light switch dilemma


  #1  
Old 06-23-20, 05:14 PM
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light switch dilemma

OK guys let see if you can help me figure this out. This is at my cabin. It was wired by original builder about 30 years ago. But all the light switches and plugs are not installed.

I was ready to add a switch to the wires in picture # 3. Assuming one line was hot and the other went to the light above sink (not shown). However after stripping the wires and turning on power neither of these cable had power. So we assumed one of the other outlets or switch boxes must have a non connected cable. Just by luck we open the kitchen light switch box (since it was closest to the bathroom switch box) and lo and behold another non connect cable is right there. This seemed easy. Pigtail the kitchen light switch (#1) off the power line feeding the switch and connect the adjacent cable and then power the bathroom light. NOT!

When power was applied, the bathroom cables had still had no power. BUTif the kitchen light switch was turned off. The bathroom (#3) cable to the right has power. No power to the cable on the left. Im pretty sure the cable to the left goes to the light fixture, but I did not try it.

My friend and I tried various combinations but could not maintain power to the switch box in bathroom (pic #3).

Somehow the person who wired this used both black and white as power feeds. This combination of wiring is beyond my understanding.

The pictures hopefully will explain my dilemma. Right now as the pictures show the switch in picture #1 operates the kitchen light as can be seen in picture #2.

Take your time in responding if you understand whats going on. It will be at least another week before I can get back to the cabin. Maybe two. Other than unfolding cables from the fixtures it is exactly as we started. We changed nothing.

I dont understand why this was not wired in the usual black to black and neutral to neutral. But I believe the original owner knew what he was doing and followed codes of the time period.

It will be near impossible to remove wall surfaces and it will be a real job to try and fish new cable through the walls. If worse comes to worse I may have to use external wire ways.

<img src="https://cimg1.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.doityourselft.com-vbulletin/923x731/switch_1_e1776ddff21e7b18ae0813576793f6fe4c2eeffd_00210e267b58b7b7f3777f312a2107d79a1c96c5.jpg" width="923" height="731"/>

<img src="https://cimg6.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.doityourselft.com-vbulletin/2000x1124/station_2_c3fa2121ae766b4911544f502abfda0d9baead6e.jpg" width="1999" height="1124"/>

<img src="https://cimg8.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.doityourselft.com-vbulletin/2000x1124/switch_3_6fa8358d37e3bac8bae181a69781a22ec4e2ac2c.jpg" width="1999" height="1124"/>
 

Last edited by PJmax; 06-23-20 at 06:37 PM.
  #2  
Old 06-23-20, 05:43 PM
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Hey guys. Correction. The switch in the kitchen is not right. It had a black and a white wire connected to it. Sorry for the confusion. However the situation still works as originally set up.


edit: No screw up. We left pigtails on switch and just wired back to original. Just doesn't show it.
 
  #3  
Old 06-23-20, 06:23 PM
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The unused cable at switch 1 does not go to the light. It is most likely a switch loop to a second location. It cannot be powered from the switch as there is no neutral at the switch. I labeled your first picture.

In the picture..... the switch loop is white hot down to switch and black switched back up to light
The other two cables are power in and power out since they are tied together in parallel.


<img src="https://cimg5.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.doityourselft.com-vbulletin/372x383/w_23c7c8d314f4d92c5e2182db6baf6870288badba.jpg" width="372" height="383"/>

In order to not confuse the issue..... keep the switch with the light. Switch 1 operates light 1.
There is no switch 2.
Switch 3 is bathroom.
So the cable on the right gets a switch on it for the bathroom lights ?
This looks like the same situation as the kitchen.
 
  #4  
Old 06-24-20, 04:04 AM
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Pete thanks for the quick reply. I'll need to digest this and think about it. It may take some time for me to get to it. Busy week ahead.
 
  #5  
Old 06-24-20, 10:33 AM
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A little more info to digest. In the picture of the light box are three cables.
Two of the cables are connected black to black and white to white.
We know one of these lines is hot.... and since they are connected together... they're both hot.
We can see the white of the third cable connects to the hot black connection and the black goes to the light fixture. That's how we know there's a switch loop in use.
 
  #6  
Old 06-25-20, 05:39 AM
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Pete,
So I digested your info and looked at a couple diagrams of switch loops. I understand the concept and I can see it for my cabin kitchen light. But I'm having trouble seeing how to get a hot line from the kitchen switch box to the bathroom box.

So how do I connect the cable in the kitchen switchbox that goes to the bathroom switchbox? I must be missing something simple, I just don't seem to get it. Are you able to guide me with the pics? I know pics can be confusing vs being there. I'm hoping to maybe make quick run out there tomorrow if all goes as planned. If I do I'll try and take better pics with wires shown a little clearer where they come from.

