GFI Outlet / Seperate Light Switch - Light won't turn off!?

Discussion in 'Electrical and Wiring' started by cheri28, Feb 5, 2013.

  1. Feb 5, 2013 #1

    cheri28

    cheri28

    cheri28

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    My husband is wiring a GFI and separate light switch into the bathroom. The GFI also controls an outlet across the room – these components are working. He capped all of the whites together and we had 120v’s to both the main light (which we tested and it turned on) and the light over the vanity (which we tested with power meter). However, with the whites all capped together the lights could not be turned off. :confused: He tried a few different ways, but can’t seem to wire it so that the GFI and outlet will stay on and the lights will turn on and off. Do you have any suggestions or diagrams that you can share to how to wire the light switch properly so it will turn on and off? I have attached some pictures with the hope that they'll help. THANK YOU!!

    Edit: I have attached a picture of how it is hooked up right now (with this hook up, the lights do not work at all). <--- That is incorrect. With this hookup the lights DO work, just will not turn off. :help::help::help:

    Also - here is what my husband said:
    The GFCI is independently wired to the source. All's well with the GFCI and bridged outlet...power to both. Do the neutral wires for both light fixtures need to be connected to the source neutral? The source load wire is split with one leg to the GFCI and one to the switch. The light fixture loads are bridged to a common single wire hooked to the top screw of the switch with the source load connected to the bottom screw. The two fixture neutrals are wire-nutted to each other. Why are the lights constantly on, regardless of the switch's position?

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    Last edited: Feb 6, 2013
  2. Feb 5, 2013 #2

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    With just three wires wired or not wired to just three terminals there are about 30 wrong ways and only one right way to do it so the odds are not in your favor, and this is assuming all the components work correctly.
    Knowing the meaning of the wire colors will reduce the uncertainty but sometimes the colors will mislead you.
    I guess there is an off chance that the switch contacts are welded closed.

    An electrician will be along presently but in the meantime you could bone up on the colors. :D

    Welcome, Ms. Cheri number 28.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2013
  3. Feb 5, 2013 #3

    cheri28

    cheri28

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    Thank you!

    Oh gosh - it feels like there are even more than 30 different ways to get it wrong (because I think we've tried that many!). I believe there are just black and whites, plus the grounds. He's a busy guy - so I'm trying to do some research for him, so please forgive my extreme lack of knowledge. :help:
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2013
  4. Feb 5, 2013 #4

    Housedoctor57

    Housedoctor57

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    You do not have a neutral white or blue in your picture coming from the lights back tot he other 2 white neutrals. Only neutral I see is between the 2 lights is between themselves.
     
  5. Feb 5, 2013 #5

    cheri28

    cheri28

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    Any step by step process would be greatly appreciated! :D
     
  6. Feb 5, 2013 #6

    Housedoctor57

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    Cheri,
    This is a simple approach.
    Find the wires going to the actual light fixtures. You should have a black, white, and possible green or bare copper to each fixture. Obtain a sacrificial 2 wire extension cord, like to use on a table lamp. With the extension cord UNPLUGGED, cut off the end where you connect the lamp. Now, connect the white wire to one of the 2 extension cord leads. Connect a single way light switch to the other wire on the extension cord. Connect the black wire going to the light fixtures in the bath to the other screw on the switch. Plug the extension cord into a working wall outlet and test the circuit, the lights should switch off and on.
    If that works, remove the 2 wires from the extension cord connection.
    Connect the white wire to the other white wires in the wall box. Connect the black wire from the light fixtures to the LINE side of the GFIC. Turn the breaker that controls the GFIC on and have a drink!
     
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  7. Feb 5, 2013 #7

    kok328

    kok328

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    There is no neutral or ground going to the lights. The lack of neutral to the lights will prevent them from coming on not off. Disconnect the hot wire from the output side of the light switch, the lights should go out but, I don't understand how they are ON to begin with.
    I don't think your drawing is totally accurate to what has been wired up.
     
  8. Feb 5, 2013 #8

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    Yes, the lights are in parallel as they should be but why does the switch have three wires to it? It's not a ground.
     
