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Old 12-05-2010, 06:50 PM   #1
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light switch with 2 hot wires


I was replacing a light switch and found it has two hot wires. Actually it looked like this. 3 black wires, one single and two together and pig tailed into one. I seperated all of the wires and found the 2 wires that were pigtailed, one was hot one was not. The single wire was hot. What the is that about???

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Old 12-05-2010, 07:05 PM   #2
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light switch with 2 hot wires


It's a hot feed that is powering something down line also. Possible outlet is picking up its power feed from here.

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Old 12-05-2010, 07:10 PM   #3
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light switch with 2 hot wires


But if a wire that is hot is connected to a wire that is not and pigtailed to one screw on the switch and another hot wire is connected to the other screw, what is the point of having the switch?
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Old 12-05-2010, 07:18 PM   #4
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light switch with 2 hot wires


So what you are saying it the light switch didn't work before you took things apart...
What is this switch expected to control?
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Old 12-05-2010, 07:19 PM   #5
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light switch with 2 hot wires


On your light switch you have 2 black wires pigtailed together and connected to the bottom screw? Using a tester 1 is constant hot and the other is not which is the feeder down line. You have another black wire connected to the top screw of the switch. You tested it and it is a constant hot?
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Old 12-05-2010, 07:21 PM   #6
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light switch with 2 hot wires


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Originally Posted by srmusaf View Post
But if a wire that is hot is connected to a wire that is not and pigtailed to one screw on the switch and another hot wire is connected to the other screw, what is the point of having the switch?
The point is you have power coming in and two powers going out. One power is always on and the other power is controlled by the switch.
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Old 12-06-2010, 01:46 PM   #7
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light switch with 2 hot wires


There are 3 black wires in the switch box that is supposed to control a light fixture. With the switch removed, wire # 1 is constant hot. Wire # 2 is constant hot. Wire # 3 is not hot. Wire # 1 is connected to one of the screws on the switch. Wires # 2 & 3 were wirenutted together with a short piece of wire as a pigtail and the pigtail was connected to the other screw on the switch. I gues I'm confused because this does not seem normal.

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Old 12-06-2010, 01:56 PM   #8
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light switch with 2 hot wires


I'm confused. This does not seem normal to me, either.

I wonder if it is one of those "phantom" power cases, where some voltage testers can show a voltage that would go away if a load is a load is applied. How did you determine that there is a voltage? Non-contact probe?

Are the two conductors (wires 1 and 2) showing a voltage in the same sheath? Is it possible that this is a switch leg from the light fixture, with the load (wire 1) picking up an induced voltage and the actual supply (wire number 2) providing power to downstream devices (wire number 3) as well as the switch?
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Old 12-06-2010, 02:01 PM   #9
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light switch with 2 hot wires


I removed the switch and used a multi meter with contact probes. The black probe, I touched to the Ground. The red probe I contacted to each black wire. The black wire that is not hot, I assumed would be powered to the fixture when the switch was flipped but I can't understand why it would be tied to a wire that is constant hot.
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Old 12-06-2010, 02:10 PM   #10
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light switch with 2 hot wires


What about my question regarding wire grouping. Are wires 1 and 2 in the same sheath?

Based on the posts of some of the pro electricians, I understand that this "phantom" voltage can be seen even by some digital probe-type voltage testers.

How much trouble is it to remove the light fixture and inspect the wiring?
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Old 12-06-2010, 02:34 PM   #11
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light switch with 2 hot wires


All three are in different sheaths. I removed the fixture and my next step is to ohm the wire that I assume is the supply to the light, the non hot wire
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Old 12-06-2010, 05:30 PM   #12
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light switch with 2 hot wires


Different sheaths! There goes my theory!

Other than further investigation to identify where wires come and go (as you are planning), I am out of ideas. Hopefully, this will provide a clue as to your voltage on your load.
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Old 12-06-2010, 05:43 PM   #13
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light switch with 2 hot wires


If it worked before, why did you undo anything?
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Old 12-06-2010, 06:30 PM   #14
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If it worked before, why did you undo anything?
Thats why I was checking it out, it wasn't working.
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Old 12-06-2010, 07:10 PM   #15
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light switch with 2 hot wires


What wasn't working? What doesn't work if you leave all the blacks apart and power up the circuit? What does work if connect all the blacks together and all the whites together?

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