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ProGrade, Certified Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 541
Experience:  28+ years exp. - installation, troubleshooting, & repair of commercial, & residential electrical systems.
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I went to replace the ceiling light in my office and found

Customer Question

I went to replace the ceiling light in my office and found that when I checked the voltage across the black wire and the 2 white pigtailed wires I indeed had no voltage with the switch off, but then I noticed a spark off the 2 pigtailed wires. I then removed the mounting plate on the box and found that there was 3 sets of wires in the box hooked up in the following manner. The blk and wht wire that appears to becoming from the wall switch is opposite of 2 other sets that are coming into the opposite side of the box. The blk wire that is coming from the switch side goes to the ceiling light and the wht wire in the line is pigtailed to the 2 blk wires coming in from the opp side of the box. the 2 wht wires that are coming in from that side are pigtailed and go to the ceiling light. Upon further investigation I found if I undo the 2 pigtailed wht wires that my ceiling light in my kitchen goes out (sort of) is a chandler type hanging light but instead of regular bulbs we are using the screw in fluorescent kind and they are dimly lit and if you turn the switch on they get bright for just a second. This light is on a 3 way switch. In order to get power off to both I have to turn off 2 different breakers in my panel. I would like to fix this...we now also believe this is why we were burning through regular light bulbs in these 2 areas which is why we switched to the fluorescent ones to get more life out of them.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  ProGrade replied 1 year ago.

Welcome to JustAnswer

The only issue that I see in your description is the possibility of a loose neutral which can cause the symptoms you describe. This would be the two white wires where you saw the spark. The wires should be twisted together in a clockwise manner and then have a new wire nut on them to keep them securely connected.

There is nothing wrong with the rest of the wiring that you describe, even the two separate breakers are not unusual. There is a high probability that if you put both circuits on one breaker you would be overloading the neutral because it sounds like it is shared between the two circuits again a common and acceptable practice.