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Sep 28, 2020 - 7:55:48 AM
Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

12562 posts since 5/24/2005

Ok, I am a pretty good home handy man. However, I confess my weakness is many things electrical.
My home, built in 1912, has some knob and tube still active to ceiling light fixtures, but everything else is more modern stuff.
We also had the two wires that ran from the back of the house to the detached garage for power there. I had a switch in mudroom of house to turn garage lights on and off, and a switch in the garage to turn them on and off. Years ago, I cut those wires down, and capped of at house...with idea of rewiring garage to code.
So, yesterday I was on my ladder to evaluate a rotting trim board and removing unwanted hardware off of the trim to be removed. Then I reached over to see how tight the ceramic knob for one of the wires was on the board. A cutoff wire is still on the knob, but the house switch was in off position. When I touched the wire wrapped knob I got quite a "jolt".

So, why is that wire hot? If switch in house is off.
I seem to recall I could also turn the lights on from either the garage or the house. How was that possible? if switch were off at the house.

Thanks, Brad

Sep 28, 2020 - 8:18:55 AM
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2078 posts since 4/22/2018

Brad, I don't know about US electrical codes or wiring configurations, but if you install 2 x switches to support 1 x lighting circuit you effectively create a loop with a common wire between the switches so that the electrical circuit can be made by operating either switch. Even with one of the switches being in the off position, the circuit is still energised via the common (loop). If you look at a wiring circuit for 1 x lighting circuit 2 x switches you will maybe get an idea.

Sep 28, 2020 - 8:38:26 AM
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phb

Germany

2105 posts since 11/8/2010

If you could switch the light on and off in two places, you have a multiway switching setup. As you can see in this nice diagram, you always end up having one live wire between the two switches:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiway...er_system

Sep 28, 2020 - 9:59:20 AM

1760 posts since 2/10/2003

Correct in a 3 way switch set up, there is no off position for the switch. The switch just flips power between two separate traveler wires. It is not a circuit interrupt switch.

Sep 28, 2020 - 10:42:02 AM
Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

12562 posts since 5/24/2005

Thank you, the information all of you. Especially Philipp's link to the diagrams. These type switches are then throughout my home. between switches in 1rst floor rooms and to a set of switches at the top of the stairs. Either place you can turn ceiling fixture lights on and off.
Brad

Sep 28, 2020 - 10:44:53 AM
Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

12562 posts since 5/24/2005

To complete my mental picture, I will be going home and removing switch plates to check out the switches. They just have never gone bad, so I had no need to look. Not bad for 110 year old equipment.
Brad

Sep 28, 2020 - 10:45:31 AM
Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

12562 posts since 5/24/2005

Then again, curiosity kills the cat. ;-) Brad

taking the shock up a ladder dang near did it.  By I am way past the "nine lives" cat thing.  

Edited by - rinemb on 09/28/2020 10:48:28

Sep 28, 2020 - 10:46:18 AM

donc

Canada

6442 posts since 2/9/2010
Online Now

One of the biggest mistakes in amateur wiring is using the wrong wire in a light switch. A basic light switch only opens one of the two wires going to the light fixture. You can use the non-hot wire to wire through the light switch but then the hot wire still remains hot where it is connected to the light fixture. Always be sure it is the hot wire you are connecting through a light switch. In the old knob and tube wiring there is no black and white color codes. If it is backwards and you touch the hot wire and have your other hand on an aluminum gutter ....ouch !

Sep 28, 2020 - 10:52:16 AM

9668 posts since 8/22/2006

Get you one of these if you haven’t got one already. Then find the circuit breaker for the light switch. You will be glad you did. 

Sep 28, 2020 - 10:52:17 AM
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phb

Germany

2105 posts since 11/8/2010

quote:
Originally posted by rinemb

To complete my mental picture, I will be going home and removing switch plates to check out the switches. They just have never gone bad, so I had no need to look. Not bad for 110 year old equipment.
Brad


Be glad it was only 110V. I once got a 230V hit when I was doing some live surgery on a computer power supply. Ouch. The only reason I got it was because my kids were around and I wanted to get done quickly. Stupid idea...

Sep 28, 2020 - 10:52:45 AM
Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

12562 posts since 5/24/2005

quote:
Originally posted by donc

One of the biggest mistakes in amateur wiring is using the wrong wire in a light switch. A basic light switch only opens one of the two wires going to the light fixture. You can use the non-hot wire to wire through the light switch but then the hot wire still remains hot where it is connected to the light fixture. Always be sure it is the hot wire you are connecting through a light switch. In the old knob and tube wiring there is no black and white color codes. If it is backwards and you touch the hot wire and have your other hand on an aluminum gutter ....ouch !


