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I have 3 wires and 3 black wires, and I'm trying to hang a…

I have 3 white...

I have 3 white wires and 3 black wires, and I'm trying to hang a kitchen light I can't seem to get it to work.

Contractor's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. How long have you been dealing with this?

2 days

Contractor's Assistant: Do you plan on doing the work yourself?

Yes

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Answered in 2 minutes by:
12/13/2017
Mike G.
Mike G., Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 8,426
Experience: Proven Professional 49 years Experience
Verified

Hi, I'm Mike and I'll be assisting you. Please stand by while I review your question.

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Do you have a 2 wire boltage tester?

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Do you have a 2 wire voltage tester?

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
I do
Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Are you still there?
Sam I
Sam I, Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 865
Experience: Maintenance Electrician, Electrical Contractor, Locomotive Electrician
Verified

Hello, it looks like Mike was opted out?

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I can help you.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
He stopped responding.

Assuming the power is off at the ceiling box, you want to find the romex going down to your switch. You will need the ohm setting on your meter

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Sorry I only have a voltage tester that lights up if the wire is hot

oh ok. Then cap or tape the ends of all wires for safety and turn the power on. Test for voltage and note which cable it comes from.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Ok

Tell me this, do you have only one light fixture controlled by this switch?

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
only one

ok, so in your situation I'm certain that you have one cable power in, one cable power out to another outlet, and one cable to your switch.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Okay, what do I need to do. I have separated all the white wires and all the black wires, I turned on the switch and only one of the black wires is showing power running to it.

ok, mark or make note of which one that is. That is incoming power from the panel

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turn power back off then we will try to find the switch cable

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Okay, I marked the black wire that has power running to it. And panel is turned off now what do I do?

Connect that black wire to only one of the other black wires. If you see one exiting the box in the direction where the switch is try that one. Then turn power back on and see if there is power on the white wire that is a companion in the cable of the black wire (not the incoming power) you just connected

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If no power, flip light switch and test again

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Okay I did what you said, and now one of the white wires also has power going to it.

And does it go away on the white if you flip the switch?

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
No

ok, so that might be the power out. Turn off power and disconnect that black and connect only the 3rd black wire. Then do the same test

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
I did what you said to do with the black wire, now the power that I had running to my first white wire is gone and has now jumped to a different white wire. The power to this white wire still stays on even when I switch the light switch on and off.

well that's not supposed to happen. Make sure the wires are spread out from each other so there's as little interference as possible

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then the test again and flip switch

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
I made sure all the wires were separated as far as they could from one another, ran the tests over again, still the same results. When I switch black wires, the power switches to different white wires. And those white wires stay hot no matter if the wall switch is on or off.

Hmm, well for this problem you will need to check the wiring in your switch box to see what is hooked to the switch. Also you may need a 2 wire meter to test ohms to find the switch cable

