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

Go Back   DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum > Home Improvement > Electrical


Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 07-25-2012, 01:57 PM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 2
Rewards Points: 10

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.


NYHeel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-25-2012, 02:20 PM   #2
Licensed electrician
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Maryland
Posts: 10,869
Rewards Points: 1,892

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.
Jim Port is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-25-2012, 04:10 PM   #3
"So I Re-Wired It"
MisterZ's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: NorthEast USA
Posts: 258
Rewards Points: 250

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
MisterZ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-25-2012, 04:55 PM   #4
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 2
Rewards Points: 10

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.
NYHeel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-26-2012, 12:51 PM   #5
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 516
Rewards Points: 500

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.
Evstarr is offline   Reply With Quote

light switch , neutral wire , timer , white wire

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Light in one lighted three-way switch not working dalepres Electrical 2 06-26-2012 06:27 AM
Help with wiring issues on a newly purchased house ThatGuy Electrical 13 01-17-2012 10:51 AM
Wiring an outlet to a switch, to a light Athens Electrical 5 01-04-2012 07:03 PM
Light Wiring Question mataguri Electrical 4 11-09-2011 02:15 AM
Hunter Fan Dual Switch Wiring Configuration Help schierle Electrical 2 03-29-2009 08:00 PM

Top of Page | View New Posts


Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1