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Old 12-02-2009, 03:55 PM   #1
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Old house, having light fixture issues


First real post here, so please excuse my lack of knowledge! We just bought our first house, and it's a 1955 ranch. It was a foreclosure, so we don't know much about when and how well most of the renovations were done but the electrical system seems to be OK. It's certainly not brand new, and probably not quite to code, but overall seems fine. I have gone through myself (yes, as a 26 year old woman...) and replaced three of the light fixtures in the house. I'm having two problems:

1. The ceiling fan in the living room was apparently operated only by the pull chain, and now that we put in an IKEA light fixture, the wall switch doesn't operate it. We are having to use the circuit breaker to turn it off and on... What do I do to get the switch to link up with the light fixture? There is definitely a switch that would be in the proper location and doesn't seem to operate anything else.
2. The hall light has not worked since we moved in. I took down the old fixture and saw that there were two parallel sets of wires coming into the box. Each set had one white and one black wire. So there are a total of 4 wires running into the box but they are right next to each other, coming from the same side of the box. The old fixture had one white from each set hooked to the black and white wires of the fixture, and the two blacks from the box had been capped together. The cap was melted on (ah!). I clipped the cap off of the two blacks, and ran the two blacks to the black wire of the new fixture, and the two whites to the white wire of the new fixture. When I flipped the breaker back on, the light worked. But when I tried to use the switch, it worked once, but when I tried it a second time, the switch popped and black smoke came out of it. For now, I took the light back apart and the wires in the box are capped individually while I try to figure out what is going on up there. My dad gave me a new switch to install into the wall, but I'm not sure what I did wrong in the first place. How should I wire the fixture? I had assumed that the two sets of wires represented the power line and the switch line and that they all needed to be bundled together... Apparently that was not correct....

Sorry for the long post! I'm just confused and not sure how to proceed! Thanks in advance!

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Old 12-02-2009, 06:16 PM   #2
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Old house, having light fixture issues


[quote=atomiclilly;360282]First real post here, so please excuse my lack of knowledge! We just bought our first house, and it's a 1955 ranch. It was a foreclosure, so we don't know much about when and how well most of the renovations were done but the electrical system seems to be OK. It's certainly not brand new, and probably not quite to code, but overall seems fine. I have gone through myself (yes, as a 26 year old woman...) and replaced three of the light fixtures in the house. I'm having two problems:

1. The ceiling fan in the living room was apparently operated only by the pull chain, and now that we put in an IKEA light fixture, the wall switch doesn't operate it. We are having to use the circuit breaker to turn it off and on... What do I do to get the switch to link up with the light fixture? There is definitely a switch that would be in the proper location and doesn't seem to operate anything else.
Try to plug a lamp into the outlets in the room and try the switch. You might have a switched outlet and if that is the case you would need to run a new wire to the light from the switch.


2. The hall light has not worked since we moved in. I took down the old fixture and saw that there were two parallel sets of wires coming into the box. Each set had one white and one black wire. So there are a total of 4 wires running into the box but they are right next to each other, coming from the same side of the box. The old fixture had one white from each set hooked to the black and white wires of the fixture, and the two blacks from the box had been capped together. The cap was melted on (ah!). I clipped the cap off of the two blacks, and ran the two blacks to the black wire of the new fixture, and the two whites to the white wire of the new fixture. When I flipped the breaker back on, the light worked. But when I tried to use the switch, it worked once, but when I tried it a second time, the switch popped and black smoke came out of it. For now, I took the light back apart and the wires in the box are capped individually while I try to figure out what is going on up there. My dad gave me a new switch to install into the wall, but I'm not sure what I did wrong in the first place. How should I wire the fixture? I had assumed that the two sets of wires represented the power line and the switch line and that they all needed to be bundled together... Apparently that was not correct....
I'm confused about this question. Take the switch out of the wall and tell us what you have for wires hooked up to the switch. Do you have a while and a black or do you have two black wires?

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Old 12-02-2009, 07:31 PM   #3
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Old house, having light fixture issues


Your hall light, you have a cable going to the switch and a power cable. You will need to disconnect the wires and use a test light or meter to see which is hot. Once you know which is the power cable connect its black wire to the white wire going to the switch, remark the white to the switch with a perminute marker. You will then have the white from the power cable to connect to the light white and the black from the switch to the lights black.
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Old 12-02-2009, 08:02 PM   #4
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What an interesting diagram
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Old 12-02-2009, 09:36 PM   #5
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You guys are the best!

And for the record, the switch has a black wire and a white wire running to it.
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Old 12-02-2009, 10:28 PM   #6
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Old house, having light fixture issues


Quote:
Originally Posted by dSilanskas View Post
What an interesting diagram
What a sweet diagram. Looks more like a bowl of Cherries and a Lemon!

Last edited by spark plug; 12-02-2009 at 10:29 PM. Reason: Typographical Error (Typo)
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Old 12-03-2009, 09:54 AM   #7
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Old house, having light fixture issues


>>> ... one white from each set hooked to the black and white wires of the fixture ...

It was wired electrically correctly but technically incorrectly originally. You rewired it into something electrically incorrect.

The cherry lemon diagram is the technically correct method. The black coming back from the switch was supposed to be connected to the black of the fixture.

>>> ... remark ...

Both ends of the white wire going to the switch need to be marked with a band of black or red tape or stain.

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Last edited by AllanJ; 12-03-2009 at 09:58 AM.
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