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Old 01-29-2012, 04:54 PM   #1
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Switch Help


Hello, I'm new here, so any help you could provide would be appreciated.

I have 2 switches at my front door. One switch controls the light on the porch... And one controls the light in my entrance way. Two switches and two lights... Should be easy!

These two switches are housed in the same box...

(I've done other single switches in the house with minimal effort)...

Here's what I've done...

I took out the two old style switches that we're in their before... I was (I thought) careful to leave the wires in a way that they'd be easy to connect...

There were four black cables... 2 going to each switch, and there was a single wire that was connecting the two ground screws of each switch (is this normal?)...

Once everything was removed, I tried to put all the wires in the same places (on my new switches)... But only one light works. I used a meter, and one of the wires completes a circuit with two of the other wires... I can get the single switch to control EITHER the outside or the inside light... But once it's connected (and I connect the two remaining wires to the other switch)... The second light never works.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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Last edited by BurSteveB; 01-29-2012 at 05:09 PM.
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Old 01-29-2012, 05:01 PM   #2
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Switch Help


You are going to need to determine which of the 4 wires are hot. Do you have a meter? Was there a black jumpered between the two switches?

The single wire to the ground screws was fine.

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Old 01-29-2012, 05:08 PM   #3
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Switch Help


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Port
You are going to need to determine which of the 4 wires are hot. Do you have a meter? Was there a black jumpered between the two switches?

The single wire to the ground screws was fine.
Thanks for responding!

Yes, I have a meter... When the four black wires were loose, I did some testing... And one of the wires completes a circuit with two others (meter jumps to 120)...

If I connect a switch to wire 1 and 2 or 1 and 3 a light will function...

There was a single black wire from one green ground screw to the other... (I'm quite sure of that)... I still have the loose wire. When I connect the remaining two wires to the second switch and connect the loose wire from green screw to green screw, I have no luck...
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Old 01-29-2012, 05:14 PM   #4
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Switch Help


It looks like you have a metal box. Using your meter, test each wire to ground, not to each other. You should have 2 hot wires from your description. After you determine which wires are hot, turn off the power and connect one hot wire to each switch, and each switch leg to a switch. Let us know.
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Old 01-29-2012, 05:20 PM   #5
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Switch Help


Thanks! So, only wire appears to be "hot"... Is that why there was a cable connecting the two green screws? I'm pretty lost here...
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Old 01-29-2012, 05:26 PM   #6
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There should have been a jumper between the hot leg on one switch and one of the terminals on the other. Nothing should have been connected to the ground screw as part of the switch leg. The green screw is for grounding the switch(s) only. Connecting a hot wire to ground will create a short. Are the wires in conduit? Take another picture straight on with the switch out of the way if you can. I'm thinking you didn't pay close enough attention when disconnecting. The best thing to do when replacing multiple switches is change them out one at a time so you don't get your wiring mixed up.
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Old 01-29-2012, 05:28 PM   #7
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I agree with MB, it sounds and looks like there should be 2 hot wires and the 2 leads out to the fixtures. Do you see two black pigtails coming out of a wire nut in the back of the box? Is it secure?
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Old 01-29-2012, 05:44 PM   #8
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Switch Help


(thanks again)...

So, here's a picture...

And I will confess, I was not careful removing.

To confirm, one of the four seems "hot"... And I also have this extra wire...

:-) I hate not knowing this stuff...
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Old 01-29-2012, 05:46 PM   #9
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And the switch (s)...
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Old 01-29-2012, 05:51 PM   #10
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A grounding jumper should not have been black, it should have been bare or green.

I am willing to bet the jumper shown was providing power to the second switch. Perhaps power in on the bottom, power out on the right and the left and middle blacks go to the fixtures.

Can you mark the wires with numbers in the pic above and label the hot wire?
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Last edited by Jim Port; 01-29-2012 at 05:54 PM.
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Old 01-29-2012, 05:53 PM   #11
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Sounds good..... Sooooo.....


How do I wire this now?

I know which one is hot... And I have that other wire... What goes where?
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Old 01-29-2012, 05:55 PM   #12
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Switch Help


When you remeoved the switches were there any wire nuts tying two wires together?
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Old 01-29-2012, 05:55 PM   #13
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Sorry, I replied before I read all of your note.

I will label and take a new picture...
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Old 01-29-2012, 05:55 PM   #14
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No MB...

I only took out the two old switches and that one loose wire...
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Old 01-29-2012, 05:58 PM   #15
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What I wonder is why there are 4 wires if only one is hot? I hot and a jumper would feed the switches, and only two wires would be needed to operate the lights. Is there an outlet not working now?

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