Lights that come on without a switch


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Old 02-11-15, 01:20 PM
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Lights that come on without a switch

I am working on a suspended ceiling and found an old two bulb light fixture on the original ceiling. I assumed it had been disconnected until I touched one of the bulbs and it lit.

There is no switch to turn these lights off anymore as the house was remodeled years ago. Apparently, this fixture was just left.

I'd like to know if this is safe the way it is. The bulbs were just unscrewed a little and left that way.

Thank you.
 
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Old 02-11-15, 03:28 PM
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Something doesn't sound right. Are you saying that they transferred the switch to new lights, in the hung ceiling & connected the lights in the original ceiling, directly to the breaker box?
 
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Old 02-11-15, 04:00 PM
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No this is not safe. You will need to remove fixture and cap off wires inside ceiling box. Box will also need a cover plate.
Cap off wires using both a wire nut and tape.
 
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Old 02-11-15, 04:07 PM
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I'm curious about this circuit and what else is on it.
 
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Old 02-11-15, 04:23 PM
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There are no new lights in the suspended ceiling. That room gets light via a lamp which is controlled by a switch, half of the plug in one outlet works with the switch.

That outlet is directly below this old fixture I'm asking about and I have no idea how it is wired.

Just want to add again that the wall switch does not control the old fixture.
 
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Old 02-11-15, 05:21 PM
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Just want to add again that the wall switch does not control the old fixture.
But it probably did at one time.
That room gets light via a lamp which is controlled by a switch, half of the plug in one outlet works with the switch.
So you know the two places to look to figure out the light wiring.

Once you figure it out you can decide what to do. I'd suggest add a ceiling light using the existing cable. Maybe a drop-in fluorescent fixture.
 
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Old 02-11-15, 05:54 PM
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Both the wall switch and the outlet are on walls we had put up 35 years ago. This old fixture (maybe 60 years old) was just covered up by the drop ceiling.

Since I found one I have a feeling there are three more old fixtures in other rooms that have drop ceilings also.

I am going to have somebody look at it who understands it better than I do.

Thanks.
 
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Old 02-11-15, 06:42 PM
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Smokyie, I think that you are missing a switch somewhere. No one transferred the original switch from the ceiling lights, to the hung ceiling lights & then rewired the original lights directly to the breaker box.

Try to determine what lights & switches are on what breakers. Get a notebook & take notes as you test.
 
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Old 02-11-15, 07:46 PM
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Pulpo,
Is it safe to screw those bulbs back in and try every switch I can find close by?
 
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Old 02-11-15, 07:59 PM
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Yes.

.
 
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Old 02-11-15, 08:22 PM
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Ok, I'll check them all tomorrow. Thanks.
 
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Old 02-12-15, 05:11 AM
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Sounds like an old porcelain fixture. If it is not needed, remove the fixture and cap the wires and add a blank cover.
 
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Old 02-12-15, 07:23 AM
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All switches are down and I could still screw that bulb back in and it will come on.

There is no other light in that room - as I said you need to plug a lamp into an outlet and use a switch to run that. That switch is down and the bulb still lights.

Make any sense at all?
 
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Old 02-12-15, 07:27 AM
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Do you see any wires in that switchbox which are nutted together and do not attach to the switch?

I'm wondering if someone disconnected a previous switch to that receptacle and just wired it on all the time. Can't figure out why they would have done that, though....
 
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Old 02-12-15, 07:59 AM
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You say the new walls & ceiling were put up 35 years ago--is the current switch in the same location as the old? I'm wondering if the old switch is abandoned behind the new wall. Marginally safe but definitely not code. You're probably going to need an electrician's eyes on this--there are too many possibilities.
 
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Old 02-12-15, 08:03 AM
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Maybe there was a pullstring fixture there before. Right now the fixture is connected to a constant hot.
 
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Old 02-12-15, 08:05 AM
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I only see white, black and copper on that switch.

I checked the other side of the wall and there is a switch with capped off white and capped off black and there is a heavy twisted copper wire. That particular switch doesn't control anything but is located on the other side of the wall from this mystery bulbs set up.

Just to make it more confusing there is another switch in what was the original room which also doesn't control anything now, and that has a white, black and copper with no caps at all.

It may have been the original switch to these bulbs but it's across the room. The old fixture would have been close to a door at that time.

Thank you for responding.
 
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Old 02-12-15, 08:10 AM
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Guy48065 - Your note came in as I was typing. The current switch is not in the same location as the old. A new wall was put up and there is just that one switch in that room.

PCboss, I doubt there was a pull string unit as this was a front door area back then.

thanks.
 
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Old 02-12-15, 09:25 AM
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there is a switch with capped off white and capped off black and there is a heavy twisted copper wire.... there is another switch in what was the original room which also doesn't control anything now, and that has a white, black and copper with no caps at all.
Can you post pictures of those two boxes with the wires connected as they are or aren't but pulled out? http://www.doityourself.com/forum/li...rt-images.html

Suggestion: Find which breaker controls the mystery light then try to find everything that is on that circuit. Might give you a hint at where to search.
 
