light won't go off

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  #1  
Old 08-20-01, 08:35 AM
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I recently moved into an apartment. The previous tenents had recently installed a new light fixture in the kitchen. The problem is that the light is constanlty on and the switch will not turn it off. The only way we can get it off is through the breaker which is obviously not the desired method. Why won't the light go off? Is it a faulty light switch (my understanding was that the light switch had been working before the new light was installed)? Was the new light installed incorrectly? The light works though, it just can't be turned off. Where is the problem and how can it be fixed? Is it a simple problem that could be fixed by somebody with not a lot of know-how? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I would like to avoid hiring somebody to come in and fix it if at all possible. Thanks.
 
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  #2  
Old 08-20-01, 11:07 AM
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Yes, this is a very common mistake when installing new fixtures. And yes, you can probably fix this yourself.

Start with the following:[list=1][*]Shut off the breaker.[*]Loosen the fixture from its mounting, but don't disconnect any of the wiring yet.[*]Report back what you see.[/list=1]Here's my guess as to what you'll see. It may be different, so tell me what you actually see. I'm not going to mention any bare grounding wires.[list=a][*]You'll see two black wires and two white wires coming from behind the ceiling.[*]The black wire from the light fixture will be connected to one of the black wires from the ceiling.[*]The white wire from the light fixture will be connected to one of the white wires from the ceiling.[*]The other black wire and the other white wire may not be connected to anything, or maybe they're connected to each other, or maybe they are also connected to the light fixture.[/list=a]Am I close?
 
  #3  
Old 08-20-01, 06:30 PM
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I checked the wiring. It looks like you were right.

The black wire from the light fixture is connected to one of the black wires from the ceiling.

The white wire from the light fixture is connected to the white wire in the ceiling.

The remaining black and white wire from the ceiling appears to be connected to the light fixture as well, although it is a little hard to tell.

So, I assume this is incorrectly hooked up. What do I need to do to fix it?

Thanks, Julian
Okay, easy enough to fix.[list=1][*]Shut off the breaker and turn off the wall switch too.[*]Pull the fixture farther out so that you can clearly see what you have.[*]If its not obvious, mark the wires before you disconnect them.[*]I hope you can see that the black and white wires from the ceiling are in pairs. If the light is indeed connected to both pairs identically, then disconnect one pair and leave the other pair disconnected (but carefully separated and not touching anything). If only one pair is connected, then skip just the next step, continuing with the step after then next one.[*]Turn the breaker back on. Check to see if the light comes on and then turn the breaker off again. If the light comes on, go on to the next step. If the light does not come on, then disconnect the light from the pair it is currently connected to and connect it to the other pair.[*]The pair the light is connected to now is the line power. We'll call this pair "P", and will call the individual wires "Pb" (black) and "Pw" (white). The other pair of wires goes to the switch, and we'll call it pair "S".[*]Disconnect the light again.[*]Connect Pb to Sw with a wire nut. This pair does not connect to the light fixture at all.[*]Connect Sb to the light fixture's black wire.[*]Connect Pw to the light fixture's white wire.[*]We should check the switch before we're done. Pull the switch out of the wall, but don't disconnect any wires yet. You should see one white wire and one black wire connected to the two brass screws on the switch. It is possible that the previous residents disconnected one or both wires. If so, reconnect them.[/list=1]If at any point, you didn't find what I expected, then stop and post back. Otherwise, turn on the breaker and test. Post back and let us know if it worked.
 
  #4  
Old 08-20-01, 06:58 PM
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Okay, I feel really stupid right now. After removing the cluttered tape around the wires I could more easily see what was going on (I should have done this first).

Here is what I see now:

There seems to be three black wires and three white wires coming from the ceiling?

Should I follow the same procedure but instead of disconnecting 1 wire should I now disconnect two?

Let me know. Thanks.
Well, now tell me how these six wires are connected. I don't want to guess.
 
  #5  
Old 08-20-01, 07:10 PM
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The three blacks are attached to each other and the three whites are attached to each other.

The white wire from the light fixture connects to the three whites and the black wire connects to the three blacks.
Before we go any farther, I'd like you to shut off the breaker and pull the wall switch out of the wall. Don't disconnect any wires, but tell me all the wires in the box and what they are connected to.
 
