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Old 02-08-2011, 10:28 PM   #1
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Light will now switch off

I am having a weird problem, I have external security light which used to be controlled by a switch. Over the weekend I noticed that the light was constantly on so I tried to turn it off from the switch and it would not turn off, I had to shut the breaker off. I thought the switch was bad, I changed the switch and the problem still remains the light turns on at dusk. The only way for me to switch it off is to switch off the breaker. I am not worried about the security light and its settings I am more worried about not being able to control it from inside of house.

Is it possible that I have a short somewhere or the light outside is wired directly to hot wire? I think I am sure that I was told to use the switch to control the light. This was put in place about 8 months back as part of a major addition. I tried calling the GC who did the work but he is not responding.

One more thing, the switch I replaced had 2 black wires and a normal ground connected to switch, I did not see white wire. Also the circuit has other external lights and lights (hi hats) to my den so when I turn the main breaker off, I loose other lights and lights in my den which is kind of pain.

Any suggestion on what should I look at to identify the problem? or the electrician who did the work just hard wired the light to hot line and did not give me ability to control and I just noticed it due to issue with the fixture, is it legal by the code? I am in Princeton, NJ.

Thanks, any help is greatly appreciated.


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Old 02-09-2011, 06:49 AM   #2
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Are you sure this switch was to control this light?

Turn the breaker off, remove the switch completely, leave the wire ends pointing out, and turn the breaker back on. (Don't take apart anything else in the box before labeling the wires including the two that went to the switch)

Alternatively the switch is defective or you made a mistake installing it.

Check to be sure that bare wires are not touching each other. When you look directly at the side of a wire nut (not used for ground wires), you should not see bare wire going into it; if you do you will need to wrap at least three layers of electrical tap around it.


The good conscientious technician or serviceperson will carry extra oils and lubricants in case the new pump did not come with oil or the oil was accidentally spilled, so the service call can be completed without an extra visit.

Last edited by AllanJ; 02-09-2011 at 06:59 AM.
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Old 02-09-2011, 07:20 AM   #3
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Well the first thing is are you sure that that is the switch to that light?
to test that turn off the breaker and the switch.
unscrew the switch from the wall, test both wires to see if there is power to either one, if the correct breaker is off you will not have any power.
Now have someone else turn the breaker on and test the 2 wires going to the switch, one is the feed in and should now have power, the other is the feed out and should not have power.
If you have power on both wires with the switch off the switch is bad.

Turn the power back off and remove one wire from the switch, turn the power on. Check the light, if it is on then that is not the switch for that light.
They may have wire it hot , but not likely, the switch may be some where else.

A single pole switch will only have 2 wires power in and power out, the switch just stops the hot leg,(black normally) the neutral (white) is spliced together in the box and does not run thru the switch.
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Old 02-10-2011, 11:59 AM   #4
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Now a different problem, I don't know switch controls what

AllanJ/CharlieO, Thanks for your help.

I did as recommended, the switch I thought controls the outside is not the switch. I found the correct switch, what they have done is I have 2 outdoor motion lights both are controlled from the same switch. I was able to verify the same from my architecture drawings.

But now, the switch I thought controls the light outside light is live and I have no idea what it is used for. This switch is on the same lights as in the kitchen area and switch is working fine as when in the off position I only get live feed from one wire (bottom black) and when I turn the witch on I get the live feed from both wires. Now I have no idea what this switch is used for, I tested all wall outlets to see if the switch is controlling any one of them and it does not.

I checked the architecture drawings as per the drawing the box should have 2 switches and I have 3, the third one I have no idea what is it used for. I even tested outside outlets to see if it controlled any one of them and no luck.

How do I find out what this is used for?
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