Installing dimmer switch in old house

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Well, in all fairness, yeah, I could see installing a dimmer switch, assuming the wiring and insulation were in decent shape at the point where the work needed to be done. It can be a desirable thing regardless of age/upkeep IFF safety is still afforded in that location. It worries me more that someone would get hold of the old cloth insulated wiring which these days seldom has any color left, and try to outguess the ages as to what fits where under the exact circumstances you give above. Even with the best of instructions such a situation isn't for the faint of heart, as you rightfully point out. Lots of problems come to mind in those circumstances and even the more experienced guys need to be careful what they're doing or a simple job can turn into a pretty expensive outing in the end. So I trust the wish for a dimmer being OK. But I don't trust the circumstance to be safe for the apparent experience level of the OP. I suspect the poor guy's been driven off by the idiots and dummies posting unhelpful crap here to put it succinctly<g>.
Regrads,
Twayne
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Hi Mr. Campbell,
I have been following the post and I think the consensus is it is difficult to tell which way around the wiring is just from text descriptions here.
If you feel confident doing it yourself here is what might work.
1) You need to find which wire is the hot wire and which is the neutral. For this you need to buy some test equipment. A Volt Probe is what you need. Like this:
http://us.fluke.com/usen/products/Fluke+1ACII+VoltAlert.htm?catalog_name=FlukeUnitedStates&Category=ELT (FlukeProducts)
Fluke 1AC-II / 1LAC-II VoltAlert
You can also get them from Home Depot, but maybe not this brand. What this gadget does is it allows you to tell which wire is the Hot one, the one with power, without having to make an electical connection. It can test through insulation. Cost is about $US 14-$US 21.
2) Switch off the light.
3) Disconnect the power at you main breaker / or remove the main fuse to the circuit.
4) Open up the wall switch by removing the face plate.
5) Switch the power back on at the man breaker / put back the main fuse.
6) Note the circuit is now live so be careful. Place the probe near each wire in turn. You do NOT have to make contact with the wire mretal connectors, just place it near the wire. The HOT / Power wire will make the VoltProbe beep. Remember that wire. The other wire is then your Neutral wire.
7) Power down the circuit at the mains
8) Remove the light bulb that the circuit switches.
9) Power back up the circuit.
10) Check to see with your probe if your live wire is still live. If it is, then you are in good shape (case A -- Switch switches the live wire). If there is no power to that wire, this means the light bulb is connected to the hot wire directly, and the switch is switiching the neutral (case B, Switch is swithing the neutral).
11) If the switch is switching the neutral (case B) I would call in a professional and rewire the circuit. Switiching a neutral is bad for a number of safety reasons. (Stop here do not go onto step 12)
12) Power down the circuit.
13) Replace the switch with a dimmer of your choice. You need a single- pole dimmer (as opposed to a 3-pole dimmer). The 3-pole ones will work too but a more expensive, and you do nto need it in this application.
14) Put back the light bulbs
15) Put back the face plate.
16) Power up the circuit. You are done.
Hope this is useful.
Warmest regards, Mike.
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wrote:

Hi Mr. Campbell,
I have been following the post and I think the consensus is it is difficult to tell which way around the wiring is just from text descriptions here.
If you feel confident doing it yourself here is what might work.
1) You need to find which wire is the hot wire and which is the neutral. For this you need to buy some test equipment. A Volt Probe is what you need. Like this:
http://us.fluke.com/usen/products/Fluke+1ACII+VoltAlert.htm?catalog_name=FlukeUnitedStates&Category=ELT (FlukeProducts)
Just to avoid confusion to the OP (and to alert some of the responders), please note that there is propably NO NEUTRAL wire in the switch box. Given the OP's description and the fact that box box was wired in 1925, it is highly likely that only hot wires (line and load) exist in the box.
--
Peace,
BobJ


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wrote:

http://us.fluke.com/usen/products/Fluke+1ACII+VoltAlert.htm?catalog_name=FlukeUnitedStates&Category=ELT (FlukeProducts)
Sorry for the way the last post was written. I was responding to hobbes post. His snipped post and mine showed up without the > marks. This is the post as I wanted it to read:
Just to avoid confusion to the OP (and to alert some of the responders), please note that there is probably NO NEUTRAL wire in the switch box. Given the OP's description and the fact that the box was wired in 1925, it is highly likely that only hot wires (line and load) exist in the box.
--
Peace,
BobJ




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