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LZCenter 06-27-2008 03:26 PM

Simple wall switch question
 
Hopefully this is simple.

I am replacing a wall swich in my upstairs hallway for decorative purposes. The switch controls two lights in the hall. It is not a three-way switch. The switch has one black wire and two white wires attached. (There is a separate terminal for a ground wire which isn't used.)

When I go to the store to buy a replacement, none of the switches seem to accomodate this arrangement. I have searched Lowes website and gone to Sears to try and find the right configuration.

What am I missing?

Thanks,

Dan

HouseHelper 06-27-2008 03:49 PM

What other wires are in the box with the switch? How are the wires attached to the switch?

LZCenter 06-27-2008 03:57 PM

Thanks for the prompt reply.

The box has a separate switch that controls the downstairs hall light. This is a three way switch, biut does not appear to be connected to the switch in question.

The two white wires are inserted, top and bottm to the upstairs hall swith. The black wire is connected via a screw at the top right side of the switch as you are facing it. There is a second terminal on the lower right that is unused.

Hopefully, I am being clear.

Thanks,

Dan

HouseHelper 06-27-2008 04:28 PM

It appears someone has used a 3-way switch where a single pole should be, so a standard single pole (two screws plus ground) would be what you want. I am curious about the 2 white wires though... are you sure one doesn't go to the other switch? This should be the constant hot in for the switch loop, the black being the switched hot to the light.

LZCenter 06-27-2008 04:43 PM

Thanks again!

This switch does not appear to be a three-way switch. The other switch in the box is, and looks entirely different.

Since a standard switch only has two posts plus a ground, I don't know what to do with the two white wires, plus the one black. It definitely is not connected to the other switch in the current configuration. I assumed it had something to do with the fact that it is controlling two separate lights.

You wouldn't believe what I discovered on another circuit in the house.

Dan

HouseHelper 06-27-2008 07:27 PM

Quote:

You wouldn't believe what I discovered on another circuit in the house.
There is very little creative circuitry that surprises me anymore.

rjniles 06-28-2008 05:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LZCenter (Post 134146)
Thanks for the prompt reply.

The two white wires are inserted, top and bottm to the upstairs hall swith. The black wire is connected via a screw at the top right side of the switch as you are facing it. There is a second terminal on the lower right that is unused.


Dan

It sounds like you are describing 2 wires (the 2 whites) that are back stabbed into the switch, and the black terminated to a screw. Take the white stabbed into the top and and pigtail with a wirenut to the black and a 6" wire of the same guage. Connect your new single pole switch to the other white and the pigtail.

LZCenter 06-30-2008 07:40 AM

Yep
 
Thanks for your reply.

Yes, that sounds like exactly what I have. Let me rephrase your fix to make sure I understand.

The wirenut will connect the one white line (top) and the black line with a third piece of wire, same guage. So I will end up with three wires in the wirenut. The new piece of wire will be connected to the top screw and the remaining white wire will be connected to the bottom screw.

Correct?

Thanks again.

Stubbie 06-30-2008 10:01 AM

The suggested advice appears to be a solution to your situation, however the connection of two whites to a single pole switch and only one black would be incorrect (though it may work). I would suggest you explore this a little further and find out why the single pole switch is wired in this manner.
If the wiring method is romex cable trace the white wires. One should be coming from the same romex cable paired with the black connected to the switch. Find where the other white goes and the cable it is paired with a black wire or black and red wire. Lets us know.
If you wiring method is individual wires in emt metal conduit or armored cable let us know that also.

You also mention that the ground terminal is not used on the switch...if your wiring method is romex cable is there a bare ground wire being used in any manner inside the switch box?


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