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Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3542
Experience:  30 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License
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I have 2 seperate switches in one box. On switch has a white

Customer Question

I have 2 seperate switches in one box. On switch has a white and red wire attached. I am changing out the other switch that has a black wire and a ground wire. I have a small white jumper wire... Where do i attach to on each switch?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 years ago. name is ***** ***** I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question. My goal is to exceed your expectations on Just Answer!
1) Sounds like you have 2 separate single pole switch controls a load from only one location, is that correct?
2) Do you have (1) one white house wire and then it is spliced into 2 separate small white jumper wires.....with one jumper going to each switch?
3) You mention the other switch only has a black and a ground wire? Both switches should contain a ground wire. What is the other wire color on this switch? The small white jumper wire?
4) Take a look closely on the white wires. Do any of them have a piece of black electrical tape or black marking on the white insulation?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes it is two separate switches... The white wires arent split... There is a white and red going to one switch and the switch i am replacing only has a ground wire and a black wire left (these 4 wires are coming from the wall) ... I took it apart so fast and didnt remember where all the wires went... The small white wire was connecting the two switches but i dont know from where?I dont see electric tape... The thick white wire (not the jumper) is connexted directly to a screw on the switch
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the replies.
1) The switch that you are replacing most likely had a pigtail splice from the white wire to that switch along with the black wire. Most likely the white house wire is the hot circuit feed and the black and red are the 2 respective switched loops that extend out to the load.
2) If you have an AC voltage tester or an AC voltmeter, you can confirm if the white wire is being used as the hot circuit feed. Most likely it is.
3) If the white is being used as a hot circuit feed into the switch, it should have been re-identified using some black electrical tape since the white wire is not a neutral conductor. Unfortunately many electricians fail to re-identify white wires when used as a hot conductor, thus the reason to always have an AC voltmeter readily available when doing electrical work.
4) Obtain another 6" piece of white wire and the same size wire gauge as the house white wire. Splice and pigtail the 2 small white jumper wires to the single house white wire. Terminate the small jumper pigtail white to each switch screw located on the bottom of the switch. The correct orientation of a single pole switch is when the OFF is installed on the top of the switch. The bottom screw terminal will be the hot circuit feed or the 2 small whites going into each switch. The respective switch loops black and red leaving each switch will terminate to the screw located on the top where the switch shows the OFF position. The black to one switch and the red on the other switch at the top screw terminals.
Reply back to me and let me know how you make out.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
So black and red wires are attachdd to the top screws... The white on one switch and the jumper are attached to the bottom screw on one switch and then the jumper wire is connected to the bottom screw on thr other.... Still nothing.... I have a volt meter... What should it be reading and what setting should it be on on the dial?
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 years ago.
1) Are the switches single pole or 3-ways?
2) Excluding the green ground screws, how many screw terminals on the switch and what are the screw terminal colors? Does the switch have 1 black and 2 brass screws?
3) How many wall switch locations can the lights be turned ON & OFF from? 1 wall switch or 2 or 3 wall switches controlling the same light?
4) Your original question was as follows:
"I have 2 separate switches in one box. On switch has a white and red wire attached. I am changing out the other switch that has a black wire and a ground wire. I have a small white jumper wire... Where do i attach to on each switch?"
Now you have a black and a red wire terminated to the switch? This conflicts with the wire colors on the original question. Thus the reason, I need clarification. Thanks!
I need to know the quantity and all wire colors that were terminated to the switch whether using the side screws and/or any back-stab insert holes?
5) Set the meter to the AC voltage setting and the 200 volt range. Place 1 meter probe to the white and the other meter probe to a bare copper ground. Flip the switch ON & OFF, do you measure a constant 120 volts from white to ground whether the switch is ON or OFF?
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 years ago.
1) If you can send me a picture of the switches being backed out of the wall box, and with the wires still connected to them, that would be most helpful. Thanks!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No i have a red wire on the top screw on one switch w the white wall wire on the bottom screw...also from that screw i attached the white jumper. The jumper is attached to the bottom screw on the other bottom screw on the second switch. The black wire is to the top screw of the second switch... The screws are all brass..
Doesnt look like i am getting much power to the wires... I reset the fuses in the breaker box and still nothing?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I attached pictures
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the replies.
1) How many brass screws on each switch? 2 or 3?
2) Measure from the red wire to the bare copper ground and from the black wire to the bare copper ground. See if this provides a constant 120 volts? Doubt that it will.
3) Are there any GFCI receptacles that are wired upstream of the switches which may have tripped?
4) Based on your wiring configuration, whenever a white wire terminates to a single pole switch, it is the hot wire and the switched loop wire is the black or red wire. You can drop the light fixture and confirm if the light fixture hot wire splices to either a red or a black wire.
5) If the 2 switched loops are black and red at the light fixtures, then the white wire is definately the constant hot circuit feed. If no voltage measured from white to ground, then somewhere upstream of the wall switches, you have a loose termination or a faulty splice on the white wire or a GFCI is connected and has tripped.
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the pic's.
1) The white wire certainly looks like it is being used as the hot circuit feed into both switches via the white pigtail wire. Looks like the red and black are the 2 switched loops.
2) On the right side switch, I'm only seeing (1) one brass screw on one side of the switch and not 2 brass screws. What are the screws on the other side of the right hand switch?
2) What else resides on this circuit? Other lighting and/or receptacle? If so, do they all work?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
There is another brass screw on the other side. Should the ground wire be attached to the same switch as the hot white wire? Or does it not matter?This is a switch for an outside flood light... The only weird thing is the power to my microwave which is on a whole other fuse and across the kitchen from these switches has stopped working... I dont know if it is a coincedence and it broke or if it shorted out the microwave too?
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 years ago.
1) Bare copper ground wires only terminate to green ground screws on receptacles and wall switches. They never terminate to a brass, silver or black screw.
2) Do you have a 3 prong grounded extension cord available? You can plug the cord into another known working grounded receptacle and we can determine which wire in the wall switch box is causing the problem.
3) Take a voltage measurement at the microwave receptacle. Measure as follows:
A) Hot (short slot) to Neutral (long slot). Should = approximately 120 volts
B) Hot (short slot) to Ground (round hole). Should = approximately 120 volts.
C) Neutral (long slot) to Ground (round hole). Should = 0 volts or close to it.
3) Double check all of your GFCI receptacles and make sure none have tripped and they can all reset. Also check if you have GFCI breakers which will contain a "test" button.

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