Strange Colored Wiring On Old Light Switch - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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Old 07-25-2012, 01:57 PM   #1
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Strange colored wiring on old light switch

I'm replacing a simple light switch with a timer switch. I've done a few of these in the past but I'm definitely not particularly experienced in this area.

The box only has one light switch in there with a total of 4 wires coming into the box. I have 2 wires going to 2 screws on the old light switch. One is black and the other is white but with some colored tape. (from research I've done it seems that it can still be code to use a hot white wire as long as there's colored tape on the wire.) There is also a bare ground wire going to the switch. In addition I have an unused single red wire that is just capped off.

The timer I'm trying to install requires a neutral wire. Considering that the white wire is hot (probably the load wire) is it possible that the red capped wire is actually neutral? Or is it just another hot wire sitting there doing nothing. Keep in mind that this is the only switch at this box though it is wide enough for 2.


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Old 07-25-2012, 02:20 PM   #2
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The red should not be a neutral. I suspect someone roughed in wiring for 2 switches like for a light and a ceiling fan.


Answers based on the National Electrical Code. Local amendments may apply. Check with your local building officials.
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Old 07-25-2012, 04:10 PM   #3
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If im understanding you right, there is only one set of wires coming to tje switch plate
Such as 14/3 (black, white, red, and ground grouped together)

If this is true, there is no neutral in that box. One set of wires goes from the fixture to the switch.
Black being constant hot to switch, white carries current to the black at fixture. (Hot when switch is in ON position.

In this scenerio the red should have been used instead of white.
Without seeing and checking wires its hard to know for certain.

Hope this helps
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Old 07-25-2012, 04:55 PM   #4
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Thanks. I figured the red wasn't neutral but I just wanted to confirm. I'll get a timer that doesn't require a neutral wire.
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Old 07-26-2012, 12:51 PM   #5
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If that 3wire goes up to the fixture, re jigger it to bring the neutral down on the white and use the red as the switch leg.
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light switch , neutral wire , timer , white wire

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