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Old 09-06-2012, 04:33 AM   #1
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Repair Cross-Circuit Wiring


Hello,

I just discovered some wiring in my house that is crossing between two circuits. I'd like some suggestions on how to proceed. It's basically an outdoor light controlled by two switches, with power coming from one circuit and neutral going to another. The wiring gets spliced together in a light fixture box in the garage. Here is an image explaining the current wiring.


I've considered using one switch to control both lights in the short term, just to get the circuits separated, as I can't think of any feasible solution to maintain the present functionality. I'm not positive how to make that happen though.

Ideally at some point, I'd like to replace the garage light fixture with a garage door opener, and replace the outdoor light fixture with a flood light controlled by switches and motion sensors. I guess I could use Insteon switches and motion sensors to control the flood light without needing to hard wire for switches (expensive, though I've thought of doing some home automation anyway), but I'm open to suggestions.

Thanks!

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Old 09-06-2012, 04:52 AM   #2
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Repair Cross-Circuit Wiring


It looks like the outdoor light is controlled by a 3 position switch set up !
One upstairs and one in the garage.
Does it work ?
Whats your confusion ?
What do you want to acceive ?


Last edited by dmxtothemax; 09-06-2012 at 04:54 AM.
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Old 09-06-2012, 07:09 AM   #3
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Repair Cross-Circuit Wiring


What do you want to achieve? Answer: Eliminate the problem of hot from circuit #1 and neutral from circuit #2.

You cannot keep the 3 way setup without stringing more wire.

Immediately disconnect circuit #1 from the top right switch and tape it off in the box.

You can rewire the two switches (top right and center right) for the garage light as your choice of:
1. Either switch on puts the light unconditionally on, or
2. Either switch off puts the light unconditionally off.

To be a purist you need to exchange the white and black wires going from the garage light box to the garage switch box namely using the white wire for the raw power going out to the switch box and the colored wires for the switched power back to the light box.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 09-06-2012 at 07:18 AM.
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Old 09-06-2012, 07:39 AM   #4
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Repair Cross-Circuit Wiring


The proper way to fix it would be to install a three wire cable between upstairs and garage box and not use the circuit #1 hot wire.
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Old 09-06-2012, 11:57 AM   #5
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Repair Cross-Circuit Wiring


Hi Guys,
Thanks for the responses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
What do you want to achieve? Answer: Eliminate the problem of hot from circuit #1 and neutral from circuit #2.
Exactly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joed View Post
The proper way to fix it would be to install a three wire cable between upstairs and garage box and not use the circuit #1 hot wire.
Yeah, that'd be great, but it's not really feasible.

How about just controlling both lights from one switch downstairs? Does that seem like a good solution? Would I just run them in series?
Something like that could be a good short term solution.

How about Insteon? Is there a good way to just piggyback an Insteon switch off another switch without controlling anything hardwired? The upstairs switch is in a 5 gang box of switches. I was thinking I could put insteon switches upstairs and downstairs to control the outdoor light with this:
In-LineLinc Relay

Then I could just have the other downstairs switch wired only to the indoor light. Does that seem feasible?
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Old 09-06-2012, 12:23 PM   #6
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Repair Cross-Circuit Wiring


The upstairs switch could be eliminated and use only the lower on with no new cabling needed.
Disconnect the cable to the second switch. Jump the black from the first switch to the second switch and continue to use the white for the second light.
This is not code compliant but it will work. To make it code compliant you need to reverse the usage of the black and white wires. The white should bring power to the switches and the black and red should be the switched power going to the lights.
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Last edited by joed; 09-06-2012 at 12:25 PM.
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Old 09-06-2012, 07:34 PM   #7
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Repair Cross-Circuit Wiring


Okay, thanks for the replies guys.

I ended going a slightly different route. I picked up a pull-chain light fixture to replace the one in the garage, and used it's old switch wire to connect the upstairs switch to the outdoor light in a basic one-switch setup. So each light can still be controlled separately, and the more convenient upstairs switch still works. I took out both switches from downstairs and am using their box as a junction box for now, with blank placeholders.

Is it kosher to have two circuits going through the same junction box the indoor light is attached to, or should I put up another junction box for the other circuit?

Here's a diagram of what I ended up with. I think I'll probably still investigate putting in insteon switches or something later.

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Old 09-06-2012, 09:06 PM   #8
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Repair Cross-Circuit Wiring


At the upper right you may not just go "to other neutrals".

You must have and use a neutral in the same cable that has the hot wire.
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Old 09-06-2012, 11:04 PM   #9
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Repair Cross-Circuit Wiring


Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
At the upper right you may not just go "to other neutrals".

You must have and use a neutral in the same cable that has the hot wire.
It joins all of the neutrals in the box of switches, which all run off of the same hot. So they're all connected to the cable with the hot. Standard multi switch setup, sorry I didn't make that clear in the diagram.

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