Accidentally Bypassed Switch


Old 10-20-14, 06:53 AM
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Accidentally Bypassed Switch

I am lost. I attempted to replace a single pole switch with a 3way remote dimmer (I was installing the 2nd switch at a later time). After wiring up the new dimmer, I flipped the breaker and the lights came on but the dimmer did not function. Thinking I had a bad dimmer, I tried a known working, single-pole dimmer with the same results. Lights always on, no switch function. Finally I put the original switch back and no function. No power to the switch lights only controlled by the breaker. The switch used to control 5 recessed lights ~72 watt halogens in each.

Additional info: I have been adding/replacing the baffle/trims on the recessed lighting. The only wiring I messed with in any of the fixtures was snipping off one porcelain bulb sockets and trying a plastic socket with mounting clips. 1960s home.

Did something magically come loose in the ceiling? How is the switch now bypassed?
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Old 10-20-14, 07:21 AM
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How is the switch now bypassed?
No clue because you told us nothing about the wiring at the switch. How many 2-conductor cables (black and white), any 3-conductor cables (white, black, red), how are the wires connected? Did you disconnect any wires other than the two that were connected to the original switch?
Old 10-20-14, 07:29 AM
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The box contains black white and ground. There is another set of 2 conductor coming through the bottom of the box and the black and white wires were individually capped and tucked in the back. I have ignored those and worked the only 3 wires that were connected to the existing switch - black, white and ground. Note - the grounds for both sets of 2-conductor cable are twisted together. I messed with no other wiring other than replacing the one bulb socket.
Old 10-20-14, 07:03 PM
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where is the power coming from 1st, does it go from the switch to the lighting or lighting to the switch. do you have a meter you can check your wires which is live. Kind of sounds like tied some wrongs ones together.

Just went back up and was reading again.... "replaced a single pole switch with a 3way remote dimmer"
You'll be missing some need wires its not a stright replacement.

On your single pole you only switch your hot wires so for example power (black) goes to switch and light power (black) goes to switch where your neutal (white) gets tied together. not the same case for your 3way. Your 3way switch will come from another switch from some where else with a 3 wires (black, red, white)
*Side Note your ground does not count as a wire, so a 14AWG 2C is 14 gaug wire with 2 conductors (White and Black with a bare copper ground)

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Old 10-20-14, 07:19 PM
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If you only have a white and black wire available then you have a switch leg. When the two wires are open.... the lights should be off. If that is not the case then you changed the wiring at the light fixture.

My diagram below illustrates what you are working with. I show a regular bulb.... same setup with the recessed fixture.

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I question the three way dimmer. Many of the newer three way dimmers will also work as a single pole dimmer but some require a neutral wire. Make sure your dimmer does not require a neutral to operate.
Old 10-21-14, 07:07 AM
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I will have to go into the attic to figure out where the power originates or if something has come loose. I can tell you there is no power coming from the 2-wire in the switch box.

The sub panel is on the opposite wall of the switch and the lights are on the ceiling in between. Now this does not automatically mean the switch is not fed power first but coupled with the fact that it is a black and white in the box and I would assume it is a switch leg as described by PJmax.

I currently have the 2-wire (black and white) completely disconnected and all of the recessed lights remain on. Wouldn't that point to a bad connection in the attic between one of the lights and the switch?

Thanks for the info on the 3-way dimmers. I had just assumed I could wire it as single pole until I decided to add the second switch.
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