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Breakfast room wiring. What is going on!?!! (lots of pics)

Breakfast room wiring. What is going on!?!! (lots of pics)

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  #1  
Old 07-30-15, 05:24 PM
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Breakfast room wiring. What is going on!?!! (lots of pics)

Part 1/3

So we're about to start a kitchen remodel and we pulled out a horrible looking cabinet and found that it was covering 4 recessed lights holes with wires. I noticed a traveler for a 3 way switch and ended up pulling every outlet and switch in the room which left me confused.

The original electric installation of the house was done by an electrical engineering firm with lots of large industrial installations to their credit, it can be assumed they knew what they were doing. Later modifications may or may not have been done by a handyman who might not have known anything.

Old code allowed circuits to be color coded by with both hot and neutral the same color on that circuit.

Wires change colors with splices.

Anyway on with the pics

Here are the newly found holes


Below there you can see two boxes, here they are:


The one on the left has an alarm wire, that's not part of the issue. The one on the right which before being dismantled housed a working outlet and has 4 wires. 2 black, live and neutral and two brown wires. which I'm assuming could be for the above lights.

I'm assuming that because the wires that I pulled through the holes are brown and black which would indicate that they're on the same neutral as the outlet and the brown is switched current.

In the two middle boxes for the recessed lights there are only 4 wires.


Simple Right? Black hot & Neutral, Brown = 3 way switch wiring.

Where it gets weird is in the last box farthest from the wall. Red comes in. Red is the mystery wire that is in several wall switches and is the main thing I don't understand.




To help visualize things I made a model in sketchup. I couldn't figure out how to easily add conduits but that may be better since I'm not 100% positive. About their paths. Without further ado I present my kitchen and breakfast room. Please forgive the mess




Now in 3d



The recessed lights and conduits are in the drop ceiling. The cool thing about sketch up is we can take a look.



Anyway I've arbitrarily numbered the junction boxes to refer to them later.

Before I really get to the questions lets start with where the electricity comes from. behind the door in the messy kitchen pic is the electric panel for the upstairs part of the house (seen in yellow)



and in real life (those red wires on the left? thats what's boggling the brain)


Here is a diagram our electrician made of the panel. Wire colors represent actual colors rather than code. The X numbers refer to the holes in the panel that the wires leave from.


Everything in the breakfast room is, as far as I can tell behind the breaker T2.
Which, as you can see goes out through x1 and and x11

In this picture you can see x1 leaving with 2 brown wires and a bare copper ground you can also see two ends of a nm type cable with brown and blue conductors (that is current code wiring)



In this you can see x11 which is a piece of flexible conduit.


I suspect it ends here where there was a similarly ugly piece of cabinetry for a fridge originally (or not originally since it obviously came after the other wiring).



Whether it does or doesn't though doesn't really matter for the rest of the thread since that NM cable doesn't show up anywhere else. Speaking of which lets get to the point.

Directly in front of the panel is what we'll call box 1


It was covered with a flat cover (no switches) and has two small gauge redwires and 1 brown one. Since this is next to the door I think it might have served to turn off all the lights in the room, a task which is currently accomplished by going around to the switch below each light. At least that what I hope its for since that would be really nice
 
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  #2  
Old 07-30-15, 05:29 PM
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PART 2/3 - See Part 1

Box 1


The red wire mystery gets deeper at box 12



box twelve is directly below ceiling box T9 and controls ceiling box (for a chandelier) T10.


Here is what comes out of box 12

If its not clear in the pic that's 4 red wires in two groups of two knotted together 1 brown wire one black wire and one white wire

Here is a close up of the switch in box 12


Black is hot brown is switched to the recessed fixture directly above the box white goes to the center ceiling wiring T10 (and yes that bare piece of copper is carrying 220v. don't touch )

As a note T10 only has one open knockout so its safe to assume there is probably a conduit from t9 to t10 and from t9 to box 12.

Now one of the interesting things I've learned today is that the conduits appear to make a full loop around the room but the wires do not, going back to the top view



There is a conduit that goes from to T5 to T6 but has no wires in it.

Instead the wires in T6-10 seem to come from T9 which I suspect comes from T1. T1 was the box above the recessed light farthest from the wall

T1 again:


From the other side we can se that T1 has 4 knockouts opened 1 heading away towards the other recessed light cutouts and 3 coming back towards the panel (ignore the flexi conduit it's alarm wires)



And closer up


The back knock out pretty clearly is coming from the panel. You can see the two browns and the ground and there is a lot of messy looking splices that I could really get a good pic of (I'll try again.)

