Simple Ceiling Light Fixture Problem

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Old 09-09-12, 02:32 PM
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Simple Ceiling Light Fixture Problem

I recently moved into my girlfriends house that was built in 1962. We have taken on a lot of projects recently to renovate a little bit, but neither of us are very experienced. We decided to upgrade two ceiling light fixtures in a hallway that connects all the bedrooms. I removed the two old light fixtures last night and today we were going to put up the new ones. I immediately realized I had a problem when I noticed not two but four wires in the first electrical box at the beginning of the hall.. I am used to only seeing two normally in this house (no ground wires in 1962). I dont remember how they were connected last night and none of the wires are marked hot or neutral.

The strangest part is that when i removed the first old light fixture at the beginning of the hallway suddenly none of the outlets or the ceiling fan worked in one of the bedrooms. Im not sure what I've come across here it seems like some bootleg electrical job but I dont know where to go from here.

Any help would be appreciated.
 
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Old 09-09-12, 03:08 PM
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Welcome to the forums. Actually it is common to have four or more wires at a light. Please tell us the color of the wires on the switch and if there is a bundle of two or more white wires connected together but not to anything else.
 
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Old 09-09-12, 03:24 PM
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This house is very old. None of the wires are marked for some reason and they are all wrapped in black electrical tape with only the tips exposed. I noticed that two of the wires were slightly shorter in length than the other two. I put on rubber gloves and held the two wires together with my hands. There was a small spark when the two shorter wires touched eachother but suddenly the lights in the bedroom worked again.

So I'm assuming the two small wires are hot and the two long wires are neutral and I'll have to hold the two plus the wire from the light fixture in a single wire nut.
 
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Old 09-09-12, 05:10 PM
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So I'm assuming the two small wires are hot and the two long wires are neutral and I'll have to hold the two plus the wire from the light fixture in a single wire nut.
That sounds correct.
I put on rubber gloves and held the two wires together
Regular rubber cloves aren't safe for that purpose.

Caution: Most new light fixtures requires 90C wire. The wire you describe is only rated 60C.

Tip: When changing lights out don't undo any connections except the light. If you must undo a connection label the wires and take a picture or and make a diagram.

There are ways to determine which wires or hot and which are neutral if your interested.
 
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Old 09-09-12, 06:09 PM
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Thanks for the info about the copper wires. I will check that out.

The first light fixture worked fine by connected the 3 wires together in each of the wire nuts and I was very pleased. I was putting the second light up down the same hallway (the wires were not labeled either so I was guessing which was hot and neutral) and as I was screwing the wire nuts on this one the lights in two of the bedrooms flickered and went off and now no matter what I try those lights wont come back on. I disconnected the light fixture and checked the fuses everything seems OK there but I get no power from the 2nd light fixture outlet box and the two bedrooms behind it anymore.
 
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Old 09-09-12, 07:03 PM
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Pictures of the two ceiling boxes and the switches with the wires pulled out so we can see the connections would help. http://www.doityourself.com/forum/li...-pictures.html
 
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Old 09-09-12, 08:53 PM
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Picture

Here is a photo of the second outlet. The first outlet works fine now and the light is installed.

By the way, if I remove the wire nut shown in this photo I lose power in two of the bedrooms. I'm sure this is some ridiculous bootleg wiring job. But, at least I am gaining a lot of experience out of this.

Attachment 3271
 
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Old 09-09-12, 09:09 PM
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Can we see it without the bracket across the box and wires pulled out. Maybe better lighting too. Wiring at the switch is very important to understanding the lights. Can you answer my questions about the switch and maybe post a picture with the switch pulled out.

I'm sure this is some ridiculous bootleg wiring job.
I'm not sure it is. It was common in older houses where there were few receptacles to run the receptacles from the ceiling boxes.
 
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