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Took the switch off the wall, there is a white neutral and a black hot ran to the switch.
Ok, that’s what I thought.
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Now what?
Unfortunately you’ll need a multi-meter to test the switch cable on the ohm setting.
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
I got a multi meter now.
Ok, set it to the ohm setting 300 range if there is one.
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Test the leads together and Make sure it reads 0
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Ohms are represented by the Greek Omega symbol
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Ok the lowest ohm I have is 200 the next highest 2000
Ok 200 is fine
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Ok now what
After testing the leads together, test between a set of black and whites at the ceiling box. You should see white or yellow jacketed cables coming into your ceiling box. Each of those has a white and black.
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Test the two sets and note the reading. Then flip the switch and test both again and there should be one that changes
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That one should be the switch cable. Let me know what you get
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Just a reminder you don’t need to do this test with the black incoming power and it’s matching white wire
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Also power should be off for this
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
I'm not testing the cables coming down from my ceiling box, I'm testing the wires running to my ceiling box?
Correct. Everything should be disconnected and separated
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Okay give me a minute, I need to get in my attic
The light is in the attic?
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I think you misunderstand. You test the white and black wires in the ceiling box. The wires are inside the cables. You should be able to see inside your ceiling box which sets of black and white wires are a pair in a cable
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
I understand now, now what should I do
After testing the leads together, test between a set of black and whites at the ceiling box. You should see white or yellow jacketed cables coming into your ceiling box. Each of those has a white and black.
18:28Test the two sets and note the reading. Then flip the switch and test both again and there should be one that changes
18:29That one should be the switch cable. Let me know what you get
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
The power at my breaker box should be on correct
No off
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Okay breaker box is off, wall switch is off.
Ok go ahead and do the tests at the ceiling
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
I'm not getting a reading from either of the three sets
Ok flip the switch and try again. You can skip the power set
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Okay I only got a reading from one set.
Ok mark that one that you got a reading from as your switch cable
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
I marked them, what next
Connect as shown, power up then test
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Sorry, I'm having a bit of a hard time reading your diagram room
It’s not a room. The circle is the ceiling box. The rectangle is the switch box
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Ok one second
Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Okay so I got the light to work, but I guess when you asked me if there was more than one thing connected to that panel on the breaker I was wrong because there is and they're not turning on now.
The way I have the diagram it should be always on and not turning off or on by the switch
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There shouldn’t be anything off unless there’s a loose wire in a connection you made. Check those to verify
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Correct the light is on it doesn't matter whether or not I turn the switch on or off
Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Now what should I do
You’re sure it was connected the way I drew it?
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
I have everything hooked up like you have it drawn in your diagram
Customer reply replied 8 months ago
When I turn the breaker on the light is on, and then when I go to the wall switch and try to turn it on and off the light continues to stay on. No matter what position the switch is in.
Customer reply replied 8 months ago
What are my next steps
Can you take a picture of the wiring in the ceiling box and upload it here?
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Were able to tell what black and whites were pairs?
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Ok I think you got one of the white wires mixed up
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Are you comfortable testing for voltage on a live circuit?
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
what do I need to do
Take the multi meter set to volts and test between the power black and each white and tell me what you get
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Make sure it’s on AC Volts
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
600 or 200
600
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
What color probe of the multimeter goes on the black wire
It doesn’t matter with AC volts
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
I'm getting a hundred and twenty-three volts red from the hot black and middle White. The white on the left, and the white on the right are not picking up any readings
Ok those two are your power in. Turn off the light switch and test between those two again
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Same reading 123

ok. turn power off and tape those two together or twist them together a bit so they don't get confused

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Then turn meter back to ohms. Turn switch to on postion and test between the black and white you think is the cable going to switch and tell me what reading you get exactly. Then turn the switch off and test again

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
The only set up wires I'm getting a reading from are the middle set again. This is the same set that I was only getting a reading from when I was on voltage.

Are you sure that's the switch that controls that light?

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you didn't tell me the reading exactly. Did you test the meter leads and get 0 before you tested? Was it 0 or OL between the other black and whites?

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ok. take the wires off the switch and connect them together. Then test at the ceiling again

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
I can't seem to get an accurate reading. The last one I took was -122.2
Customer reply replied 8 months ago
That reading was from the middle white and middle black wire.

power is still off and you are on ohms?

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test between all blacks and whites except for the two that are power. Let's call the power set #1, So test black #2 to white #2 then between black #2 and white #3. Then between black #3 and white #3 and then between black #3 and white #2

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
That was with the power to the breaker box turned on, and the switch on the wall turned off that goes to the light. And yes I'm on ohms. Which is the setting with the omega symbol and I have it set to 200 like you've told me from the beginning.

ok, power should be off like I said earlier when you test ohms

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Is that the power at the breaker box or the light switch

Power from breaker because you're testing ohms trying to find the switch circuit

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Breaker is off, my meter is set 200 ohms, and the meter is not reading anything between all three sets

ok flip the switch and test between all blacks and whites except for the two that are power. Let's call the power set #1, So test black #2 to white #2 then between black #2 and white #3. Then between black #3 and white #3 and then between black #3 and white #2

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
I did what you described still no reading

yeah those are ground wires

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Well nothing else that I'm touching is giving me a reading

Can you send a pic of the wires in the switch box?

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Wow, ok. Did all this work previously?

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
everything worked before I took the old light fixture down and try to put the new one up

All the stuff that wasn't coming on before, was that on the switch before when everything worked?

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
That switch only controls the light, but that light and a few of the other items are all on the same breaker. Now when I try to turn the breaker on none of the items turn on.

I'm at a loss on this one. From all the tests you've told me the results of it doesn't make sense. I can only assume they're being done correctly so I will have to say that you should bring in an electrician on site to sort this out.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Ok

Sorry we couldn't get it going

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Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 4,476
Experience: 31 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC General Class License
Verified

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

1) Are you able to see 3 separate wire cables sheaths at the ceiling box with each cable sheath having 1 black and 1 white?

2) I see your meter has a continuity tester on it....ie..........the speaker icon? Set your meter to the speaker icon and touch the 2 meter probes together. Does the meter beep?

Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 4,476
Experience: 31 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC General Class License
Verified
Kevin and 87 other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Thank you but I no longer need assistance
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