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Old 03-11-2013, 06:25 PM   #1
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Please help, light switch wiring


Ok guys, despite my IQ of 128 I cannot for the life of me wrap my head around how AC power works so I long ago gave up. I replaced some double switches in my bathroom a couple of years back and wired them EXACTLY like the old ones....yet now I get this weird side-effect.

Previously each switch controlled a separate function (light, vent, heater) and the outlet functioned normally. After replacing the switch with the current one the vent, light, and outlet only function if the first switch (top left) is ON. This means that in order to use any of the other functions I have to have the heater on.

Can anyone look at the pictures of the wiring and tell me what on Earth I did wrong? I just swapped wires from the old switches to the new ones and it ended up like this. We just remodeled the bathroom and I'd like it to actually function properly now.

Thanks!
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Old 03-11-2013, 07:04 PM   #2
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Please help, light switch wiring


What you did was feed the hot to the top switch, and from that switch you fed the other switches.
You are going to have to find out which wire is the hot wire, and make sure you feed all the switches with that wire.
Does the receptacle stay on all the time, or just when the switch is on?

You should also have a gfci protected circuit in the bath room.

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Old 03-11-2013, 07:11 PM   #3
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Please help, light switch wiring


My house doesn't even have ground wires (wiring is from 1947) and there is absolutely no way we can afford to have it rewired any time in the next 5 years at least.

So how do I figure out which one is hot? From the tiny bit I can grasp of AC power it seems like both wires are hot right (the current alternates)? I mean I hooked up the new switches exactly like the old ones but before they all worked independently.

To answer the question, no, the outlet only works when the top left switch is on.
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Old 03-11-2013, 07:25 PM   #4
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Please help, light switch wiring


Just because you connect the new switches like the old, they were probably made by someone else and had a different configuration.

Do you have any kind of tester.

That romex is too new to be from 1947!
Look at the switches and find the model # and post it so we can find a wiring diagram.
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Old 03-11-2013, 08:41 PM   #5
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Please help, light switch wiring


I can tell you why the recpt doesnt work. there is no terminal screw in the hot side there no hot wire connected to it. it looks like you connected the hot to the to the hot side of switch only. pigtail the hot with 3 wires with a wirenut and put each wire on the hot side of each device.
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Old 03-11-2013, 10:21 PM   #6
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hot side being the left side of the switch I assume?

yes, I do have a multimeter which I use for many DC projects, it's just AC that confuses the hell out of me (despite many, MANY attempts to understand it)
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Old 03-11-2013, 11:08 PM   #7
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Please help, light switch wiring


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Originally Posted by drmoreau View Post
hot side being the left side of the switch I assume?

yes, I do have a multimeter which I use for many DC projects, it's just AC that confuses the hell out of me (despite many, MANY attempts to understand it)
Brass terminal is hot(black or red) silver is neutral (white)
A switches opens and closes the hot connection. On a singe pole switch ( 2 screws) one is hot the other goes to the light.

Google basic switch & receptacle wiring.
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Old 03-12-2013, 08:14 AM   #8
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Please help, light switch wiring


If you want the outlet always HOT you need to break the tab and make sure that:
terminal "A" has the feed to the light,
terminal "B" is an ALWAYS HOT WIRE,
terminal "C" is an ALWAYS HOT WIRE,
terminal "D" is the neutral wire.
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Old 03-12-2013, 09:33 AM   #9
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break the tab?
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Old 03-12-2013, 09:58 AM   #10
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Please help, light switch wiring


Do not break the tab. Move wire B to position C and put the red wire on B.
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Old 03-12-2013, 10:10 AM   #11
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Please help, light switch wiring


can you post a photo of the wiring diagram for the double rocker decora?

Last edited by hammerlane; 03-12-2013 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 03-12-2013, 10:29 AM   #12
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Please help, light switch wiring


Quote:
Originally Posted by joed View Post
Do not break the tab. Move wire B to position C and put the red wire on B.
That will work also. Just make sure that the wire you put on "C" is an ALWAYS HOT wire.

So with the tab intact you will have:

terminal "A" has nothing
terminal "B" has the feed to the light,
terminal "C" is an ALWAYS HOT WIRE,
terminal "D" is the neutral wire.

Also can you post a photo of the wiring diagram for the double rocker decora?
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Old 03-12-2013, 10:36 AM   #13
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Please help, light switch wiring


Quote:
Originally Posted by joed View Post
Do not break the tab. Move wire B to position C and put the red wire on B.
Joed

Joe ... In the OPs photos is that a white wire (neutral) on the right side bottom of the switch on the left?
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Old 03-12-2013, 06:29 PM   #14
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Please help, light switch wiring


the right side of the switch on the left has a white wire jumping from the top terminal to the bottom terminal, that is how the other switch was wired.

I followed the advice and swapped the wires as posted above, now the LIGHT is on the upper left switch instead of the vent...but still nothing works unless that switch is in the ON position. it would be fine if the light had to be on for the vent or heater to work, but I'd at least like the outlet to work without the switch on.

I've posted pics with the wires in the new positions.
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Old 03-12-2013, 07:05 PM   #15
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Please help, light switch wiring


Quote:
Originally Posted by drmoreau View Post
but still nothing works unless that switch is in the ON position
What is the "that" switch you are referring to. Even though in your mind you know what switch "that" switch is, with 3 switches in the mix it is a guess to guess what switch is the "that" swith that you're are referring to.

How about numbering or lettering the devices so you can refer to them.

Anyway you need to discover which wire in that box is your ALWAYS HOT wire. Then that ALWAYS HOT wire needs to be pigtailed to supply power to the double switch and supply power to the combination switch/outlet.

Note: ground wires not shown for ease of drawing.

Can you post the wiring diagram of the double switch?
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