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Old 05-01-2012, 09:41 AM   #1
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Light fixture switch not working - extra wires in box


Greetings!
I'm hoping for some help, I bought a house recently where the laundry room light switch does not work. I found this in the ceiling box:

Two black wires capped off
One white wire capped off
Three white wires going to the fixture
Two black wires going to the fixture

I replaces the switch to rule that out and it still doesn't work.

There is one black and one white wire going to the switch.

Any ideas on how to wire it properly?

Thanks!

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Old 05-01-2012, 12:44 PM   #2
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Light fixture switch not working - extra wires in box


It's unusual for a switch to not work, especially if an inspection was part of the house sale.

You've described an octopus of wiring in the box that's too confusing to diagnose w/out a picture. Only 2 wires would typically go to light fixture, from switch, often a black and a white but it's really the black 'hot' wire with a complete circuit (light lights) or interrupted (light does not light).

Did you look for any wall outlets with GFI reset switches on the coverplate?
Could be red and black or all white, but common in wet areas like bathrooms and laundry rooms. If you see any try to reset (power must be on).

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Old 05-01-2012, 01:13 PM   #3
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Light fixture switch not working - extra wires in box


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Originally Posted by Waterfroggy View Post

There is one black and one white wire going to the switch.

Any ideas on how to wire it properly?

Thanks!
You have a switch loop at the switch. The white conductor should of been taped with black tape or reidentified somehow as a HOT conductor.

Here is a simple version of a switch loop. It is up to you to decipher the wires at the light box unless you can provide more info.
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Old 05-01-2012, 01:29 PM   #4
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Light fixture switch not working - extra wires in box


hammerlane beat me too it but I'll add for OP sake!

OP, you need to determine your switch leg and circuit (power) wires. If the wires are lose in the ceiling box then wire nut the two wires in the switch box together, then check for continuity in the ceiling box in determining which two wires are the switch leg wires.

After you do that, set those apart and clearly mark them. Now it's only a matter of determing which wires in the ceiling box are circuit wires (power). You'll also need to provide more details as to the other wires and/or a picture. Some of those probably just continue on to other fixtures and the two capped ones are most likely dead wires(no longer used).

Now look at hammerlanes simple example. If all the other wires just continue on to provide power to other fixtures then use his example for your multiple wires. Just wire nut all the whites together, in addition to a short white wire that will be used for the light fixture. Now wire nut all the black wires together, in addition to the white wire from the switch leg. The black wire from the switch leg will be the second wire for the light fixture. You should have a black and white wire hanging for light fixture at this point(see example). THIS would be typical but it is up to you to determine exactly what the wires are used for!


Good luck

Last edited by Ralph III; 05-01-2012 at 01:53 PM.
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Old 05-01-2012, 02:07 PM   #5
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Light fixture switch not working - extra wires in box


Wow, thank you all so much! It worked!
That diagram really helped and thanks for the advise on the "extra" wires.

This forum is great and your help is SO appreciated. I'm a woman renovation this entire house with no budget for professional help!

And to the first poster, I bought this house as a foreclosure so no inspection was done...scary!
But so far so good with all your help.

One last question, now I have 4 ground wires, one from the fixture, one from the power supply, one from the wire that goes to the switch, and one from one of the extra wires that are capped together. How would you handle those?

Thanks again!

Waterfroggy
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Old 05-01-2012, 02:31 PM   #6
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Light fixture switch not working - extra wires in box


Quote:
Originally Posted by Waterfroggy View Post
Wow, thank you all so much! It worked!
That diagram really helped and thanks for the advise on the "extra" wires.

This forum is great and your help is SO appreciated. I'm a woman renovation this entire house with no budget for professional help!

And to the first poster, I bought this house as a foreclosure so no inspection was done...scary!
But so far so good with all your help.

One last question, now I have 4 ground wires, one from the fixture, one from the power supply, one from the wire that goes to the switch, and one from one of the extra wires that are capped together. How would you handle those?

Thanks again!

Waterfroggy
Twist all the grounds together and put a wire nut on them.
You should also have a ground wire from the fixture, unless you are using a keyless fixture.
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Old 05-01-2012, 04:05 PM   #7
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Light fixture switch not working - extra wires in box


Yes, just wire nut all the ground wires together. I'd wire nut all the ground wires in the box together in addition to a short piece that can be used to connect to the light fixture ground wire(usually stranded type). It is much better to wire those smaller fixture wires with one solid circuit wire versus several solid circuit wires. A poor bonding could result, if not careful, with the later...

Ralph

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