I'm trying to replace an old ceiling fixture. Reason: one of the bulbs
couldn't be removed and the socket was shot (but the bulb still worked
until this morning).
The old fixture had (2) 60W bulbs -- each with a black and white wire
"hard"-wired to their sockets (it was old). In the ceiling, there are
(2) wires -- 1 black and 1 white (the wiring is old cloth-covered;
originally the house had knob & tube/fuses).
The new fixture I purchased also had (2) 60W bulbs -- each with a black
and white wire (so 4 wires total coming off the new fixture).
Trouble is, when I connect the fixture I can only get (1) bulb to light
-- the black lead bulb. I've tried all black-to-black & all
white-to-white wiring; one white/one black to black (and one white/one
black to white) -- and I get the same result. Then I tried each black
and white on the fixture together and then to the black and white in
the ceiling -- this resulted in nothing (no light) -- and not even a
Any idea what could be going on?
Thanks for any help/insight you can offer!
Yeah, that's the weird thing -- I thought the same. So I tried the same
bulb that worked in the other socket -- nothing.
Then I returned the fixture -- and got another one (same
type/replacement) -- and it does the same thing.
Very odd. Doesn't make any sense.
The line doesn't end at this fixture, though -- it goes up to (3) other
fixtures -- and there's also at least one outlet on the same line.
They're all working fine.
RBM remove this wrote:
Additional outlets should not make any difference.
A bulb connected between the hot wire (white) and return (black) should
Is this a switched ceiling outlet? If so are you saying there are other
outlets controlled by the same switch?
This ceiling fixture is controlled via a single switch. The switch does
not control anything but this fixture -- even though there is at least
one other outlet that loses power when the circuit is off.
The house is 68 years old, but very well taken care of. It's new to me
-- just moved in a couple of weeks ago. This fixture (at least the box
itself) appears to be original to the house.
I though the black wire was hot -- and the white wire was neutral
Now remember, this is old, braided (cloth-covered) wire -- and, as
such, it's a bit difficult to tell whether the white is actually white
and the black is actually black (one is simply dingier than the other).
Should I try reversing the connection? Meaning -- maybe I'm wrong and
the black is actually white and vice-versa...
You are correct, black should be hot, and white, neutral. Try connecting
only the two leads from one socket to the two house wires, if that works try
just the other socket by itself. If one works and the other doesn't , you
have a bad socket
OK, I've just tried the following:
Connect only (1) lamp socket to the black/white coming from the
One socket lights the lamp, one doesn't.
But the previous light fixture did the same -- and that's why I
returned it (thinking it was a bad socket). I suppose it's possible --
but do you really think I could've picked up the only (2) ceiling
fixtures (same model) in Home Depot that each had a bad socket? It's a
simple, Hampton Bay 2-bulb (75-watt, but I'm using 60) flush "utility"
fixture -- the type you'd use in a basement. The instructions are awful
(I don't think English was the writer's native tongue), so they're
useless. I'll go inspect the fixture and see if I can detect anything
If that fails, I'll try a new (different store, different type) of
fixture tomorrow -- and if that fails, hello electrician!
RBM remove this wrote:
Aw, don't give up that easy!!
Could very well be that there is a break in the wire on one of the lamps.
A meter such as those you can often get at half price (about $5) from
Harbor Freight would tell you if there is. Have any friends that has a
I could buy one -- but I'm not sure how to use one.
I figure I'll try another store -- and a different fixture from a
different manufacturer. All I'm installing is a simple 2-bulb utility
(basement) ceiling light.
If that behaves the same as these (2), then I can be pretty sure it's
not the fixtures -- but the wiring in the ceiling itself. And, if
that's the case, I'll need a pro to help correct it.
Thanks for all your help -- I'll let you know what happens come
If it is as you describe it can't be anything other than the fixture.
With only two wires, one has to be hot and the other return. Hook
something between them and it will work.
As for the meter, they are pretty simple.
Put it on AC Volts scale, perhaps 150. Put the leads between hot and
return and you will read 120.
Put it on Ohms scale. Touch the leads together and the meter will show
very low resistance. Just put the meter on a higher scale, hook the
leads across the circuit you want to measure. If the meter shows
something there is a connection.
If nothing else it's a useful tool for checking batteries and light
bulbs. A good 1.5 volt battery will measure a bit higher than that. A
run down one will be below 1.4 volts.
Yeah, you are correct. The other outlets are sort of separate. Each has
their own switch. The common place is at the switch.
If you fasten the wires from one lamp to the black and white wires the
lamp should light. I gotta think that either the socket is faulty or
there is a switch on the fixture. Can you see the wires going into the
As for lighting the bulb it doesn't make any difference which wire the
power goes in and which one it comes out on. Think of it like water
flowing. If it flows in on one side of the bulb and out the other side,
the bulb will still light.
The difference is a safety issue. Preferably the hot side will be the
tab at the bottom of the socket and the return on the outside screw in
section. Reversed makes it a bit easier to touch that outside shell and
get a shock.
At this point I would use my meter to measure the resistance through
each of the sockets to verify that there is indeed continuity through
the wires and lamps.
I am pretty certain the correct wiring would be all the blacks tied
together and all the whites.
I am confused what you mean by "the black lead bulb".
Is one of the bulbs defective? Replace or switch to see.
There is no switch on the fixture?
Not surprised that you didn't get any light when you tied the blacks and
whites together. You had power on both sides of one bulb and the other
This is a place where an ohm meter would be handy to see if you can read
resistance through the fixture wires.
Sorry -- my bad explanation.
Yes, I've tried all the blacks together -- and all the whites -- and I
still only get (1) bulb. There is a single switch that controls the
fixture. But the line continues upstairs to (3) other lights (all
controlled by their own switches) -- and there is at least one outlet
on the same run.
I switched the bulbs (put the working one in the non-working socket) --
and, I even returned the fixture (thinking the socket was faulty).
New replacement fixture = same result.
Can't figure it out...
On 11 Jan 2007 19:21:49 -0800, email@example.com wrote:
That is the only way you should connect it. The results of other ways
are "unpredictable". :) But may melt some wires before the breaker
has a chance to trip.
None of this matters. Nor does the age of the house or its condition.
If one bulb lights you have electricity between those two wires that
come out of the ceiling. If one socket doesn't light and you know the
bulb is good (You tested the bulb before putting it in that socket,
but to be certain you should test it after also.) then it is the
Although it is very unusual for a new socket not to work, it is not
like flipping a coin where getting heads the first time has no effect
on the second time. If they made one bad socket, it's not so unlikely
that they use a defective system for making sockets, so it's not so
surprising that the next one doesn't work. Even though the factory is
far away, the assmbly line puts them in cartons in sequence as they
are made, and your two fixtures probably came out of the same carton.
Not really. I had the same thoughts that there might be a switch of
some sort that he missed. Gotta be something wrong with the fixture.
Am very curious as to what he found. Never know what it might be.
I bought a chain saw a while ago. It was all assembled ready to use.
Didn't cut worth a damn. Took a closer look and saw the chain had
been installed backwards. I commented about it at the hardware and they
casually said those things "happen".
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