Need help with wiring to install new track light


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Old 05-13-17, 07:54 PM
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Question Need help with wiring to install new track light

Hello everyone,

House is from the 40's, has what I believe is called cloth wiring. I have a tongue and groove exposed ceiling and I want to install a track light on one of the exposed wood beams in order to get some light in my living room.

I am trying to get power from a nearby light switch box. So for testing purposes (since I am no electrician) I decided to connect the cables coming from the panel hot and neutral using a romex 12-2 and connecting the other end to the hot neutral of the track light. When I turn on the breaker there is no light. Again, there's no switch, straight power from panel to track light. To ensure that the track light is not damaged, I took a working ceiling light fixture from the hallway and connected it the same way - no light. So now I know it's not the track light but I am stumped as to why there seems to be no power getting to the light fixture. My non-electrical experience tells me that this simple connection should work.

I know there's power from the panel since the cable coming from the panel was originally pig tailed to another set of black/white cables (which you can see on the wall switch pic below that have been moved up and out of the way) that power the outlet on the Florida room next door. Eventually I will have the track light, the switch for the track light and a pig tail for continuous power to the Florida room.

Here's the connection on the wall switch - black to black and white to white.
Name:  wall connection (Small).jpg
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Here's the connection on the track light - black to black and white to white.
Name:  track connection (Small).jpg
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What am I doing wrong?

Thanks for the help
 
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Old 05-13-17, 08:07 PM
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Try the other set of wires just for curiosity. However you can not use that switch for your power source because there is no ground and a ungrounded circuit by code can not be extended. You will need to run a new cable from the breaker panel.
 
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Old 05-15-17, 10:56 AM
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I guess I could try the other set of cables.

In regards to grounding, couldn't I just screw the ground to the metal box in the wall and that would make the ground connection?

Considering the age of the house and other outlets I've looked at none of them are grounded :/ Now that we're talking about not grounded, would not grounding make lights flicker very quickly and at random times?
 
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Old 05-15-17, 11:30 AM
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In regards to grounding, couldn't I just screw the ground to the metal box in the wall and that would make the ground connection?
Only if the metal box is grounded. Note old style BX cable with no bonding strip does not provide an adequate ground.
would not grounding make lights flicker very quickly and at random times?
Grounding has nothing to do with the operation of the light. It is purely for safety. (Curious where did you get such a strange idea? Was it something you read on the net?)
 
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Old 05-15-17, 02:07 PM
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Is there any way to know if the metal box is grounded? From what I can see it's nailed to a concrete wall with what I believe is concrete nails.

Regarding the flickering, I was mentioning it to someone once and they just happened to mentioned that it probably wasn't grounded. I never gave it much thought until now in our thread chat.
 
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Old 05-15-17, 02:37 PM
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From what I can see it's nailed to a concrete wall with what I believe is concrete nails.
That is not grounding. Sorry.
 
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Old 05-15-17, 02:53 PM
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Grounding means a ground wire connected to the box or non flexible conduit that is uninterrupted from breaker panel to receptacle box, or flexible conduit or metallic cable that either contains a ground wire or bonding strip. Ground in this case means an EGC (Equipment Grounding Conductor) that provides a near zero resistance back to the panel. Other things will have too high a resistance.


Regarding the flickering, I was mentioning it to someone once and they just happened to mentioned that it probably wasn't grounded
Then I would suggest you don't rely on them for electrical advice. Flickering is most likely a loose connection. The ground has nothing to do with the operation of the light. In fact grounds in the past were not even used yet lights worked just fine. They are there only for safety, to trip the breaker if there is a short to a metal chassis or metal enclosure.
 
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Old 05-15-17, 08:17 PM
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Thumbs up

Well thank you for the lessons gentlemen. So for the lights that get random flickering I should check the connection both at the light switch, and I assume at the light fixture itself along with any other connections that might exist between switch and fixture.

