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Old 05-05-2010, 11:27 AM   #1
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help ! lights dont work


hi,
i paid an insured contractor to do the following:
tap into a light switch, wire through the wall and create a wall electric socket for use by a mounted LCD TV and PC.
the guy did that but he was paid before we tested it and when we ended up testing it a couple of days later it didnt work.
the contractor isnt returning our calls...

how it "didnt work" :
there is a big office and inside it a small office.
the big office has a light switch - when that light switch is ON the small office light switch has juice in it, when it is OFF the small office light switch has no juice in it.

lets assume the main light switch is ON-

when the light switch in the small office is on, the 6 ft long two fluorecent lights are on. but the LCD TV and PC dont have power.
when the light switch in the small office is off, the LCD TV and PC have some power - the LCD TV doenst turn on but shows a yellow LED power off, and the PC power button flashes red, AND the fluorecent lights flicker!

i tried replacing the small office light switch with a three way switch and it still didnt work.

see photos attached

help!
Attached Thumbnails
help ! lights dont work-dsc00451.jpg   help ! lights dont work-dsc00450.jpg   help ! lights dont work-dsc00452.jpg  

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Old 05-05-2010, 11:57 AM   #2
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help ! lights dont work


I might be missing something but I only see either a switch loop or just 2 hots at the switch. I do not see a neutral wire. I don't think you have a complete circuit.

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Old 05-05-2010, 12:59 PM   #3
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help ! lights dont work


From what you describe, that is what the lack of a neutral does.

If there was a neutral in the switch box then the contractor wired it up incorrectly.

Without a neutral (which is not a white wire attached to one of the switch terminals) you cannot connect your new outlet to that location.
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Old 05-05-2010, 01:05 PM   #4
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interesting, i dont think there is a neutral cable. only black and red coming in.
is there a fix?
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Old 05-05-2010, 03:30 PM   #5
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The fix is to obtain power from a circuit that has a neutral in it. This needs to be rewired.
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Old 05-05-2010, 03:46 PM   #6
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i thought it was an issue with the amps available to feed both the lights and LCD tv, so you think its just a matter of ground?
there is a power plug 6 ft away, if i snake three 16 gauge wires up and do the same with the difference of an added ground it would work?
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Old 05-05-2010, 04:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notShai View Post
i thought it was an issue with the amps available to feed both the lights and LCD tv, so you think its just a matter of ground?
there is a power plug 6 ft away, if i snake three 16 gauge wires up and do the same with the difference of an added ground it would work?
NO!
It is not a ground issue.
16 awg is not big enough.
You can not just grab a neutral, it must be from the same circuit.
Is this wired in conduit or cable?
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Old 05-06-2010, 09:17 AM   #8
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i think cable.
yes thats what i meant - grabbing the red black and green from the power plug 6 ft away (not just the green from there )

but is that the problem is my question? is the theory presented here by Jim and Allan that the symptoms are those of an incomplete circuit?

it would be sad if we "excavate" through 6ft of stubburn wall with a new set of wires to find out its not the case.

is 14 awg good enough?
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Old 05-06-2010, 09:36 AM   #9
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You are over your head.
You need to hire a new electrician, or bug the other one until he returns.
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Old 05-06-2010, 11:08 AM   #10
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You need to have an REAL electrician come back & wire this correctly
Wire size will depend upon the circuit
You need 3 wires, hot neutral & ground
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Old 05-06-2010, 11:45 AM   #11
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thanks again.

1. this is DYI isnt it? telling me to get an electrician for a simple task is not very "friendly" ? whats the word? actually you are friendly by replying.

2. how hard is it to determine a wire awg for this task??? i mean there arent too many awg's to choose form and calculating current and amps is a very basic formula.

3. for anyone interested in helping - im still trying to understand the weird behavior of the circuit described above and how it may be resolved - using 3 wires, etc
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Old 05-06-2010, 01:01 PM   #12
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- im still trying to understand the weird behavior of the circuit described above and how it may be resolved - using 3 wires, etc
The way you have it, the electricity comes into the switch box and goes to the switch first. If the switch is on, the electricity skips the receptacle for the TV and goes right through to the other terminal of the switch, then out to the light fixture, through the light fixture, and to the neutral back to the panel.

If the switch is off, the electricity can't get through the switch so it goes out to your newly wired receptacle and to the TV. From the TV it returns to the new outlet box, returns to the switch box, and gets to the other switch terminal, then over to the light fixture, through the light fixture, then to neutral and back to the panel.

Things do not work correctly when the electricity goes through the TV and also through the light in sequence (in series).

The correct wiring may have the electricity arriving at the switch box and from the first switch terminal has the choice of going through the switch or going out to the new receptacle for the TV. The return (neutral) from the TV must come back the same way so that wire (which must be white) arrives back in the switch box. Except there is no neutral wire to hook it to in order to get the electricity back to the panel without going through the light fixture. You are now stuck.

You would need to string a new 2 conductor cable (hot and neutral) to that box to feed the new receptacle. You would have to find some place with both hot and neutral to hook this new cable to and obtain power. Such a place might be another receptacle in the room, or the light fixture. It would be a cleaner (neater) installation to run the new 2 conductor cable directly from the TV's receptacle to the power source, abandoning the short segment between the TV's receptacle and the switch box we were discussing.

If the circuit is 20 amp (fed by a 20 amp breaker) all wiring has to be at least 12 gauge. For a 15 amp circuit, 14 gauge wire may be used.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 05-06-2010 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 05-06-2010, 02:11 PM   #13
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Allan youre the best !
what a great explanation.
parallel vs serial.
got it
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Old 05-06-2010, 03:12 PM   #14
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We're not saying you shouldn't do it yourself because it's too hard, but because you are missing some basic knowledge that could cause damage, injury or death. We're DIYers, but the competent ones have worked with licensed electricians, ARE licensed electricians, and/or read books written by pros.
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Old 05-06-2010, 03:44 PM   #15
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help ! lights dont work


Where does the raceway that is coming out of the top of the switch go to? The light? If it does go to the light and that is where the switch gets it power supply from that the electrician tapped off of for your tv receptacle, there should be a neutral available there and assuming this raceway is intact you may be able to pull a neutral (a single white wire) from there to solve your problem. If the raceway goes somewhere else other than the light check there to see if the neutral for that circuit exists. From what I see in the pictures the line and load of the switch seem to be going in the same raceway. If that is the case the hot and the neutral should both be present in the junction box of light. It is hard to really tell from these pictures!

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