  #6  
Old 08-20-01, 07:18 PM
Wgoodrich
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You said;

I wrote earlier about the kitchen light fixture that would not go off and was told to check the wiring. As was expected:

A. The black wire from the light fixture is connected to one of the black wires from the ceiling.

B. The white wire from the light fixture is connected to the white wire in the ceiling.

C. The remaining black and white wire from the ceiling appears to be connected to the light fixture as well, although it is a little hard to tell.

So, I assume this is incorrectly hooked up. What do I need to do to fix it?

Thanks, Julian


Try the following link. It is not exactly like your situation but should give you some insight on wiring switches to a light fixture.

http://homewiring.tripod.com/fixonhotswitch.html

Hope this helps

Wg
 
  #7  
Old 08-20-01, 07:33 PM
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Here is what I saw behind the switch:

A. There is a Blue wire coming out from the light switch that is connected to two Black wires coming from the wall (both connected to each other).

B. There is a red wire coming out from the light switch that goes into the wall and is not connected to any other wire.

C. Two white wires from the wall are connected only to each other (and not the light switch).

I hope this makes sense. If not I can try and clarify.
Wow! At some point in time earlier, somebody rendered this switch useless. That was probably because when they flipped the switch, they tripped the breaker. That was because they miswired the light.

You have a real hack-job in this whole kitchen. At this point, I would be a bit leery of proceeding, since normal electrical wiring practices have clearly not been followed. Consider asking the landlord to make the repairs.

What was originally here was power to the ceiling box first, and then a switch leg to the switch. Somebody converted the switch leg to a power leg. This made it possible for somebody to add a new receptacle wired from the switch box, but made it impossible to use the switch. The only way to correct this will be to cut off the receptacle connected to the switch.

If you shut off the breaker, what else besides this one light fixture loses power?? My guess is that at least one other receptacle or light somewhere also loses power.
 
  #8  
Old 08-20-01, 07:44 PM
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yes, the bathroom light across the hall shuts off. So this is a major job?
As I said, this wiring is a hack job. I strongly suggest you ask the landlord to have an electrician make the repairs.
 
  #9  
Old 08-21-01, 06:08 PM
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I am certainly willing and eager to try doing it myself, unless its really too complicated to explain. When you say a major hack job, do you mean going into the wall or just that it would be a lot of rewiring?

Unfortunately, my landlord has been considerably unhelpful. I've been hounding him for such a long time and things just don't get done. I got frustrated and finally decided to fix things myself.

If it is too much to explain, is there any book or other helpful resource that you could direct me too. Or if you know that it is just too much of a job for someone with not much experience, would you have any idea how much an electrian would charge for a job like this. I just can't rely on my landlord and I'm worn out fighting him.

Anyway, you have been more than helpful already. So thanks.

Julian
I am willing to continue to help on one condition. Please stop sending me email and just post replies to this thread.

By "hack job", I mean that a complete idiot wired it. No book is going to tell you how to deal with illogical wiring.

If you want to continue, I must warn you that the fix is going to require tremendous patience on both our parts. The fix may take a while, and you may need to do a lot of experiments for me.

Here's how to start. This is just the first step of a long process.[list=1][*]Go to Home Depot and buy a digital multimeter. A basic one will do. You don't need the best one they have.[*]Read the entire manual that comes with the multimeter.[*]After you have done the above, turn off the breaker. Open up the ceiling box and take down the light fixture. You may need to deal with a dark kitchen until we get this solved.[*] Separate all six wires (three black and three white) in the ceiling. Arrange them in pairs according to how they enter the box, but don't let any of the six wires touch anything else. The pairings may be identified by sharing the same Romex cable (if you house is wired with Romex), or maybe by which hole they enter the box through. Let me know if you cannot figure out the pairings.[*]Use your multimeter on the 250-volt A/C scale. Since you read the manual, you know how to use it. Turn on the breaker again. DANGER: you can now kill yourself by touching any of the wires. Measure for voltage between each black & white pair.[*]While you still have the breaker on, go see if the bathroom light across the hall works or not.[*]Now, shut off the breaker again, and label (any way you want to) the pair of ceiling wires that had 120 volts in your test.[/list=1]Report back when you have gotten this far. If you have to have light again, then put everything back the way it was and turn the breaker back on.
 
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