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Old 12-15-2008, 12:18 PM   #16
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Dimmer Switch


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Originally Posted by Vandiyan View Post
Nope no switches that seem to control the lights in the basement other then the switch in question.
In that case, find which pair of wires turn on the light! Put a wire nut on the other one.
Connect the 2 black dimmer wires to the pair that control the light.
Connect the dimmer green to the ground screw in the box and you are done!

No need to buy a 3 way dimmer!

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Old 12-15-2008, 12:32 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Wildie View Post
In that case, find which pair of wires turn on the light! Put a wire nut on the other one.
Connect the 2 black dimmer wires to the pair that control the light.
Connect the dimmer green to the ground screw in the box and you are done!

No need to buy a 3 way dimmer!
How would I find out which two control the light. I assume that the black wire from the switch is one and do I just test the other two?
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Old 12-15-2008, 12:57 PM   #18
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Dimmer Switch


you should find another switch at the bottom of the stairs that goes to the light and to the switch at the top of the stairs. when you remove the switch in question (top) you will see either 1 or 2 sets of wires entering the box. if you only have the 3 (red, black, white) and the white is attached to your switch then you have a 12/3 romex which will also include a bare copper wire(ground) you cannot operate a light without a nuetral wire (white) if you open the light itself you will see 1 hot wire (red or black) which is actually a switch leg from the 2nd switch and a nuetral (white).
you need to identify which color was attached to the black screw. my guess is white. we often use the white as a hot only in such cases where a romex cable limits the number of wires available. otherwise white is only used as a nuetral which is a grounded conducter.
basically though, if you havent had any problems with switching in the past you can identify your hot wire and useable switchleg by touching the wires together one pair at atime until the light comes on. the wire that does nothing simply cap off and install the other 2 wires to your new dimmer. be safe and turn the power off except when touching the wires together. obviously dont touch the copper part and make sure the copper part dosent touch anything metal.

Last edited by dumbcluck; 12-15-2008 at 01:20 PM.
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Old 12-15-2008, 04:12 PM   #19
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Dimmer Switch


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Originally Posted by Vandiyan View Post
How would I find out which two control the light. I assume that the black wire from the switch is one and do I just test the other two?
As DC has stated, just touch pairs of wire together, until the light comes on, then connect these two, to the dimmer!

In school, we were taught to keep one hand in your pocket while working on 'hot' electrical equipment.
The reason being that current must flow through the heart to be fatal!
So if you have rubber soled shoes and your hand in your pocket, you may get a poke, but nothing flows through the heart.
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Old 12-15-2008, 04:26 PM   #20
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current must flow through the heart to be fatal!
Or your head.
"While charging a row of Leyden Jars during a thunderstorm, Richman leaned too close to a conductor and a hole was blown through his head. . ."
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Old 12-15-2008, 06:05 PM   #21
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Or your head.
"While charging a row of Leyden Jars during a thunderstorm, Richman leaned too close to a conductor and a hole was blown through his head. . ."
We are usually admonished to use our head! But do not use your head as a tester! Agreed!
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Old 12-15-2008, 07:23 PM   #22
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Dimmer Switch


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The switch in question is at the top, but there isn't a switch at the bottom.
It's a 3way switch.

1. They drywalled over the switchbox at the bottom of the stairs when they built/finished it

2. They built cabinets or something and covered/bypassed the downstairs switch.


If you aren't going to look for the other switch you can use the single pole dimmer you bought. Black is probably the hot wire. connect it to red or white and see if the light comes on. Use these 2 wires and cap the other one.

It has to be either blk/red, blk/ wht or red/wht nYou have a 33% chance of getting it right the first time.

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