Installing ceiling light on multiple switches

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  #1  
Old 03-09-09, 09:24 AM
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Installing ceiling light on multiple switches

I have installed light fixtures before, but always on a light with a single switch, and with only black, white and ground wires.

Now, I am trying to install an Ikea light fixture that has a black wire, white wire, and 2 yellow & green striped wires. The ceiling box has two black wires, two red wires, and a white wire. The room has two switches for the one light.

I first tried to hook the black to the black wire, the white to the white wire, and I think the striped wires are grounds, which I connected to the ground screw. I didn't hook anything to the red wires. This didn’t work, and it blew the fuse.

I then disconnected the black from the black wire, and reconnected the black wire from the fixture to both red wires. Nothing is connected to the black wires in the ceiling. Now one switch turns on the light, but if I use the other switch, it blows the fuse.

1. Am I correct that the yellow and green wires are grounds? Should they be connected together?
2. What can be done so that both light switches work?

Thanks
 
  #2  
Old 03-09-09, 07:50 PM
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Was there anything there before? If so, what? And how was it connected?

Quit guessing! It's very dangerous. Worst case is that you'll guess something that will work but will not be safe. Let's take this one step at a time.
 
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Old 03-09-09, 08:12 PM
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There was something there first, but it wasn't hooked up properly. It was a ceiling fan, with no chain. Both switches had to be up for just a little bit of electricity to get through. When it did, there was faint glow from the the light bulb, and the fan would move. There was no switch on the fan itself for either the light or the fan.

I didn't mention this earlier - one of the white wires from the ceiling box has black electrical tape to it. What does this mean? Is it a hot wire?
 

Last edited by novice homeowne; 03-09-09 at 09:02 PM.
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Old 03-10-09, 07:45 AM
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Follow-up from previous post:

I looked at both light switches, and am a bit confused. The switches are Leviton three way switches, and the wires run directly into the switch, instead of around the screw. You can see a picture of it here:
Amazon.com: Leviton 213-01453-02A 15 Amp 3 Way Quiet Switch with Ground, Almond

On the main switch: The switch is upside down, if that matters. I found the main power line. The ground is on the top left, the red wire is on the top right, and the black is on the bottom right. There is no black screw. Behind the switch, the black wire running from the switch is spliced together with the black power wire and another black wire running up to the light. The white wire from the power line is spliced with two other white wires.

Second Switch: There is no ground wire connected to the second switch. The white wire, which is covered in black tape, is connected to the black screw in the top left. The black wire is on the bottom left, and the red in connected in the bottom right.

In the ceiling box, there are two red wires, a white wire, a white wire with black electrical tape, and two black wires.

I read on an instructional manual to:
- connect the two red wires together;
- connect the black wire from the main switch to the white wire from second switch (making it a hot wire), and mark it with tape;
- connect the black wire from the fixture to the black wire from the second switch;
- connect the white wire from the fixture to the white wire from the first/main switch.

I then connected the ground from the fixture to the grounded screw. There is no ground coming from the box in the ceiling.

I did this, and no light came on. Is it possible to tell from this description what is wrong? My guess, which I am not going to verify by myself, is that the “hot” white, currently connected to the black screw on the second switch, is in the wrong place.

I think the reason for the extra wires behind the first/main switch is because the circuit breaker for the light that I am working on is also connected to almost all the lights on the first floor of the house.
 
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Old 03-10-09, 08:19 AM
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one of the white wires from the ceiling box has black electrical tape to it.
This is the marking for a white wire called into service as a hot wire. It would normally be connected to the unswitched hot wire (i.e., the power feed) and neither of these two wires would be connected to the fixture.

The rest of the connections are difficult to do without some way to do electrical tests, as there isn't just one way to wire it.

The ceiling box has two black wires, two red wires, and a white wire.
Ah, from your recent post, I see that this information from your original post was incorrect. The fact that there are two white wires instead of one makes things more sane.

On the main switch: The switch is upside down, if that matters. I found the main power line. The ground is on the top left, the red wire is on the top right, and the black is on the bottom right. There is no black screw. Behind the switch, the black wire running from the switch is spliced together with the black power wire and another black wire running up to the light. The white wire from the power line is spliced with two other white wires.
This makes little sense. A 3-way switch always has three screws, not counting the grounding screw. You have only indicated two screws plus the grounding screw. If correct, then this is not a 3-way switch. Does the lever of this switch say "on" and "off" or is it blank? It is possible that in the past somebody mistakenly replaced a 3-way switch with an ordinary switch.

This is not the way a 3-way switch is wired. What you seem to have is an ordinary switch that provides both switched power (on the red wire) and unswitched power (on the black wire).

Second Switch: There is no ground wire connected to the second switch. The white wire, which is covered in black tape, is connected to the black screw in the top left. The black wire is on the bottom left, and the red in connected in the bottom right.
This is a 3-way switch. The white wire is the unswitched power in a switch loop.

Part of your problem is that these two switches are apparently unrelated. You need to find the other 3-way switch that goes with your "second switch". The "main switch" you found is not it (or, as I mentioned earlier, was incorrectly replaced in the past).
 
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Old 03-10-09, 09:48 AM
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This makes little sense. A 3-way switch always has three screws, not counting the grounding screw. You have only indicated two screws plus the grounding screw. If correct, then this is not a 3-way switch. Does the lever of this switch say "on" and "off" or is it blank? It is possible that in the past somebody mistakenly replaced a 3-way switch with an ordinary switch.
There no on or off label on either switch.

Part of your problem is that these two switches are apparently unrelated. You need to find the other 3-way switch that goes with your "second switch". The "main switch" you found is not it (or, as I mentioned earlier, was incorrectly replaced in the past).
These switches are connected; it could be that another person hooked up the wrong type of switch. I know they are connected because:
1. There are only two switches in the room.
2. The ceiling fan there before only worked when the two switches were up. The fan didn't really work - only a dim glow of light came from the one bulb, and the fan rotated slowly. The fan had no switches to turn on or off the light or fan.

Is if fairly easy to replace the main switch to a 3 way switch?
 
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Old 03-10-09, 10:24 PM
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Even if there is no "on" and "off" label on this switch, it seems that it is not a 3-way switch, since it doesn't have enough screws for that (unless you've been holding out on us and there's another screw you haven't mentioned).

When starting with something that worked, it's usually a simple matter to change it to something that also works. However, when starting with something that never worked, it usually takes some experience to correct the wrong. And that experience usually needs to be on site with electrial test equipment. You might consider getting some on-site help.
 
 

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