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Old 01-23-2008, 06:37 AM   #1
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please help

ok....in my bathroom there is a switch for the light a switch for the exhaust fan..the switch for the exhaust fan has an outlet besides it....im trying to install the light and i don't understand what wires to use ....where the light would get installed there is a splice box which has three sets of black and whites ...one set is live...the others i donno where they go?to the switches to the exhaust? im confused and i keep on blowing the fuse...what do i do?

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Old 01-23-2008, 08:19 AM   #2
electrician / handyman
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Location: south jersey
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please help

were are you installing the light

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Old 01-23-2008, 08:21 AM   #3
electrician / handyman
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please help

are there two separate switches and a receptacle next to that this is called a three gang box
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Old 01-23-2008, 08:55 AM   #4
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Nashua, NH, USA
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please help

>>> three blacks and three whites in the ceiling

Do not keep trying things and letting the breaker trip or fuse blow. You can fry a switch and/or fry connections and joints and splices upstream on the way to the panel.

Was there already a fan and light combination on the ceiling that you are replacing, thus the names "fan switch" and "light switch" you already mentioned?

Since you did not mention red wire, I believe you have four wires in two cables from the light box going down to the switches. They should be: white for neutral, black for switched power coming up from fan switch, black for switched power coming up from light switch, and the other wire takes unswitched power down to the switches and possibly the receptacle as well.

The fifth wire (black and live as you said) in the ceiling box is the power and the sixth wire (white) coming out of the fifth wire's cable is the neutral back to the panel.

You will need an ohmmeter to verify whether I told the truth about the first four wires by finding the matching ends. Always turn the power turned off before using an ohmmeter, and here use it with the switches in the off position. You can touch the ohmmeter probe to the screw terminals on the side of a switch even if the wires are poked into the back. Use white tape or sticky labels to identify the matching ends of each wire temporarily. Also you need to turn the power on and use a voltmeter to find out whether the switches were fed from below via a separate power source for the receptacle in which case both the live wire in the ceiling (#5) and its matching neutral (#6) should be taped over separately and not used.

It is possible for the switches to be fed by power coming down from the fixture box and at the same time the receptacle is fed by power coming directly to the switch box in which case no wire should be a neutral between fixture box and switch box.

It is possible that killing the receptacle next to the switches is done using a different breaker than that which gave power to wire #5 up in the ceiling.

As a starting rule, do not connect a black wire to a white wire unless you know the other end of the white wire is connected to a switch. When the white wire is connected this way, not as a neutral, both ends need to be marked with black or red tape.

Never connect a neutral to a switch.

Last edited by AllanJ; 01-23-2008 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 01-23-2008, 06:40 PM   #5
Join Date: Oct 2007
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please help

Does your switch have a white wire on it? I bet it does. You are probably hooking all the blacks together and all the whites together. The breaker trips when you turn the switch on because you have created a dead short.

If so, what you have in the light j box is:

Power in, one cable w/ 2 wires (&W)

Power out, one cable w/ 2 wires (B&W)

Suicide switch leg, one cable w/ 2 wires (B&W)

Determine which cable has the 120 volts.
Determine which cable goes to the switch.
The remaining cable will be power OUT to other switches/recepticals.

1. Turn off power.

2. Connect black power in, black power out and the WHITE that goes to the switch (hence the "suicide" terminology). The other black is coming FROM the switch and will attach to the black wire on your fixture.

3. Connect the other two whites to a short pigtail which will connect to the white wire on your fixture.

Next time look at the damn thing before you take it apart.
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