But heading towards the wall T2 & T3 are the same

Two blacks obviously spliced from the two browns in T1 (since thats the power source) and 2 browns which might or might not be spliced

Anyway at T4 it gets a little more interesting


Here we get the conduit coming in from T3 a conduit going down to Box 2 and one coming towards camera going to T5.

Here's a picture taken slightly to the left of the previous


You can see the conduit dropping to box 2 and the one coming from box 3 (that had the alarm wire, heading off in the other direction

Here is the wall in question.


And here is T5


Like the rest of the T's we have a recessed light cut out the conduit on the camera side comes from T4 and the top cutout is the previously mention unfilled conduit to T6 and the one on the far side drops to box 5. Also in this crowded photo is a whiteish alarm cable and two coax cables making a hop between conduits coming from or going to the upstairs.
 
  #3  
Old 07-30-15, 05:35 PM
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Part 3 of 3 - See parts 1 and 2

Boxes 4&5

Box 5 has 4 cables two black cables (probably the same one that came from T1-4 and box 3) which do not stop in the box but head down to an outlet at box 6



As I'm writing this I realize that the switch is a simple switch (power @ light) which means that in order for my master shutoff hypothesis to be true, some wire or wires would need to come through that unused conduit coming from T6

Box 4 is a mystery it has one knock out open, no wires and the conduit goes DOWN but does not go to box 6. My only guess would be that it goes down to the garage and would be for a 3 way switch for some outdoor lights (powered from the panel in the garage)

Following the conduit (but not the cables) from T5 to T6 we get to the back wall.




Boxes 7, 8, 9, & 10

Box 9 we can forget about, it houses a coax cable last seen in the pic of T5

Box 10 has an outlet, fed with 2 black wires from box 8. Which is the one we're interested in.

And in the stream of consciousness nature of this whole thread, I just realized I've been making a mistake all along. The unused conduit that I've been referring to as going from T5 to T6 doesn't actually go to T6 at all, it goes directly to Box 8.

Here is the Pic of T6


In this picture we see the conduit coming from T7, the wires to the recessed light, and the conduit to Box 8 coming out the back. In the backround we see two conduits coming from behind the camera, dropping into the wall 1 is coax to box 9, one is the conduit from T5 to box 8

Here are boxes 8 and 9 up close

Holy crap what a mess.

Trying to sort this out box 8 has 4 knock outs open the top two the bottom right and the lower leftside.

Nothing comes through the one from the top right which goes to T5, from top left and (consequently T6) we have 2 reds, one white, and one brown. The white and brown are switched, controlling the recessed lights lights by the cut outs of T6 T7 and T8. The recessed lights at T6 and T7 are switched together and T8 is switched seperatly

The lights @ T6 and T7
Looks like they're on the white one which means the brown is running back to the light at T8

Anyway back to box 8 the bottom right leaves with two blacks and I assume goes to the outlet at box 11. The Leftside knock out goes to box 7 which controls two lights on the patio. Blue being neutral and red being switched hot. Now the head scratcher hear seems to be that box 7 splices blue and red from two red wires from box 8 rather than the blacks as one would expect yet those two red wires seem to be spliced themselves from blacks in box 8



And thats it I think for circuits in the breakfast room. If you made it this far in the thread, you're a saint.

Anyway the main question I have have is what can I do with the switch by the door and what are the red wires for.

If I wanted to turn off all the recessed lights on or off with that switch by the door and they're individual switches, how would I need to wire it.

Also whats the deal with the 4 red wires in box 12? What about the random brown wire in the box by the door. Is that the missing traveler from the lights over the counter (wouldn't there need to be two in that case?). Any more pics I should take?
 
  #4  
Old 07-30-15, 05:36 PM
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This is primarily a US based site. It would help others to know where you are located.
 
  #5  
Old 07-30-15, 05:41 PM
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Wow it finally all got posted, I was sure that it was going to screw up and I was going to loose it all. Could a mod maybe reorder the posts so that people see them 1>2>3 instead of 3>2>1? Thanks!

I'm in Argentina. Power is 220v/50hz. I'm not too worried about local code so much as just making it work.

Current code is brown red black for phases and blue for neutral but as I mentioned the wiring predates that code.

Edit: I also just noticed that when the site resized my pics the labels in the Sketchup screen shots got pretty hard to read, if you right click and go to open full sized image, you can see bigger versions
 
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Old 07-30-15, 07:12 PM
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Can't reorder the posts as they are in listed in chronological order based on posting time.
 
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Old 07-31-15, 03:02 PM
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PJ max I had thought that maybe a mod could copy and paste the contents from post 3 to 1 and 1 to 3. Either way it's not a big deal.

I spent a good part of today with my phone up in the plaster taking blurry pictures of wires but I have a good part of it mapped out 1 single diagram that should be easier for you guys to help me with. Hopefully.

