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s2horn 08-21-2009 10:22 PM

Single Pole Switch

My electrician wired a portion of a single pole switch for me and I was going to finish it off.

He put in a single wire from the switch through the wall, but did not put two wires like I have seen in all the material I am reading. Everything I see says you should have two hot wires on the switch, cap the whites, and have one hot wire run to the box and one to the light.

I am trying to figure out what he was thinking (I would ask him but he is oddly enough non responsive). Is there a way to wire a single switch when you only have the white/black in the switch? Can I run the double wire to the light? I have seen this suggested but don't know if its recommended. I am trying to see if I can avoid busting up my plaster walls again.


speedy petey 08-22-2009 05:42 AM

There is more to wiring than some diagrams in books or on the internet.
It is probably a switch loop, where the power is at the fixture.

He is probably not responsive because you are finishing the work he started.

locknut 08-22-2009 05:43 AM

Shot in the dark
Sitting here, it's near impossible to know your situation. But I'll try anyhow. If at the switchbox you have three BLACK wires, it's likely one of them is the HOT feed wire and another likely goes unswitched to an outlet box. If there's a remaining BLACK wire, that one likely is the feed for the lamp, connected from the other side of the switch. The WHITE wires provide for the neutral returns. Be careful.

s2horn 08-22-2009 07:01 AM

Not sure what I did to offend you, petey. Everyone else here doing electrical themselves doesn't seem to get that same insulting treatment. I thought this forum was for helping people with home repair problems. You don't know my situation. Please don't respond to my posts anymore.

Thanks for your response locknut, but I am not sure if I explained the situation properly. My electrician wired one 14-2 cable from the switch down the wall, so the switch has one neutral and one hot wire attached. I am wiring a simple switch (it is not a loop) and from what I know the switch should have two cables coming from it with the two hot wires attached to the switch box and the two neutrals capped off. Then one of these cables would go to the fixture box and one to the power source.

I was wondering if the switch can be wired with only that one cable into the switch, or will I have to attach the second cable as described above?

speedy petey 08-22-2009 07:11 AM

s2horn, I am certainly not offended, and I'll reply to whatever posts I want thank you.

Sorry that you took my post the wrong way and that you obviously got offended.

Like I said, contrary to what diagrams you might have seen, a switch box most certainly does NOT have to have two cables.

How do know it is not a switch loop? As Locknut stated, it is impossible to know your situation considering the amount of detail you are providing.
If there is only one cable in the switch box it is very likely that it is a switch loop and the white is NOT a neutral.

You don't have to reply to me, but why not tell the others what wires are in the fixture box and how they are connected.

kok328 08-22-2009 07:17 AM

I can only assume that your electrician ran a switch loop from the fixture to the switch.
It is standard practice in this situation to run just one wire (14/2) from/to the fixture and switch. For all praticle purposes, both of the wires in the switch loop are hot. One of the two wires will be the return power from the switch and the other wire is the power feed from the source. All you have to do is find each end of the white wire in the switch loop and put black tape around it on both ends. Now you have to black wires indicating that both of these are hot. Hook up both the black and formerly white to the switch and hook up the return power leg to your fixture.

s2horn 08-22-2009 07:24 AM

sorry speedy petey - i overreacted I guess. All clear from my end if you are ok?

I guess the way you describe it it could be a loop - so I can treat the white as a hot then and cap it against the blacks in the fixture and the power source?

This is making sense so far.

I am taking off right now for the weekend but will post back on Tuesday. Not doing anything til then.


s2horn 08-25-2009 02:31 PM

Hi Everyone,

Well I came home and took your tips that both wires are hot and was able to wire the light fixture properly. It works!

Thanks for all your help,


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