Wiring keeps tripping the breaker

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  #1  
Old 06-28-07, 02:11 AM
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Question Wiring keeps tripping the breaker

I am installing a ceiling light fixture into the existing location in the ceiling. The apartment did not come with lighting in this room at all. I have done as instructed by the light kit. I connected white to white, black to black, and ground to ground. However, there is a red wire that is there for a fan I'm assuming so I left it capped.

I turn the breaker back on for that room. I flip the switch for the light and of course I assume the thing will work. To my dismay, the darn thing trips the breaker switch. What have I missed?

The other room I installed a light in works great but it had a cut-and-dry wiring. Black, white, bare ground wire so that was an easy install. I'm at a loss for the second room.
 
  #2  
Old 06-28-07, 05:16 AM
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Tell us the wiring at the switch and tell us ALL the wiring at the ceiling of this room.
 
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Old 06-28-07, 07:42 AM
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Anna, your experience is very common. You have a switch loop. Lighting manufacturer instructions never describe this situation, and people often get just what you're getting by following the instructions. It's usually good to follow instructions, but not always.

Provide the information that Bob requested and we should be able to clear this up in no time.
 
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Old 06-28-07, 10:18 AM
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RE: Wiring keeps tripping the breaker

I just took the switch plate out and here is what I found.

It is a double switch but the light swith is the one to the left closest to the door. This switch has two black wires built in and one red wire attached to one of the screws on the side of the switch.

The ceiling unit has a three wire combo. It has black, white, red and of course the bare ground wire.

The new light fixture I'm installing has only black, white and bare ground.

Is it possible to remove this "loop" by removing and capping the red wire at both ends??
 
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Old 06-28-07, 10:39 AM
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Oops, I was wrong. If you only have one black wire, one red wire, one white wire, and one bare wire at the ceiling (and nothing else), then you do not have a switch loop.

Did you change the wiring at the switch at all? Or did you do anything else other than attaching the light to the ceiling?

Perhaps you have an accidental short. Did you cap off the red wire very securely so that you're sure it touches nothing?

Before you flipped the wall switch tripping the breaker, was the light on or off?

In all probability, you should have attached the red wire from the ceiling to the black wire from your light and capped off the black wire from the ceiling. But that wouldn't have caused your breaker to trip unless you had some other problem.
 
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Old 06-28-07, 11:14 AM
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I did not make any changes to the wall switch. The red wire in the ceiling is capped off and pushed aside away from the other wires. Should I just cap off the red wire at the wall switch to remove it from the equation altogether or should I connect the light's black wire to the red wire in the ceiling and cap off the black ceiling wire??
 
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Old 06-28-07, 11:20 AM
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No, don't change anything at the wall switch just yet.

Check the red wire at the ceiling. Make sure that no metal wire shows from under the wire nut and that the insulation is not nicked.

Before you flipped the wall switch tripping the breaker, was the light on or off?
 
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Old 06-28-07, 11:21 AM
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Your description of the wiring at the switch is incomplete. We can only guess at the wiring.

Please describe the wiring there better. It sounds like two wires are pushed into the back stabs (which is s problem in itself). Tell us where the red wire is in relation to the back stab connection and tell us about the other wires ate the itch. ALL the wires, whether connected to the switch or not. Same at the ceiling, tell us about any other wires present.
 
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Old 06-28-07, 11:31 AM
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The light was off when I turned the breaker back on. The breaker was tripped when I tried to turn the light on at the switch.

The ceiling wires are as I described them previously. No other wiring is present. The red wire is full capped and not exposed at the ceiling.

The switch at the wall is as I described it before. The switch that controls the light has two back wires that are attached internally to the back of the switch. The red wire that is present is only wrapped around one of the screws on the side of the switch.

There are two screws on the side of the switch for additional wires. One of those screws is occupied by the red wire.
 
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Old 06-28-07, 11:35 AM
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Tell us about the white wires at the switch and which black wire the red wire is near. Tell us about any other wires there too.

We need a complete picture. Leaving out information (although you don't mean to) makes it harder to understand what is going on.
 
  #11  
Old 06-28-07, 11:39 AM
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There are no white wires at the switch only black. Both in the back. One at the top of the back of the switch and one at the bottom. The red wire is attached the screw closest to the top black wire. There no other wires present at this switch.
 
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Old 06-28-07, 11:44 AM
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Incorrect. You have already stated that there are two switches present.

I want to know ALL the wiring. Whether it is attached to the switch in question, the other switch or not attached to either switch.

Tell us what cables are present, what wires are in those cables, and what those wires are attached to.
 
