires in the box.
Four of the wires are black and two of the wires are white.
Two of the black wires are sheathed together in an insulated black cable.
One of the black wires that is sheathed is taped to the third black wire.
The other black wire that is sheathed is taped to the fourth black wire.
The two white wires are connected to each other.

I think it's likely that these wires were once connected to a single pole switch, but I am not sure how.

If you could explain how that might have been I would appreciate it!
 
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Old 02-12-14, 10:01 AM
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Two of the black wires are sheathed together in an insulated black cable.
Cables don't have two black wires. Could it be you have knob and tube and you have two black wires in loom?
 

Last edited by ray2047; 02-12-14 at 10:19 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 02-12-14, 10:28 AM
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Wall Switch

I think Ray is correct, that is probably knob & tube wiring. I assume when you say wires are taped that you mean they are electrically connected. If that is the case I would separate two of the blacks and see if it kills any of the receptacles in that room.
 
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Old 02-12-14, 10:34 AM
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There are enough electricians here to help, so I will stay out of their way, but you mentioned a "tester", not sure what type, but it's an old house with any number of possibilities, so the first thing that I would do is buy an actual volt meter. It doesn't need to be an expensive one, I think that I have seen analog ones in the $10-20 range at the local hardware and big boxes, but I would want something that shows actual voltage for a job like this.
 
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Old 02-12-14, 10:47 AM
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I have turned the power off, separated the blacks, turned the power on and taken a reading from each individual black to the box. The only hot black wire is the one pointing to the top-right in the latest picture.

It might be that the two black black wires that I said are sheathed together are actually tubed rather than sheathed. I have never worked with tubed wire but the tube/sheath doesn't feel as rubbery as I would expect for tubed wire, and the wire is stranded rather than solid (and I have not seen stranded tubed wired in my limited experience). I hope that the new pictures can help with this question.

Would you be able to explain why these wires are connected as they are?
Also, would you be able to suggest how to connect a single pole switch into it?

Thank you!
 
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Old 02-12-14, 10:51 AM
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I have been testing with a circuit tester like this: Circuit Tester 80-500 Volts AC/DC - MOR-59010 for $5.95
 
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Old 02-12-14, 10:59 AM
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Also, I separated the black wires and determined which receptacles no longer have power.

I feel like I'm almost there! Thank you!
 
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Old 02-12-14, 12:06 PM
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Wall Switch

As mentioned an analog tester (low cost radio shack) would be better for testing than the neon your using. That being said you can hold one lead of your tester in your hand and touch the other to each wire and should get a dim light. Two of the blacks should be hot and the other two the load. I suspect you may have split-wired receptacles where on set of wires is hot all the time and the other is on the switch to control half the receptacle for lamps. Either that or some receptacles are on one set of wires and the switch controls some other receptacles for lamps.
 
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Old 02-12-14, 12:50 PM
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I think I understand the configuration in the box now.
I have attached a diagram.
Please tell me if you think it makes sense.

In order to install a single pole switch I think I need to pick one of the two pairs of black wires that that are taped together. I will untape that pair and connect the wires in the pair to the switch. Does that seems like a good plan? Do you think it matters which pair I choose?
I would follow directions like this to do that: Light Switch Wiring Diagram
 
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Old 02-12-14, 01:31 PM
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OK, I went ahead and connected a single pole switch between the two black wires in the top right of the diagram.

Everything seems to be working fine. I can now control the receptacle with the switch.

I think I am all set here unless you guys think I did something I should not have. Thank you!
 
 

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