I want to install a dimmer switch to control the lighting in my dining
room. My house was built in 1925.
There are two light switches connected to one workbox. One light
switch controlls the light in my dining room. The second lightswitch
currently does not contol anything. At one time it probably contolled
the light in the kitchen but the kitchen was remodeled 50 years ago
and the lights in there are gone.
When I removed the faceplate to the workbox I found two wires inside.
They are not color coded. One wire connected to the top of lightwitch
number one ( controllng my dining room light). The second wire looped
around a copper screw at the bottom of lightswitch number one and then
continued on to lightswitch number 2 where it terminated.
How would I then install a dimmer to control the lighting in my dining
room? I believe the top wire is hot.
The bottom wire to lightswitch number two...is that a grounding
wire...treated as a green wire? Or is that
the second hot wire...treated as a black wire?
The second wire is hot. It once fed both switches, and should have
been cut shorter and disconnected when the 2nd switch was abandoned.
The wire connected to the top of the switch goes to the light.
May I suggest that you do a little research and find some diagrams on
how a switched is wired. This will help you understand what you have.
A switch, when wired correctly, will open/close the hot lead to a
fixture. That means that one wire in your box (probably the bottom
wire) is always hot and the other is hot only when the switch is
closed. Technically, they are both considered hot wires.
Based on your description, it sounds like switch number 2 - assuming
there is only one wire attached to it - can be removed (after shutting
off the breaker of course).
Switch number 1 can be replaced with a dimmer by attaching the two
leads from the dimmer to the 2 existing wires with wire nuts.
Of course, this all assumes that the existing installation is correct
- it's possible that the existing installation is wrong and that the
neutral wire is being switched. That would take a bit of investigation
to determine, and should be corrected before installing the dimmer.
Ouch. If you can't tell which is hot and which is neutral and from your
wording about green, you are definitely not qualified to learn/do this
task safely for you or for your house.
In a house that old there may not be ANY semblence of order to the color
or use of the wiring and even if the colors can be determined, they
aren't necessarily connected right back at the fuse/breaker box.
At LEAST get a basic electricity understanding and a cheap
voltmeter/ohmmeter before tackling this job and definitely have someone
knowledgable check out your plans.
re: you are definitely not qualified to learn
Wow! You were able to make this assessment of the OP's ability to
learn from just one post.
You have an amazing talent that you should market to corporate head
hunters, educational institutions, major league sport teams and
countless other organizations.
re: Real men leave the breaker on
I was a real man once...and have the scars to show it.
Ran 400 VDC in one hand and out the other, all the while holding a 30
lb power supply at arm's length while I twitched around shouting "Turn
it off! Turn it off!"
A classmate (USCG training class) pulled the plug and saved my life.
Me and my bloody hands came back the next day but 2 other guys quit.
Yup. You see, I have this little knack for ... wait for it ... being
able to READ! And I suspect from your tortured response that you are
another one but where the OP was likely putting himself in danger, you
are also a danger to those around you. You're definitely not the right
tool for the job; you're just a tool, period. How's that for a talent?
Unlike you, I explained why I said what I said, and offered further
assistance in what in my opinion would be his best course of action to
approach that job. The OP may accept or reject my post as he wishes.
No hard feelings, I simply spoke what I believed.
You on the other hand seem to have contributed nothing but an attempt
to piss on a table top. Like the tool you seem to be.
Gosh...Don't you hate it when you need to make the choice between
responding to such inane babble and just leaving it alone since
responding to it justifies it? I guess I'll give it one quick shot,
then sit back and wait for more babble (or, in a perfect world, a
humble apology) to appear in response.
Let's recap what you posted:
"...you are definitely not qualified to learn/do this task..."
Nothing...absolutely nothing...in the OP's wording could possibly give
anyone reading it a sense of the OP's ability to *learn*. I'll agree
that at this point in time he may not be able to *do* it (safely,
correctly, whatever) but based on one question, no one, not even one
as astute as you, could possibly assess his ability to *learn*.
It also appears that although you claimed to "have this little knack
for ... wait for it ... being able to READ", you either didn't read,
or chose to ignore, my direct response to the OP where I:
1 - Offered a course of action, just like you did.
2 - Provided a brief explanation of how a switch should be wired.
3 - Ended with the caveat that in an older house (or any house for
that matter) proper wiring procedures may not have been followed along
with the suggestion that the OP determines how the current switch is
wired before replacing it with the dimmer.
And finally, I just gotta throw this in. I find it curious that when
I related my experience about getting hung up on a 400VDC power
supply, your response was all buddy-buddy, using things like "lol",
"great sea story" and even ending with a hearty "Cheers". However, in
other posts you've called me a troll and a tool. I'm having trouble
determining your true feelings for me. Please stop playing with my
MUCH BILGE WATER DRAINED
The problem that many of us have seen in your posts over many months is
hat you are an anagonistic, aggressive and arrogant asshole.
No offense, mind you.
And I for one won't allow your crap to appear anyore on my machine.
With all due respect, get an electrician.
Its obvious by your questions that you have no experince with this type
of work, and
and you should not be attemping to do it based upon typed direcitons
from folksomn this group who hae not actually seen the wiring and tested
it with a meter.
Yes, an electrician can be expensive. An electrician can also be a lot
a fire or an emergency room visit if you make a serious error.
I'd like to poll all the members of this group who currently know how
to wire a switch. Please press 1, 2 or 3 based on the group you fit
into. Thanks for taking the time to respond.
1 - I was born with the requisite skills to open any electrical box
and immediately understand how it is wired. I never had to open a
book, ask a question, take a course or be shown how to work on a
circuit. The first time I took a cover off a switch box I simply used
the skills inherent in my biological makeup and dove right into the
2 - The first time I wanted to replace a switch I did some research. I
asked some questions, took a book out of the library and/or asked
someone with the required knowledge to teach me how to do. After I was
confident that I understood the situation and the steps required, I
replaced the switch myself.
3 - Whenever I run into a situation where I don't have the knowledge
or skills, I put my tail between my legs and call a professional. I
don't want to learn anything new and will always be afraid to venture
into areas beyond my current scope of knowledge.
Slanted questions. For example ....
I have one acquaintance, aged 15 who passed a technical exam with 87%
first time, who is more than competent to a) Understand and b) Work on
I have another who, no matter how many times I explain a basic
(domestic AC) electrial circuit, he doesn't 'get it'! Fortunately he
comes and gets me to oversee electrical repairs to his house and also
to repair the 12 volt systems, with multiple batteries, of his
Obviously (2) is the better answer. Good point made though.
With the combination of wrong, misinformed and un-understandable posts
I've seen on this group over that last three months or so, there should
be a #4.
4 - I ask on this group, throw out all the responses from this poster
and the other louts here, take the most reliable information, and then
verify it independently elsewhere before I go any further.
You're quite a troll; I could amost predict this response from you.
Amen. Several people killed recently in yet another 'electrical fire'!
While I agree with some of the directions/suggestions in these
answers, must agree that when anybody starts asking questions in the
manner of this original post, using terms such as "I believe the top
wire is hot ..." and whether one of the wires is 'ground', it seems
very apparent they have no idea how or why a light switch works. That
warning that those switching wires may even be in the neutral lead
(who can tell from the info. given) is also pertinent in any old,
possibly often modified and possibly messsed around with 1925 wiring.
Please be careful; and is it really necessary to try and install a
light dimmer into such an old system?????
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