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Old 06-28-07, 11:58 AM
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OK Her we go. There are 5 cables behind these two switches. They are lined up horizontally. The cable farthest to the left is attached to the switch for the light. It has the 2 black that had already mentioned, the red attached to the side of the switch, a white one and ground. The white wire is grouped with the other white wires coming from the 3 cables in the middle and capped. The ground wire is grouped with all the other ground wires and also capped.

The cable that furthest to the right is attached to the switch that I would assume is an outlet switch for a table lamp. This switch has 1 red wire and 1 black wire. The red wire is attached at the top of the back of this switch and the black is at the bottom but this black wire is grouped with other black wires from the 3 center cables and capped. This cable also has another black and 1 white that are in the groups of capped wires.

That's an awful lot of wires for two switches.
 

Last edited by anna4494; 06-28-07 at 12:00 PM. Reason: more info
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Old 06-28-07, 12:06 PM
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Sorry, you are not providing enough detail. I will try once again and give you an example. What you are saying does not make sense.

I doubt very much that one cable has two black wires.

I need to be able to draw a picture. Your are not allowing me to do so because you are not supplying a clear picture of the setup.

Here is an example.

There are two cables entering the box.

Each cable has a white wire. These white wires are nutted together and not attached to anything else.

Cable 1 has a black wire that is connected to the black wire from cable 2. These two wires are pigtailed to one terminal on each switch.

Cable 1 has a red wire. This red wire is connected to the second terminal on one switch.

Cable 2 has a red wire. This red wire is connected to the second terminal on the other switch.


Bottom line:

Connecting the new light to the white wire at the ceiling and to either the red or black wire should allow it to work properly. You haven't given us enough information to know whether it should be connected to the red one or the black one. I suspect that a ground wire is making contact at the switch box or at the ceiling with one of the hot wires.
 
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Old 06-28-07, 12:21 PM
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There are 5 cables entering the box.

CABLE 1 has 1 black, 1 red, 1 white and ground.

The black wire from the cable is connected to the top terminal of the switch.

There is a black wire attached to the bottom terminal is nutted together with the black wires from CABLES 2,3 & 4 that are attched to nothing.

The red wire from the cable is attached to upper terminal on the side.

The white wire is nutted together with all the other white wires and attached to nothing.

The ground wire is nutted together with ALL the other ground wires and also attached to nothing.



CABLES 2,3,& 4 All have only a black, white and ground. The blacks are nutted together as well as the whites and the grounds. These wires are attached to nothing.



CABLE 5 has 1 black, 1 white, 1 red and ground.

The red wire is attached to the top terminal of the second switch.

There is a black wire attached to the bottom terminal that is nutted with the other black wires that are not attached to anything.

The black wire from the cable is nutted with the other black wires.

The white wire is nutted to the other white wires attached to nothing.

The ground is with ALL the other nutted grounds.


I really hope this paints a better picture.
 

Last edited by anna4494; 06-28-07 at 12:29 PM. Reason: more infor
  #16  
Old 06-28-07, 12:28 PM
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You have not indicated which switch is which, and I cannot tell from your description.

There is something wrong with your picture. Those cables do not have two black wires. Perhaps one is blue. Or brown. They are NOT both black. Look very closely and make sure what you think you see is really there.

In the event that those cables do have another wire (black, blue, brown, whatever), then you need to find the other end of the cables.

I still say to make sure that no current carrying wires are exposed in any way and that nothing is shorted out.

Then use your tester to test for power at the ceiling. You still have no provided enough detail to tell whether the black or red wire should be switched, so test them both with the switch in both positions.
 
  #17  
Old 06-28-07, 12:34 PM
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Please read again. I added more information.

CABLE 1 is attached the the switch in question.


CABLE 5 is attached to the other switch.

You're right. The other black wires I was seeing were attached only to the bottom terminals of each switch and nutted to the other black wires that were attached to nothing.
 
  #18  
Old 06-28-07, 12:39 PM
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At the ceiling the new light gets attached to the black or red wire (I don't think it matters which one, but your information is hard to follow) and the and the white wire.

Make sure that no wires are shorted and that the screw terminals on the sides of the switches do not short to anything.

In fact, I would do my testing with both switches pulled out and the light not hooked up.
 
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Old 06-28-07, 12:44 PM
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From all the information you provided, this should be working correctly. The most likely reason it isn't is an accidental short, or perhaps a defective light fixture. Double-check all your work. Make sure nothing is touching accidentally that should not be. If necessary, take down the light fixture again, separate all the wires at the ceiling, and at least make sure that the breaker doesn't trip in this situation.
 
  #20  
Old 06-28-07, 01:47 PM
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Thanks guys,

The problem wasn't in the wiring but rather in the light bulb housing. The copper contact was bent to one side which cause the bulb to become the short.

Problem fixed and lights are working!!!
 
  #21  
Old 06-28-07, 02:09 PM
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Yea! I love a happy ending.
 
 

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