3 switch mess, one mystery switch and too many wires


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Old 08-21-09, 06:44 AM
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3 switch mess, one mystery switch and too many wires

Hello!

This forum has been a great source of information for me so far, and I'm hoping someone out there can help me with this little issue i'm having. I have a 3 switch box near my front door. One switch controls the front door light, the second is a 3 way switch for the light in the upstairs hallway, and the third .. well I have no idea. I can only assume that it controls an outlet in the living room to the right of the switch. So there are 3 switches and 4 cables entering the box.

SWITCH 1 is on CABLE 1: controlling the front light, this one is all set and working appropriately. From outside the box a black wire connects to the switch and a white wire connects to a wire nut (with other white wires, I will call it White Nut). A black wire then leaves the switch and connects to a wire nut with other wires that appears (to me) to be all the live wires, I'll call this one Black Nut.

SWITCH 2 is on CABLE 2: This is a 3-way that controls the hallway light upstairs. A red, black, and white wire comes into the box. The red and black wire attach to the switch, and the white goes to the White Nut. Another small white wire then leaves the switch and connects to the Black Nut (not sure if this should be white, I thought it should be marked as black). This switch works fine.

SWITCH 3 appears to use CABLE 3 and 4: Both cables are red, white, and black. The switch is currently not connected. I assume this switch connects to an outlet. I've identified one outlet box with a red, white, and black wire while all the others only have black and white.

CABLE 3: The white wire goes to the White Nut, the red wire (I believe) went to the switch, it currently isnt connected. The black wire goes to the Black Nut.

CABLE 4: The black wire is alone and capped with a wire nut, the red wire isnt connected, I believe that went to the switch also, the white wire is connected to the black nut.

Thats it for the wiring. I drew a diagram but apparently have no way to upload it. Another thing, there is a grounding pigtail attached to the box, but none of the switches were ever attached to this. Is that normal? I've found that all boxes in the house are like this.

Any help you can give would be GREATLY APPRECIATED!
 

Last edited by pcboss; 08-21-09 at 07:29 AM. Reason: clarification of wire to cable
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Old 08-21-09, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by safetybar
Hello!

This forum has been a great source of information for me so far, and I'm hoping someone out there can help me with this little issue i'm having.
Seems like everyone is hoping someone else is able to answer you better. I'll give it a try but no guarantee.
I have a 3 switch box near my front door. One switch controls the front door light, the second is a 3 way switch for the light in the upstairs hallway, and the third .. well I have no idea. I can only assume that it controls an outlet in the living room to the right of the switch. So there are 3 switches and 4 cables entering the box.

SWITCH 1 is on CABLE 1: controlling the front light, this one is all set and working appropriately. From outside the box a black wire connects to the switch and a white wire connects to a wire nut (with other white wires, I will call it White Nut)
That would be the neutrals to other fixtures so we know power comes into the switch box..
A black wire then leaves the switch and connects to a wire nut with other wires that appears (to me) to be all the live wires, I'll call this one Black Nut.

SWITCH 2 is on CABLE 2: This is a 3-way that controls the hallway light upstairs. A red, black, and white wire comes into the box. The red and black wire attach to the switch, and the white goes to the White Nut. Another small white wire then leaves the switch and connects to the Black Nut (not sure if this should be white, I thought it should be marked as black). This switch works fine.
Does this small white wire connect to the common, the odd colored screw. If so it is the power in for this switch and where it connects is power for the box.
SWITCH 3 appears to use CABLE 3 and 4: Both cables are red, white, and black. The switch is currently not connected. I assume this switch connects to an outlet. I've identified one outlet box with a red, white, and black wire while all the others only have black and white.

CABLE 3: The white wire goes to the White Nut, the red wire (I believe) went to the switch, it currently inst connected. The black wire goes to the Black Nut.
That would be power to cable three perhaps to receptacles. The red wire would supply switched power to a receptacle. You can post your diagram to a site like imageshack.us or photbucket or flicr and post the URL here.
 
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Old 08-22-09, 12:18 PM
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Ok, kind of figured this out. Nevermind all the information I previously posted. It appears that the 3rd switch was connected to a non-lighted ceiling fan in the living room. There is also another switch that controls that ceiling fan in the hallway, however, it is a single pole switch.

I decided to remove the third switch all together and not use it for the fan. I capped off all of the wire ends that lead to the fan and put the plate back on. Then I realized that the fan had no power.

I opened the plate again and connected the WHITE wire to the hot wire wires and the fan worked again. My question is, is that safe? Should anything else be connected? The switch that controls the fan has only a white and black wire. It goes from the hallway to the fan. The fan then connects through another switch box to the power. With the WHITE wire connected, it leaves a red and black wire capped coming from the same cable. The black wire appears to have never been used because it isnt even spliced.

Any ideas?
 
 

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