Yep. I found that out the hard way.   I have all the electronic circuit testing and multi meter gear.  Perhaps I should dig it out before messing around.  I will use a real electrician for any rewire, though.  I am pretty sure my wife will see to that.

One of my favorite -stupid man things to do (mostly out of laziness) was to replace a switch without throwing the breaker.  But I am past that now.  Brad

Sep 28, 2020 - 10:55 AM
Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

12562 posts since 5/24/2005

quote:
Originally posted by phb
quote:
Originally posted by rinemb

To complete my mental picture, I will be going home and removing switch plates to check out the switches. They just have never gone bad, so I had no need to look. Not bad for 110 year old equipment.
Brad


Be glad it was only 110V. I once got a 230V hit when I was doing some live surgery on a computer power supply. Ouch. The only reason I got it was because my kids were around and I wanted to get done quickly. Stupid idea...

 


I used to work on tube amps.  Luckily I was warned and taught how to discharge the caps before going in with the screwdrivers or jiggling stuff.  Again, that activity is in my past. Brad

Sep 28, 2020 - 10:59:09 AM
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Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

12562 posts since 5/24/2005

quote:
Originally posted by 5B-Ranch

Get you one of these if you haven’t got one already. Then find the circuit breaker for the light switch. You will be glad you did. 


When we had our old Federal service replaced with code-appropriate service, the electrician did not relabel our many active breakers.  Got it get that done.  Brad

Sep 28, 2020 - 11:03:50 AM
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rcc56

USA

3174 posts since 2/20/2016

It is very common in the US for switches to switch the ground rather than the hot wire.
In other words, expect a hot wire to have power on it all the time no matter what position the switch is in.
I am a firm believer of disabling any circuit that I work on by flipping the breaker off or removing the fuse.

Sep 28, 2020 - 11:11:07 AM
Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

12562 posts since 5/24/2005

I got my home repair BSA merit badge, but other than fixing a lamp, or changing the fuse, I do not recall much electricity being covered. Then I took a pre-vo class in electricity and I guess I did not learn much, other than how to make stuff, like hot dog cookers, and building a working motor-from scratch...no pre-made parts. I must have slept through multi-switches.
Brad
I retained more with the Woodworking pre-vo class.

Sep 28, 2020 - 12:51:47 PM

Owen

Canada

6515 posts since 6/5/2011
Online Now

 
Originally posted by rinemb.

<snip> One of my favorite -stupid man things to do (mostly out of laziness) was to replace a switch without throwing the breaker.  But I am past that now.  


I've done that, but I looked at it as a challange rather than being done out of laziness....the extra care was probably more "work" than flipping the breaker.    I learned it [along with learning to take adequate care ??] from my dad who was a red-seal electrician. One of his tests for 110V. current was to lick a forefinger/thumb and then give the wire a quick swipe/pinch.   I never liked that one very much, but, like Brad, I'm past that now.

If I was doing electrical work, before starting, my wife or I would work the breaker(s) while t'other watched to be sure the light/circuit was actually "off." For several years we lived in a house built in 1869.... it had had many upgrades over the years, some by qualified tradesman, but many by rank amatooers.  In one instance [breaker definitely "off"...light definitely "out"] there was still power coming to the light fixture I was working on.... we double-checked.... even resorted to using the multimeter.  I just chalked it up to "one for the rank amatooers" and was thankful that my dad had showed me a work-around.

Sep 29, 2020 - 8:40:50 AM

55756 posts since 12/14/2005

Brings back one painful memory.
Ceiling fixture over the kitchen sink in Mom & Dad's 100 year old house had gone bad.

So I said I'd fix it.
They were away, but sister Jane was there.
Turned on the kitchen lights, went to the basement, and told her to yell out, when they went off.
Removed the first fuse, and they were off.
Didn't want to mar the countertop. so I took off my shoes, and was standing in the stainless steel sink in  my socks.

(I had poured myself a glass of that good old WELL water a few minutes earlier, and the sink was damp.)
Took a jolt from the fingertips to the toes!
Turns out the old way of wiring had a fuse in the HOT side and in the NEGATIVE side, and I had taken out the negative.

Worse yet, when I TRIED take out the hot side fuse, it had been in there SO LONG, that it had corroded in, and the SOCKET tore loose from the rusted box.

Me being me, I was able to cobble up a ceramic light fixture as a fuse holder, and get things working.
(For you Young Moderns who only know of circuit breakers: those old fuses and light bulbs had the SAME screw base!)



But I advised them to get a REAL electrician down there to upgrade.

Which is what eventually happened.

