Wiring help!! Red wire from hell!

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  #1  
Old 08-01-14, 05:53 PM
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Wiring help!! Red wire from hell!

Hello, I have a wiring issue that hopefully someone can resolve. I am installing a new GFI outlet and switch in my upstairs bathroom. I removed the old ones before I jotted down how everything was hooked up and now I have spent way too many hours getting everything working again to no avail. Here is what I am dealing with; I have three conduit pipes coming up into the open area that I am working with. The first one comes up from the junction box and has a Red, Black and White wire. The second pipe comes down and it powers a vanity light above the sink, it also has three wires coming out of it, a red, black and white. The third pipe comes up from below and also has a red, black and white wire that then travels down and across into the adjoining bedroom that then powers several half switched outlets.

My question is, where do I hook up the black, red and white wires that come directly from the power source? And where do I then split and pigtail them so I can switch on my vanity light and still have half switched outlets in my bedroom?
 
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Old 08-01-14, 06:07 PM
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Red is usually the switched hot and black is the constant hot. Do you have a red and black wire on the switch. If so there is a high probability the light uses white and red. A black and white would go to the line side of the GFCI. The light would normally not be protected by the GFCI but the switch for it may take power from the line (not load) side of the GFCI or the constant hot for the GFCI..
 
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Old 08-01-14, 06:35 PM
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I removed the old ones before I jotted down how everything was hooked up
I wish I had a dime for every time I have read that on a thread on this forum. :bad poster:
 
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Old 08-01-14, 06:41 PM
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If I give you a dime can you at least try to help out here?
 
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Old 08-01-14, 06:55 PM
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I have already determined that the black is the hot and the red is most likely the traveler, I just don't know what to hook up to what. As I said, I have no idea what was hooked up to what before I removed everything, If I did I would not be in the mess I am in now. I'm sure that there is at least one or two capable electricians out there that have come across a scenario like this before, correct? Three conduit pipes enter a gang box, all three have three wires coming out of them, a red, a white and a black. One set powers a vanity light, the second set powers a adjoining bedroom that has all half switched outlets, the third set comes up from the breaker box. All three sets converge into the area where I want to hook up a GFI and switch. I just need to know without calling Black Diamond and shelling out 300 clams for 10 minutes work, how do I hook up a GFI outlet and a switch and get everything working as it should including the half switched outlets in the bedroom? I realize that some of you consider this a simple job and mock the greenhorns out here who post things like this, but remember, you were there once too.
Thanks again for any and all help on this.
 
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Old 08-01-14, 07:24 PM
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and flip the light switch, it works. But when I flip the other switch, it gets tripped again.
Why a traveler? They are used on a 3-way switch I saw no mention of a 3-way switch.
 
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Old 08-01-14, 07:28 PM
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the black is the hot and the red is most likely the traveler,
Travelers are only used in 3 way/4 way switching. There is also two of them in a set.

First you need to make sure you do not have a multi-wire circuit. The pipe with the hot wire, are you 100% sure the red is not also a hot? Please check this with a meter. If you do not have one, go buy one, they are only $10-15 for an analog one and it will do everything you/we need.


BTW - welcome to the forums!
 
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Old 08-01-14, 07:30 PM
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If I give you a dime can you at least try to help out here?
I don't need your dime. I just wanted to know you are not the first to make this mistake. I believe the first thing to do is find out where the black and red wires are coming from in the panel, you did say one conduit comes from the panel, right? Are these two separate circuits and/or is this a multiwire branch circuit where two circuits share a single neutral? You'll probably have to open the service panel to find the answer. You obviously removed some wires from the switch, but did you also take apart any other wirenutted connections in the switch box?
 
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Old 08-01-14, 08:00 PM
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Ok, what I can see from looking in the breaker box is that the area that I am working in (bathroom and bedroom) is fed from a 15 Amp Single pole breaker. At least this is the breaker that I switch off when I work on the receptacles. Although I can only see a single black wire being fed to the breaker. There are several red wires in the breaker box, but they don't look to be connected to the breaker in question. I am attaching a photo of the breaker box.

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The 15amp that controls the area is the bottom most left. I have a multimeter at work and if need be will grab it and bring it here to test the circuit. From what I remember about what was in the old gang box is that there were several black wires pigtailed together and well as some red ones, I just forgot to where they all went. I really thought this was going to be a simple job, that's why I didn't snap a picture as I do at work but lesson learned...lesson learned for sure.
I will follow up when I find out more.