On another note and just for information purposes only, can a switch loop be allowed on anything other than a light fixture? Assuming local codes even allow switch loops at all. It's my understanding that with today's electronics most electrical boxes will require a neutral line and most local codes are not allowing switch loops.
 
  #7  
Old 06-25-20, 10:28 AM
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Since the kitchen light switch was set up as a switch loop..... the second cable in that box..... that may go to the bathroom switch.... is now useless.

Based on how everything appears.... the cable from the kitchen light to the #1 switch should have been a three wire cable. That would have given you power to go to the next room.

Switch loops are used on lights or receptacles. In the past.... two wires were used. The current code requires a neutral at the switch so switch loops need to be three wire.
 
  #8  
Old 06-25-20, 01:16 PM
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Hi, 3 conductors in the ceiling box, one is the feed, identify that one, one is the switchleg that would be the one that the white wire is spliced to the group of blacks, where does the other cable go?
Geo
 
  #9  
Old 06-25-20, 01:34 PM
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Thanks PJ. If your correct I can't get power to the bathroom light switch. Can't believe it wasn't accounted for. Everything else works fine. I'm going to bring more instruments with me next time, VOM, endoscope cam and see it I can discover something I missed.

where does the other cable go?
Geo
That is the big question and what I need to find out.
 
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Old 06-25-20, 08:34 PM
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Since the other wire in the light box is live..... it doesn't really matter where it goes.
You are looking for a wire that is dead.

if the kitchen light switch was turned off. The bathroom (#3) cable to the right has power.
That pretty much confirms the second cable in switch 1 box goes to the bathroom switch.
That pretty much confirms a goof.

Have we discussed if there is a live wire in the bathroom ceiling light box ?
You may need to bring a tone/tracer up with you to trace the wiring.
 
  #11  
Old 06-26-20, 04:35 AM
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Have we discussed if there is a live wire in the bathroom ceiling light box ?
You may need to bring a tone/tracer up with you to trace the wiring.
Good point. I'll check that out. Plans to go there today are cancelled.
 
  #12  
Old 07-01-20, 07:24 PM
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So I went to cabin yesterday. Pulled the light fixture off the bathroom wall. Surprise surprise. There was no box installed, nothing connected and only a hole with a cable just barely sticking out.
<img src="https://cimg1.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.doityourselft.com-vbulletin/2000x1124/img_20200630_144710817_c32b62a04c4cc3a9c108eb7a90d93b2f0f75929b.jpg" width="1999" height="1124"/>
<img src="https://cimg6.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.doityourselft.com-vbulletin/2000x1124/img_20200630_144726909_6ab1ca29fa3c428994350be5922e9cb8d381f869.jpg" width="1999" height="1124"/>
So my next step is to install a box (most likely an octagon type) and see if the cable can be powered from another source. Maybe I can run another line from and existing outlet on the other side of the wall.

This thing is troubling because the rest of the cabin seemed to built well for the material and means available 30 plus years ago and considering the remote location. This is the only electrical spot that is not wired. All other lights and outlets are working and in good order.
 
  #13  
Old 07-02-20, 04:24 AM
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That particular fixture does not require a box. The fixture is the box. However the cable should have been longer and there should have been a clamp holding it to the fixture.
 
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Old 07-02-20, 04:33 AM
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Really? It was my understanding that any surface mounted fixture that can be changed out requires a box.
 
  #15  
Old 07-02-20, 05:53 AM
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That fixture has a metal back plate that mounts to the wall. That is considered the junction box. It also has a hole where a cable clamp should have been installed.
 
  #16  
Old 07-02-20, 10:05 PM
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Yup....... that is correct. It's a self contained fixture. Most strip lights are.
 
  #17  
Old 08-05-20, 06:23 AM
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Finally got light to work in cabin bathroom. Rather than try to guess what the original owner tried to do with existing wiring, we decide to bypass all that and string a new line from the circuit breaker box.
<img src="https://cimg7.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.doityourselft.com-vbulletin/2000x1124/img_20200804_154038973_d97ba5e8c6f8c31c30c04c12f61a0bdd50b58d58.jpg" width="1999" height="1124"/>
<img src="https://cimg0.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.doityourselft.com-vbulletin/2000x1124/img_20200804_154054959_fdd2d26ba2798ae024c68150de9d815b4d13a508.jpg" width="1999" height="1124"/>
<img src="https://cimg1.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.doityourselft.com-vbulletin/2000x1124/img_20200804_154046353_26bfab8627518b6c89f0f18dadaa8b5d3406f26a.jpg" width="1999" height="1124"/>
 
 

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