Edited by - mike gregory on 09/29/2020 08:43:05

Sep 29, 2020 - 9:26:17 AM

10838 posts since 1/15/2005

Brad .... just remember, as already stated, this is a "three way" switch and not a "two" way switch which are sometimes confused because you may think a two way switch can be cut off from two locations. However ......... don't think that this could not be a "four" way switch which means that it can be controlled from three locations. I have one for my main kitchen light where I can turn it on from the great room, which opens up to the kitchen, or my office which is adjacent to the kitchen and used to be the dining room.

Sep 29, 2020 - 10:32:48 AM
Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

12562 posts since 5/24/2005

My plan is to install modern wiring. from the house to the garage. Maintain the ability to turn lights on or off from garage or mud room at back of house...and, wire for an electric garage door opener as well,,so I will need independent power for this.
Is that all do-able?
Brad

Sep 29, 2020 - 1:03:05 PM

2078 posts since 4/22/2018

Theoretically it could be done, but I don't know if you'd get it 'signed off' from an electrical safety/code perspective. I have a detached workshop/shed which has it's electrical wiring back to own consumer unit (fuse board) which is fed by a supply from the main house consumer unit. I personally wouldn't attempt what you are wanting to do, but that's because I'm an amateur electrician at best. I have basic electric oil filled radiators in my workshop and I do control them remotely, but via smart plugs and good old Amazon Alexa. i think you need to talk to a sparky Brad - ten minute chat would probably sort everything out,

Sep 29, 2020 - 3:17:38 PM
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Paul R

Canada

13207 posts since 1/28/2010

Will you be using conduit to run your wires? You should be able to run enough power, but check with your municipal inspectors.

When we bought our Toronto house (circa 1900) in '82, the wife's brother installed a line to the outside of the house. He tested the circuit and it came negative, but when he put the pliers on to cut the line, it blew a hole in the pliers. It turned out that everything was double fused.

So we got my brother-in-law's brother, got the permit and the stuff, and we (mostly he) installed a breaker box. From then on I was able to run new wires and install new breakers. We replaced a lot of knob and tube. Learning on the job.

Old houses = start one small job, end up doing a big job, often consisting of many small jobs.

Sep 29, 2020 - 9:15:01 PM

10838 posts since 1/15/2005

I'm in the process now of trying to get electricity to a garden fountain that is about 50' from my garage on the other side of my concrete driveway. We had an electrician over and he wanted to run the wire about 150' all the way back to my breaker box on the side of the house near my heat pumps. I could never get him back over to the house to start work, so I decided I was just going to by a 100' extension cord (14 gauge) and run it from an outlet in my garage, over the garage door, drill a hole through the garage wall and run it overground the last 40-30' to the fountain pump. Eventually I will get around to burying the extension cord wire if I decide to make it permanent. I wish I could put it in a conduit, and bury it, but I would have to cut off the plug and buy another plug and reconnect the wiring. I really just don't want to do that. Hopefully I remember where I buried the wire and never hit it. I will probably put some colored flagging tape about 6" above the wire and will hit it first before I get to the wire.

Sep 29, 2020 - 10:07:40 PM

Paul R

Canada

13207 posts since 1/28/2010

I'm not sure about that, John. We lost cable to chipmunks once. The Mrs. calls the east side of the house the chipmunk condo. Rodents gotta chew.

Ever watch Holmes on Homes?

Do everything to code.

Sep 30, 2020 - 12:17:56 AM

2078 posts since 4/22/2018

quote:
Originally posted by BanjoLink

I'm in the process now of trying to get electricity to a garden fountain that is about 50' from my garage on the other side of my concrete driveway. We had an electrician over and he wanted to run the wire about 150' all the way back to my breaker box on the side of the house near my heat pumps. I could never get him back over to the house to start work, so I decided I was just going to by a 100' extension cord (14 gauge) and run it from an outlet in my garage, over the garage door, drill a hole through the garage wall and run it overground the last 40-30' to the fountain pump. Eventually I will get around to burying the extension cord wire if I decide to make it permanent. I wish I could put it in a conduit, and bury it, but I would have to cut off the plug and buy another plug and reconnect the wiring. I really just don't want to do that. Hopefully I remember where I buried the wire and never hit it. I will probably put some colored flagging tape about 6" above the wire and will hit it first before I get to the wire.


John, it would probably take more time and effort to install the flagging tape than it would to cut the plug off and replace it - it's a very straightforward job and would be worth it to have the pipe in conduit..

Sep 30, 2020 - 4:26:23 AM
Players Union Member

rinemb

USA

12562 posts since 5/24/2005

The lines I run to the detached garage will be in code conduit underground. So I guess there no reason I could not run additional wire ... If needed.??? Brad

Sep 30, 2020 - 4:32:24 AM
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55756 posts since 12/14/2005

Also, run a piece of nylon twine through there, in case you want to add another piece of wire, later on.
Tie the wire to the twine, and pull the other end.

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