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Old 07-13-2010, 10:11 AM   #1
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*sigh* Help...I'm out of my depth here.


First, thank you, even if you can't help. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

I'll make diagrams if this doesn't explain it properly...

I had a single switch. It took a standard 14/2 to a 14/3 and switched on the red wire. This made one of the two outlets in the room always hot, and one switched. It worked fine.

I installed a ceiling fan. (as I've done many times before) I put in a double combo pole switch, top for the fan, bottom for the light. Neutral was twisted into the hot line's neutral.

I wired the old red wire from the 14/3 into the blacks to make the outlet always hot on both plugs. I also installed an outlet/night-light as the switch is in an odd place. (The light calls attention to it; this is in the guest room.)

The outlet is wired hot, neutral and ground, all to the incoming hot line.
It was a massive fight to get all this wiring into a double gang box and I never want to pull it out again.

I went downstairs and flipped the breaker. Fire extinguisher in hand I went upstairs to check on it. Everything worked perfectly. I tested the outlets with a ground fault plug. Everything is perfect.

I went into the next room to use the toilet...no lights or fan come on...

The bathroom uses a two gang box with two different switches. Their neutrals are all wired into each other, the switches share a hot line and go off to their respective lights and fan. The volt-tester lights up no matter what I touch on these switches, even after I disconnect the hot line.
This is all on the same circuit. How did I do something in the other room that works fine, but somehow disabled my bathroom electrical equipment? Did one of my neutral lines come loose in the box when I was putting it all back? I was under the impression that would make the fan cease to function? If I wanted to use my multi-meter to test the ground line for voltage (maybe wires are pressing against a contact?) what would I touch the negative probe to?

Any suggestions would greatly help as I really do not want to drag everything out of that box before I have to. That...and I hate running up and down the three flights of stairs to the circuit breaker.

Thank you, very much.

--Fox
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Old 07-13-2010, 10:28 AM   #2
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Sorry, but you need to open every box you touched and look for your mistake.
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Old 07-13-2010, 11:05 AM   #3
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Understandable, but what mistake can cause such a thing? I don't want to open the box and make it a potential hazard to others until I can figure out what would cause what I just wired to operate properly, but another room to malfunction.

If I open it, and all connections are secure, I just run the risk of disconnecting more if I shove it back into the wall and have made no progress.

Edit: I guess if no one knows I'll have to simply start disassembling what I put together and flipping breakers until the bathroom lights work again...

Is there a site I can visit to simply read up on circuits and maybe figure out myself if there is a specific way of wiring this that might cause such an event to occur?
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Old 07-13-2010, 11:12 AM   #4
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Your problem is with one of the connections you made or did not make while installing the new switch. It may be as simple as a wire that was spliced to a constant hot before is now switched. Try the switch and see if power is restored to the other room.

If not you will need to go back and identify all the wires and their functions in the switch box.

You can also purchase a toggle switch that glows when off to make it easy to find.
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Last edited by Jim Port; 07-13-2010 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 07-13-2010, 12:27 PM   #5
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So you started with one switch and only two wires (14-2 and 14-3). The switch controlled a wall outlet. One can assume that the 14-2 is the supply, and the 14-3 goes to the outlet, but it would be just that...an assumption. Not mentioned are the wires in the outlet box, unless I missed something. Is there just a single, 14-3 wire or are there others? Do we know that this is the 14-3 wire from the switch box?

You have now installed a new switch, a new outlet, and a ceiling fan/light fixture. The new, double switch is intended to control the ceiling fan and light. The new outlet is to be constant on. I did not see any mention of additional wires (to the fan, for example).

Quote:
The outlet is wired hot, neutral and ground, all to the incoming hot line.
What wires are in the outlet box? Is this not the 14-3 from the switch? If so, do you not have two hot (red and black) as well as neutral and ground? Which hot was wired to the new outlet? What was done with the other hot? If it is not the 14-3 from the switch box, do you know from where it comes? Are there other wires in the outlet box?

I am having trouble picturing how you have everything wired. I would find a diagram useful.

One thing not mentioned...is it possible you have a GFCI tripped in your bathroom?
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Old 07-13-2010, 03:08 PM   #6
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Alright. I went to Home Depot. I have those slide in little connectors for wires now. Trying to cram 5 14AWG cables into a single screw cap was what made this a nightmare. I hope these help when I take this thing apart.


I started drawing these in visio, and while they looked much better, they were harder to actually 'read'. So here is a crappy, 5 minute MSPaint version of what was, and what is.

What was:


What is:


There is a GFCI outlet in the bathroom, but it is on a different circuit and is functioning normally.

I'm going to take it apart and remove the outlet. It's one of those tamper resistant outlets and I bet that's causing a problem somehow. I've effectively wired up the exact same setup in another room (including the fan, and now I'm wondering if that's causing an issue too) without an outlet.

