Old Wiring--New Ceiling Light Fixture

Reply

  #1  
Old 07-21-05, 07:45 PM
jkittydot
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Old Wiring--New Ceiling Light Fixture

Help! I'm trying to replace an old ceiling light fixture, but after reading thru postings haven't been able to find an answer to my dilemma: In taking down the old fixture I found in the ceiling three old, cloth-covered black wires, two of which were twisted together then capped to a bit of white wire which in turn was connected to the old light fixture (amber colored wire). The 3rd black ceiling wire was connected to a second amber light fixture wire. A bare (copper?) wire was wound up the light fixture into the ceiling, but was connected to nothing in particular (ground wire?).

My new light fixture is straight forward--white, black, and green ground wire, but I don't know which wires to connect them to. If I get a 'ticker', will it help me distinguish all three of my old black ceiling wires? Obviously, I have no idea what I'm doing! Thanks!
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 07-22-05, 05:01 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Yes, get the voltage "tick" tester. It will indeed allow you to tell which is the hot and which is the neutral in the ceiling. But you should leave all the other wiring alone and connect your new fixture to the same two connections that the old one was connected to. The tick tester will only confirm which gets the black and which gets the white.

If your fixture comes with a warning to only connect it to 90-degree wire, then take it back. You don't have 90-degree wire.
 
  #3  
Old 07-23-05, 11:32 AM
jkittydot
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
I think my original question was a bit muddled. To clarify: Is it okay to wire the ground and the neutral together? I ask because I think that's how the original wiring was done. I can replicate what was done before, or I can try to correct it, as my new light fixture has all three switches, while the old one only had hot and neutral.

Most importantly, If I hook the light up to the wrong wires, will the light not work or will I cause serious problems?

Thanks for your help!
 
  #4  
Old 07-23-05, 01:08 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Is it okay to wire the ground and the neutral together?
Absolutely and most certainly NOT!

Most importantly, If I hook the light up to the wrong wires, will the light not work or will I cause serious problems?
One of my frequent mantras is "not everything that works is safe". It is indeed possible to connect it so that the fixture works but is unsafe.
 
  #5  
Old 07-24-05, 04:46 PM
jkittydot
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Disaster! I bought a tester, verified that no current was present, hooked my ceiling fixture up exactly the way the old one was (two neutrals wired together and one hot), but didn't have anything to attach the ground wire to, so I duct taped it to the metal bracket in the ceiling that the light fixture screws into. I flipped the breaker back on and now the whole fixture is live/ hot/ electrically charged according to my tester. I've flipped the breaker back off, but the fixture is still holding a charge and setting off the tester. My old horrid light fixture is looking pretty good now...

Can you tell me if there's a safe way to discharge the current in the fixture so I can either A) Fix the problem or B) Take the darn thing off and put the old one back up?

And if this project is salvageable, can you tell me where I might have gone wrong (Is it the ground wire?).

Thanks!!
 
  #6  
Old 07-24-05, 06:04 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Let me just give you some thoughts:
  • White wires are not necessarily "neutral". They're just white. So until you can confirm that they are a neutral, don't call them that. Just call them white.
  • Your fixture is not "holding a charge". If it still sets off the tick tester, you didn't turn off the right breaker, or you need to turn off multiple breakers. If you can't figure out which breaker is the right one, turn off the main breaker.
  • Duct tape has absolutely no role to play in electrical work. In fact, tape of any kind has no role to play.
  • You need to go back and provide a precise and accurate description of all of the wires and connections in the ceiling box. Your latest post doesn't seem to agree with your first post.
  • Consider calling in professional help before things get even worse.
 
  #7  
Old 07-24-05, 07:35 PM
jkittydot
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Well, let me recap; when I took the old fixture off, I found three wires, all black. Two of them were wired together and then a bit of extension wire attached them from the ceiling to the old fixture. Then third wire was attached to the second wire of the old fixture.

I bought a tester and determined that the two connected wires were neutral because they had no current. The third wire had current, so was hot.

When I hooked up my fixture, I kept the two 'neutral' wires they way they originally were, twisted together, and found that I needed the extension wire in order to fasten the cap on--I first tried connecting those two directly to the neutral/ white fixture wire, but the wires weren't the same weight and wouldn't feed properly into the cap. So I used the original bit of extension wire to fasten the fixture to the neutral wires, basically hooking everything up to the new fixture exactly they way it had been hooked up to the old fixture.

Then I connected the black fixture wire to the hot wire.

The green ground wire from the fixture has nothing to fasten to; it doesn't reach anything metal to wrap around, which is why I secured it with duct tape. I don't know if it's safe to leave it hanging free or what's safe to attach it to.

I can call in a pro, but I'm ready to take a last stab at this...

Thanks again!
 
  #8  
Old 07-25-05, 07:52 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Okay, that's clear. Three wires in the box. All black. No more, no less. Nothing tucked into the back of the box.

But I'm not exactly sure what your problem is. When you had it all connected, you said that "the whole fixture is live/ hot/ electrically charged". Do you mean that the metal shell of the fixture is energized?

You didn't actually say whether or not the light works. Does it? Does the switch turn it on and off?

A tick tester is good for determining which of two wires is hot, but it is a proximity tester. So it's easy to think something is hot when it's really just something nearby that is hot. You probably need a voltmeter and/or neon circuit tester in addition to your tick tester.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: