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Old 11-24-2012, 05:51 AM   #1
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Light switch


Hi , sure this probably stupid , but .... Ok my home is 75 yrs old , my dining room light switch stopped working. Checked the light bulbs etc etc , then bought new switch. Old switch was ceramic and had no markings , kinda guessed on which wire was which on new switch. Turned power back on , no sparks or anything but no power either. Figured issue must be with the light fixture. Bought new fixture , installed it , breaker back on , and light lit up YAY (btw - old fixture did NOT light up even with new bulbs so some of the issue was there ) --- wall switch does nothing. Swapped wires on switch , still nothing. Any ideas??Oh , sorry , the wires in the wall and ceiling , black and gray , no red, white, green nothing like that. In ceiling i hooked up new fixture exactly like old - 2 black plus 1 new from fixture , 2 gray plus i new from fixture , 1 gray attached to nothing. In the wall , same 2 black connected to 1 single wire to switch , 2 gray connected to single wire to switch , no single gray wire present in wall. PLEASE HELP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Last edited by Dragontech; 11-24-2012 at 06:01 AM.
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Old 11-24-2012, 06:21 AM   #2
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Can you post pics?

Do you still have the old switch?

Do you have a voltmeter? (I think your going to need one)

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Old 11-24-2012, 06:23 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Dragontech View Post
Hi , sure this probably stupid , but .... Ok my home is 75 yrs old , my dining room light switch stopped working. Checked the light bulbs etc etc , then bought new switch. Old switch was ceramic and had no markings , kinda guessed on which wire was which on new switch. Turned power back on , no sparks or anything but no power either. Figured issue must be with the light fixture. Bought new fixture , installed it , breaker back on , and light lit up YAY (btw - old fixture did NOT light up even with new bulbs so some of the issue was there ) --- wall switch does nothing. Swapped wires on switch , still nothing. Any ideas??
Depending on how many lines coming from the wall into the electric box unto the switch could be there? If one line(wire) coming into the box connected to the switch..2) recheck ur electric wire in the ceiling, you have a open neutral(which is now your hot) coming into the wall from the ceiling box thats not connected to the main hot coming from the service panel into your ceiling box.

3) If you have two wires coming into the wall box unto the switch.. remembering how you took the wires off the old switch is a start..(troubleshooting which wire is your hot.. then your switch leg is another issue for they had no markings). Ohm the wires out is the first step to figuring which wire is what.

4) Making sure the one black wire(your hot) is tied unto one side on the switch screw.. and the other black wire which would be labeled as your switch leg is tied unto the other screw on your switch---but not on ground screw, either wire.

5) then understanding which wire is your neutrals(white wires), tying(twisting) them together, securing them in a wire nut. tying both copper ground wires together(crimping them) with a piece available to place on the green ground screw.

6) Now retesting the light- turning the breaker back on.

It should regain its power thru the switch(depending on witch scenario it is).

Last edited by JuzRick; 11-24-2012 at 06:29 AM.
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Old 11-24-2012, 10:47 AM   #4
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How many wires on the old switch? If there was only two then you can't get wrong. Two wires, trwo screws on switch, just connect it and it will work. It dos not matter if you swap the wires.
The problem is likely in the fixture. Tell us what you did with the fixture connections.
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Old 11-24-2012, 11:45 PM   #5
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Ok , the old switch was ceramic and in pieces , so no I do not have it.
As for how many wires , only 2 connected to switch , but in the wall box there are 4 - 2 black - 2 gray - the black are twisted together and hooked to switch and the gray are twisted together and hooked to switch just like the old switch. I did NOT untwist them or change them at all , just off old switch on to new switch. There is NO ground wire at all .
As to the fixture , again , I unhooked one set and hooked it to new fixture , then unkooked 2n'd set and hooked it to new fixture , no uintwisting or changing configuration , off 1 onto the other.
This wall switch stopped working 2 yrs ago ( yeah I know) , but the old fixture should still have lit like this one did when changed as wires and all are the same , only difference is the fixture being new and the switch still not working. I have no digital cam so no pics , sorry , will try to find one and post if i can , oh , and no i do not have a meter.
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Old 11-25-2012, 05:44 AM   #6
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It sounds as if you could possibly have had a short/arching in the old switch for it to have stop operating. Using the steps as i suggested could resolved the problem..upon the scenario of it..if its what it sounds to being in question.
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Old 11-25-2012, 05:57 AM   #7
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I knowtheres power going through because the light actually works , just can't turn it off lol , is it possible I killed the new switch?? Wouldn't that stp the power from going to the light ??
I'm lost !!!
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Old 11-25-2012, 06:17 AM   #8
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Im truly believing somewhere the wires have been reversed in the ceiling box..from what your writing. I would truly reexamine that factor..for u do have power coming into the light itself only vs switch included. POSSIBLY::: the one/or both wires coming out of the wall very well could have short out for u not having power feeding into the wall powering the wall switch. KNOWING how to ohm it out would greatly help.
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Old 11-25-2012, 06:38 AM   #9
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Ok , the old switch was ceramic and in pieces , so no I do not have it.
As for how many wires , only 2 connected to switch , but in the wall box there are 4 - 2 black - 2 gray - the black are twisted together and hooked to switch and the gray are twisted together and hooked to switch just like the old switch. I did NOT untwist them or change them at all , just off old switch on to new switch. There is NO ground wire at all .
As to the fixture , again , I unhooked one set and hooked it to new fixture , then unkooked 2n'd set and hooked it to new fixture , no uintwisting or changing configuration , off 1 onto the other.
This wall switch stopped working 2 yrs ago ( yeah I know) , but the old fixture should still have lit like this one did when changed as wires and all are the same , only difference is the fixture being new and the switch still not working. I have no digital cam so no pics , sorry , will try to find one and post if i can , oh , and no i do not have a meter.

