Electrical

Electrical Questions? Ask an Electrician Online.

Ask an Expert,
Get an Answer ASAP!

Electrical
This answer was rated:

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

Show More
Show Less
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Answered in 2 minutes by:
12/13/2017
Mike G.
Mike G., Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 8,029
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.

Ask Your Own Electrical Question

Do you have a 2 wire boltage tester?

Ask Your Own Electrical Question

Do you have a 2 wire voltage tester?

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
I do
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Are you still there?
Sam I
Sam I, Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 482
Experience: Maintenance Electrician, Electrical Contractor, Locomotive Electrician
Verified

Hello, it looks like Mike was opted out?

Ask Your Own Electrical Question

I can help you.

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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.

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Ok

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

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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.

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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

Ask Your Own Electrical Question

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

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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

Ask Your Own Electrical Question

If no power, flip light switch and test again

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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?

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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

Ask Your Own Electrical Question

then the test again and flip switch

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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.
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Now what?
Unfortunately you’ll need a multi-meter to test the switch cable on the ohm setting.
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
I got a multi meter now.
Ok, set it to the ohm setting 300 range if there is one.
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Test the leads together and Make sure it reads 0
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Ohms are represented by the Greek Omega symbol
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Ok the lowest ohm I have is 200 the next highest 2000
Ok 200 is fine
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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.
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Test the two sets and note the reading. Then flip the switch and test both again and there should be one that changes
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
That one should be the switch cable. Let me know what you get
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Just a reminder you don’t need to do this test with the black incoming power and it’s matching white wire
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Also power should be off for this
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Okay give me a minute, I need to get in my attic
The light is in the attic?
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
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
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
The power at my breaker box should be on correct
No off
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Okay breaker box is off, wall switch is off.
Ok go ahead and do the tests at the ceiling
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
I marked them, what next
Connect as shown, power up then test
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Ok one second
Customer reply replied 2 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
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
There shouldn’t be anything off unless there’s a loose wire in a connection you made. Check those to verify
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Correct the light is on it doesn't matter whether or not I turn the switch on or off
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Now what should I do
You’re sure it was connected the way I drew it?
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
I have everything hooked up like you have it drawn in your diagram
Customer reply replied 2 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 2 months ago
What are my next steps
Can you take a picture of the wiring in the ceiling box and upload it here?
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Were able to tell what black and whites were pairs?
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Ok I think you got one of the white wires mixed up
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Are you comfortable testing for voltage on a live circuit?
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Make sure it’s on AC Volts
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
600 or 200
600
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
What color probe of the multimeter goes on the black wire
It doesn’t matter with AC volts
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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
Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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

Ask Your Own Electrical Question

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

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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?

Ask Your Own Electrical Question

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?

Ask Your Own Electrical Question

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

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
I can't seem to get an accurate reading. The last one I took was -122.2
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
That reading was from the middle white and middle black wire.

power is still off and you are on ohms?

Ask Your Own Electrical Question

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

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
I did what you described still no reading

yeah those are ground wires

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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?

Ask Your Own Electrical Question

Wow, ok. Did all this work previously?

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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?

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 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.

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Ok

Sorry we couldn't get it going

Ask Your Own Electrical Question
Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 4,032
Experience: 31 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician 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: 4,032
Experience: 31 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License
Verified
Kevin and 87 other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you
Ask your own question now
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Thank you but I no longer need assistance
Ask Kevin Your Own Question
Kevin
Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 4,032
4,032 Satisfied Customers
Experience: 31 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License

Kevin is online now

A new question is answered every 9 seconds

How JustAnswer works:

  • Ask an ExpertExperts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional AnswerVia email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction GuaranteeRate the answer you receive.

JustAnswer in the News:

Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.

What Customers are Saying:

You did one super job of explaining to me everything there is to know about this fridge. I'm looking forward to asking you questions in the future.

JimmyBagley, IA

Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help.

Mary C.Freshfield, Liverpool, UK

This expert is wonderful. They truly know what they are talking about, and they actually care about you. They really helped put my nerves at ease. Thank you so much!!!!

