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blthomas 01-20-2008 07:26 PM

Moved ceiling light in bedroom to center, now trips breaker
In my oldest daughters basement bedroom, she has one over head light.

We swapped in a nice unit when we first moved in. About 6 months ago, I installed drop ceiling, but left out the center panel, this was where the light was, but it needed to move 1 foot or so to be right in the center.

I killed the breaker, dropped the fixture, took out the old ceiling box.

I then nailed (using the blue plastic ceiling boxes) a new one to the face of the joist after measuring up for center.

I had to extend the wiring about 1 foot more, since the wiring from the switch wouldn't make it.

I used 12-2 that I had, and extended it to the new box. At the splice, I nailed up a second blue ceiling box to the side of the joist, and wire nutted the two together.

Back to the fixture side, I ran the wiring into the box, hooked up the feed for the light, (just like before), and nutted it all together.

Black to black, white to white, ground to ground with the ground wire attached to the metal cross bar in the fixture in the ground to ground bundle.

This is how it was when I wired it up last time.

I pushed the wies up into the box, gently folding them, and using the center threaded rod, re-attached the light to the bracket.

I'll skip over my intense measuring of the ceiling tile and the cutting I did. :laughing:

Needless to say, I turned on the switch, went back to the circuit panel, flipped it over and it promptly tripped.

So I turn it back off, go back into the bedroom, and re-do everything I just wrote above.

I was thinking I would find a bit of wire exposed somewhere, but I never did, none of the wires were crossed either.

So I re do everything, turn the switch on, go back to the breaker, flip it, and it trips again.

Now what the heck did I do?

All I wanted was to center her light and get her ceiling finished so she didn't have that one tile missing. What I thought would be a 30-45 minute job tops, turned into a frustrating 2 hours with no light in there now.

What can I do here?

Many thanks,


HouseHelper 01-20-2008 07:33 PM

How many wires were in the original fixture box?

blthomas 01-20-2008 07:42 PM

The same thing as now, the black/white/ground from the hot end, and the same thing from the switch.

Light only has black/white, and the ground is attached to the cross bracket that mounts to the ceiling box.

In reality, it hooked up same as it was, just a foot farther to the center of the room.

gregzoll 01-20-2008 09:14 PM

Either short to ground (ie Bare copper is touching one of the screws, or the fixture is defective), or you put a nail into the Romex. Easy way to check is to take down the fixture, wire nut the ends and see if the breaker trips. If it still does, check for a nail through wire, or short.

Now as for the Splice, did you run from the old box to the new, and make sure to leave the tabs on the inside of the Blue workbox to hold the outer sheathing of the wire in place? Also, when you covered the old box with a plate (either plastic, or can be metal), you made sure to tighten the wirenuts, and tape the ends to keep them from working loose.

It is the simple things that can cause the most headaches.

HouseHelper 01-20-2008 09:21 PM

It is possible that in the original box you connected the hot to the white neutral instead of connecting the hot to the switch loop white. Check your wiring there.

blthomas 01-20-2008 09:32 PM

You know what, maybe I'm misunderstanding, but we had to put that switch in when we built the room.

My F-I-L wired the new switch in, and even though I swapped the fixtures before, it's been a while.

I only know enough about electric to feel comfortable doing a very occasional fan or light.

Maybe that's where I messed up, I have something done wrong in my haste to get her room done before she returns from her grand parents.

I'll check the wiring as you mentioned for the switch loop, and pull the fixture and wire nut the ends too as gregzoll said.

It's got to be something simple.

Thanks guys, check it tomorrow when I get home.


gregzoll 01-20-2008 09:40 PM

Also, if the power does not come from the panel to the switch to the light, it could be up in the original light box, and from there the switch is in Serial between power and light (not a bad thing, but can cause headaches). That is why in the Navy we alway labeled wires on the ends so that when you went to the Junction box and had 10 circuits, you new which one was which.

blthomas 01-21-2008 05:52 PM

OK, just got home.

Pulled the fixture, nutted the other stuff back together.

Tripped the breaker when I flipped the switch.

The wall switch has black at the "ON" side, white at the "OFF" side.

Going to go check the other stuff, see if I poked a nail through something.

Be right back.

gregzoll 01-21-2008 06:07 PM

So, I take it the switch is in series. That means at the old fixture you screwed up the jumper. I am gathering that, due to you did not mention if there are two pieces of Romex in the Switch box.

220/221 01-21-2008 06:14 PM

Damn...server is sloooooow today.

The wall switch has black at the "ON" side, white at the "OFF" side.

Suicide switch. White is HOT,(generally coming from the fixture jbox) black is switch leg (going to fixture) You have tied white together somwhere that you weren't supposed to.

In your OP it sounded like you had only 1 cable (2 wires) at the light box?
It sounds to me like you have 2 cables (4 wires.)

Going to go check the other stuff, see if I poked a nail through something.'s not a nail.

AllanJ 01-21-2008 08:55 PM

You are sure you did nothing to any of the other wires beside the two wires (and the bare ground) that connected to the old fixture?

And you added the extra piece of 12-2 to the two loose wires that came off the old fixture and matched up the black and white colors all the way to the new fixture?

Stubbie 01-21-2008 09:39 PM

1 Attachment(s)

Same thing as now black/white/ground from the hot end and same thing from the switch.
BTW what do you mean on side and off side of the switch??

Unless I'm misunderstanding this is what you should have.......

AllanJ 01-22-2008 11:01 AM

For an ordinary (two screw non-three way) switch the "on side" and the "off side" (or the "top side" and the "bottom side") make no difference and the wires could be freely interchanged.

And when you folded the wires back into the box, your'e sure a wire did not get scraped by the metal cross bar?

Stubbie 01-22-2008 11:23 AM


I agree if all he did was add this short extension and the breaker trips when he switches the light ' on ' he has to have a short to the switched hot somewhere or he connected the wires incorrectly in the switch loop. That's why I was asking about the on and off thing. Maybe in some way if he thinks it makes a difference as to the on and off connections at the switch it is causing him to make a connection error with the switch loop wires, I'm just not sure how he would do that even thinking that way but at this point anything seems possible.

blthomas 01-24-2008 11:06 AM

Thanks all for your input.

Sorry for the delay, I decided to knock the laptop onto the floor for the hell of it. (sighs) Laptop now is working intermittantly.

My terminology was all wrong, and that surely didn't make this easier for you guys to diagnose.

Where I was going wrong, was I had switched power coming off the white instead of the black (should have marked the white black to ease my confusion and essentially it would have been all black that I was splitting with the switch),

tied into the other nuetrals. I kept making the same dumb mistake over and over.

I think I typed that all out correctly.

Anyway, thanks very much for the repsonses and help.

I think my tired mind was too feeble for the simplicity of this. :)

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