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Old 12-30-2012, 11:10 AM   #1
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Unclear wiring...

Trying to add some new fluorescent strips in my basement and there is a weird wiring condition that I cannot sort out.

There is a switch at the to of the stairs that controls the lighting. There was an existing lamp socket wired at the base of the stairs and I expected the thing to do would be to wire the strips into this quad box and simply remove the porcelain lamp socket.

So, here's the thing that stumps me: I figured out that the single black wire that connected to the lamp base was on the switch. There is another group of black wires in the same JB that were connected to the lamp base by a short white wire. I ran a meter across the single black and the group of blacks and yup, 120v across that when the switch is on and nothing when off.

There's a group of white wires in the box as well and I get nothing across the single black (switched leg) to the whites (neutrals) whether the switch is on or off.

I tried to track some wires with a tone generator, but it was just running all over the place--the tone that it.

So, just to test my theory, I wired up the run of strips and they work. Thoughts?


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Old 12-30-2012, 11:24 AM   #2
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How many wires are conected to the switch? If there's 4 then it's a 3 way switch.


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Old 12-30-2012, 11:26 AM   #3
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Sounds like someone did not know the proper color codes for wiring and has reversed the functions between black and white. Can you see if the colors are correct in the panel?
Answers based on the National Electrical Code. Local amendments may apply. Check with your local building officials.
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:33 AM   #4
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@joecaption: It's a regular single pole switch.

@Jim Port: I haven't opened up to look in the panel. It is a older panel and I'm hesitant to do much with it other than flip breakers. That's a good point however and something I've thought to check on.

It is an older home and I'm told that the "reversed" function of black and white wiring is/was a common practice among the electricians from a nearby city. I had a UPS plugged into one outlet and the UPS indicated reversed hot/neutral. My little outlet tester with the three LEDs onit do not indicate that, oddly enough.

Last edited by holocron; 12-30-2012 at 11:36 AM.
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