Thanks for all of your help.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 08-01-14 at 08:36 PM. Reason: Correct Image
  #10  
Old 08-01-14, 08:03 PM
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Sorry, the pic posted sideways...the two red wire with the electrical tape should be on the bottom of the photo.
 
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Old 08-01-14, 08:36 PM
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Picture corrected.

.
 
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Old 08-02-14, 01:37 PM
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Thanks for correcting the picture. Anyway, no luck so far, but I have a few more details. If I remove the bathroom light fixture, the light is powered by a red and a white wire and the black is capped off. The black then continues into the bedroom along with a white. I don't see any red wire continuing into the bedroom although I know there is one because I remove a outlet and it was powered by a red black and neutral wire. My guess is that the reds come up from another conduit somewhere else. Boy oh boy.
 
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Old 08-02-14, 03:15 PM
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That answers one question. The red from the switch box is your switch leg, and the black is a hot. So in your switch box the black should be connected to the black that is hot. The red will be connected to your switch along with a pigtail to a hot wire.

I would suspect the blacks all go together to feed other locations. I'm no sure of the other reds in the bathroom switch box.

It makes sense to have both e a red and black in the bedroom receptacles as half of the device is switched. If you open the bedroom switch box you will likely find a red wire connected to the switch.
 
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Old 08-02-14, 03:55 PM
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Ok, so are you saying that I connect the red coming from the breaker box to the switch and then to the other reds and then pigtail it back to the hot coming from the breaker box? Then do I just connect the hot black coming from the breaker box to the other blacks going up to the vanity light and bedroom? What about the GFI? Just a hot and neutral?
 
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Old 08-02-14, 05:46 PM
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Ok, so I have "some" of the bedroom working and the bathroom light *works*. I hooked up the red from the breaker box to the top of the wall switch and pigtailed it to the bedroom and vanity light red wires. I tried pig tailing it to the hot black as suggested, but nothing worked when I tried that. The black from the breaker box is connected to the bottom of the wall switch and that's it for this test run. Problem is, when I turn on the bedroom wall switch the vanity light comes on and I cant turn it (vanity light) off from the bathroom wall switch. If I turn off the bedroom wall switch, the bathroom light works fine. Also I still have the black wires coming from the always hot side of the bedroom receptacles and down from the vanity light that I am not sure where to connect.
I'm sure now that the black wire that comes down from the vanity light area powers the always hot receptacles on one side of the bedroom. Still not sure how to tackle the GFI.
 
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Old 08-02-14, 07:18 PM
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Ok, so are you saying that I connect the red coming from the breaker box to the switch and then to the other reds and then pigtail it back to the hot coming from the breaker box?
Earlier you said just the black was hot. I'm
 
  #17  
Old 08-02-14, 07:31 PM
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The red will be connected to your switch along with a pigtail to a hot wire.
The black is hot. Maybe I read this wrong, but it sounded like I should connect a red to the hot (black) wire?

Ok, at this point everything is working, but when I flip on the bathroom light, the bedroom light goes on and vise versa the bedroom light switch powers the bathroom light. It looks like it is just affecting the switched outlet side of the outlets, the constant power side of the outlets work all the time now. I haven't ever tried to hook up the GFCI yet. I have a electrician friend of the family coming out on Wednesday, but I would love to be able to fix it before they show. Thanks.
 

Last edited by Mike Radocha; 08-02-14 at 07:38 PM. Reason: Additional content
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Old 08-02-14, 07:42 PM
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No. The red to the light will connect to the switch. The other screw on the switch will connect to a wire that is hot all the time. Best way to do this is with a short piece of wire, a pig tail.

I am not sure what should be done with the other red wires. Is the red wire, that is in the same conduit as the black wire that is hot all the time, also hot? If it is it is likely a multi wire circuit, however, the picture of the panel does not look like many multi wire circuits

I suspect the black wires should be grouped and tied together.
 
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Old 08-02-14, 08:50 PM
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Trying to visualize what you have has become very confusing.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 08-03-14 at 07:19 AM.
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Old 08-03-14, 07:11 AM
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Sorry, i'll try to post a pic when I have a few moments free, today is a busy day.

I'll try to be as clear as I can in this description.

In my bathroom there was a switch and a outlet on the wall, I removed them and now there is a open space where the old receptacles were, when I look in the wall where the double gang box is I can see three conduit pipes entering the gang box. One coming down one coming from the right and a third coming up. All three of those conduit pipes have three wires protruding from them, a black a white and a red. The only hot wire in the bunch is the black wire that comes from the pipe on the right that then runs down to the breaker box. The wire reads 110. There are no other hot wires that come from the breaker box into this gang box, just the black. the other sets of wires goes up to a light and into a bedroom. At one point all of these wires were somehow connected to a switch and a outlet. The switch controlled the light above the sink. Then these same wires somehow traveled into the bedroom behind this bathroom wall and powered 3 half switched outlets, so the wires must have been connected to the bedroom wall switch as well. The way I have it hooked up now, everything works except when I flip on the bedroom wall switch the bathroom light goes on and vise versa, if I flip the bathroom light, the bedroom light goes on/off.