To get it all on one picture its a huge one so instead of embeding here is the link

https://www.dropbox.com/s/78z5ymq3rc...iring.png?dl=0

Some notes, lime green is a bare ground seen in some of the other pics. The colors I used respect the actual colors of the wires and does not have anything to do with live or neutral.

Boxes T1 T2 T3 & T4 are not filled out completely because I didn't want to miss connect the wires and I couldn't get a handle on the splices in T1 & T4 but the idea I'm sure is that like the rest they'll be connected to a black neutral.

What I was able to see is that at T1 the red wires do not splice into others they just switch conduits to head to the switch by the door

With it all mapped out like this I feel like I'm SO close to being able to understand what's going on but it's just clicking yet.

Edit:

I only did not fill out T1-T2-T3 & T4. In the rest of the diagram if the wires aren't connected to anything its because they're just hanging there in the box.

Lights that aren't connected to wires in the diagram aren't don't exist in real life, those are to be added. All lights and outlets that are connected in the diagram work correctly.
 
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Old 07-31-15, 04:10 PM
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A quick addition. The brown in box 1 (by the door) is hot. It's spliced directly to the hot coming from the panel at T1. Which means that the red could be a 3 way switch (not connected to anything anywhere)

But now I don't understand why there are two browns coming out of box 3. I thought that'd be for a 3 way switch.

What a headache.
 
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Old 07-31-15, 04:23 PM
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PJ max I had thought that maybe a mod could copy and paste the contents from post 3 to 1 and 1 to 3. Either way it's not a big deal.
If it was just text I could easily do it but you have it loaded with pictures. They would have to be copied, deleted and reposted.

I've been reading this in between other threads but it's a little hard to follow and it is on the long side. By the time I get to the end I forgot what I read plus your wiring colors are extremely confusing to follow.
 
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Old 07-31-15, 04:32 PM
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Suggestion. Pick a single problem write a short description and post as a new thread. We will lock this one to avoid confusion. When we have addressed that problem you can post a new thread on the next problem.
 
  #11  
Old 07-31-15, 05:57 PM
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Sorry for the confusing post. It took several hours to write so it was hard to keep a train running through it.

If you just look at the Sketch Up drawings to get an idea of the lay out of the room and then look at the plan in my previous post it will be clearer.

My questions are:

What do you guys think the red wires which are not connected to anything are for?

And how should the lights above the countertop (the ones adjecent to t1-4) be wired. In the place where it seems like the switch should be, box 2 there are two brown wires unused and a hot and neutral for the light. Would have thought that it'd be a three way switch but that doesn't seem to make sense.
 
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Old 07-31-15, 06:49 PM
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What do you guys think the red wires which are not connected to anything are for?
Even if you were in North America it would be difficult, probably impossible, to guess but you have wiring practices and color coding we are not familiar with making it even less possible.
And how should the lights above the countertop (the ones adjecent to t1-4) be wired.
We can tell you how to do it in the U.S. or Canada but not where you are. My advice would be to hire an electrician. If I had to do it I would abandon the existing wiring and go from scratch. However not knowing your codes, regulations or fixtures, we can't even do that.
 
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Old 08-01-15, 10:46 AM
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Going off this diagram here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/78z5ymq3rc...iring.png?dl=0

Could I use the reds as a 3way shut off switch for the recessed lights at the door and the back patio? So that when someone leaves the room at night they can turn off all the lights at once?

As I mentioned in an earlier post "Box 1" the brown is hot and the two reds go to box 12 and from there head on to box 8. If I extended them around to box 5 couldn't I disconnect all all the switches from the unswitched hot ("black") to the red. So that individual ceiling lights could be controlled via their own switches as they are currently but also be turned off as one when someone enters or exists via the door to the kitchen or the patio door?

Edit:

Something like this but with more switches and lights.



Does this work?

Edit 2: Ok I just realized that it would. Better question. Could something like this work? Am I on to something or grasping at straws?
 

Last edited by Esand1; 08-01-15 at 11:12 AM.
  #14  
Old 08-01-15, 11:17 AM
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How about this? 1 3 way switch. 1 regular switch on the end to complete the circuit or not and on off switches in the middle for the individual lights



Edit:

No I just realized that if the last switch is closed you can't turn them off. I'm no good at this
 
  #15  
Old 08-01-15, 11:44 AM
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Here are a couple of diagrams that might help.

Name:  3-way_Neutral_at_Switch.jpg
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Size:  18.5 KB

Name:  3-way_with_load.jpg
Views: 276
Size:  29.3 KB

For three switches one would need to be what in the U.S. a 4-way. I can provide a diagram for that.

Note: Colors are based on cables commonly used in the U.S. Yours may vary.
 
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