My home was built in the 40's with a lot of junction wiring located in
the light fixture areas.
Bedroom, during a remodel, we put a double gang box in so I could have
a switch for a closet light. Wiring for that is in. (this was 3 years
ago, some family things put off completion, and my installer isn't
available). Today I pulled out the working switch for the room light.
It had 2 hot wires (looks like in one sheath). No neutral wires seen.
I took off of the top wire to the switch, placed a new black wire to
the top connection on the switch and one to the hot. (using wire screw)
Light works. I then took another new black wire to the hot/new wire
(using a wire screw) put that to the top of the new switch. Took the
black from the new wiring to the closet to the bottom of the new
This leaves a neutral from the new wiring to the closet light with no
where to go. And the closet light does not work in this configuration.
I have replaced several switches, outlets over the years, first time
I've come upon this issue.
hard to see what you are doing with this, perhaps a 3-way switch part
is in use. or, maybe the power is already top fed hot at the light's
fixture box on the ceiling and you are just using the wall switch to
interrupt the hot or neutral as if using the wall switch to replace the
function of a ceiling pull chain switch.
you need an inexpensive meter to see what's live in the ceiling box and
it will allow you to correctly install hot to the center bulb terminal
and neutral to the threaded bulb shell.
It's unclear what you have in the box. I understand you have a working room
light switch, and you want a closet light switch. Currently there are two
wires on the room light switch, so what else is in the box?
You've pretty much got it figured out already. The neutral lead from the
closet light HAS to get connected to the neutral of the circuit powering
the existing room light.
That should be easy enough to do if there's an attic space over the
bedroom and you can get at the boxes the light fixtures are in and run a
new piece of cable between them. If you can't get at those boxes from
above then you're in for some fun and games and maybe a little wall and
ceiling patching too.
What you've got now is a power source coming into the existing room
fixtures box with it's neutral connected to the neutral side of that
fixture and the hot side brought down to that existing switch and then
back from that swich to the hot side of the fixture. Remove what you've
done already so things are back the way they were.
You'd be well advised to use the same setup for the closet light. Bring
a hot and neutral feed into it's box, tapped off what's available in the
existing fixture's box and wire the closet fixture as I described above,
using the pair of wires your installer put in to bring the hot side
through your new switch and back to the fixture. There won't be any
wires connected directly between the two switches.
Don't forget to check and/or make a proper ground connections at the
closet fixture box.
And, I believe those things you called "wire screws" are probably what
the rest of us would call "wire nuts", 'eh?
Don't know about if it will work with both switches on, will check
Yes, I meant wire nuts.
I cannot easily get to the bedroom light fixture, if not, then I'll
just not have a closet light for now. Knowing the guy that did this,
I cannot imagine he didn't run a line to the ceiling fixture when the
drywall was off. (we did not replace ceiling drywall, the attic is
full of blown insulation).
Thanks all for the replies!!
Well, if he did run power into the closet fixture box, expecting to just
put a switch across that new pair of wires in the switch box, you can
test for that pretty easily without having to buy a meter. Do this:
Put a 15 or 25 watt bulb in the closet fixture, flip the circuit breaker
off and connect* a 100 watt bulb across those two new wires your
installer left you, then flip the breaker on. If the low wattage closet
bulb lights, you're in Fat City and all you'll have to do is connect the
new switch across that pair of wires in the new switchbox.
If that test doesn't light the closet lamp (even dimly), then you're in
for some more complex work.
* If you don't happen to have a bulb socket handy to do that with, you
could connect a common plug receptical across those wires, put a 100
watt bulb in a table lamp and plug the lamp into the receptical, making
sure the lamp's switch is ON.
(we did not replace ceiling drywall, the attic is
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