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Old 03-02-2009, 10:37 AM   #1
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Need help changing a light fixture/switch


I have changed a couple light fixtures, and I was doing another one when I came across something different. My previous ones were straight forward. I disconnected the old light and reconnected white to white and black to black.

When I took down this light the white pulled right out of whatever it was in. (I'm assuming it was in with the two whites pictured below, but I can't be sure as it came out when I lowered the light.) My question is why are there two white wires in this box, and do I just connect the white from my new light to both of these to put up my new light?




Also, I want to replace this light's switch as well, but again when I took the old one out I didn't find what I expected. Again, there were three wires. The top black was connected to the top screw of the old switch and the red and black were connected to the bottom screw. Do I just reconnect similarly? I ask because when I bought the house the inspector said some of the outlets were wired backwards, or something along those lines, so I don't have a ton of confidence in the "old" configurations.



Any guidance, or explanation of why I have more wires than I was expecting would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Seth

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Old 03-02-2009, 10:48 AM   #2
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Need help changing a light fixture/switch


Hi Seth, You got it! Just connect the light fixture "white" to both of the "whites" in the ceiling junction box. Also, reconnect the switch the same way again but if you have room try to "pigtail" the two - splice on one wire with a wirenut and then just connect the one wire to the switch. Same with the white wires in the light fixture junction box - this will prevent losing your circuit down stream as probably happened.

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Old 03-02-2009, 10:52 AM   #3
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Need help changing a light fixture/switch


I wouldn't connect the red wire to your switch since you're not using it, just cap it off in the switch box as it is in the ceiling box.

If you decide to hang a ceiling fan w/light, then you can use the red.
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Old 03-02-2009, 10:53 AM   #4
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Need help changing a light fixture/switch


To expand on why there are more wires in that box than the other junction boxes is that it what used for a...junction box. They decide to use a 3 wire up to the light fixture then extend that run more than likely to a receptacle. Although, it is possible that the power is run to the light first then back to the switch and then the circuit was extended. Nothing to worry about.
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Old 03-02-2009, 10:55 AM   #5
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Need help changing a light fixture/switch


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Originally Posted by wirenut1110 View Post
I wouldn't connect the red wire to your switch since you're not using it, just cap it off in the switch box as it is in the ceiling box.

If you decide to hang a ceiling fan w/light, then you can use the red.
Hey wirenut....look a little closer at the picture, hard to see but the red is connected to a black.
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Old 03-02-2009, 11:35 AM   #6
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Need help changing a light fixture/switch


Quote:
Originally Posted by unclduey View Post
Hey wirenut....look a little closer at the picture, hard to see but the red is connected to a black.
I agree. The red is connected to a black in the box.
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Old 03-02-2009, 11:39 AM   #7
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Need help changing a light fixture/switch


I see now, i thought it was just capped off. Good eye
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Old 03-02-2009, 11:40 AM   #8
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Gah!

There are several ways it may have been configured originally.

Just put it back like it was.

Tie whites together in the ceiling JB.

2) Tie the red/black together at the switch with a pigtail (this is the preferred method) or plug one into the back and wrap the other under the terminal.
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Old 03-02-2009, 11:43 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wirenut1110 View Post
I wouldn't connect the red wire to your switch since you're not using it, just cap it off in the switch box as it is in the ceiling box.

If you decide to hang a ceiling fan w/light, then you can use the red.
EDIT: I was just asking about the same thing someone pointed out about the red/black in the ceiling box.
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Old 03-02-2009, 11:44 AM   #10
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Read the other posts and disregard what I said.
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Old 03-02-2009, 11:48 AM   #11
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Thanks for the help everybody...
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Old 03-02-2009, 09:53 PM   #12
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Need help changing a light fixture/switch


Well, I've got a bit of an issue...

I hooked things back up. I put up my new light fixture, and I actually put the old switch back in, as I need to buy some wire to do a propper pigtail for the switch.

As it turns out, other lights, etc on this circuit are now dependant on this switch. I reversed the switch connections (I had black on the top of the switch and black/red on the bottom, and vice versa.), but that seemed to have no effect. So, the problem must be with the light fixture, right? I don't know what could be wrong with that, though. I tied the two white wires in the ceiling box to the white of the light, and the black to black. Again, the only thing I wasn't able to know was where the white of the previous light was connected, as it apparently pulled loose as I lowered the old fixture. Is it possible it was not tied to the two whites pictured, but something else instead?
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Old 03-02-2009, 11:43 PM   #13
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Need help changing a light fixture/switch


You are saying when you turn off the switch, other items turn off also? If so, you accidently pigtailed the wrong 2 wires together. Your switch box has a power in and a power out and a switch leg to the light which acccording to the photo of your light box is a black wire. You need to test which of the 2 black wires in your light switch jbox has power. Tie that one to the red with a pigtail.

Your switch wiring is not a typical config as we - electricians - would use the red as a switch leg and pigtail the blacks for switch power. But this is another issue.

Last edited by unclduey; 03-02-2009 at 11:46 PM. Reason: sp
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Old 03-06-2009, 09:14 AM   #14
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Need help changing a light fixture/switch


Can you actually have both the red and black wires on the same screw terminal? I could only guess that this would make a poor connection and possibly dangerous situation and may be the cause of your issue.
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Old 03-08-2009, 10:17 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by n0c7 View Post
Can you actually have both the red and black wires on the same screw terminal? I could only guess that this would make a poor connection and possibly dangerous situation and may be the cause of your issue.
Well, I pigtailed them, instead of reconnecting them like they were. However, you may be correct, because I added the pigtail in a different configuration, since the direct connection wasn't working. That didn't work, so I tried the thired possible configuration and that didn't work. I went back to the original and it worked this time. I was thoroughly confused, and thought I was losing my mind as I was positive the final working setup (plus pigtail) was the same as my first attempt (without pigtail).

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