Using 12 guage 2-wire, I installed a four gang box with a 2-gang plug
and a dual switch to control 2 separate lights. I initially wired
directly to the plug which tested showed wired properly. Next is where
I started running into problems (here, my lack of basic wiring is my
downfall). My ground are pigtailed. I ran hot black on the hot plug to
hot on the dual switch. Ran white common from the receptacle to common
on the dual switch. Ran both lights whites to the common on the dual
switch. When I closed the circuit, saw one of the lights was on with
both switches in the off position. When I threw on of the switches, the
Somebody out there has got to know better! I refuse to call an
electrician. I've wired a significant portion of my house. I am not
ashamed to admit I need help! 1. Where did I go wrong? 2. How do I fix
it? Most simple solution, with step by step directions would be
Step 1-- Call an electrician
Step 2-- learn what is a common wire and what is a neutral wire.
The neutral wire does not go to a switch. It goes to one side of the lamp
socket. From the other side of the socket a wire goes to one of the
switches. The common side of the switch goes to the hot wire.
Did not see it mentioned on where you hooked up the hot wires that go to the
You never hook a neutral to a switch.
The dual switch has a common (common is not neutral) side where the 2 screws
are bridged by a metal tab. That side is where the hot wire from the outlet
goes. (If the tab has been broken off then you would need 2 hot wires).
The 2 screws on the other side (non bridged side) are where you connect the
hots going up to the 2 lights.
The neutrals, 1 from each light, would be connected together and to the
neutral from the power source (outlet).
"My lack of basic wiring is my downfall"
"I've wired a significant portion of my house"
These statements would lead me to believe where the problem lies. Get an
electrician to look at the ENTIRE house.
I have to agree with the others who are suggesting to get an electron to
check out all the work you have done.
" Somebody out there has got to know better! I refuse to call an
electrician. I've wired a significant portion of my house. I am not ashamed
to admit I need help!"
That statement does not create confidence in your abilities. Electrical
work can be dangerous now and even if it works it can turn into a danger for
someone later who makes the mistake of assuming it was done right.
You are in over your head. Get a pro. It is cheaper in the long run.
Not many of us are going to offer any other advice as there is just too
many other things that you might have done and don't know enough to ask
Note, that there is a mix here of those who earn their livings doing
this kind of work and many others who do not, but do know enough to give
some advice. We are not suggesting this because we believe that everyone
needs to be a pro to do the work, but anyone who really does not understand
it should not be allowed to do the work.
Have a cousin that I helped rewire garage and added 200amp panel. He is
a journeyman and a supervisor.
Try patience when correcting others. IF I didn't want to get it right
I wouldn't have asked. I suggest you not
go into teaching. Thanks anyway.
I was not trying to be insulting, I was trying to express how important
and potentially dangerous this could be. I do appreciate you want to get
this right, but I believe it is not possible to address all the possible
issues in a news group environment to assure a safe situation.
In my professional career I did instruct many of my employees and there
were times that I had to say as much to them. They were not stupid or bad
people, but they were in over their head based on their experience. I
believe that is were you are. You clearly are not stupid or unwilling to
learn, but what you want to do is just not safe for you to do at this time.
I suggest (and I should have noted this in my original response) that
you pick up a homeowner's guide to electrical work and spend some time with
it. However for now, I still suggest that you call in the professional to
make sure what is currently being done is done right.
What would you tell a man who asked what kind of saw to use for DIY
I disagree. He started doing the wiring without knowing what he
was doing, and sought help and edification only *AFTER* the wiring
he put in his house failed in a way that he couldn't figure
out and couldn't live with. That *IS* stupid.
If he'd sought help and/or read the damn wiring 123 book BEFORE
trying to burn his house down, then he wouldn't have had this
problem in the first place.
The fact that he's willing to just wing it and seek help only
when a problem manifests itself makes him a threat to every
person who enters his house, because sometimes the first
manifestation of a problem is 120VAC across someone's thorax.
House wiring is not a Learn-as-you-go hobby. It's learn
first, THEN go.
I agree that someone who is not in the trade should take the time to do
their homework first before attempting to do any wiring. The risks to life
and property are just too great and someone who has never seen an electrical
fire or a person getting hurt is clueless to the danger. Even professionals
have accidents. I am asked on occasion by homeowners if I think they can do
their own wiring. My first response is to ask if they think I could do
their job without any training or experience?
I can honestly say that a good part of my repair business comes from
homeowners who bought their houses from do-it yourselfers. I recently did
work for a couple who told me that they would never buy another house from
someone who claimed to do the home improvements himself. When the real
estate agent tells them that the owner did his own improvements they run
RANT MODE ON
IT ISN'T JUST COLOR TO COLOR PEOPLE! You cannot do safe, competent, nor
cost effective electrical work without taking the time to actually learn
the craft. IF YOU CANNOT OR WILL NOT TAKE THAT TIME THEN KEEP YOUR
HANDS OUT OF ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT AND KEEP YOUR "THOUGHTS" ABOUT HOW IT
SHOULD BE DONE TO YOUR SELF! Incompetent advice is a bigger danger than
incompetent work because the bad advise can cause dozens of hazards in
multiple places instead of just one or two in one place. I have plenty
of experience suppressing and reporting fires of electrical origin,
injuries caused by electric shock, and deaths by electrocution. I AND
THE REST OF THE NATIONS FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE DO NOT NEED OR DESIRE
rant mode off.
"This alternating current stuff is just a fad. It is much too dangerous
The neutral (white) NEVER, EVER get attached to a switch!
If you don't understand why get some help, read a book & get someone to
check ALL of the work you've done!
Lots of folks "out there" know how to fix your problem, but its a
little hard to see from here. IMO way to complicated to diagonose &
direct over the net.
You refuse to call an electrician?
Well, put the fire dept & paramedics on speed dial instead.
The first 3-way switch wiring I ever saw had both hot and neutral
connected to the switches, and the light wired between the common
terminals. It worked fine, although that was before I learned about it
not being safe.
Don't do this:
switch 1 switch 2
The light can be off, and still hot.
I say go for it m8. If you breakers are working the worst that can
happen is you blow up your switch :) Maybe shock yourself a few times.
Burn the wall a bit.
Anyway, try drawing a diagram or posting a picture thenyou get good
advice. If you followed wiring 1-2-3 from home depot, what dont you
Throwing a switch should have no way to open a breaker. A light switch
will only have _black_ wire connected to it, so there is no way it can
open a breaker. The black wire is the hot wire. You say you ran the
'whites to the common on the dual switch.' That is just wrong.
When you say dual switch, are you talking about a 3-way switch? Whats a
dual switch. maybe a home depot link?
"Then said I, Wisdom [is] better than strength: nevertheless the poor
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