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Old 02-12-15, 10:16 AM
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Name:  Old fixture.jpg
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Size:  28.6 KB This is the old fixture

Name:  bedroom switch.jpg
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Size:  48.3 KB Switch in room with bulbs

Name:  other side of wall # 2.jpg
Views: 308
Size:  23.3 KB This switch is on the other side of the wall

Name:  other side of wall.jpg
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Size:  22.9 KB

Name:  white wall # 2.jpg
Views: 288
Size:  19.5 KB This switch is further away

Name:  White wall.jpg
Views: 297
Size:  24.0 KB
 
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Old 02-12-15, 10:20 AM
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You probably can't see what you need to with these pictures but I'm hoping they help you understand. At least you now see the old fixture.
 
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Old 02-12-15, 10:36 AM
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Your correct, without pulling the switches out it doesn't help.

Simplest is do as PCBoss suggested:
remove the fixture and cap the wires and add a blank cover.
 
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Old 02-12-15, 10:37 AM
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It looks like the switched the neutral leg on two of those switches.
 
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Old 02-12-15, 10:59 AM
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Ok, thank you for your time. I'm going to have somebody more knowledgeable than me look at it tomorrow, if it still doesn't make sense I will call in a qualified electrician.

I think there might be two more situations like this in the house - old fixtures like this covered up by drop ceilings.

Thanks Again.
 
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Old 02-13-15, 12:13 PM
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Ok, I found the breaker that controls those bulbs. Unfortunately, it also controls the lights in four other rooms.

I was hoping I could just leave that breaker off. I found one breaker that apparently doesn't control anything.

When the breaker to those bulbs is off the switch in the same room will not control the lamp which plugs into an outlet under the bulbs. Kind of confusing. The breaker box has a label for that room and that breaker shuts off lights in the room next to it also.

I think the original switch to those bulbs must be hidden behind some new walls, as one of you suggested already.

Anyway, I am waiting for a call back from an electrician.
 
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Old 02-13-15, 03:38 PM
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Smokyie, It's good that you found the breaker but I was hoping that you would find switches that control them.
 
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Old 02-13-15, 09:14 PM
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That would just be too easy! Not getting a call back from the electrician - must be too small of a job.
 
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Old 02-14-15, 05:19 AM
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You don't need him. Trace some wires & make notes along the way. Do you have a half way decent tester?
 
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Old 02-14-15, 06:17 AM
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No, thanks for trying to help but I don't have a tester and have never done anything like this before.

I did just screw the bulb in and flipped those odd switches that don't seem to control anything but they didn't put the bulb out. Thought maybe it was the kind you can control from different switch locations.

Can't figure out why shutting the breaker to that old fixture off also turns off the outlet in that room and yet the current wall switch doesn't control the bulb.
 
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Old 02-14-15, 02:51 PM
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It's not a surprise that the breaker controls the outlet as well as the switch. Shut the power to those fixtures. Remove them from the ceiling & try to trace the wires. Open the hole in the old ceiling & look inside. It's not going to matter. No one will see it anyway. If you look long & hard enough, it will eventually make sense. Did I ask you when the house was built. Older houses might have used BX. The newer lighting may have Romex. Look for old vs new. That will tell you a lot.
 
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Old 02-14-15, 03:40 PM
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Yeah, I was mixed up on what is shutting down what.

House is about 65 years old now with some remodeling down 35 years back and that's when these bulbs were hidden over the drop ceiling. Can't find the switch so guess that was sheet rocked over.

Since that's been up there all these years with the bulbs unscrewed can I put some burned out bulbs in and just let it be? Can't be turned on by mistake as there is no switch!

Thanks.
 
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Old 02-14-15, 04:54 PM
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As has been written before, remove the fixture, cap the wires with wire nuts and put a blank cover on the box. Safe and code compliant. You are seeing danger where there is none.
 
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Old 02-14-15, 05:38 PM
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You keep saying that there is no switch & I keep saying that there is, even if it's buried in the wall. Your mission, Mr Phelps, if you choose to accept it, is to find it. If you don't know who or what, I'm talking about, go to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAYhNHhxN0A
 
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Old 02-14-15, 05:49 PM
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Yes, I do remember that theme.
Ok, maybe I'll take a couple of whacks at the walls as I know about where the entrance door was located and the switch should have been close by.

Now, what do you want me to do if I find it?

ray2047 - I know you are telling me the proper way to handle this but the most I know about electricity is what I've learned here the past few days.
 
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Old 02-14-15, 06:20 PM
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If you are satisfied with disconnecting the old fixtures & capping the wires, then go no further. Otherwise, if you find the switch or switches, trace them to the junction box where the old & new cables meet. If you are correct & the switches are truly gone, such a junction box still exists. That's where you would disconnect the old cables & leave the new.
 
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Old 02-14-15, 08:03 PM
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Ok, you have been very patient with me and I appreciate that. I will think it all over again.

There is yet another switch fairly close to the spot I keep talking about. That one controls three lights but it might be another clue!
 

Last edited by Smokyie; 02-14-15 at 08:21 PM.
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Old 02-16-15, 11:44 AM
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All fixed with caps and a cover. I didn't do it myself but it is done and thanks again for all your advice.
 
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Old 02-16-15, 11:46 AM
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Thanks for letting us know the outcome.
 
 

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