I'm going to have to diagram all this out. I'll keep you all informed of what I find out. This is going to drive me crazy. I'm grabbing my girlfriend, some two-way radios and having her do the circuit breaker flipping as I test stuff out.
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Old 07-13-2010, 03:19 PM   #7
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A tamper resistant receptacle is the same as a regular non-tamper except for the shuuters over the slots. I don't see how that would be the problem.
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Old 07-13-2010, 03:33 PM   #8
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Sorry, I worded that wrong. I meant to emphasize the fact that it's an outlet in there too, and that's causing the problem, not that it is TR.
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Old 07-13-2010, 04:07 PM   #9
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In your original posting you said there was a 14-2 to 14-3 switch. Based on your final drawing, and assuming the 14-2 is live power, then the original setup would have been 14-2 black to pigtail with 14-3 black and the switch. 14-3 red would have been to the other switch connection. You would then have live power to the outlet and switched power to the outlet. Are you sure the 14-2 is live power? Maybe that 14-2 goes to the bathroom....

Last edited by a7ecorsair; 07-13-2010 at 04:13 PM.
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Old 07-13-2010, 04:14 PM   #10
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This wiring looks correct to me, assuming that green is attached to the ground terminals, and white to the neutral. Black wires should be attached to the positive (right side as you look at the plug). This appears to be the way you did it.

I see no relationship to this and to any other devices, including the bathroom. I can only assume that this is downstream from the bathroom, or that your new bathroom problems are coincidental. There is nothing in your diagram that jumps out at me as a cause of your bathroom problems.

Have you confirmed that black supply is positive and not the white? Your original test of the outlet suggests so, but it is probably worth a quick check with a volt meter.

Sorry I could not be more help.
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Old 07-13-2010, 04:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by a7ecorsair View Post
In your original posting you said there was a 14-2 to 14-3 switch. Based on your final drawing, and assuming the 14-2 is live power, then the original setup would have been 14-2 black to pigtail with 14-3 black and the switch. 14-3 red would have been to the other switch connection. You would then have live power to the outlet and switched power to the outlet.
Yes, sir. The line going to the outlet went through the box with the switch. The bottom outlet bypassed the switch, making it hot all the time. The red line came from the switch and goes to the top outlet, making it a switchable outlet. Red has now been tied into the hot line, making the entire outlet hot all the time.
As the ceiling fan's light now provides primary light to the room, this switch has been removed and a new combo-switch put in its place, now controlling the fan and light.

I was poking around in the bathroom with the volt-tester. It has three lines, two switches. One line connects to each switch, and one line connects to both switches.

For some reason all the lines are reported as hot by the volt-tester. When I flip the switch, the common line reports no voltage; the two others are still hot...as if power is coming from the fan and light...the ones that don't power on...



I found this so unbelievable I almost lost my senses and touched the line just to prove the volt-tester wrong.

I went and got a beer instead...and I don't even like beer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by a7ecorsair View Post
Are you sure the 14-2 is live power?
...So you're proposing that another line goes to the bottom outlet and...*goes to get his screwdriver*...damn. No. The outlet is wired as I suspected. 14/3, red line to the top outlet, just like the previously switched red line. When I take the box apart again (when backup gets home) I'll be sure to disconnect everything and verify that the 14/2 is indeed the hot line, but all signs still point to this...which simply confounds me as to how this line is affecting the other. I realize they're probably strung together, but...is it possible they've run a parallel circuit behind where I was working somewhere and...ah I don't even know what I'm talking about now. I've wired this box exactly as I've always done and been taught, but I have a feeling they did something fancy or abstract in this circuit somewhere and my wiring has messed that up somehow.

Edit: It all worked fine when it was hard-wired for testing purposes without the outlet.

Last edited by Fox; 07-13-2010 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 07-13-2010, 04:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oberkc View Post
This wiring looks correct to me, assuming that green is attached to the ground terminals, and white to the neutral. Black wires should be attached to the positive (right side as you look at the plug). This appears to be the way you did it.

I see no relationship to this and to any other devices, including the bathroom. I can only assume that this is downstream from the bathroom, or that your new bathroom problems are coincidental. There is nothing in your diagram that jumps out at me as a cause of your bathroom problems.

Have you confirmed that black supply is positive and not the white? Your original test of the outlet suggests so, but it is probably worth a quick check with a volt meter.

Sorry I could not be more help.
No worries, mate. At this point I'll be ensuring white is indeed not the power line. It's worth a shot. The previous owners of this place were...not the best DIY'ers. I've been cleaning up a lot of their messes.
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Old 07-13-2010, 05:28 PM   #13
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One more question. The outlet, are there any other wires in the outlet box other than what you have in your drawings?
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Old 07-14-2010, 03:06 PM   #14
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Thanks all of you who said "Check which line is hot!" I'll explain how the original wiring of the house confused me:

The only hot line in the electrical box is the black wire in the 14/3 cable.

The electrician went from the box in the basement against the back wall, up to the outlet, then ran 14/3 to the switch, and used the red wire to control the top receptacle back where it came from. The 14/2 in the box continues inwards in the house towards other outlets and the bathroom.

The concept of doubling back over the same wiring is one I've not encountered before and not one I'd considered. I'll now rewire the outlet box and ignore the red wire completely.

Thank you all very much for your help. While I'm sure I would have eventually figured it out myself, you all saved me a ton of trouble with a much more targeted approach, as I'd not have come at the problem from that angle for a good long while!
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Old 07-14-2010, 03:12 PM   #15
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Thanks for the final wrap-up. It's always good to hear the outcome.
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