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Old 09-18-2008, 09:26 PM   #1
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understanding prewire in remodel help needed


I hired an electrician to prewire a kitchen/dining room project. Now I want to connect switches and the lights but I'm confused with the wires I have.

I have a box that will house 3 switches.

1 switch is a single that will control an outside light.
1 switch is a singe that will control a ceiling fan/light in the dining room.
1 switch is a 3-way that will control a single light in the kitchen.

My problem is...nothing is marked.

I have a:
white wire (with a cable nut on)
black wire (with a cable nut on)
3 soldered grounds , leaving 2 grounds available
white and red wire twisted together.
3 black wires soldered together, leaving 2 black wires with tape on ends.
1 white wire
1 red wire.

Can anyone help me with which wire goes to which switch?
All 3 switches are on the same circuit.

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Old 09-18-2008, 10:08 PM   #2
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understanding prewire in remodel help needed


I would hire the same electrician to come back and do the finishing. There is handful of ways he could have wired it and know one will be able to tell you what he was thinking when he roughed it in.

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Old 09-18-2008, 10:10 PM   #3
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understanding prewire in remodel help needed


Ok, first of all, if you hired an electrcian to do the pre-wire that means you don't know enough about wiring to do it yourself. Why haven't you called the electrician back to complete the work (probably trying to save a few bucks)? Most electricians won't label or mark anything in a pre-wire becuase usually they are the ones doing the finish work of actually putting in all the switches, outlets and light fixtures once its been inspected. I have never seen an electrician mark wires just so the homeowner can finish the job.

Call the electrician back, Its not worth it to risk your life or your family if you screw it up and burn the house down.

Also, I HIGHLY doubt that any wires were "soldered" in the box. I believe "soldering" wires is a violation of the NEC code, it must be a physical mating of the wires (either a wire nut, crimp, screw terminal, or bus bar lug).

Last edited by theatretch85; 09-18-2008 at 10:13 PM.
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Old 09-19-2008, 05:39 AM   #4
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understanding prewire in remodel help needed


Hire the same guy back and have him install the devices. If you really need to same money that badly you can install the fixtures.

Then again, if you really needed to save money you should not have remodeled the most expensive room in the house.
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Answers based on the 2008 & 2011 NEC. If you're on the '14 already I feel sorry for you.
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Old 09-19-2008, 06:22 AM   #5
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I will never hire this electrician again. This home is empty till remodeling is complete. I dropped into the house unexpectedly and found he had broken into the house and going through my personal items. He's unethical and lucky I didn't press charges....so I'm wanting to understand his pre-wire. AND you are incorrect.. I have done many wiring projects however because of limited time ...I hired this electrician based on the contractors recommendation. Once burned.....I'm hesitant to hire anyone. So..I'm back to square one.
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Old 09-19-2008, 07:07 AM   #6
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understanding prewire in remodel help needed


cmcgraw, As the other posters have said, it'll probably be easier to hire another electrician to figure out what wire goes where. It's gonna require some leg work to figure this out. Get yourself a multimeter (or continuity tester). Label the wires before you take them apart. You can write numbers on white electrical tape and attach it to each wire, this way when (and if...) you figure it all out, you can put all the #1s back together, all the #2s, etc. Make sure there is no power to the circuit you're working on. You'll have power into the box, possibly power feeding another box, power out to the fixtures, travelers for your three ways, etc, etc. When you find a pair of wires' destination, label it at both ends. Make sure you leave yourself lots of time and having an assistant couldn't hurt either. Your former electricain sounds like a dirt bag. Some people might have also snipped wires in the walls while they were in your house going through your personal stuff. Just a thought. Good luck, pete
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Old 09-19-2008, 12:01 PM   #7
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understanding prewire in remodel help needed


petey c - thank you for reply. I will grab my meter and start testing. Thank you!
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Old 09-19-2008, 12:20 PM   #8
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understanding prewire in remodel help needed


