How should I connect light fixture to odd wiring?

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Old 10-13-09, 08:47 AM
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How should I connect light fixture to odd wiring?

I just bought a 100 year old house, and there is a bedroom with no light fixture in it, and many wires in the ceiling. The ceiling has: -4 black wires capped together -4 white wires capped together with 1 red wire coming out -1 black wire alone -1 white wire alone... The light fixture has: -1 black wire -1 white wire... Which wires from the ceiling should I connect the fixture wires to? Thank you for your help!
 

Last edited by Cizik; 10-13-09 at 08:49 AM. Reason: Punctuation errors
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Old 10-13-09, 09:16 AM
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Are these individual wires or are they part of a cable? How many cables at the light? Do you have an analog multimeter or test light or solenoid (wiggy) tester? A non-contact tester will not work but any of the others will. What wires and cables do you have at the switch? How are they connected?
 
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Old 10-13-09, 01:36 PM
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These are all individual wires, yes. At the light (I'm assuming you mean in the ceiling), there are no cables to my knowledge, just 11 wires. At the switch, there are only 2 wires (1 white and 1 black), which are connected to a dimmer switch. There is also a dimmer switch in the dining room that does not dim (just stays fully bright), and I suspect it's not working because there is an improper connection happening in the bedroom with the 11 wires. I don't have any testing equipment. Let me know if this doesn't make sense... Thanks!
 
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Old 10-13-09, 04:10 PM
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4 white wires capped together with 1 red wire coming out
So you are saying there is a red wire connected to the whites that a is a few inches long and goes to nothing. It just has a cap on it?
There is also a dimmer switch in the dining room that does not dim (just stays fully bright), and I suspect it's not working because there is an improper connection happening in the bedroom with the 11 wires.
More likely just a fried dimmer but lets concentrate on the bedroom first.

Number one problem is there should never be a red wire used as a neutral and I strongly suspect the group of white wires are neutrals.

Number 2 is I suspect the black and white wires go to the switch but I can't say for sure without a continuity check. An analog multimeter would be good for that. If you don't wish to buy one we would have to go by guess only.

By analog I mean one with a needle and dial not a a digital. While for the continuity test digital would be fine but we may also need to check for voltage and digitals can sometimes give false readings because of phantom voltage. You need only a very cheap one. Anything over $20 is probably over kill but it's been 30 years since I bought one.
 
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Old 10-13-09, 05:00 PM
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Hi again, thanks so much for taking the time...

1. You are right on about the red wire, it's connected to nothing on one end (just capped) and the 4 white wires on the other end.

2. I'm not too excited to buy any testers just yet, so I'd like to try guessing first.

3. Do you think it's okay to try connecting the fixture to the single black and white wires, and completely remove the red wire from the white bundle? If you think it's okay to try that, I will... And then I'll let you know if it works.

Thanks Ray!
 
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Old 10-13-09, 06:21 PM
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OK so here we go. STOP. This assumes only two wires in the switch box. If more then two. STOP do not continue.

Remove red wire and discard. Connect the white of the light to the bundle of white wires.

Recolor the unconnected white wire black or any color but green. Use a marker peen or tape. Connect this to the group of black wires.

Connect the black of the light to the single unconnected black wire.

The switch should now control the light.
Do you think it's okay to try connecting the fixture to the single black and white wires,
Not if there are only two wires in the switch box.
 
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Old 10-14-09, 06:45 AM
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Okay, I'm ready to try this out. I just realized though, I didn't mention the "ground" that's in the switchbox, which would be a 3rd wire in the switch box. Can I still try what you've suggested?
 
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Old 10-14-09, 07:15 AM
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When I talk of number of wires I don't include the ground in wire count. Of course for safety it should be connected per standard practice but it doesn't affect function of the circuit..
 
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Old 10-14-09, 08:25 AM
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Remove red wire and discard. Connect the white of the light to the bundle of white wires.

Recolor the unconnected white wire black or any color but green. Use a marker peen or tape. Connect this to the group of black wires.

Connect the black of the light to the single unconnected black wire.
I did all of these steps, but the light is not working. The dimmer in the dining room now flips the breaker off when turned on. Any other ideas before I call an electrician? Thanks again...
 
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Old 10-14-09, 09:06 AM
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Sorry as I said without proper tests only a guess. Since you don't have any test equipment I would suggest calling an electrician. Put every thing back the way it was so he won;t be more confused and the diningroom light won't trip the breaker.
 
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Old 10-14-09, 10:18 AM
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OK, thanks alot for your time & advice.
 
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Old 10-14-09, 10:44 AM
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Let us know how it comes out.
 
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