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Ted
Ceiling lamp won't work

I live in a a very new apartment complex and I put up a simple ceiling lamp in the living room (we are allowed to put up a light/fan if we wish). I have done this a number of times at other places, including an apartment within this same complex, but this is the first time I have had any problem. I connected the black with the black, the white and the white, and then the ground to the green screw, and capped the red wire, but the lamp doesn't light up. A simple voltmeter (its a cheap one) detects *****when the light switch is thrown. Shows ***** down through the bulb socket. I attached the wires of the lamp to a plug, and it lit the bulb just fine. What am I doing wrong? Is it possible that I am getting a phantom voltage reading and that there really isn't enough ***** up there? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Re: Ceiling lamp won't work

If the red wire is part of the house wiring it should be connected to the black on the new light.

The red wire is the one usually selected to feed the ceiling light.
And, as you suspected, you may be getting a false signal due to phantom reading.

Good Luck from Columbiana, Alabama
Maurice Turgeon, thesemi-retiredelectrician.com

Ted
Re: Ceiling lamp won't work

I tried a number of things now. I did get a better tester and it shows 120 volts from the white and the red wire, nothing out of the black. So thinking maybe that the black is neutral, attached that to the lamp's white, and then the lamps black to red, didn't help. I have tried every combination of wire I think at this point. I even replaced the switch but that didn't change anything. Flipped the wire at the switch too, just in case, didn't help. It doesn't make sense to me at all. I put up this same lamp in another apartment within this same complex with no problem. I think it might take a professional to track down the problem, and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't pay for that.

Ted
Re: Ceiling lamp won't work

Also not sure why this site is censoring the word p o w e r.

canuk
Re: Ceiling lamp won't work
starlord99 wrote:

I tried a number of things now. I did get a better tester and it shows 120 volts from the white and the red wire, nothing out of the black. So thinking maybe that the black is neutral, attached that to the lamp's white, and then the lamps black to red, didn't help. I have tried every combination of wire I think at this point. I even replaced the switch but that didn't change anything. Flipped the wire at the switch too, just in case, didn't help. It doesn't make sense to me at all. I put up this same lamp in another apartment within this same complex with no problem. I think it might take a professional to track down the problem, and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't pay for that.

Black should never be * neutral * --- it will either be a constant feed or a switched feed.

If I'm understanding this, you say there are only three conductors at the device box --- red --- black --- white and they were simply capped off ----- there is 120 volts between the red & white --- no voltage between the black & white when the switch is *on*.

What color wires are connected to the switch ? Is there another switch ( double gang ) or part of a 3 -way circuit?
Is that 120 volts between the red & white when the switch is *on* or is it constant ?

Something doesn't seem correct here --- unless the supply feed is at the switch box then there is a conductor missing.

Ted
Re: Ceiling lamp won't work

Right, there are only three wires in the ceiling, all capped. But I am not sure I understand what you mean. I put the tester on the red and ground, get 120, white and ground get 120, black and ground get zero. Is this right, or am I doing this wrong?

There are three switches together on the wall. One runs the wall outlet, which works. The middle switch is connected to a red, white, and ground. The remaining switch is connected to black, white and ground. There is voltage only when the switches are flipped.

canuk
Re: Ceiling lamp won't work
starlord99 wrote:

Right, there are only three wires in the ceiling, all capped. But I am not sure I understand what you mean. I put the tester on the red and ground, get 120, white and ground get 120, black and ground get zero. Is this right, or am I doing this wrong?

There are three switches together on the wall. One runs the wall outlet, which works. The middle switch is connected to a red, white, and ground. The remaining switch is connected to black, white and ground. There is voltage only when the switches are flipped.

Sounds like the supply feed comes into the switch box in which case there should also be white neutrals tied together in that same box where the switches are.

This sight unseen --- the red wire in the ceiling box comes from the switch with a red wire ---- same with the black wire in the ceiling comes from the switch with the black.
The white at the ceiling box should be a neutral that should be connected to the neutrals in the switch box. Those 3 ( red -- black -- white ) conductors in the ceiling box are part of a 14/3 cable supplying two circuits that share a neutral.
This would make sense for supplying switched current to a light and fan independantly.

Check between the white and red for 120 volts with the appropriate switch on.
Then check between the white and black with the appropriate switch on for 120 volts.

It seems odd that white wires are being used as jumpers feed inside the switch box.

Ted
Re: Ceiling lamp won't work

I will test that tomorrow. Let me backtrack for a moment. On the wires attached to the switches, I said red, white and ground, and black, white and ground. The white wires are actually black with a white on them. From looking them up on the internet, I assumed that meant they were considered "white." But now I understand that that is not the case, those are actually two black wires attached to the switch. Hopefully that will give you a better picture, will post a couple of pics too.

Ted
Re: Ceiling lamp won't work

At the ceiling, red reads 120, white reads 120 and black reads nothing when the switches are flipped.

At the switch, I read 120 on the red and black. I also read 120 on the black and black.

Another poster suggested that the black junction might not be completely secure, so I am going to check that tomorrow.

Ted
Re: Ceiling lamp won't work

http://img821.imageshack.us/g/dscf0240r.jpg/

A couple of pics of the switch, just FYI.

Re: Ceiling lamp won't work

I get a sneaky suspicion colors may not matter. I noticed the wires around a couple of switch screws are wrapped counter-clockwise which is a Code violation and something an electrician wouldn't do.

If you have a tester, go to the ceiling box and measure from the bare ground wire to each wire to identify the function of each wire in the box, relabel them if they don't match the insulation color:

bare to be black: what is the voltage with the switch up and down?

bare to red?

bare to white?

connect white wire on the the new light to the wire that reads 0 volts to bare.

connect the black wire on the light to the wire that reads 120 volts to the bare (& the wire you just connected to the white on the light) when the switch is either up or down , but not both.

Good Luck from Columbiana, Alabama
Maurice Turgeon, thesemi-retiredelectrician.com

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