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sweetroad9 04-12-2007 08:54 PM

Trouble installing ceiling light fixtures: same problem x3
So I'm trying to install new ceiling lights in 3 rooms after buying our first home.

We first had the fixtures removed when we had the ceiling drywalled, over some old 1950's styled popcorn ceilings. The drywaller removed the fixtures (I've got a call out to him for more info ... but no return call yet) and now that I'm trying to re-wire the new fixtures, I'm having the same problem in all of the rooms.

Here's the problem:
I turn off the power, connect the wiring (black to black, white to white, and ground to the green screw), turn the circuit back on and the light is always on, no matter whether the the wall switch is on or not ... and none of the switches are 3-way.

Here's what I've done to try and remedy the problem:
- Remembered (re-read) my home inspection that I have "reversed polarity" through most of the house ... but while I've learned what that is, I've had no luck troubleshooting.
- Call the drywaller for more info on what he saw when he took the fixtures off in the first place. I'm awaiting the return call.
- Read one of those Home Depot "Electrical 1,2,3" books ... with no luck yet.
- Call my buddy who knows a thing or two, as well as visit my local Home Depot I've been frequenting ... all with no luck.
- Finally, reversed going "black to black, white to white" and went "black to white, white to black" ... and nothing changed.

My next step is to take apart the fixture in another room (the kitchen) where he did not drywall or change the fixtures, but I'm frustrated and needed to get off a ladder for awhile.


Feel free to email me directly:

Thanks for your time.

mcvane 04-12-2007 10:41 PM

ceiling fixtures not controlled by swtiches?
Hi There

If you turn on the circuit and the lights are always on, I believe you are not connected to a switch or another switch controls that fixture.

If you had drywallers in to fix the house when you moved in, it is likely that they didn't include the switch, when they rewired. This might be a problem, because the switch might not have any wires going anywhere. If you have an electrical tester, do you see that the switch has current running through it? I have a feeling it just might not be connected at all.

I'm not an electrician, but have done home wiring myself...I hope this gives you some insight.

HouseHelper 04-13-2007 10:09 AM

I assume the old fixtures worked properly with the switch before they were removed, and that the drywaller did not remove any switches. Are there any other "loose" wires in the ceiling box? It is possible they were rewired at some point for a ceiling fan, so there could be a hot (black), a switched hot (red), and a neutral (white) present. You need to find the switched hot.

KUIPORNG 04-13-2007 11:28 AM

there are two ways to wire switch to light fixture.... one way you will never have the problem you experiencing: if you only fit the switch controlled hot wire from the switch to the light fixture.

the other way is yes you might problem like you experienced with wrong wiring: the always on hot wire fit to the light fixture, which also routed to the switch as a black wire and the controlled hot wire returned as white wire... in this case, your light fixture should connect to the white wire (returned) and there should be another true neutral white wire which you need to connected. So black to black and white to white is not correct in this case. Professional installations like to use this approach because the switch junction box(generally small) end up with only one set of wire fit in.

to be sure, you can use voltmeter to measure voltage/current to find out which is the controlled hot wire by the switch and which is the true hot wire(which you already know) when connecting the fixture... this might mean you need to turn the panel switch on/off a couple of times but this is really a piece of cake... also, not only you need to connect the fixture correctly, you also need to connect the switch wire correctly....

J187 04-13-2007 12:19 PM

Ok, first things first. I am having a hard time understanding how you caught reverse polarity at inspection, yet it was never corrected prior to the homes transfer?? Did your real estate agent at lease request the owner take care of this? Electrical problems like that are exactly what home inspection is meant to catch - and subsequently to allow the problems to be fixed before buyer takes possesion. Thats not something that should have been ignored. When you say you have reverse polarity throughout most of the house, do you know if it is meant that "some receptacles are wired that way" or if whole circuits are wired that way? You need to figure this out before attempting to install lighting.

jbfan 04-13-2007 01:46 PM

Before anyone can help you troubleshoot this problem, you need to tell how many and what color wires are in your ceiling box.

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