Need help with outdoor floodlight - won't turn off

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  #1  
Old 08-19-15, 10:45 AM
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Need help with outdoor floodlight - won't turn off

We had the siding replaced on the house and the detached garage. On one corner of the garage, there was a floodlight and we controlled it with a programmable switch located in the garage. An Intermatic EJ500. It turns on the lights at dusk (by time, not sensor) and shuts them off at my set time - 10p. The floodlight was old and dingy so we asked them to put in a new one. Just a standard 2 light unit, no sensor on it.

Asfter the siding sub was done, the contractor's foreman did the light, but the darn thing won't turn off. He says he didn't touch the switch. I have been doing several tests with it and I can't get the light to go off. I tried replacing the switch with an identical new one. I left the light hooked up, removed the switch, and left the switch wires capped and unconnected, and the light stays on.

Here is what I know, there are 2 sets of wires coming out of the opening where the old flood light was. Each one has a white/black/ground and they are currently tied together by color. The switch is now off the wall and there is a white/black/red/ground coming from the wall (also all capped). The red was not used in the previous config. I used my electricity finder (the kind that beeps and lights up when there is a current) and the black wires at the floodlight location are hot. The black wire coming from the wall where the switch used to be is also hot. No other wires are hot.

Why can't I get the switch to turn off the light? It has a manual override of programming and I cannot get it to shut off. It worked just a week ago so I know that switch spot controls the light.

Thank you in advance!

I am in New Orleans, LA.
 
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  #2  
Old 08-19-15, 11:06 AM
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What used to be connected to the switch?

Turn off the breaker for that circuit.

Disconnect both wires of both cables at the light box.

Connect the black and white wires to the switch.

Using the ohms or continuity function of your multimeter, test black to white of the same cable up at the light box. See if you get continuity with the switch on and no continuity with the switch off. Repeat for the other cable.

Do not turn the power on with the multimeter connected and measuring continuity. Do not turn the power on with the black and white wires connected up in the light box until after you have been advised by us or figured it out for yourself. You may turn the power on with the wires poking out loose in the light box and not touching anything.

With the power on, measure voltage between black and white of the same cable. Try with both switch on and switch off. Repeat for the other cable.

Report the results back here.

You probably want to connect the black wire that is never hot to the black wire of the light. Connect the white wire of the always hot cable to the white wire of the light. Connect the free white and the free black to each other. Mark this white wire with a band of black tape or Magic Marker stain. (Don't do anything in this paragraph is there are inaccuracies.)
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 08-19-15 at 11:24 AM.
  #3  
Old 08-19-15, 11:17 AM
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Is there a red at the fixtures?
 
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Old 08-19-15, 11:36 AM
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I'm not home, but let me address a couple items:

What used to be connected to the switch? The switch controlled a standard floodlight, one w/o a daylight sensor

Turn off the breaker for that circuit. - I do that everytime I work on it.

Disconnect both wires of both cables at the light box. - Do you mean to untether the two blacks, the two whites and the two ground wires? I think so, based on the rest of the instructions.

Thank you. I will not get to it tonight as I have a late meeting, it will probably be Thursday night. This is a great start for me.

Also, is there red at the switch? Yes, the switch has a red cable that was not connected to anything and the red coming from the wall at the swicth was capped and unconnected.
 
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Old 08-19-15, 12:46 PM
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Yes, the switch has a red cable that was not connected to anything and the red coming from the wall at the switch was capped
The question was asked because normal wiring convention if you have a black and red the red is switched and black is a constant hot. Since the red is disconnected at the switch that is not the case unless the contractor did touch the switch despite what he said.
I used my electricity finder (the kind that beeps and lights up when there is a current
Unfortunately you can't actually use a non contact tester for that. It is too inaccurate, easily fooled by induced voltage from nearby wires. To test you need a multimeter, preferably analog (or a neon test light or a solenoid tester).
 
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Old 08-21-15, 10:24 AM
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I won't have access to a multimiter until tomorrow, but this is what I found out so far:

Regarding the two sets of wires at the light that each have just a black and white - provided the breaker is on, one of the blacks is always hot, even when the switch is not installed.

With none of those 4 wires touching anything, there is no power at the switch.

When I hooked up the always hot black to the white of the wire that was not hot, it delivered power seemingly to both the black and the white at the switch.

I installed the switch with the always hot black and the never hot white tied together and could not get power to the never hot back.
 
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Old 08-21-15, 11:16 AM
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Sounds like a switch loop may be miswired.
 
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Old 08-21-15, 01:06 PM
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I won't have access to a multimeter until tomorrow
All you need is a cheap analog ($8-$15). Just stop using the non contact tester. It can just confuse the issue.
 
  #9  
Old 08-25-15, 06:25 PM
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Fixed my problem - thank you!!!

This was the correct config:

You probably want to connect the black wire that is never hot to the black wire of the light. Connect the white wire of the always hot cable to the white wire of the light. Connect the free white and the free black to each other. Mark this white wire with a band of black tape or Magic Marker stain.

The programmable switch was fried due to incorrect wiring. I used my friends multimeter and found good readings. I got a basic $1.50 switch and it worked once wired properly. I have now replaced with a new programmable switch. All is good! Thanks!
 
  #10  
Old 08-25-15, 06:28 PM
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Thanks for the update. Glad you got it working.
 
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