Problem wiring ceiling light

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Old 02-12-14, 04:05 AM
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Problem wiring ceiling light

Hi, I am trying to install a ceiling lamp in my living room. My place is new, and I am a first time home owner (not very knowledgeable in electrical stuff) When I got my place, there was nothing install in the dinning room area, just a hole (covered by a plastic cover) intended for a ceiling light. After I removed the cover, I found a black wire, a white wire, a bare copper wire and another black wire entwined and capped together with another white wire. I guess the black wire is hot, the white is neutral and the copper is ground.. but what about the pair of black and white wires? Why are they capped together. I am afraid that if I join the black with black, white with white and copper to green/green yellow, it will short circuitName:  ceiling.jpg
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Old 02-12-14, 04:53 AM
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You say the house is new (assuming you're the first owner). I'm surprised the electricians left those wires open. I'm more surprised it passed inspection. Did the house go through final inspection by the local codes? Also the circuit breakers should clearly be marked as to what they control. This should also indicate what those other wires are for. I would call the builder or electrician who wired the house and get them to fix it.

If you're not comfortable with handling electrical apparatus you should hire an electrician. However, what I would due is use a VOM meter and find out what wires are the feed. It appears the wires may feed several other lights or whatever if you were to connect all black and all white wires. Undo the connected wires, turn on electric and very carefully use the VOM meter to see if they are hot, then do the same with the others. Maybe the connected wires are a feed through for other items and could be independent of the other set. Be careful might be two separate circuits.

If you find that only one pair is hot, then connect your light accordingly. If the other pair are not hot and if you can't determine what they are for then recap them and leave them alone.

I'm sure others here will give more detailed info or instructions. Stay tuned.
 
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Old 02-12-14, 06:56 AM
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The picture shows a switch loop. It is common and to be expected. This can easily be verified without a meter by looking at the switch. If the switch has one black and one white wire then it is a switch loop. At the ceiling simply connect your fixture color to color to the single wires. Do not disconnect or connect anything to the two wires connected together.

When you install the next light look at the switch first that will help you to understand how the light is wired. I'd suggest the book Wiring Simplified so you will understand what you are looking at.
 
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Old 02-14-14, 03:16 AM
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I kind of understand your switch loop - you're just saying that the install electricians ran wiring from a switch to this light fixture for future use by the homeowner right? Cool.

I don't agree though with just looking at the switch for a white and black wire. What does that tell you? I guess if you hope that the electricians did it exactly like you thought they were supposed to?

I mean those 2 sets of black and white wires in there could technically go anywhere. Maybe to that switch, maybe not. I am kind of concerned out of curiousity what the white and black capped together are for.

I would use a meter just to be sure. First time homeowner right? You may as well get comfortable looking at readings and troubleshooting. With what you think is the switch off, I would put a meter lead on the black and one to ground. See what you got. Then flip the switch on and do the same thing. Hopefully you have some voltage. Now you should be certain that the switch provides power to that light fixture and you know the breaker serving it isn't tripped.
 
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Old 02-14-14, 08:47 AM
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I am kind of concerned out of curiousity what the white and black capped together are for.
Here is a pre 2011 NEC switch loop. Does that help you understand?

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Note by code the white wire was supposed to be remarked black, red, or any color but gray or green using, tape, felt tip marker, or colored liquid electrical insulation however unfortunately for beginners it often isn't but the experience people recognize it for what it is.
 
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Old 02-14-14, 10:09 PM
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Yeah, it helps me understand a little bit.

But the wire "supposed" to be re-colored is kind of my point. Had this guy not come onto this forum and asked the question, he never would have known. I would have never known about the switch loop.

I think this is where a huge problem lies in contractor work. Half the people, like you, know what it's supposed to do or indicate. The other half, like me, are left to start new, figure out what's going on.

I believe now that you've explained a switch loop that I got bit by one a few years ago removing track lighting. I waved my little voltage detector over the black - nothing. I'm good.

Grabbed the whole mess of wires to shove through the hole and zap! Now looking back, I bet it was the damned white wire that got me and was supposed to have been "re-colored."
 
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Old 02-15-14, 05:49 AM
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What got you was not testing each wire to ground with a multimeter. Tick tracers are magic wands, and can give readings with static electricity. Some on the forum don't like them. If used to their limitations, and you underatand those limitations, they are a good tool. Not fail safe, by any means. There is no such thing as a dead circuit without testing the wires in it first using the proper detection means.
 
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Old 02-15-14, 04:28 PM
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If you read my first reply, I suggest using a meter to check. Next poster explains that this is a switch loop and can be recognized by veterans; this should have been denoted by a different color wire. I agree.

Pic shows no marking on wire. This is why there's a problem. Because I got zapped a little a few years ago, I use a meter to check and recommend using one.

Next poster kind of said that people who "know," know that this is a loop. I took it to mean, now that everyone knows what a switch loop is, no need to check it. I'm saying contractors are how you say, lazy, and we as homeowners should check everything. I relayed a story about I got zapped by only using a stick, I now realize that that was probably because the contractor that did my wiring, didn't denote by using a different color wire. I should have checked yes, but I was young this was like 15 years ago, and inexperienced. Now - I don't trust anybody's work. Check it all.

You guys are kind of odd around here. I just joined this forum, am trying to participate. First day, I look around, see a section on boilers. Hey I run big boilers all day at work, I probably know something. Granted I don't a thing about home boilers.

I tried to provide a suggestion, and got told basically I was wrong. Okay. Perhaps. I'll just ease on out of this discussion.

I come over here and try again. Use a meter I say, test it. That's a switch loop, no mention of a meter, well I got zapped once by only using a volt stick, never use just a volt stick.

Crazy I tell you.
 
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Old 02-15-14, 04:44 PM
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I tried to provide a suggestion, and got told basically I was wrong. Okay. Perhaps. I'll just ease on out of this discussion.

I come over here and try again. Use a meter I say, test it. That's a switch loop, no mention of a meter, well I got zapped once by only using a volt stick, never use just a volt stick.
Let me assure no offense was intended. One problem with written dialog is it looses the nuances of oral. If you had heard it spoken I'm sure you would just have heard it as a friendly conversation.
 
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Old 02-15-14, 05:06 PM
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Checking with a meter is always a good idea.
OP is from Canada. In a switch loop we are not required to recolor the white. I assume this is for easy identification of the hot coming in to a switch box. But we can only leave it white in a switch loop.
Using 2 wire for dc for example, we are supposed to recolor the white to red.
There is nothing wrong with this install.
 
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