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Mike G.
Mike G., Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 7607
Experience:  Proven Professional 48 years Experience
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Wiring from 1946. I have a wall switch that has been a

Customer Question

Hi. Wiring from 1946. I have a wall switch that has been a single toggle (since then) that i am trying to install a double single pole switch on so i can power the Recessed can lights i installed.
I have installed the switch and only the ceiling fan is powered. There is not another switch that works in tandem - i.e., not part of a three way circuit.
Feeding into the bottom of the box are three wires - black, white, red. Leading out of the top of the box are two wires - black, white(presumably to the fan) The two white wires are taped together but not to the switch. The two black are taped together and are the common HOT. The red wire is on the other side of the switch (though it is coming from below). That circuit is broken by the switch.
The new black or white wires do not have a hot circuit, but if i touch either of them the the old white wires the circuit is made but CANNOT be broken by the switch. I thought if the new black was connected to the old black and the white was connected on the load side that would be the circuit....
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, I'm Mike G and I'll be assisting you. Connect the wires as follows on a double switch.

  1. Connect the 2 blacks to the black screws
  2. Connect the red to a gold screw
  3. Connect the new black to the other gold screw
  4. Connect all Whites together
  5. Connect all ground wires together and to the green screw.
  6. All joints need to be connected with wire nuts not tape.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have done that, and it completes the circuit, but the switch does not break that circuit
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
This is a leviton decora two switch. Two black screws with a break off blade, and two gold screws
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

Did you break the blade?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I did not... The two old blacks are pigtailed into one... So those are connected to one screw. If i break the blade how will the terminal get juice?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
By terminal, I mean the second (new) switch
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

Dot break it. I only wanted to know if you did.

Do you have a double switch or 2 single switches?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I did not break it. It is a double switch
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

Turn both switches on, then turn off the new light. If that works the red is the hot.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
that does not break the circuit.... Should i rewire with red at the hot?
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

Connect the 2 original blacks together with a pigtail to a gold screw. Move the red to a black screw.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Progress... This works the original switch (it was still working with the wires as originally described), but the second switch does not break the new light circuit.... The first switch breaks both
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

Do you have a 2 wire voltage tester?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I do not
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

We need to test the wires to determine why it isn't working. I suggest a Volt/Con type tester. You can get one at any home center. When you have it we can continue.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
sir. Thank you for your time. I'll be in touch tomorrow***@******.***(###) ###-####
Ron
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

You're welcome, come back when you can.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi mike. I have the voltage tester.
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

Very good. What kind did you get?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Klein
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

OK, with one probe on the metal box, touch the other to each wire including the ones in the wire nut. I'm looking for 120V. After finding the hot wire. Touch the probe on the box to all wires leaving the one on the hot wire. Looking for the 2 that show 120V. Testing to be done with the switch off.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Okay, switch in off position.
Touching box and EVERY wire gets no reponse
Touching old black (connected on load side of switch) to 2 whites is the only 120 response
Touching red to old black gets ac/dc response
Old black to new (loose) white gets a/dc response
Touching ground to old black gets ac/dc responseWith original switch on ceiling fan leads get 120 response
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Old black to anything else except old white does not get 120
Old whites to anything else except old black does not get 120Old black to new black gets ac/dc. I have triple checked these responses
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

Connect the new white to the 2 whites touch new black to identified hot wire. New light on??

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Old black and new black are separately attached to 2 load terminals....
Touching new white to old whites works the switch, and can be broken via switch (success)Is it interesting to note blacks are not touching? Interesting that if I simultaneously touch both load terminals with a 'connecting wire' nothing changes?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Am I a knuckle-head, or are these old wires not 'correctly' connected? I am clearly a novice but have been connecting and adding switches /outlets with 100% previous success...
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry but I don't understand your last post. Did it work?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Wait, I am an idiot. Not success. We are back to where we where last night at one point.... The switch i threw was the (old) original switch. That switch is throwing the lights.... And should only be for fan, argh!
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

Back to the ceiling box. Tell me the count and colors of the wires there.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
If i connect the two blacks on the load side with a connecting wire then the lights are on and wont switch off
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

Give me the info on the ceiling box.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ceiling box: one black, one red
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I could just go to one switch an use a pull chain on the fan. One switch works both. I don't like 'rubric's cubes', and my brain has deduced nothing from this.
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

What color fan wires are connected to each of them.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
There is not currently a fan in place
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

The black should connect to the fan black

The red to the fan blue

The white to the fan white.