Like I said, I'll post a pic when I have more time, I tried already but the image was apparently too large per forum rules.
 
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Old 08-03-14, 07:20 AM
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Old 08-03-14, 10:19 AM
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So is this what the switch box looks like?

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Pleas tell me what I need to do to make this diagram look like your light.

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Last edited by ray2047; 08-03-14 at 10:39 AM.
  #23  
Old 08-03-14, 05:45 PM
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That's it. Perfect!
The bottom diagram is what comes thru the conduit line to the bathroom light, the red and white connect to the light fixture and the black is pigtailed to another black coming in to that switch box, which I suspect come in from the bedroom as well.

The way I have it hooked up now, is: Red from breaker box is wire nutted to the other two reds, then a pigtail comes off and connects to the top of the switch. The hot black is connected to the bottom of the switch and the other two blacks are wire nutted together and a pigtail come off and also connects to the bottom of the switch. In this scenario, everything now works, except the bedroom wall switch now controls the bathroom light and vise versa. Plus I still need to hook up the GFCI.
 

Last edited by Mike Radocha; 08-03-14 at 06:10 PM.
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Old 08-03-14, 06:38 PM
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Red from breaker box is wire nutted to the other two reds,
But you said black was hot. That means the black is from the breaker box. That means it is the three blacks that should be pigtailed to the switch not the the three reds. The red of conduit one should be to the other side of the switch.
another black coming in to that switch box,
Does it come from a second conduit? What other color wires come from that conduit?
 
  #25  
Old 08-03-14, 07:17 PM
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The black from the breaker box is the only hot. When I said, "another black coming in to that switch box" I meant the switch box in the ceiling where the light fixture is. That one has a conduit coming from the the area we are working with (diagram #1) and another going into the bedroom and what looks like a third that has red wires coming from it as well! I looked again tonight. (Holy mother of God!) But the original breaker still shuts off everything so I know there is not another hot wire when everything is powered back on.
 
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Old 08-03-14, 08:03 PM
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So are you saying the box for the light has two or is it three conduits" What colors are the wires in those conduit? We need to know all the wires.
When I said, "another black coming in to that switch box" I meant the switch box in the ceiling where the light fixture is.
Please refer to that as the light. You are confusing me. Is the picture of the switch and receptacle box correct?
 
  #27  
Old 08-03-14, 09:30 PM
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The confusion set in when you refered to the vanity light box as a switch box. May I ask a couple of clarifying questions?

The black wire from the breaker panel is the only hot wire in the box meaning that the red wire in the conduit with the black hot is dead, correct?

The receptacles in the bedroom are half switched. It sounds like you're saying that the switch in the bedroom turns off say the top half of each receptacle while the bottom halves stay hot or vice versa, tops stay hot and bottoms switch, correct?

Currently, you have 2 black wires under one screwhead on the switch? Can't do that. Only one wire per screwhead is allowed.

What happens if you do this- Wirenut the whites together along with a white pigtail. Land the white pigtail on the receptacle. Wirenut the blacks together along with 2 black pigtails, Land one black pigtail on the switch and the other black pigtail on the receptacle. Land the red wire going to the light on the other terminal on the switch. Cap off the other 2 reds. If this does not work, you'll have to trace down every wire from the box. At this time, I don't understand why they ran the extra reds.

You probably don't want to hear this, but you can't mix a bathroom receptacle circuit with other circuits. You can put the bathroom GFI together with the light in the bathroom BUT that circuit has to be a 20 amp circuit and can only feed the bathroom, nothing else.
 
  #28  
Old 08-05-14, 04:27 AM
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Ok...all good.

Got it. Called in a second brain (thank's Jasper!) Basically we connected the Red and the black together from source and then connected to the switch, the reds from other rooms we connected together then...... Basically it was the reds and blacks that needed to be connected together. At this point I already forgot which red and which black we connected to each other, but it's working and that's all I care about. No shorts and no fire...yet.
Thanks for everyone's help here, you saved me a lot of work and possibly damage. I will definitely be getting a decent book on home wiring this weekend though.
And will never..ever make this same mistake again!
 
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