View Full Version : Ceiling box old house.... too many wires....

August 30th, 2003, 06:10 PM

I want to put a nice modern light on my ceiling, but the ceiling 'box' is a very old one with a niple in the middle. I found a solution to the installation of the light itself, but the wires are my problem....

My light only has a white/black/grounding wire, but from the ceiling box a white, black wire and 3 sets of other (fabric covered) wires come out. What do I do with these. When I hooked up only white/white and black/black, the light didn't work.

I am at a loss what to do with those other wires.

August 30th, 2003, 06:43 PM
3 sets of other (fabric covered) wires come out.

Question:You mention 3 sets (this makes me believe you are saying you have three NM wires in the box with three wires coming out of each, or maybe two wires coming out of each--due to age of house). This would give you 9 conductors if you have three coming out of each, but only six, if two are coming out of each--plus the blk and white wire. Or do you mean you have only 3 conductors?

The three sets could be this (if you mean 3 sets of wires): Power in and power out, with a switch leg. If three conductors, then it could mean: you have a 3 wire ran to the box (red/blk/white).

You can do this before answering back (you will need a pin light tester for this task): turn power off. Take your pin light and test for power before next step. If power is present then turn breakers off. Make all wires in your box separate from each other--having a good distance apart. Meaning--do not let them touch. Recheck to make sure wires are not touching, then turn power on. With your pin light, almost touch each wire untill you find the one with power. Once found, take that wire and put a wirenut on it, so you can remember which wire is hot. If you have more than one hot wire--which you shouldn't have--then cap it as well. Turn power off.

Once you are done doing this, get back to us. Later we will find the switch leg (this will be the wire going to the switch). If you have a continuity tester, then this would help you greatly! You can get a cheap one for around $2-3 dollars. But they are to be used on dead wire only (power MUST be off).

August 30th, 2003, 07:05 PM
Sorry that it was a bit unclear.
Thanks for the help already, I did the stuff below before I read your email. I have the 3 sets of wires separated as they were when I opened the box.

With 3 sets I mean: 3 sets of two wires.
Thus there are 8 wires in total (3x2 +black+white).

When I installed a lamp on another box on the same ceiling, I didn't have any problems. There the configuration is as follows (I just checked this...):
- black on black only
- white on white connected together with 3 of the 6 fabric covered wires
- the remaining 3 fabric covered wires taken together and capped off (isolated, no further connection)

Does this make sense to you?

Before I checked my successful light, I configured the problematic one as follows:
- white on white with 2 of the three of the fabric covered wires
- black on black with 3 of the fabric covered wires
- the last remaining fabric covered capped off
(I thought to remember this was what it was when I opened it 1st time..... :( )

Now: the light works, but it doesn't respond to the switch: it stays on.

Hope you can make some sense of this.
Thanks, Patrick.

August 30th, 2003, 07:35 PM
Yeah, you have your SL (switch leg) wirenutted to your line wire (hot wire). This was our next step. You need to find the SL going to the switch. There are many ways of finding the SL, but I have to tell you the safe way. This will consist of you taking all your wires apart again. Remember your connections (Mark your wire if you have too), because you will have to re-wirenut them after we take the sl from the line wires. We are going to do a continuity test. This means you will have to take your switch box apart. Turn power off, and separate all wires again at your fixture box. Now remove your switch, and take all wires apart in that box (make sure you mark your wire for later reconnection). At the light fixture, you will group your wires. This means: You will find the two wires that go together. Each wire has two conductors--this is your set from one wire. Note: Make sure power is off. Wire nut the first set of two. This means: Wire nut the blk and wht wire coming out of the fabric covered insulator. Now go to your switch box (where you should have all the wires grouped together, and separated. Touch your continuity tester on the white/blks from each set until the light comes on (one probr touches the wht, and one probe touches the blk). If the light doesn't come on, then go back to the fixture box, and wire nut the second set (undoing the first one you wirenutted)..............repeat until your continuity light comes on. Once the light comes on, then you've found your SL. Make up Switch box. Go to light fixture box, and make it up, with the blk and wht SL wire standing alone. Meaning: The SL will not be wirenutted to any 14-2 conductors. It will be wire nutted to the light fixtures blk only. Note: If you have two lights jumping together, then this is another subject.

Power in the fixture box is also another subject.

Write back! :wink:

August 31st, 2003, 09:39 AM
Hi Ohm,

I think I found my SL. But I don't understand what you wrote:
"Go to light fixture box, and make it up, with the blk and wht SL wire standing alone. Meaning: The SL will not be wirenutted to any 14-2 conductors. It will be wire nutted to the light fixtures blk only. "

My other lights, that do work, have nothing connected to the blk wire, except for the blk lamp wire of course.
The white wire of the box is connected to several other (3 wires, one of each of the 3 sets).

Do I connect the two wires (they are of the same brown color) of the SL together with the white?
Or do I keep them separated, one capped off, one connected to the white?

Thanks, Patrick.

August 31st, 2003, 12:01 PM
YOu should find a black and white wire connected to your switch. In the light box the white wire of that switch leg should be connected to the other black wires in the light box with exception not connecting the black of the light fixture to that group of black wires and one white wire [being that switch leg wire]. Then the black wire of the switch leg will connect to the black wire of the light fixture.

What you are doing is diverting that hot wires in that light box through the light switch on the white switch leg wire then back to the light box on the black switch leg wire then connecting to the light. The light switch will make an break power coming from the light box to the switch box then going to the black fixture wire. This is how the light is controlled on and off.

Hope this sheds light to what ohm was saying.

Good Luck