AlexLos Angeles, CA

Thank you for all your help. It is nice to know that this service is here for people like myself, who need answers fast and are not sure who to consult.

GPHesperia, CA

I couldn't be more satisfied! This is the site I will always come to when I need a second opinion.

JustinKernersville, NC

Just let me say that this encounter has been entirely professional and most helpful. I liked that I could ask additional questions and get answered in a very short turn around.

EstherWoodstock, NY

Thank you so much for taking your time and knowledge to support my concerns. Not only did you answer my questions, you even took it a step further with replying with more pertinent information I needed to know.

RobinElkton, Maryland

< Previous | Next >

Meet the Experts:

Mike

Mike

Master Electrician

1,426 satisfied customers

Licensed Master Electrician - OnQ Certified Data Voice Audio Video Installer

Jason

Jason

Service Technician

3,942 satisfied customers

Over 20 years of experience in all types of installations, troubleshooting, and repairs.

Mike G.

Mike G.

Master Electrician

8,029 satisfied customers

Proven Professional 49 years Experience

Kevin

Kevin

Licensed Electrical Contractor

4,032 satisfied customers

31 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License

AssuredElectrical

AssuredElectrical

Master Electrician

3,264 satisfied customers

Contractor-42+ Years in the ElectricalTrade

electrifier

electrifier

Master Electrician

1,458 satisfied customers

Electrical contractor and electrical inspector for over 24 years with phone and networking expertise

Rich

Rich

Master Electrician

1,115 satisfied customers

Over 35 years residential, commercial, industrial wiring, install, troubleshoot, service, maintain

