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AssuredElectrical, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 4241
Experience:  Contractor-42+ Years in the ElectricalTrade
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Will try and keep this simple. My husband and I were adding

Customer Question

Will try and keep this simple. My husband and I were adding recessed lighting to our daughter's home and were adding it to four way switching. The switches had only been connected to the living room outlets. We tried several different things and could not get the lights and outlets to work together. To keep things simple we rewired with new outlets to get them off the switches (since we were putting in lighting our daughter was fine with the outlets free of the switches). We used a tool to check live current on the wires and realized the red, black, AND white were all hot depending on which switch was on or off. We were adding the new light wire to the last switch (not the master). We realized the white neutral on the lights needed to be wired to a neutral wire and the white on the switch is not neutral. We ended up wiring the new black to the black, which was on the black screw, the red to red on one of the lower screws, and the original switch white wire to the other lower screw- basically just how the switch was originally wired- but with the new black to black. We then had to find a neutral for our new white wire from the lights. There was another switch in the box on a different circuit. We wired the white to the bundled white wires in the box that were from the wires on the other switch. We assumed that works even though it's a different circuit. It gives the white a patch to ground, which is all you need right? Just want to know if we are right. The lights work perfectly. Another question. What if there had not been another bunch of wires in that box? What would you do with the neutral from the new lights? Sorry this is so long.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  AssuredElectrical replied 2 years ago.

Welcome. My name is ***** ***** would be glad to assist.

Thanks for the details, they make a difference in understanding the situation.

It may not be what you wish to hear, but I have to provide the correct instruction here for yours and anyone else s safety.

The hot and neutral going to the lights MUST be on the same circuit. This is the NEC (National Electric Code)

Code requires that they run together for this reason:

1. Most people do not understand electricity. The white wire carries the same amount of current as the black hot wire.

It returns the current back to the origin of power, which in your case is the utility transformer.

For that reason, if you turn off the breaker to those added lights, the neutral is on another circuit which is still supplying power around the home to other items.

So, any connection that is undone on those lights while the others are still powered, will be carrying current and can cause electrocution.

On installing the lights, if you run a cable form the controlled receptacle, you would parallel the lights with the receptacles on the switch and they would work fine.

This is what is done in those cases on homes with the switched receptacles. Then you can leave the receptacles switched or swap over to only the lights.

The 3 way switch has no neutral connection of course, only 3 terminals that flip flop on the power as you flip a 3 way or 4 way switch.

The other 3 way switch probably had the power and neutral in its box.

Hope that explains the situation. let me know anything unclear.


Customer: replied 2 years ago.
it's just a matter of both circuits being live so if you work on one you need to shut off both. We can't access the other switch for those lights. The one that probably has the neutral. I think they need an electrician to do this . She wants to put dimmers on. We were just making sure everything worked.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
it's the master or first three way (actually four way) switch that has the power and neutral?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Sorry- thinking as I'm writing. So it's the other current that would still be live (the one with the neutral) if we ever needed to work on that, the other current would have to also be shut off.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Sorry- cuircut not current. hahaha
Expert:  AssuredElectrical replied 2 years ago.


There are so many ways to wire 3 ways and 4 way switches.

Somewhere, and usually this is at one of the 3 ways, the circuit power is located. That is where the light or receptacle gets its neutral.

Without knowing all the wires at each 3 way and the connections inside the box , could anyone tell you how yours is actually wired.

Cutting off the other circuit in your situation, would make it safe to work, but it is still violating the code, because someone else down the road will get the shock.

The home may even be sold, rented etc. No way to insure 100% that everyone is safe,

That is why it is not allowed to be installed that way.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I think we need to either take our continuity tester or hire an electrician because they want dimmer, which is gonna maybe be complex depending on how it's wired. I get what you're saying. It makes their house unsellable with the way it is right now. Other than that there is no other danger? This was my only question and I didn't realize I as getting sucked into a continuing thing that would charge me every month. I'm willing to make this payment but can you tell me how to stop further payments?
Expert:  AssuredElectrical replied 2 years ago.

Ok, I do understand.

On the site, just do not sign up for the membership. It then works on a one question at a time basis.

I do not work on that end, I use and sign into the site the same way you do, only a working expert.

We get credit when the customer performs the rating.

It shows you put the initial deposit for this question, so that is all done.

Should not be anything else. Again, just decline any membership they offer and there are no other charges.