At the switch the cable with black, red and white connects.

Red and black to gold screws and white to white.

New wires

White to whites black to gold screw on separate switch.

Black hot wire to switches on open termination.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Lets forget the fan at the moment (there are ONLY two wire at the ceiling box)I don't understand your description 'cable with black, red, and whites connect': cable? Connect the black to the red and to the white? (Surely not)The old whites are still connected together and NOT to the switch - i should connect the new white to that, yes?The old red and black connected together? To the load terminal on the original switch? Then where does the power come from on the common side?I am sorry, this has to be really tedious for you.The switches are one over the other - a common (black screw lower and upper) terminal for each on left side (as you face the switch toggles), then on the right side are two gold terminal (load).The lower switch is to remain for the ceiling fan, the upper for the new lights. Please tell me which color and old or new to each of the terminals
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

A&B are black screws. The identified black terminates there

C is the new black to light

D is the old black wire to ceiling

Red wire not used.

All Whites together.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Mike, i dont follow... As you have described there is no wire to connect to A or BWhat is the 'identified black'? There are two old black wires that are pigtailed down to one lead... Do I need to separate those?
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

You identified the black hot having 120V to the whites. That connects to the black screw. Did you desperate them when testing? If so desperate them.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I did not separate them. So that is the issue i guess
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

Separate them. Put the hot on the black screw. If the other is in the same cable as the red wire connect it to the D screw.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That didn't work. Disconnected pigtail and put ceiling old black lead on D, and 'floor lead' old black to A. Didn't connect red (but as one of two wires going to ceiling box i knew that would be an issue). New black on C. All whites together.... Ceiling box not hot, new lights on, and throwing switch left lights on, BUT interrupted power to a wall outlet. MYSTERY OF PIG TAIL SOLVED. So I connected both old blacks to A, red to D, and now ceiling box is hot and can be broken with switch, wall outlet is uninterrupted..... New ceiling lights on and uninterrupted by switch. Isn't the solution to put new black on B, and new white on C (which I believe was my first connection that didn't work). The white to the other whites is bypassing the switch, no?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
If new black is on C is should be interrupted by switch, but isn't. I can swap the two switches to see if the upper switch is faulty, but I suspect that isn't the case.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
New black to B, new white to C gives me no juice.... Do i need to tie in 2 old whites to C.??
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

I can only work with the information you give as a result of the testing.

  1. Only one wire is the hot feed to the box.
  2. Only one white is the feed neutral
  3. The remaining whites are returns on all circuits switched or not.
  4. Having a black and red at the ceiling box, you have a black and red in one cable in the switch box. Use of either on a gold screw makes it switched. The other if not used is capped.
  5. The black from.the new cable connects to a gold screw and is switched.
  6. If there are any remaining blacks and there are receptacles , that would be connected to the black screw on the switch making it hot and not switched.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I guess it's too late... Tying old whites to C with new white on C threw the breaker. I give up.
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

The whites are neutrals and never connect to the switch. That's why it tripped. I gave you the purpose of all the wires and there connections. Of the switch is good and the bridge between the black screen is unbroken, just follow the instructions. At this point I can't offer you more than I have and I'll opt out. Possibly another expert will continue with you but I don't think anyone could offer more. Good luck.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
But all loads need two wires. The new light load is either on and not breakable, or isn't.
I don't know what to do, wiring is back as it was and new load not attached in any way that makes it breakable.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Good night.