Back to my original question....darn it you were correct...the other cables were the ones providing the power :/ And all this time I thought I was connecting something wrong - hey that's why I am no electrician but i know better next time. Next time don't assume and buy yourself that $3 110/220v tester at home depot to easily determine where power is coming from!

Thanks for the help!
 
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Old 05-15-17, 08:31 PM
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and I found the following on a thread elsewhere, a way of testing if a metal box is grounded, is this a good valid solution to find out if the box is grounded somewhere?


Q:
I am interested in replacing an old two prong outlet with a three prong. In an older outlet with no ground wire evident inside the box, is there a way to check whether the grounding wire is attached to the cable outside the box without cutting a hole in the wall?

A:
If the Box is metal, yes there is. If you have the outlet pulled out of the junction box, you can take a electrical tester and touch one prob on the black (hot) wire and use the other prob of the tester and touch the inside of the metal box. If the tester lights up or if using a meter it reports back Voltage, then it is more than likely grounded. When you wire up the new outlet, make sure to wire up the ground wire to the metal Junction box.
 
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Old 05-15-17, 10:16 PM
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$3 110/220v tester at home depot to easily determine where power is coming from
Not if you mean a non contact tester. They are useless for real testing. What you need is a cheap analog (not digital) multimeter. Cheap digital meters aren't recommended for beginners because they can give misleading readings. A pro knows when to ignore a reading a beginner might not.
you can take a electrical tester and touch one prob on the black (hot) wire and use the other prob of the tester and touch the inside of the metal box. If the tester lights up or if using a meter it reports back Voltage, then it is more than likely grounded.
Notice it doesn't say is grounded but that it may be grounded. With older BX cable a meter may show ground because it is testing under a very small load however it has been reported that in dead short conditions which is why you have a ground the metal jacket melted without tripping a breaker. (No I can't cite a source. Just what I have read.)
 
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Old 05-16-17, 05:53 AM
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this is the tester I used
Commercial Electric 110/220 VAC Voltage Tester-MS8900H - The Home Depot

and I'll leave my grounding questions at that...it's an old house and new wiring will not be an option

Thanks ray2047 for your time and help!
 
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Old 05-16-17, 07:50 AM
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That will work but notice the people who made it labeled the voltage wrong. The voltages are 120v and 240v not 110v and 220v.

new wiring will not be an option
You'd be surprised at the sometimes relatively easy solution to what you may think is impossible. Explain in detail why you think you can't run new circuits.
 
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Old 05-16-17, 08:30 AM
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oh but there must be a logical explanation for the wrong labeling?!?! Maybe it's an European model?!?!

And yes, you have the right frame of thought, there are easy solutions to the impossible. I've never done any re-wiring, I've seen videos online about wiring new construction or a remodel of a room. I would figure that pulling cable through existing pipes and what ever else lurks behind my walls that would be a task if you don't know what you're doing.
 
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Old 05-16-17, 10:00 AM
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A plan B is to just run a ground wire from the panel to the existing box. It can follow what ever path is easiest.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 05-17-17 at 03:16 PM. Reason: Misspelt B.
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Old 05-17-17, 01:38 PM
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So my next part of this project is running the romex up the wall on the ceiling and attach it to the track light.

I was doing some reading and it seems like the romex is not good for 90 bends and to instead use thhn cables which can bend easily. I am going to be using wiremold (Cable Management - Home Electronics - Electrical - The Home Depot) to get the power from the switch to light. Will I have to go out and purchase thhn cable to run inside the wiremold?

Here's a "diagram" of what I am trying to accomplish.
Name:  track lighting.jpg
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Old 05-17-17, 03:21 PM
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So my next part of this project is running the romex up the wall on the ceiling and attach it to the track light.
By national code guidelines it won't be compliant. NEC states ungrounded circuits can not be extended because any new wiring must meet current code which requires a ground. That is why I suggested running a ground wire to the switch box.

Check with you electrical inspector for local code.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 05-17-17 at 05:22 PM.
 

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