Ok. i took the liberty to reexamining your last reply. you stated you had 4 conductors(wires) alone coming out the wall attached to the switch. blacks tied together, then hooked to the switch. 2nd: 2 grays(as we will label commonly your neutrals "white"). A LITTLE TROUBLESOOTING- TERMINATE ALL POWER TO THE ROOM. STEP 1: Take the two black wires untwist them two.. separate them. 2) put them both on one individual screws by itself on the switch(except the ground screw). STEP 2: the two gray wires(neutrals).. we will call for now. twist them together.. secure in a wire not. TURN POWER BACK ON... see what you have now?

RE: It sounds as if the old switch possibly could have been tampered with before(trying to be fixed).. maybe without your knowledge of it. For how you describe the wiring format into the switch on the wall. You have 1st wire- a hot/neutral and 2nd wire- black/neutral.. what some classify here in terminology, calling a switch leg.

Last edited by JuzRick; 11-25-2012 at 06:54 AM.
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Old 11-25-2012, 06:52 AM   #10
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Ok , will try the wires as you suggest in the wall , wish me luck . I hope your right but i will be forever confused as they are exactly as they were when i bought the place in 2000 , I didn't change them when i changed the switch , but I'll try anything at this point . Thank you .
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Old 11-25-2012, 07:04 AM   #11
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Ok , will try the wires as you suggest in the wall , wish me luck . I hope your right but i will be forever confused as they are exactly as they were when i bought the place in 2000 , I didn't change them when i changed the switch , but I'll try anything at this point . Thank you .

Dragon: I was in the process of editing the last response of mines to you; with saying: RE: It sounds as if the old switch possibly could have been tampered with before(trying to be fixed).. maybe without your knowledge of it. For how you describe the wiring format into the switch on the wall. You have 1st wire- a hot/neutral and 2nd wire- black/neutral.. what some classify here in terminology, calling a switch leg.

In your turn reply back to me.. you mentioning thats how it was when you bought the place in 2000. IF CORRECT after you perform task, the switch should work again...


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Old 11-25-2012, 07:15 AM   #12
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Dragon: I was in the process of editing the last response of mines to you; with saying: RE: It sounds as if the old switch possibly could have been tampered with before(trying to be fixed).. maybe without your knowledge of it. For how you describe the wiring format into the switch on the wall. You have 1st wire- a hot/neutral and 2nd wire- black/neutral.. what some classify here in terminology, calling a switch leg.

In your turn reply back to me.. you mentioning thats how it was when you bought the place in 2000. IF CORRECT after you perform task, the switch should work again...


IF that doesn't work.. that means whomever operated on the switch at first before you purchase the property. It could be the fact there's no main hot feed coming from the switch to the light- Or you have no switch leg. Which means.... you will have to call a electrician there to come and find the missing line/or install a line where you can get power unto the switch.
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Old 11-25-2012, 08:41 AM   #13
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Last edited by jlmran; 11-25-2012 at 08:44 AM.
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Old 11-25-2012, 09:24 AM   #14
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The insulation on old wiring could have cracked causing two wires to touch and result in the light now being on all the time.

When you installed the new light fixture, did you use the same two wires that went to the old light fixture and change nothing else?
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Old 11-25-2012, 09:33 AM   #15
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The insulation on old wiring could have cracked causing two wires to touch and result in the light now being on all the time.

When you installed the new light fixture, did you use the same two wires that went to the old light fixture and change nothing else?
Allen::: I hear you on that note too. Still the switch would cause the breaker to trip being if line still got power contracting thru it from the switch end. I've ran into that problem as i believe your speaking.. as if i comprehend correctly what your suggesting before.

AGAIN... that is a good theory of a possibility!

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