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Old 06-22-2013, 10:22 PM   #1
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I successfully installed a programmable timer in one junction box, so far. I was able to identify the line vs the load black wire in the box. The load was the wire that was alone. The line had an in wire and a jump wire with a tail that went to the switch which made it easy to identify.

My second box had two wires jammed into one hole of the existing switch instead of reducing them with a tail, and a single wire in the other hole of the switch. Since there are 3 outside lights, one on the porch and 2 aside the garage, I'm not sure which is the load. I assume that the load is still the single wire, but this box is near my front door and I don't see any more lights or plugs, for a jump, except maybe on the other side of the wall in the garage. I have a voltmeter, but I'm not sure what to set it on. I first had it on ohms, then on ACV. I touched the screws on the side of the switch with both ends, but I can't tell what is hot. After I touch the red probe to a screw on the side of the exist switch, do I need to touch the black probe to the whites that are inside the cap or can I touch both probes to a screw on the side of the existing light switch to test each side of the switch?

I have one more box, which I installed another timer switch on with correct wiring. It works, but the timer is too big to fit inside the junction box now and I jammed those wires back as far as possible real good. Someone installed extra pieces of metal at a 45% angle on both the top and bottom of the metal junction box reducing space. Does anyone have an idea why that was done and if I can remove them? They each have a screw in the middle. This box goes to 2 outside lights.


Last edited by NormanML; 06-22-2013 at 10:29 PM.
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Old 06-23-2013, 12:51 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by NormanML View Post
I successfully installed a programmable timer in one junction box, so far. I was able to identify the line vs the load black wire in the box. The load was the wire that was alone. The line had an in wire and a jump wire with a tail that went to the switch which made it easy to identify.

My second box had two wires jammed into one hole of the existing switch instead of reducing them with a tail, and a single wire in the other hole of the switch. Since there are 3 outside lights, one on the porch and 2 aside the garage, I'm not sure which is the load. I assume that the load is still the single wire, but this box is near my front door and I don't see any more lights or plugs, for a jump, except maybe on the other side of the wall in the garage. I have a voltmeter, but I'm not sure what to set it on. I first had it on ohms, then on ACV. I touched the screws on the side of the switch with both ends, but I can't tell what is hot. After I touch the red probe to a screw on the side of the exist switch, do I need to touch the black probe to the whites that are inside the cap or can I touch both probes to a screw on the side of the existing light switch to test each side of the switch?

I have one more box, which I installed another timer switch on with correct wiring. It works, but the timer is too big to fit inside the junction box now and I jammed those wires back as far as possible real good. Someone installed extra pieces of metal at a 45% angle on both the top and bottom of the metal junction box reducing space. Does anyone have an idea why that was done and if I can remove them? They each have a screw in the middle. This box goes to 2 outside lights.
Seriously??
You can NOT remove them . they are not extra pieces of metal. What you are referring to are clamps that hold the incoming wires in place.

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Old 06-23-2013, 02:12 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NormanML View Post
I successfully installed a programmable timer in one junction box, so far. I was able to identify the line vs the load black wire in the box. The load was the wire that was alone. The line had an in wire and a jump wire with a tail that went to the switch which made it easy to identify.

My second box had two wires jammed into one hole
OKAY, do you mean two cables, instead of two wires?

Quote:
... of the existing switch instead of reducing them with a tail, and a single wire in the other hole of the switch.
Quote:
Since there are 3 outside lights, one on the porch and 2 aside the garage, I'm not sure which is the load.
Unless we're talking about 3-way switches, which I don't believe we are, Line and Load terminals aren't relative. If the light wiring aside the garage, as well as the outside lights are controlled by this switch, then we should have at least 3 cables coming into this box. Or, is this a multi-gang box with 2 or more switches mounted?


Quote:
... I assume that the load is still the single wire, but this box is near my front door and I don't see any more lights or plugs, for a jump, except maybe on the other side of the wall in the garage.
Quote:
I have a voltmeter, but I'm not sure what to set it on.
Sigh! Do NOT use the voltmeter on Resistance (Ohms) if there is voltage to the wires, or you will burn up the meter.

Quote:
I first had it on ohms, then on ACV. I touched the screws on the side of the switch with both ends, but I can't tell what is hot.


Quote:
After I touch the red probe to a screw on the side of the exist switch, do I need to touch the black probe to the whites that are inside the cap or can I touch both probes to a screw on the side of the existing light switch to test each side of the switch?
Do this, if there is more than one cable entering the box, one of those cables should contain a neutral white, and a hot black. Set the meter to AC 120+ (or whatever setting gets you between 120 and 240). There you should find the feed. The other cable will be going to whatever device (light) it serves.

Report back after you've visually and electrically tested the wires.