< Previous | Next >

Related Electrical Questions
have a two three way switch which i would like to change one of switches to outlet
have two 3 way switches and one light which both can turn on and off. I would like to know if I can convert one switch to an outlet. the switches have red, black and white wire. Have no use for both s… read more
Jason
Jason
Service Technician
Associate Degree
3,942 satisfied customers
I have one box with two switches and one receptacle. How can
I have one box with two switches and one receptacle. How can I find a diagram to wire it properly… read more
Electrical Doctor
Electrical Doctor
Master Electrician
Associate Degree
8 satisfied customers
Hello. One of my light switches suddenly stopped working. I
Hello. One of my light switches suddenly stopped working. I assumed the switch went bad, and after connecting the new switch, nothing. Other outlets/lights that are wired to the same fuse work fine. S… read more
electrifier
electrifier
Master Electrician
Bachelor's Degree
1,458 satisfied customers
I am attempting to wire a smart switch to replace the switch
I am attempting to wire a smart switch to replace the switch for the light in my dining room. The smart switch shows attachments for hot, neutral, ground and load, but in my box there are two neutral … read more
Kevin
Kevin
Licensed Electrical Contractor
4,032 satisfied customers
Need to wire my food truck outlet on the outside of the
hello, need to wire my food truck outlet on the outside of the truck. I have a 30 amp breaker box... The outlet on the outside of the truck caught on fire because of the way he wired it lol - needless… read more
Mike G.
Mike G.
Master Electrician
8,029 satisfied customers
Have one room 2nd floor. 4 wall outlets and a light switch
Have one room 2nd floor. 4 wall outlets and a light switch in closet. Quit working. Utilizing a shop vac, drywall sander in 2 different outlets. Just quit. Breakers not blown. … read more
Kevin
Kevin
Licensed Electrical Contractor
4,032 satisfied customers
I have a dual outlet wall receptacle with two sets of wires
I have a dual outlet wall receptacle with two sets of wires attached to it. I want to split this receptacle so that one outlet is controlled by a switch and add another unswitched dual outlet "downstream." Is this possible and if so, how should it be wired? Thanks. … read more
Kevin
Kevin
Licensed Electrical Contractor
4,032 satisfied customers
I am trying to add a power outlet to wall. The light switch
I am trying to add a power outlet to wall. The light switch above it has 2 wires(black and white) and ground. I was told to run black wire from outlet to switch and leave black wire attached the switc… read more
Kevin
Kevin
Licensed Electrical Contractor
4,032 satisfied customers
On a Leviton 6404 dimmer switch there are two black wires.
On a Leviton 6404 dimmer switch there are two black wires. Which one should be connected to the incoming power? … read more
Kevin
Kevin
Licensed Electrical Contractor
4,032 satisfied customers
I am replacing an electric outlet that has 3 sets of wires,
I am replacing an electric outlet that has 3 sets of wires, 3 white, 3 black, and 3 ground. The tabs between the screws are intact and it is not a switched outlet. 2 white wires are stabbed in the bac… read more
Mike G.
Mike G.
Master Electrician
8,029 satisfied customers
4 prong outlet for a electric car which wires go where. New
4 prong outlet for a electric car which wires go where … read more
Mike G.
Mike G.
Master Electrician
8,029 satisfied customers
I am trying to replace an outlet. Red wire backstabbed high.
I am trying to replace an outlet. Red wire backstabbed high. Black wire back stabbed low. Black wire looped to screw low. My new outlet only has screws, no back stabs … read more
Kevin
Kevin
Licensed Electrical Contractor
4,032 satisfied customers
Wiring diagram for outlet on a switch the to a light on same
wiring diagram for outlet on a switch the to a light on same switch … read more
David Bowden
David Bowden
Owner
575 satisfied customers
Which wires go where? In replacing a switch and outlet in
Which wires go where? In replacing a switch and outlet in the bathroom I mistakenly didn't label the wires before I ran down to answer the door now I don't know where the three main lead wires into th… read more
Mike G.
Mike G.
Master Electrician
8,029 satisfied customers
I need to wire a switch and 2 outlets in same box) without
I need to wire a switch and 2 outlets in same box) without the switch controlling the outlets. The switch is for a ceiling light. Thanks. … read more
Eddie
Eddie
Home Improvement Contractor and Repairs
High School or GED
1,082 satisfied customers
Question on wiring GFCI outlet... Late 80's...and no. Outlet
outlet is under the sink...bottom outlet goes to switch on the wall… read more
Sam I
Sam I
Electrician
482 satisfied customers
Wiring a gfci outlet in kitchen (had old normal outlet) and
Wiring a gfci outlet in kitchen (had old normal outlet) and have disposal and over sink light in same box. Power comes into outlet. There are also 3 other lines leaving to other outlets in kitchen. Wa… read more
Mike G.
Mike G.
Master Electrician
8,029 satisfied customers
I have a combination switch/outlet that I would like to wire
I have a combination switch/outlet that I would like to wire into a box so that the switch operates the outlet. what would the wiring diagram look like? Thx … read more
Mike G.
Mike G.
Master Electrician
8,029 satisfied customers
Disclaimer: Information in questions, answers, and other posts on this site ("Posts") comes from individual users, not JustAnswer; JustAnswer is not responsible for Posts. Posts are for general information, are not intended to substitute for informed professional advice (medical, legal, veterinary, financial, etc.), or to establish a professional-client relationship. The site and services are provided "as is" with no warranty or representations by JustAnswer regarding the qualifications of Experts. To see what credentials have been verified by a third-party service, please click on the "Verified" symbol in some Experts' profiles. JustAnswer is not intended or designed for EMERGENCY questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals.

Disclaimer: Information in questions, answers, and other posts on this site ("Posts") comes from individual users, not JustAnswer; JustAnswer is not responsible for Posts. Posts are for general information, are not intended to substitute for informed professional advice (medical, legal, veterinary, financial, etc.), or to establish a professional-client relationship. The site and services are provided "as is" with no warranty or representations by JustAnswer regarding the qualifications of Experts. To see what credentials have been verified by a third-party service, please click on the "Verified" symbol in some Experts' profiles. JustAnswer is not intended or designed for EMERGENCY questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals.

Show MoreShow Less

Ask Your Question

x