Help w/ installing single pole light switch

Reply

  #1  
Old 02-01-08, 05:54 PM
W
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 4
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Help w/ installing single pole light switch

I'm sure this is basic DIY common knowledge but I am having a darn hard time installing a single pole light switch in my bedroom. I have a ceiling fan in my room that was attached to a dimmer, but because I wanted to switch to energy efficient lightbulbs I decided to swap the dimmer back with the old single pole light switch. However when I took off the cover plate I was surprised to see inside three black wires and not two. The dimmer switch had two black wires, one was connected to one of the black wires in the switch box with a wire cap. The other one was connected to the remaining two black wires with a wire cap. Now that I've taken off the dimmer switch, my single pole switch only has (of course) two screw terminals but it also has two holes at the back which you can stick a stripped black wire into. So I attached two of the black wires to the screw terminals and the third black wire to the hole in the back of the switch.

I turned the main power back on and the light worked, however when I flip the switch off the light doesn't turn off! But surprisingly, the light in the bathroom down the hall turns off as does the phone and clock radio in the master bedroom! Am I really dealing with a three way switch? I'm really not that handy and I've been trying to read up on the internet but couldn't find any sites which mentioned my exact situation. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
 
  #2  
Old 02-01-08, 06:03 PM
sparky480's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 47
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
what you have is 1 hot comming in to feed your switch at that location, and a hot leaving to feed somewhere else. what you did is on back of the switch you tied the hot in with the switch leg that is why it wont turn off. two of those wires have to be pigtailed(spliced together) in order for whatever else is down the line to work. land those on 1 terminal and switch leg on the other.
Originally Posted by wongnog View Post
I'm sure this is basic DIY common knowledge but I am having a darn hard time installing a single pole light switch in my bedroom. I have a ceiling fan in my room that was attached to a dimmer, but because I wanted to switch to energy efficient lightbulbs I decided to swap the dimmer back with the old single pole light switch. However when I took off the cover plate I was surprised to see inside three black wires and not two. The dimmer switch had two black wires, one was connected to one of the black wires in the switch box with a wire cap. The other one was connected to the remaining two black wires with a wire cap. Now that I've taken off the dimmer switch, my single pole switch only has (of course) two screw terminals but it also has two holes at the back which you can stick a stripped black wire into. So I attached two of the black wires to the screw terminals and the third black wire to the hole in the back of the switch.

I turned the main power back on and the light worked, however when I flip the switch off the light doesn't turn off! But surprisingly, the light in the bathroom down the hall turns off as does the phone and clock radio in the master bedroom! Am I really dealing with a three way switch? I'm really not that handy and I've been trying to read up on the internet but couldn't find any sites which mentioned my exact situation. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
 
  #3  
Old 02-01-08, 06:21 PM
W
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 4
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by sparky480 View Post
what you have is 1 hot comming in to feed your switch at that location, and a hot leaving to feed somewhere else. what you did is on back of the switch you tied the hot in with the switch leg that is why it wont turn off. two of those wires have to be pigtailed(spliced together) in order for whatever else is down the line to work. land those on 1 terminal and switch leg on the other.
Thanks for the fast reply! So let me see if I have this right... I pigtail two of the wires together and connect it to on terminal. Then the third wire I put in the switch leg on the back of my single pole switch. I've never heard of a switch leg so that had me a little confused too...
 
  #4  
Old 02-01-08, 06:41 PM
W
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 4
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Okay here's an update of my current wiring configuration. I took another look in my switch box and what I have is 3 cables in the box, two from the top and one from the bottom. We'll call the two upper cables A and B and the bottom one C. Each cable has 2 wires, 1 black and 1 white. So that's where my 3 black wires are coming from. Could someone please explain to me how to connect the A, B, and C black wires to a single pole light switch?
 
  #5  
Old 02-01-08, 06:41 PM
core's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Des Moines, IA
Posts: 1,127
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
The problem is you didn't pay attention to which two wires were connected together when you took this apart. And you'll still have that problem if you change to a proper pigtail.

There are 3 possible configurations. (You've already tried one, and it doesn't work.) For the other two: Simplest thing would be to just move the wire in the hole to the other hole. If everything works you are done.

If the clock radio still goes off with the switch then the two wires currently on the screws need to be connected together (one on the screw, one in the corresponding hole) and the 3rd wire which is currently in a hole needs to go on the now-empty screw.
 
  #6  
Old 02-01-08, 07:18 PM
W
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 4
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
I know I know, would you believe me if I were to blame my father who was helping me with this? I told him we should write it down but he grumbled and pushed me aside.

What are the holes in the back of my switch for? Are these what sparky480 referred to as "switch legs"? As far as I can tell I have a multiple of different configurations possible, depending on which wires I pigtail and which ones I connect to the back of my switch.
 
  #7  
Old 02-01-08, 08:12 PM
R
Member
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Near Buffalo, NY
Posts: 4,233
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
You should identify where the cables go before you proceed.

One of the cables (black, white, and ground) is power. Another goes to the downstream bedroom circuit. The third goes to the fan, but its colors may need to be connected in a different way.

Also, by "backstabbing" wires into the back of the switch instead of using the screw terminals, you're asking for problems later on. Instead, connect only two wires to the screw terminals and use wire nuts to connect the others (it's called a "pigtail.")
 
 

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