I have one more box, which I installed another timer switch on with correct wiring. It works, but the timer is too big to fit inside the junction box now and I jammed those wires back as far as possible real good. Someone installed extra pieces of metal at a 45% angle on both the top and bottom of the metal junction box reducing space. Does anyone have an idea why that was done and if I can remove them? They each have a screw in the middle. This box goes to 2 outside lights.[/QUOTE]

Remove the box, replace with a new "Old/Remodel Box". The plastic Blue Carlons are nice for this.
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Old 06-23-2013, 10:27 AM   #4
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SUBLIME2 – Please don’t be sarcastic. Electrical work is something I always left to an electrician, but I’m broke right now and it is $100 just for travel time to my place. If the two extra pieces of metal are so important, for holding the cables, thenwhy don’t the other junction boxes have them?

SIRSPARKSALOT – The 1st box correctly done, had 3 cables, 2 adjacent on the left and one on the right. The 3 whites were nutted together (from each of the spliced cables) and two blacks, into one pigtail were together and one black (load) by itself. I hooked the tail to my black, the other black to my blue load and a added my 4th white into the bundle with a bigger nut. This light has been working perfect for a week.

The box with two black wires going into the light switch is a multi-gang box, where two switches operate different lights. All whites appear to be together. The switch that goes to the outside has one black wire to one side and 2 black wires going to the other side, one into the hole on the back and the other is attached to the adjacent screw on the same side. All whites in the box appear to be together, at least 4, maybe 5. I will have to turn off the electricity on this one just to see if there are 4 or 5, because when I move them, they spark. It looks as though whoever installed it put a nut on the whites that is too small. I would like to put the whites in two different caps, since I have another white on my timer.

I would prefer to install another metal box, rather than the plastic remodel ones that depend on sheetrock to hold them. The problem I see is removing the existing. The nail on the side will be difficult to remove and I actually just got through pounding it down to attemp to get my timer in, since it was protruding slightly. I will end up digging with a tiny flat bar to get that box out. They also installed this box really crocked. This is why I asked about removing the extra pieces. Why would they be necessary in only one box?

Thanks guys for your time

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Old 06-23-2013, 10:36 AM   #5
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SUBLIME2 Ė Please donít be sarcastic. Electrical work is something I always left to an electrician, but Iím broke right now and it is $100 just for travel time to my place. If the two extra pieces of metal are so important, for holding the cables, thenwhy donít the other junction boxes have them?
Those cable clamps are very likely the ground connection. There are other ways to secure the ground connection based on the type of box/connector used.
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Old 06-23-2013, 10:42 AM   #6
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Some of the older box styles had a chamfered back. I suspect you might be dealing with one of them.
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Old 06-23-2013, 04:17 PM   #7
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Any unused cable clamps and their corresponding screws can be safely removed.

I find them all the time, and routinely remove the unused ones.

Just check to ensure that the clamp screws are not being used as a grounding connection before discarding them.
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Old 06-23-2013, 04:39 PM   #8
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Extra wiring capacity is always a good thing.
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Old 06-23-2013, 06:08 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone for your responses.
KBSparky - It does not appear that the ground wires are connected to the screws in either the top or the bottom 45 degree plates. There is a grounding on the bottom of the metal box as well.

I have successfully installed the timer in the larger double box. Whoever wired it before left a nut loose. This box had 4 cables, one cable is the load and white to inside lights and another to outside lights. Two line wires with one to each of the existing switches - and another wire connecting the two switches. All 4 whites are nutted together. The connector and the line reduced into one into the inside light switch and the other end of the connector and other line wire went to the outside light switch - one sticking in the hole on the back of the switch and the other on the adjacent nut. It works. I'm surprised that this box was plastic and the other one was metal. One would think they would all be the same.

So now my final issue is whether I should remove those 1 1/2 inch plates with screws in the center which are installed at a 45 degree from both the top and the bottom of my third box. I hate to start and find out they are a patch of some kind because they ruined the box. Whoever did the work on this house, back in the late 70's was a butcher. It had twisted framing which prevented floor molding from being installed. The contractor said it was his first house.

Last edited by NormanML; 06-23-2013 at 06:22 PM.
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Old 06-23-2013, 07:08 PM   #10
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Those are not for ground wires. Those clamp the cables in place. If the cables are metallic, you have removed the grounding for the circuit.

A picture would clear this up.
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Old 06-23-2013, 10:47 PM   #11
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Hopefully, only unused clamps would be removed. I would never suggest removing clamps that were in use.
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Old 06-24-2013, 12:25 AM   #12
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The cables look just like the cables in the other boxes. White with black and white wires inside. I do have photos of the box. Can I upload being a new member and how do you do that?

I don't know what metallic wires are used for. There is a plug outside though that has heavy duty covers for the weather. I don't think it has anything to do with the light switch although it is on the wall. Most likely they went through the wall from another plug cable and are on a different circuit.

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