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Old 08-09-2008, 03:44 PM   #1
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can't get new light fixture to work


Coming from the ceiling there are 3 black wires with a nut, 3 white wires with a nut, 1 black and 1 red wire with a nut, and a ground wire. Old light fixture was taken down long ago when remodeling was going on. Now trying to put up new fixture which has 3 white wires, 3 black wires and a copper ground. Tried fixture whites to 3 whites in ceiling and fixture blacks to 1 black, 1 red in ceiling. Didn't work. Tried fixture whites to 3 white in ceiling, 4 black from ceiling all together, and fixture blacks to red in ceiling. Still didn't work.

Then I separated all 4 black wires and 1 red from ceiling and tested. Only 1 of the 4 black wires is hot and the red is NOT hot. Suggestions?"

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Old 08-09-2008, 04:48 PM   #2
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can't get new light fixture to work


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Originally Posted by carolcwilson View Post
Coming from the ceiling there are 3 black wires with a nut, 3 white wires with a nut, 1 black and 1 red wire with a nut, and a ground wire. Old light fixture was taken down long ago when remodeling was going on. Now trying to put up new fixture which has 3 white wires, 3 black wires and a copper ground. Tried fixture whites to 3 whites in ceiling and fixture blacks to 1 black, 1 red in ceiling. Didn't work. Tried fixture whites to 3 white in ceiling, 4 black from ceiling all together, and fixture blacks to red in ceiling. Still didn't work.

Then I separated all 4 black wires and 1 red from ceiling and tested. Only 1 of the 4 black wires is hot and the red is NOT hot. Suggestions?"

Not picking fun at you, but I am going to ask this any how, why is it that when someone removes a fixture they feel the need to disassemble every splice in the box instead of just placing wire nuts and a tag on the two wires that went to the fixture to begin with?


Also, did you check for voltage at the fixture box, did you remove switches as well? Did you turn the correct switch on? is the breaker even on?

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Old 08-09-2008, 05:41 PM   #3
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can't get new light fixture to work


I was trying to be brief in my first question but as I said the old fixture was taken out long ago (not by me) was nothing was hung since then until now. When I climbed the latter, there were 3 blacks together with a nut, 3 whites together with a nut and a black and red together with a nut. So, I do not know which wires went to the old fixture. After not getting the fixture to work in 2 different configurations, I separated then, tagged them and tested each one separately to see which ones were hot.

The breaker is working. Other lights on the circuit work when the 3 blacks are together. There are 2 switches for this fixture and yes I turned these on.
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Old 08-09-2008, 05:43 PM   #4
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can't get new light fixture to work


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Originally Posted by chris75 View Post
Not picking fun at you, but I am going to ask this any how, why is it that when someone removes a fixture they feel the need to disassemble every splice in the box instead of just placing wire nuts and a tag on the two wires that went to the fixture to begin with?


Also, did you check for voltage at the fixture box, did you remove switches as well? Did you turn the correct switch on? is the breaker even on?
Haha, chris! It seems I have noticed more and more posts like this where users have disconnected all the wires in the box. Next time (and anyone else reading this) just put a strip of tape over the ends of the wires that feed the light if it will be down temporarily, if it will be down for long, put some wire nuts on the ends to be safe.

When you disconnect the hot black wire, does anything else in the room loose power? Like maybe some outlets? My guess is that at least one set of the white and black wires feed an outlet or a group of outlets daisy chained. The red wire probably comes from the switch, open the switch box up and note how everything is wired in there, but DO NOT DISCONNECT ANY WIRES! There is no need to disconnect any more wires at this time, just need to know how its wired up to try and determine how to re-wire the ceiling box.
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Old 08-09-2008, 05:46 PM   #5
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can't get new light fixture to work


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There are 2 switches for this fixture and yes I turned these on.
This info would have been helpful to start out with. You can't have BOTH switches in the on position as these are three way switches (or at least should be). When they are both in the same position (up or down) usually there is no power. Its intended that the light is off when both switches are down and when you turn either switch on, the light comes on.
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Old 08-09-2008, 06:26 PM   #6
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"why is it that when someone removes a fixture they feel the need to disassemble every splice in the box instead of just placing wire nuts and a tag on the two wires that went to the fixture to begin with?"

