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Old 02-14-2012, 01:34 PM   #1
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New Light Fixture to Existing Ceiling Box


Hello,

I am trying to install a new light fixture to an existing ceiling box. The box was not in use prior. The ceiling box contains typical white/black/exposed copper ground wiring. However, the only possible switch that could be used to control this fixture contains only a red/black/ground wire set, and is a standard pole switch. When I install the fixture, the light works, but the switch (or any other switch) doesn't turn it off. I replaced the switch thinking it might be the culprit, but the problem persists. The house is relatively new (2007). Would it be possible the builder installed the ceiling box solely as a hot line for a ceiling fan with its own power control and not have wired it to the switch? From what I can tell that empty switch doesn't control any outlets either.

Thanks for any help.
Tim

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Old 02-14-2012, 02:26 PM   #2
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can you post a pic of the switch with all it's wires?

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Old 02-14-2012, 02:39 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by timonga78 View Post
Hello,
From what I can tell that empty switch doesn't control any outlets either.

Tim
From what you can tell? Did you test every receptacle in the room (both sides of the duplex receptacle) with the switch off and switch on. Do that and let us know what you find out.

Also, yeah post some pics because the wiring you have told us about doesn't make a whole lot us sense (i.e. only black and red conductors at switch).
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Old 02-14-2012, 02:40 PM   #4
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Also, what room of the house is it in?
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Old 02-14-2012, 03:14 PM   #5
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If I am understanding this correctly, you may have had the problem I faced in my moms old house when I was installing a ceiling fan that was an unfinished project from the previous homeowner. The junction box that we tapped into wasn't running from the switch, but somewhere else. What we did was toggle the switch and look for the power to toggle on and off, before we ran the rest of the run to make sure.
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Old 02-15-2012, 11:23 AM   #6
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This is the bedroom. Pictures are linked below. All outlets in the room are hot regardless of the switch position.

In the pics, you will see two switches. Left one has two black wires going to it, and it works fine to control a separate light fixture in the closet. The switch on the right is the issue. Both black and red wires are hot when I test them with the other lead on the ground wire. There also seems to be a pigtail with two white wires capped off but not leading anywhere.

So of the three wire sets coming in to the box, two have a black and a white and one has a black and a red.

Thanks.

http://tinyurl.com/7x39a4r
http://tinyurl.com/7rqw46m
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Old 02-15-2012, 11:31 AM   #7
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Check both sides of every outlet.
It's possible one side will be hot and the other side is switched.
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Old 02-15-2012, 11:39 AM   #8
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Sorry Joe that I didn't specify, but I did test both sides of every recepticle per Hawkeye's reply above. They are all hot all the time.

Thx
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Old 02-15-2012, 12:03 PM   #9
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Well, from the pictures and explanation, I'm unsure as to what it could be controlling. As you said, the receptacles aren't affected (and since there is no 14/3 in that switch box, it doesn't look as if it was intended to be a switched outlet(s)). The only remaining 14/2 wire in that switch box are red/black and the wire you have at the fixture is black/white. So unless there is a hidden jb in the ceiling (which is doubtful), I'm not sure what could be happening.

On a second look at the pictures, it appears as if the black attached to the switch is coming off the black bundle (which is the power feed). If that's the case, where does the black from the black/red wire go to? Can you check this please?

Also, you said that when you tested the red and black to ground, they were both live. Please test them again, once with the switch on, and once with the switch off and tell us the results.
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Old 02-15-2012, 12:06 PM   #10
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Are you sure that that red/black wire is not a 14/3? Looking at the pictures again, I can vaguely see a 3rd white conductor...
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Old 02-15-2012, 12:10 PM   #11
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Yeah, upon even further review, it definitely is a 14/3 wire in the middle. Therefore, it is intended to control a switched receptacle(s) in the room somewhere. However, if all receptacles are always live (even when switched off) as you say, then the red wire is probably capped off in the nearest receptacle. Take off the nearest receptacle and try to confirm this (if there's no red wire capped off in the back of the box, try he next receptacle until you find it).
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Old 02-15-2012, 12:16 PM   #12
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Thanks Hawkeye. So the black is 120v switch on or off. The red is 120 when switch is on, but 52 when the switch is off. I will try to work on a diagram today to better explain but:
Three bundles, from left to right, B1 has black/white, B2 has red/black, B3 has white/black. Pigtail P1 is the black wire from B2 and the black wire from B3. P2 has the white wire from B1 and white wire from B3. Switch S1 has black wire direct from B1 and black wire from P1. Switch S2 has red from B2 and black from P1.
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Old 02-15-2012, 12:21 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by timonga78 View Post
Thanks Hawkeye. So the black is 120v switch on or off. The red is 120 when switch is on, but 52 when the switch is off. I will try to work on a diagram today to better explain but:
Three bundles, from left to right, B1 has black/white, B2 has red/black, B3 has white/black. Pigtail P1 is the black wire from B2 and the black wire from B3. P2 has the white wire from B1 and white wire from B3. Switch S1 has black wire direct from B1 and black wire from P1. Switch S2 has red from B2 and black from P1.
Look closer. I can tell from the picture that the middle wire is a 14/3 with a white wire going into the white bundle. Please look and verify this.
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Old 02-15-2012, 02:14 PM   #14
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You are correct on both counts. There is a white wire coming out of the center bundle capped with the other two. And there is a red capped wire in an outlet box on the other side of the room.

So is there any way I can rewire this switch to control the overhead ceiling box or is that just always hot?

Thanks,
Tim
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Old 02-15-2012, 02:25 PM   #15
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You are correct on both counts. There is a white wire coming out of the center bundle capped with the other two. And there is a red capped wire in an outlet box on the other side of the room.

So is there any way I can rewire this switch to control the overhead ceiling box or is that just always hot?
Unfortunately, it appears as though you will need a wire run from the ceiling box to the switch box (since it appears as if this ceiling box has no switch and was apparently wired to provide constant power).

So, if you feel comfortable doing it yourself, it looks like you'll need to run a small piece of 14/2 between the ceiling box and the switch box.

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