1959 old house backyard lighting switch question.

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  #1  
Old 09-28-14, 08:00 PM
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1959 old house backyard lighting switch question.

Hello, and thanks if you know the answer. I have an old house and it has flood lights in the backyard that light up the lawn, which is nice. It seems to be on the same circuit as a side door light which i put a motion security light in it's place. Inside the house where the switches are, there are two dual pole switches (standard). It looks like there are two strands of nomex? that go into the switch box. on the left is one set that has red, blk, white wires. The wire set coming in on the right is Blk, and white only. The left i assumed were hot from the breaker and the right going to the light fixtures.

When both light switches are off, left black is hot, left red is hot, left white is pigtailed to the right white wire. Right black i assume goes to the light fixture. The red hot from left switch is hooked up to the lower pole on right switch.

The wires are hooked up like this picture. When right switch is on, left off, both the door security light and backyard lights function. When right is on, left is on, both the security light and backyard floods are on. When right is off, left is on, nothings on. And of course when both are off, lights are off.

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oh i would like one switch to control the security light and the other to control the backyard light as i don't want the floods to be on constantly, but not sure what wires are what. The left again seems to be power from the breaker, red is hot, blk is hot till the switch is on, then both red/blk seem to have low power as it's not detected on my no contact pwr detector. When the right switch is on, all 4 wires are powered. I have no clue, works fine with just the right switch on but it powers both floods and security light for side door. Any ideas? thanks.

Mark
 
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Old 09-28-14, 08:19 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

not detected on my non contact pwr detector.
Those non contact testers are ONLY used to determine if there is hazardous voltage in the area. Yours has detected hazardous voltages. Now you need to put it away and pickup, borrow or buy a voltmeter to make real voltage checks.

Even a basic $15 analog meter from the depot will work fine for this type of testing.

Your description of how things work are not matching the wiring you drew. After you get a meter we can continue.
 
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Old 09-28-14, 08:51 PM
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Not really anything called a dual pole switch. Closest would be a double pole switch but that is only used on 240 volt circuits. Do you mean a Single Pole Single Throw (SPST) switch? Your diagram indicates SPST switches.
 
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Old 09-28-14, 09:09 PM
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Thanks!

PJmax, thanks really appreciate these types of forums for newbs. And PJ & Ray for the quick reply. Sorry, thought these switches were called dual poles for 2 connections, as i seen 3 way and 4 way switches which these are not. Yes, i know the detector is only to detect if there are hazardous voltages on a wire. It's only stated for information. The left side had a red wire and a blk wire which was detected as hot. The right switch only the red was hot because it's connected to the red hot from the left switch. I do have a meter, but thought maybe this might be enough information if someone has seen this type of setup before to know what's wrong with it. I'll include a pic here. By the way, the wiring is what i found today after i installed the security light, it's how it was since i bought this place 20 years ago.

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Old 09-28-14, 09:19 PM
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Based on normal wiring.... the three wire cable would be the supply cable with a return switch leg and the two wire would be a light.

The red should be always live as it feeds both switches. Each black wire should only be live when the switch is turned on.
 
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Old 09-28-14, 09:48 PM
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The red is def hot, not sure what a return switch leg does, but it seems the left switch does nothing, do i need it? The right switch seems to turn on all the lights, although i wished the two lights were in two circuits, now it looking like it's just one circuit.
 
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Old 09-28-14, 10:03 PM
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In your case... a return switch leg means that at the other end of that three wire cable.... white is connected to neutral, red is connected to power and black would go to a light.
 
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Old 09-28-14, 10:05 PM
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The red is def hot
How do you know that. It can't be determined with a non contact tester. They will beep sometimes even when no real power is there, just capacitive or induced voltage. (Same can be true with a digital multimeter.) You need to remove the wires and measure to ground or neutral using an analog multimeter.

I know we seem to harp on this but we have spent days trying to help someone who swore they had power only to find out they were using a non contact tester and really had no power.
 
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Old 09-30-14, 12:16 PM
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Thanks PJ, I thought that's what it meant but wanted to make sure. yes looks like whites are tied and does return on that neutral.

Ray, no problem I know most of us newbs sound like idiots haha. Well so how did I deduce that red was hot? Because it turned on the lights just from the right switch being on. The black was detected not hot. The whites are tied and that is the return. And yes I understand now that that is not proof without a meter but I would bet money on it on this point.

The only thing I don't get now is having two hots on the left. Does that buy you anything, does it provide the circuit with more power with the added light?

I will verify the left is hot tonight when I get home. is it dangerous if it was a second hot? well I lived like this for over 20 years here now so I would say no but thought I'd ask.

But thanks, I'm learning.

Mark
 
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Old 09-30-14, 04:30 PM
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Just to help you get jump started.
Once you have meter in hand, place both switches in off position.
Check Red, and Both Blacks to Ground.
Only Red wire should be hot.

does it provide the circuit with more power with the added light?
No. There is no way to add "more power" to a device, nor do you want to.
 
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Old 09-30-14, 08:48 PM
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Based on your diagram..... regarding the left hand switch... if red is always hot then when switch is turned on..... if black wasn't already hot it MUST be now. It couldn't check or appear as neutral like you mentioned above the diagram.

 
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