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Mike
Mike, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
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Experience:  Licensed Master Electrician - OnQ Certified Data Voice Audio Video Installer
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I'm probably not going to articulate this properly as I'm

Customer Question

I'm probably not going to articulate this properly as I'm going off of what I gathered from my husband's explanation and watching the trial and error. He installed 2 can lights in a closet. The switch that he set up to control both lights only works for one of the lights. The light for which it does not work, does light up when he activates the hot wire, etc. Do you have any thoughts as to why it won't turn on properly from the switch? Thank you in advance.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

Hello. Welcome to Just Answer.

Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

It's good that he got one of the lights working properly. That usually means finishing up is pretty easy in a case like this.

Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

Where are the wires for the nonworking fixture located, relative to the end opposite the fixture?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I'm sorry I don't quite understand your question, can you please clarify? The light itself works, just not via the switch/box
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

Are you able to post photos here of all of the boxes he has wires in?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I'm sorry, no. I'm at work and probably should have waited to do this. ):
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

I understand. Would you like to continue this chat when you get home? For a very small additional fee, you can call me on the phone, for unlimited consultation. That would also include texting and emailing. Not trying to hit you with more fees or an upsale, just letting you know it's available.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
The problem is that I likely won't explain it correctly. My husband went over all of his steps, checking the wires that he installed (hot, neutral, etc) and was very purplexed as to why the one light didn't work. Is it possible it's a bad switch? He will be back in town tomorrow - I wanted to suprise him with some suggestions
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

Thank you for the additional information. I don't think the switch would be the problem, if it is properly controlling one of the two lights. Do you know if all of the wires from the lights run into the switch box?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thank you and yes I believe they do.
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

OK, great. That makes it easy. So, there should be one set of black/white (ignoring ground wires) bringing live power TO the switch box. There should be two sets of black/white going from the switch box, one to each fixture. Is this accurate so far?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I think so but I'm going off of memory because I am not home, sorry.
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

No worries. If the circuit breaker were turned off, would you feel comfortable trying various connections at the switch box?

Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

Your husband would probably be blown away if he came home and found that you had finished the project. If you aren't comfortable with that, I understand.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I'm sorry I feel I am wasting your time because I am at work and can't physically troubleshoot with you. I'm new to this and should have thought more about it before I reached out.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I'm going to try to reach my husband to see if he can talk to me...
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

No need to apologize. You aren't wasting my time at all. I'm happy to help, no matter how long it takes.

Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

Also, we can continue the chat later, when you are home, if you like.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
This is from my husband so far: There is power coming from source into the box of one of the 2 lights there is a second set of wires that comes from the switch to the same box. one light is wired into that box and one is wired from a wire from that box. The neutral connects to the light, the hot goes to the switch and returns from the switch that has been wired to the light.
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

OK, that's good info. So, the power source goes to a light first, not to the switch first. In that case, we connect the white wire from the source directly to the fixture. We connect the black from the source to the white that goes down to the switch. We connect the black from the switch to the black on the fixture. Am I making sense so far?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Hang on please - I'm going to call him again and tell him this. yippee. :)
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

He can call me directly if he wants to.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
He said the power goes to the switch first
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

Let me review one of your previous posts. We are making progress, and we'll figure it out.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thank you but he said it doesn't make sense for him to call you unless he's at the house, so lets see what we can do here if that's ok
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

You posted - "There is power coming from source into the box of one of the 2 lights". No problem, we have plenty of time. There are no hurries here.

Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

Do you know if he spliced the wires from the source to the wires that go down to the switch... black to black and white to white?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
one moment please...checking
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
He said: "No, black to black and the white from the switch returns power through the switch and is connected to the light's black wire"
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

That's the correct way to wire it. White from the source is connected directly to the white on the fixture, correct?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
correct
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

And that fixture, that has the source white connected directly to it, is working properly, correct?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
the issue is that the light that is connected within that box is always on - even with the switch off. the other light switches on and off even though the other light stays on
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

If we can get the "nonworking" (misbehaving) fixture's wires connected to the other fixture's wires, color for color (black to black and white to white), it should begin operating properly.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
ok thank you, ***** ***** texted that along and will let you know what he says. We can try it when he's home tomorrow night. If it doesn't work, can we email you? How does this work?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
He asked me why daisy chain wires to another fixture then back to the same box?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
might we have a bad fixture?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
hes not sure why it would illuminate without a hot lead being hot
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

As for getting in touch with me tomorrow, you can just reply to this chat then. I'll most likely be Online at that time, and I'll be notified of your reply immediately. I'm not understanding how the wires to the second fixture are routed, unfortunately. But I really don't think it's a serious problem that is keeping it from working properly. If you guys would like to get back with me tomorrow evening, maybe you could post some pictures of the wiring?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Ok that sounds good. We will try to reach you tomorrow. Thank you Jason!
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
The wires to the second fixture run from the same box that the source comes into
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
In that box they connect to the neutral from the source and white/hot lead from the switch
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

Can we talk about that box for a minute?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
sure
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
as in I can text my husband
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

It has the source wires in it, and the switch wires in it, correct?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

Does it also have wires that extend or connect to the properly working fixture?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
three sets of wires in one box: 1) from source, 2) from switch, 3) to other light. connected as stated previously
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

That means there is one more set of wires, which connects to the improperly working fixture. One end of those wires would be in said fixture. Where is the other end of those wires?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
There are only 3 sets of wires, period. The light connects to the return hot from the switch - set 2) and the neutral from the source - set 1)
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

OK. Do you think your husband would be able to sketch out the wiring/fixtures, and post the sketch, along with associated photos tomorrow evening?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
we will try that, thank you.
Expert:  Jason replied 10 months ago.

Happy to help. I'll look for your reply tomorrow. Have a blessed evening!

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