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dmwiecz 11-22-2010 06:01 PM

Single Pole Light Switch with 4 Wires
I've got some very, very basic experience in this arena (e.g., replaced switch w/ dimmer, replaced light fixture), but I need to replace a broken light switch and I'm confused. I bought a new single pole switch that has 2 screws on the side and 1 grounding screw (as you'd expect). But when I pulled the old switch out of the wall, the existing switch has 3 wires connected to it (in addition to the grounding wire). I have no idea which of these 3 wires are the hot ones that need to be connected to the new switch and what the 3rd wire might be for. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Also, just a note that all 3 of the wires are black with white paint on them, so there's no markings that I've seen that would indicate which are hot and which might be neutral.

Another angle of the old switch

heartlessmcfly 11-22-2010 06:10 PM

the two wires on the bottom of the switch is your feeds. one is bringing power in and the other is bringing power out. the top wire is your switch leg. what they did was instead of splicing the 2 feeds together and making a tail, they put one under the screw and back stabbed the other (which i hate cause it always pulls out after awhile). The 2 bottom wires are going to go on the same terminal. i suggest you splice them together and make a pigtail vs back stabbing one of them. the top wire is going to be put on the switch alone

dmwiecz 11-22-2010 06:15 PM

Okay, so the top wire goes on the top screw of the new switch and the 2 wires on the bottom both go on the bottom screw, right? Probably a stupid question, but can you tell me how to make a pigtail or give me a link where I can read how to do it? Thanks so much for your help!

heartlessmcfly 11-22-2010 06:18 PM

yes, but do not put both wires under the same will not get tight and itll arc. a pigtail is taking both wires (stripped ends obviously) and using a 3rd piece of wire, twisting them together and capping with a wire nut. now you have 2 wires spliced with a single wire and that single wire goes onto the switch

bad picture but you should get the idea

oleguy74 11-22-2010 06:27 PM

the white paint is from the will flake big deal...

dmwiecz 11-22-2010 06:40 PM

Gotcha - so in the pic you posted, the other end of the wire hanging off the bottom of the picture is what gets attached to the screw on the new switch?


heartlessmcfly 11-22-2010 06:41 PM

yes, make sure your splice is nice and tight and please use a wire nut and not tape....and good luck!

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