What saved a friend of mine who did this is that he lived in one of several identical apts.
We got permission to make a drawing of the box innards of the apt. next door to him, which had wiring that was still intact.
Then we just wired up according to the drawing. One by one everything started working again and we didn't trip any breakers.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 08-09-2008 at 06:30 PM.
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Old 08-10-2008, 01:49 AM   #7
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can't get new light fixture to work


Quote:
Originally Posted by carolcwilson View Post
Coming from the ceiling there are 3 black wires with a nut, 3 white wires with a nut, 1 black and 1 red wire with a nut, and a ground wire.

Then I separated all 4 black wires and 1 red from ceiling and tested. Only 1 of the 4 black wires is hot and the red is NOT hot. Suggestions?"

Hey guys-

The OP said that the wires were nutted together. Let's cut some slack.

My guess is that the blacks are part of an entirely different circuit. Note that he/she said that only one has power. A dead give away that one is a feed and the others are downstream outlets, probably recepts.

It sounds like the additional red and black would have been run for a typical ceiling box install, the two wires being for a future ceiling fan. The fact that the red is not hot usually means that it is an additional wire that was pulled in anticipation of a fan being installed at some point (this is customary in my jurisdiction). Further, since the OP mentions that, after separating the 3 blacks that are nutted together that one is hot and the others are not, this is a dead give away that these blacks (more than likely) have nothing to do with the lighting circuit.

OP-please clarify: Are the additional black and red nutted together or separately?

What we need to know is what wires are present in the switch box.

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Originally Posted by theatretch85 View Post
You can't have BOTH switches in the on position as these are three way switches (or at least should be). When they are both in the same position (up or down) usually there is no power. Its intended that the light is off when both switches are down and when you turn either switch on, the light comes on.
I disagree. If you have a circuit w/ 2 3-ways, the switches can be operated such that both will be up or down when the circuit is on (or off). 3-ways are simply SPDT switches and have no "ON" or "OFF" position. Another way to put it is that UP and DOWN have no absolute meaning w.r.t. ON and OFF.

We have heard a lot about the wiring in the ceiling. We need to know what is found in the switch box.

OP-Is this installation loose wires in conduit?

Jimmy
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Old 08-10-2008, 01:58 AM   #8
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can't get new light fixture to work


Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoyizit;
What saved a friend of mine who did this is that he lived in one of several identical apts.
We got permission to make a drawing of the box innards of the apt. next door to him, which had wiring that was still intact.
Then we just wired up according to the drawing. One by one everything started working again and we didn't trip any breakers.
You had to check out another installation to understand the relevance of the wiring? I figured that you would have learned every known wiring convention in EE803 by a licensed Master. Oh, but then again, I remember my own college curriculum. There was nothing practical being taught back then.

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Old 08-10-2008, 03:35 AM   #9
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I disagree. If you have a circuit w/ 2 3-ways, the switches can be operated such that both will be up or down when the circuit is on (or off). 3-ways are simply SPDT switches and have no "ON" or "OFF" position. Another way to put it is that UP and DOWN have no absolute meaning w.r.t. ON and OFF.
Jimmy
What I meant to say about the 3 way switches, if they are installed such that with both switches in the down position the light is off, putting both switches in the up position the light would still be off; of course putting either one of the switches in the up position the light would be on. Some people install them "upside down" where one will be down and the other will be up when the light is off. I understand that there is really no "on" or "off" position on a 3 way switch, but when one switch is one position, there is a position the other switch must be in to turn the circuit off. The op had indicated that he tried turning on both switches so I was trying to say that putting both switches in the up position has the same effect as both in the down position (provided that they were installed the same way).
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Old 08-10-2008, 09:19 AM   #10
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can't get new light fixture to work


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would have learned every known wiring convention
Working in electronics, there was no shock danger and we had schematics which we ourselves drew, so wire colors didn't have much meaning. If we used #30 wire wrap wire we had hundreds of wires under a TV-sized chassis, all in yellow or blue.

And, when stuff was short-circuited it was usually not spectacular.

I think if you can't see where the wires go because they are in the walls, and there is a shock danger, then the wire colors become very important, and they are the schematic. It's all you've got to go on.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 08-10-2008 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 08-10-2008, 12:50 PM   #11
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can't get new light fixture to work


Response to BigJimmy........... The one black wire is nutted together with the red wire. When I put the other 3 black wires back together, they all become hot, of course, and so does the red one that is together with the 1 black one.

This fixture has 2 switches, one switch has a black, red and white wire on screws of the switch. The other switch has 2 reds and a white on the screws.

There is another light downstream that works only when the 3 black wires in ceiling are nutted together.

I've tried putting fixture blacks to the 3 ceiling blacks and fixture light stays on all the time.

