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Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3588
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 a light switch that was very hot...and was actually

Customer Question

I have a light switch that was very hot...and was actually slightly melted...
it has three wires coming into the box and it had the 3 black wires connected into the back of the light switch...
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome to Just Answer. My name is ***** ***** I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question.

1) What type of switch do you have, a 3 way ON/OFF switch or a dimmer switch?

2) Does the switch contain 2 brass and 1 black screws?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
its a single switch, not a dimmer. It has 3 wires coming into the box. 3 blacks connected to the back, and the remaing 3 white are all connected together and the 3 copper are wrapped together.
the problem is that it was very hot and the switch was actually slightly melted.. I have another Lutron switch.. just not sure how to do it and wonder if I have a bigger issue. or was it just a bad switch
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
is it easier to talk.. I can probably describe better on the phone
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) Is the switch a 3-way or a single pole switch? How many screws on the switch and the screw colors?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
single pole switch.. I don't have the switch.. still connected.. I turned off the circut breaker...
It is NOT a 3 way
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
it has 3 sets of wires coming into the box.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
the switch that is currently connected has 2 brass screws on one side and a green ground on the other... I have a replacement Lutron switch with 2 brass screws on one side a single brass screw on the opposite side as well as a green grounding screw. Can I connect the 3 BLACK wires to the back of this Lutron switch to replace the other switch??? is there a particular order?
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

OK, thanks for the replies.

1) Not sure why you have 3 wires inserted into the back-stab insert holes? I've never seen a single pole switch that has 3 back-stab insert holes.

Back-stab insert wires are always prone to fail and can easily come loose. Wires on switches and receptacles should always terminate to a screw terminal.

2) How many lights are controlled by this switch?

3) How many switches control the lights, just this one switch or also another switch?

4) Do you have a 2 wire lead AC voltage tester (a contact type) or an AC voltmeter available?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
1) I know it is odd.. I am somewhat familiar with wiring... but this is out of my league. especially since the switch was hot and is damaged and melted because of the heat.2) 1 light is controlled by the switch
3) this is the only switch that controls the light
4) I do have an AC voltage tester..
But as I said I turned off the breaker as it was hot and didn't want it to get worse.This wireing is part of a home expansion that was done 8 years ago... addition to the house.. this is ontop of my garage and is actually in a small workout room. There is a theater room next to it.. So this has worked fine for years... why would it fail now...
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
you still with me?
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for the replies.

1) If only 1 switch location controls the light, that is a single pole switch. All single pole switches will contain 2 brass screws and 1 green ground screw. The Leviton switch that you purchased is a 3-way switch since it contains 3 switch screws and 1 ground screw. You need a single pole switch as the replacement and not a 3-way. See link shown below for a single pole switch replacement sold at Home Depot:

2) Turn the breaker back to the ON position and measure for a constant 120 volts on one of the switch screw terminals. Only 1 screw will have a constant 120 volts on it whether the switch is ON or OFF. The other screw terminal will have 120 volts on it only when the switch is in the ON position. You need to confirm which one has the constant 120 volts as that is the hot circuit feed into the switch. Most likely, it will be the side of the switch that has the 2 wires on it. Measure the voltage to a bare ground in the box.

Reply back to me and let me know what you have............Thanks..............Kevin:)

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I understand. still confused with the 3 sets of wires and can I connect the 3 black wires to the back of the single pole switch.
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) Can you take a picture of the exiting switch with the wires still connected so I can see what you have in place?

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.


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