You need to tell us all the wires and from which cables.
You have described I think 6 black wires but only 3 white wires and five ground wires. The blacks, whites & grounds should be the same number unless you are using conduit.
If you can identify which cable goes to which fixture, panel or other switch that would be a great help.
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Old 09-19-2008, 01:18 PM   #9
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understanding prewire in remodel help needed


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Originally Posted by petey_c View Post
where. It's gonna require some leg work to figure this out. Get yourself a multimeter (or continuity tester). Label the wires before you take them apart. You can write numbers on white electrical tape

In the telco world, we would use a tone generator and probe to figure out what wires go where in a mess like this.

Is there anything like a tone generator and probe that can be used on Electrical Lines?

Jamie
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Old 09-19-2008, 05:36 PM   #10
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understanding prewire in remodel help needed


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Is there anything like a tone generator and probe that can be used on Electrical Lines?
Yep. ~$30+ at Lowes or Home Depot, and often worth three times the price. However, they do take a little familiarization to get really effective with them--and they're not foolproof even then.
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Old 09-19-2008, 06:38 PM   #11
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understanding prewire in remodel help needed


jamiedolan, I haven't worked with a tone generator, so I really can't say. It helps to have a working sense of how wires are usually run, so you can troubleshoot faster. Sperry has a tone generator for determining which breaker controls a circuit. It's moderately effective... pete
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Old 09-19-2008, 06:55 PM   #12
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understanding prewire in remodel help needed


Years ago, we didn't have tone gens and multimeters.
So we connected an audio head-set across the pair of wires in a cable, then had an assistant go around and connect a 1 1/2 volt drycell to the other ends.
When you heard the click from the battery, you had your identification.
For the record, I bought my first tone generator and probe back in 1981. Its still in my tool box and is still working!
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Old 09-20-2008, 04:01 AM   #13
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understanding prewire in remodel help needed


Quote:
Originally Posted by cmcgraw View Post
I will never hire this electrician again. This home is empty till remodeling is complete. I dropped into the house unexpectedly and found he had broken into the house and going through my personal items. He's unethical and lucky I didn't press charges....so I'm wanting to understand his pre-wire. AND you are incorrect.. I have done many wiring projects however because of limited time ...I hired this electrician based on the contractors recommendation. Once burned.....I'm hesitant to hire anyone. So..I'm back to square one.

Not always the case but there are quite few house that they were target for copper wire theif and they can swiped out the wires.

But otherhand a good electrician will NEVER look at personal items that normally hand off items the only time they will touch it if have to move to get into the receptale or switch otherwise they will talk to the owner of that place before they offically start working on it.

My SOP is always give the customer a head up when I do go in the resdential place so that why they know you are there and I do give them a quick call when I get done unless they {owners} make a arrangement with the situation.

Now for prewire there are so many diffrent ways to tell what they hook up it pretty much depending on what kind of methold they using it.

And no they useally don't mark the wires in the switch box unless you got 4 gang or larger box that the only time they will marked but in commercal / industrail location yes it will useally marked and CB#'s.


Now speaking of soliderd wire It still allowed in the NEC but not using it any more and with soliderd wires that possiblty it is a older circuits but if it was brand new wire then you got something funny going on.

Merci,Marc
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Old 09-20-2008, 04:19 AM   #14
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understanding prewire in remodel help needed


Quote:
Originally Posted by cmcgraw View Post
I will never hire this electrician again. This home is empty till remodeling is complete. I dropped into the house unexpectedly and found he had broken into the house and going through my personal items. He's unethical and lucky I didn't press charges....so I'm wanting to understand his pre-wire. AND you are incorrect.. I have done many wiring projects however because of limited time ...I hired this electrician based on the contractors recommendation. Once burned.....I'm hesitant to hire anyone. So..I'm back to square one.
the problem is with you! because you failed to press any charges against the contractor. you Let him go so he can go through somebody Else's house.This guy is a bad apple. your liberal thinking is why this country is in the state its in.

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