Anonymous asked in Home & GardenMaintenance & Repairs · 7 years ago

Light switch replacement issue?

I recently ha a light switch short out, and the entire back side melted away. It is a 2 switch wall plate that controls the front porch light (only switch for this) and front hall light (two switches away from each other). The porch light switch is the one that melted and I am unable to determine the switch type.

I purchased 2 3-way switches as the only identifiable switch was a 3-way. Without being able to determine the original wiring for the porch switch, I used electrical guesswork. Everything works with the switches properly, but when I turn on the porch light I lose power to the study attached to the same breaker.

I attempted to change the wiring around on the hall switch, but got the same result. Keep in mind I can only tell the color of the wires on the hall switch due to the covers melting off the porch switch wiring.

I currently have power in the proper places (top connection on the switches). There was a wire going from the hall switch, attached to the porch switch, and back to the house; I assumed this was the ground. By best guess, I aced this wire in the lower right location (looking at the switch from the front) and placed the remaining wire on the lower left. I'm thinking that I may need a regular switch instead of a 3-way, or that the other wire attaches with the ground wires from the other switch.

Thanks for any help.

8 Answers

  • Tony
    Lv 7
    7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    A three way switch is not the way to go.

    You should have some black wires in the box and some white wires in the box. One of those black wires brings power into the box and the other two go out to the lights. Each switch should have power going to one of the two screws (doesn't matter - except NOT the screw attached to the metal frame of the switch - that's for ground). The other screw gets the black wire that goes to the light(s). Since you mention the study looses power, I'd have to guess that the same circuit also provides power to the study via the switch box. That means an additional black wire that goes to the study.

    One black wire comes in (power) and is wire nutted to the power to the study. There's probably two other black wires nutted under the same wire nut that provide power through the switches to the lights.

    ALL the white wires SHOULD be tied together as well should be all the copper ground wires (ground wires nutted together only) (white wires nutted together only). Don't mix wire colors under the same nut.

    WORD OF WARNING: Some circuits are called "Interrupt" circuits because they don't strictly follow the color codes I've given you. So you need to identify exactly what's going on or you could have a bigger mess and more melted stuff, including windows, roof, anything you left in the garage, the front door, the back door, all your furniture, YOUR EYEBROWS. In short, doing it wrong can be disastorous. Unless you know or know someone who knows WHAT you're doing, I'd recommend getting actual help. Help over the internet can not tell exactly how your circuits are wired. Anything we tell you COULD be wrong and COULD result in a fire or other damage.

    Hope this helps.

    'av'a g'day mate.


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  • 7 years ago

    Canada and the USA:

    "There was a wire going from the hall switch, attached to the porch switch, and back to the house; I assumed this was the ground. "

    This is the hot wire supplying power to the light switches; NOT a ground wire. Most switches do not have or require ground wire connections.

    You do NOT switch a Ground or a Neutral or Common wire.

    The Ground wire is a safety device non current carrying conductor (wire) and is connected to the metal switch box.

    The only time the Ground carries any current is if there is a ground fault. Ground fault is when a current carrying wire contacts a grounded component (Ground wire, metal box or any other grounded metal) or a device's insulation breaks down and allows current flow through the ground wire.

    CAUTION: Turn off the power to the circuit supplying the porch and hall lights before proceeding.

    NOTE: When connecting a wire to a screw terminal make sure the wire is wrapped around the screw in a clockwise direction. This is important so when the screw is tightened the loop in the wire does not tend to open and become loose.

    You only use two screw terminals on the three-way switch controlling the porch light.

    One screw is coloured differently than the other 2.

    "There was a wire going from the hall switch, attached to the porch switch, and back to the house"

    Connect this wire to the coloured terminal of the 3-way switch used to control the porch light. If there was another wire connected to that terminal originally, it must also be connected to the coloured terminal.

    Connect the remaining wire to one of the other terminals of the 3-way switch controlling the porch light.

    Make sure your connections are good and tight.

    Turn off the power to the circuit supplying the porch and hall lights.

    If you have connected everything properly, it should work

    The switch toggle should be down when the porch light is off and up when the porch light is on.

    If this does not work, contact a reputable qualified electrician to do the job correctly.

    Source(s): 40 plus years certified electrician.
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  • 7 years ago

    You only need a single pole switch for the porch and a three way for the hall. You have crossed the wires. With the power off, go to the porch lite and remove it. you should be able to figure out which is the switch leg. It normally is size 14 ga wire. Unhook from the light and tie the end together. Now go to your switch box with an ohm meter. It should be a black and white wire. Find the two that you get a reading on your ohm meter. Now attach those two wires to the single pole switch and go to the light and reconnect the wires. Reconnect the remaining wires to the three way switch.

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  • 4 years ago

    To start with: Non contact house use voltage testeers as a rule provide false readings - show energy when there's no vigor if there's a vigor supply near the line you might be checking out. In the bed room, whilst you replaced the swap, you doubtless didn't connect it safely AND/OR whilst you eliminated some retailers, one or more of them may have been in the circuit(s) that deliver the circuits that scan - no vigor. Hire a respectable electrician to assess and correct the work you probably did, read the next: ======================================... Settling on contractors: 1/ seem up nearby contractors first. Figure out from the closest to your region. If someone you trust has had work done similar to yours, ask them in regards to the contractor they used. In the event that they have been absolutely satisfied with their contractor(s), ask for his or her telephone quantity. 2/ pick at least 5 your are interested 3/ Do a google/yahoo search on each of the contractors you are interested in; appear for praises (investigate who is writing the praises to look if they have got any connection to the contractor <scam artists and coffident people as a rule work in agencies> google/yahoo search the individuals giving the reward or references) 4/ if you end up satisfied with at least three contractors per job, have them give you written estimates with important points of work to be done, phrases, assurance(s), fee of extras (how so much do they cost in the event that they find anything not covered by way of the contract), paymant schedules if critical and anything else which you can believe of to defend yourself. 5/ If the contractor tries to pressure you into signing the contract right away with a high deposit (more than 15% - deposits over 10% more often than not usually are not paid untill fabric is delivered and left at your site) reject that contractor. Watch out, high pressure can also be any one who sounds very convincing, but has many explanations why you should signal on the dotted line NOW. 6/ it's normally excellent to have a different grownup with you when a contractor inspects the work to be done. 7/ If you don't get at the least 3 written estimates signed by using the contractor - not you (do not sign but) , go back to 1. Repeat unless you get written estimates signed through the contractor - no longer you (don't sign but). Read the estimates over with some who has some advantage of the work that must be completed. This may increasingly take longer than you inspiration; don't rush into it. Study, resaerch research, helps. If you end up competent opt for through being told. Just right good fortune

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  • 7 years ago

    If the entire back side melted away, you have a serious wiring problem that includes a lack of any over-current protection. There is no possible way you should EVER melt a switch of any kind. Seek professional electrician before you burn the house down.

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  • Jim W
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    Contact a local qualified professional electrician to make the needed repairs. You have a serious problem in the porch light circuit that caused the first switch to melt. Until that is repaired you are hazarding a serious fire and only an onsite person can make the repairs properly.

    Source(s): 50+ years in the electrical industry
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  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    G'day mate. Earth, Neutral, positive... General wiring diagrams cover it all... Although.. if your place burns down your insurance will be void! A clause stating "Any electrical additions, removals or alterations not performed by a licensed electrician (some will demand a written certificate if a claim is made) directly causing (or adding to) damages to insured property/items within this policy are NOT covered". Just thought you should know mate

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  • 5 years ago

    challenging task. lookup over bing and yahoo. this could help!

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