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Old 12-11-2008, 11:37 PM   #1
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Very odd wiring


Hi;
I've drawn a schematic diagram of what I believe I have in the bathroom.
There are two vanity lights, one on each side of the mirror.
A duplex switch controls each light separately.
There is a GFCI receptacle in the same box as the switch.

Power apparently comes into the left side light box. There are a total of 4 cables coming into that standard wall box (definitely not code!). Two of the cables are very old BX with the cloth covered rubber insulation.

There is a receptacle in the adjacent room, on the opposite side of this wall which I believe feeds power to the light box in the bath.
Another old BX leaves the bath light box. I believe that one feeds the light in the adjacent room (via a wall switch).

The right side light box has two newer BX cables. These are from the '60's. No green ground wires.
One cable is 14/2, the other is 12/3.
There is a 12/3 cable in the switch box, so I assume this is the same one as in the right light box.

Here's the schematic I drew in Orcad. Some of the connections are assumed to this point. I am going to open it up again tomorrow (with power off of course) and do some more testing, as well as replace the bad GFCI (earlier post, GFCI failure)
See if any of this makes sense to you.


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Old 12-11-2008, 11:46 PM   #2
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Very odd wiring


Quote:
Originally Posted by KE2KB View Post
Hi;
I've drawn a schematic diagram of what I believe I have in the bathroom.
There are two vanity lights, one on each side of the mirror.
A duplex switch controls each light separately.
There is a GFCI receptacle in the same box as the switch.

Power apparently comes into the left side light box. There are a total of 4 cables coming into that standard wall box (definitely not code!). Two of the cables are very old BX with the cloth covered rubber insulation.

There is a receptacle in the adjacent room, on the opposite side of this wall which I believe feeds power to the light box in the bath.
Another old BX leaves the bath light box. I believe that one feeds the light in the adjacent room (via a wall switch).

The right side light box has two newer BX cables. These are from the '60's. No green ground wires.
One cable is 14/2, the other is 12/3.
There is a 12/3 cable in the switch box, so I assume this is the same one as in the right light box.

Here's the schematic I drew in Orcad. Some of the connections are assumed to this point. I am going to open it up again tomorrow (with power off of course) and do some more testing, as well as replace the bad GFCI (earlier post, GFCI failure)
See if any of this makes sense to you.

Is there a outlet on the light fixture on the right, this would explain the extra always on wire to that box.

Maybe I missed it, are you just trying to clean up your wiring or are you making some changes?
Jamie

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Old 12-12-2008, 08:16 AM   #3
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Very odd wiring


Jamiedolan;
Thanks for the reply;
There may have at one time been a receptacle on the light fixture. There is none on the current one though.
What is really strange is that the GFCI receptacle gets it's hot from that 3-wire cable.
Even if there was an always-on receptacle on the fixture, there wouldn't have been the need for two separate cables, just the 3-wire.
Like I said in my post, I am fairly certain that this wiring was done by the HO, who might have had one too many beers while doing this job<g>
Also, when I removed the GFCI from the box, the hot wire slipped out. It was inserted into the hole in the rear, but the screw wasn't properly tightened. The ground wire came out of the wire nut as well.

I am going to attempt to clean up the wiring, partly because there are too many wires in the switch box, and the GFCI receptacle that is also in that box does not fit properly. It's wired up and connected OK, but sticks out a bit.
There are way too many wires in the switch box and the left side light box. There isn't anything I can do about the left light box because that's where the power comes in, and it's old wiring that goes to other places. I would have to rewire the entire circuit, which I would love to do, but it's a lot of work.

Edit 12/12/08, 11:30EST
I have confirmed my schematic to be correct. I have eliminated the 3-wire cable, cut it off at both ends after confirming that it didn't go anywhere else in between.
At least part of this mess is cleaned up.
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Old 12-12-2008, 03:45 PM   #4
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Very odd wiring


Quote:
There is a 12/3 cable in the switch box, so I assume this is the same one as in the right light box.
1. Don't assume anything.

2. What is the problem?
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Old 12-12-2008, 04:08 PM   #5
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Very odd wiring


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Originally Posted by 220/221 View Post
1. Don't assume anything.

2. What is the problem?
3. If it works, don't fix it.

The worst outcome is that nothing works after you get done "cleaning up" the wiring, brittle wires have broken off where they enter the boxes, you cannot return the wiring to the state it was in before you started, and you end up on the evening news.

Cuidado, Senor!
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Old 12-12-2008, 04:13 PM   #6
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Very odd wiring


Quote:
Originally Posted by KE2KB View Post
Jamiedolan;
Thanks for the reply;
There may have at one time been a receptacle on the light fixture. There is none on the current one though.
What is really strange is that the GFCI receptacle gets it's hot from that 3-wire cable.
Even if there was an always-on receptacle on the fixture, there wouldn't have been the need for two separate cables, just the 3-wire.
Like I said in my post, I am fairly certain that this wiring was done by the HO, who might have had one too many beers while doing this job<g>
Also, when I removed the GFCI from the box, the hot wire slipped out. It was inserted into the hole in the rear, but the screw wasn't properly tightened. The ground wire came out of the wire nut as well.

I am going to attempt to clean up the wiring, partly because there are too many wires in the switch box, and the GFCI receptacle that is also in that box does not fit properly. It's wired up and connected OK, but sticks out a bit.
There are way too many wires in the switch box and the left side light box. There isn't anything I can do about the left light box because that's where the power comes in, and it's old wiring that goes to other places. I would have to rewire the entire circuit, which I would love to do, but it's a lot of work.

Edit 12/12/08, 11:30EST
I have confirmed my schematic to be correct. I have eliminated the 3-wire cable, cut it off at both ends after confirming that it didn't go anywhere else in between.
At least part of this mess is cleaned up.
Sounds like you may have figured it out. Are you sure that other line wasn't back feeding a outlet in another room or anything else? It's probably best it is separated, since it is a bath, but I am just suggesting you verify everything is still working (outside the bath also) with that disconnected.

Jamie
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Old 12-12-2008, 05:46 PM   #7
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Very odd wiring


Yup, everything is working fine with the 3-wire disconnected at each end.
I verified that it did not connect to anything else by checking resistance between each wire, and each wire to ground while turning on devices on the same circuit.

All of the wiring in the boxes I opened today was 60's BX, not the really old, brittle stuff. There are 2 of those very old BX cables in one of the two light boxes, so I chose not to mess with that one again, although yesterday when I replaced the light fixtures I did not expect to find the 80yr old stuff there, but it was a mix of 60's and the rubber/cloth stuff. At least no K&T, like there was in our previous home.
I was willing to rewire the circuit if need be. It's not really that bad to get to, but getting the old boxes out would have proven a pain.
Disconnecting old wiring at a point to leave no live wires in the wall would be another challenge, since I don't know the route the circuit takes from device to device.

I have completed my work, replaced the defective GFCI receptacle, tested everything, and it's all OK now. I still have too many wires in two of the 3 boxes, but I can't do anything about that right now.

Maybe I could have left it alone, but after finding that the old GFCI (which had stopped functioning) did not fit properly in the box with all the wires, I wanted to do something about it.

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Last edited by KE2KB; 12-12-2008 at 06:23 PM.
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