I've tried putting fixture blacks to the red and black ceiling wires nutted together and fixture doesn't work.

I've tried putting fixture blacks with red only and adding the black wire that was with the red to the 3 blacks making 4 and fixture doesn't work.

I am a 59 year old woman with little electrical experience who can usually figure things out with time and patience.
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Old 08-10-2008, 01:00 PM   #12
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Can you give us a little better description about the wiring in the switch boxes? You say one switch has two red wires attached to it, this must be from two separate wires coming into the box. If you could tell us how many sets of wires come into each box, what colors are in each bundle, how they are connected together, to the switch or other switches, that would be helpful.
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Old 08-10-2008, 02:20 PM   #13
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OK. This is my best description. Let me know if it does not make sense.

Switch box 1 (only used to designate, don't really know which one is #1):
4 cables come into box. There a 2 switches in box. 1st switch controls the light fixture I'm having trouble with; the 2nd controls another light down this same line.
Cable 1 - red goes to switch #1, black goes to a group of nutted blacks (a total of 4 all together), white goes to switch #1.
Cable 2 - red goes to switch #1, black goes to nutted blacks, white goes to nutted whites (a total of 3 all together).
Cable 3 - black goes to nutted blacks, white goes to nutted whites. There are no other wires in this cable except the ground.
Cable 4 - red goes to switch #2, black goes to switch #2, white goes to nutted whites.

THEN.... there is black wire that goes from switch #2 to the nutted blacks.

Switch box 2
3 cables come into this box. The box holds 2 switches. 1st one controls my non-working fixture; 2nd one controls another light (not sure if it is on the same line)
Cable #1 - red goes to switch #1, black goes to switch # 1, white goes to switch #1.
Cable #2 - black goes to switch #2, white goes to nutted whites (2 total).
Cable #3 - black goes to switch #2, white goes to nutted whites.
Cable 2 & 3 in this box only have 2 wires plus ground.

That's it! And if you can figure this out, I salute you!
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Old 08-10-2008, 03:22 PM   #14
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Ok, I had to draw this out on paper to try and make some sense of it. I believe you will find that the Cable 1 in the first switch box is the same cable as Cable 1 in the second switch box. Also, it would appear that the second switch in the second switch box is not part of this circuit (unless power is fed to it from the ceiling box).

In the first switch box, I would assume that the cable 2 runs to the ceiling box, and cable 3 runs to maybe an outlet or something, cable 4 runs to a light box and another 3 way switch and should not have power when you disconnect the hot wire at the ceiling box (report back if it does have power).

Ok, can you tell me how the wires are attached in the ceiling box now, I know you said 3 white wires together, and 3 black wires together and a red and a black together. How many cables run into the ceiling box and how are they attached per cable?

If you have a volt meter, i'd like to have you disconnect the bundle of 3 black wires in the ceiling, and with the power to all circuits on (just cap the hot black wire in the ceiling) check for power on the black wire in cable #2 at the first switch box, the black wire in cable #2 and #3 in the second switch box (this will determine if it is fed from the ceiling box). Once you have marked those findings, connect one of the dead black wires to the hot wire and check these findings again, then disconnect that wire and try the other one. Also, with both of these black wires, test for power at the black wire on switch 1 in box 2.

I suspect power is fed to the first switch box via the black wire in cable 2, which then sends power to the 3 way switch in switch box 2 (via the black wire in cable 1), then sends power back to the 3 way switch in box 1, and the red wire in cable 2 sends power back to the ceiling box (red and black tied together).

Also, are there any outlets near switch box #1 that go dead when disconnecting the hot wire in the ceiling?

This is a little bit confusing, but I think I've got a handle on it, if you could report back the findings above, it will help greatly. If you find what I think you will find, I am thinking there may be a bad switch.

Last edited by theatretch85; 08-10-2008 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 08-10-2008, 06:46 PM   #15
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can't get new light fixture to work


I can tell you the following now. I will have to post the remaining items tomorrow.

There are 4 cables coming into ceiling box.

Cable #1 - black goes to nutted blacks, white to nutted whites.

Cable #2 - black goes red in Cable #3 below and these are nutted together, white goes to nutted whites.

Cable #3 - black goes to nutted blacks, red goes to black in Cable #2 and these are nutted together, white goes to nutted whites.

Cable #4 - black to nutted blacks (this black is the HOT one), white goes to nutted whites.

I did check the power of the black wire in cable 2 of switch #1. It is hot. The other blacks nutted to it are not hot.

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