  9. Feb 5, 2013 #9

    cheri28

    cheri28

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    The lights do turn on, they just won't turn off. (edit)
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2013
  10. Feb 6, 2013 #10

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    Pigtail short wires from the load side of the gfi and attach the light and the extra plug to those pig tails. the source wires go the line side of the gfi.

    GFCI_receptacle.jpg
     
  11. Feb 6, 2013 #11

    Fireguy5674

    Fireguy5674

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    I drew a diagragm but I cannot get my scanner to work. So I will try to describe what I drew. If your drawing is correct, as was pointed out, you have no neutral or ground to the lights so they should not work at all. The source wire coming in should be hooked to the line side of the GFI, Black wire on gold screw side and the white wire on the silver screw side. The bare wire goes to the Green screw. That will provide power to your GFI.
    Now from the LOAD side of your GFI on the gold screw you will need to run a black wire to your plug in and to your light switch. A separate black wire should run from the other switch terminal to the light fixture to both black wires there. From the silver screw on the LOAD terminals you will need to run a white wire to the receptacle and to the light fixture which will attach to both white wires there. The bare neutral source wire should be attached to the green screws on both receptacles, the switch and a green ground screw or a green wire pigtail on the light fixture. In your wiring diagram you show the white wires in the fixture tied to each other but not to a source neutral and your bare grounds run from the switch to the light fixture but not to the source ground. By wiring everything off the Load side of the GFI everything in the bathroom will be GFI protected. If you do not want that move the power and neutral wires for the light to the LINE side of the GFI.
    Looking at your picture I cannot tell where the two wires on the one terminal of the switch come from. If the wires got reversed and the wire to the light got put with the power source wire then the lights would not turn off although if your drawing is accurate then they should not light at all.
     
  12. Feb 6, 2013 #12

    Fireguy5674

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    Me again. I went back and read your husbands description again about six times. In answer to his first question, Yes the neutrals from both of the fixtures need to be tied to the source neutrals.
    "The source load wire is split with one leg to the GFCI and one to the switch. The light fixture loads are bridged to a common single wire hooked to the top screw of the switch with the source load connected to the bottom screw." AS I read that there is a source wire hooked directly to the wire going to the lights. If they can find a ground source yes they will be on all the time.
    Remove the source wire to the switch completely and tie the light neutrals to the LOAD neutral from the GFI. Your lights should work correctly and be GFI protected. Check your grounds to be sure everything is grounded.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2013
  13. Feb 6, 2013 #13

    kok328

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    Unfortunately, we can't have the lights going off if/when the GFI trips. You will need to power the lights directly from the source and not through the GFI. The only thing I saw missing in the OP's diagram was a lack of neutral & ground to the light fixutres.
     
  14. Feb 6, 2013 #14

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    Wire your lights in parallel and wire this assembly in series with a working switch.
    Put the two wires coming out of this series/parallel arrangement across the line side or the load side of the GFCI.
    If you want to be kind to later workers color the wires appropriately.

    For less drama, put a lamp across the open switch and make sure this makes all bulbs glow dimly. If you control two Xw incands, use a 2Xw for this test lamp. Don't do this with CFLs or LEDs.

    If necessary and if there is a high school nearby get one of their science geeks to advise you, but don't let him/her actually work with, or touch, your wiring.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2013
  15. Feb 6, 2013 #15

    Fireguy5674

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    I may be wrong since I don't have a code book handy, but I thought anything that can be reached from the sink, ie possible ground or maybe water, had to be GFI protected including the light switch or light fixture. Or have I been doing it wrong for several years? :confused:
     
  16. Feb 7, 2013 #16

    nealtw

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    I would protect the light also, it's better to be alive in the dark. Both white and black from the source go to the line side of the gfi.
     
  17. Feb 7, 2013 #17

    Housedoctor57

    Housedoctor57

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    I guess they got it working and now don't need our ideas. I really hate it when nobody has the courtesy to come back with what was wrong or to say it works now......
     
  18. Feb 7, 2013 #18

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    Housedoctor: It may be a little early for that judgement, but evan if you are right, I try to immagine the discussion in that house.
    Total frustration when what appears to be a simple job just will not come together. Sometimes the wife finding the answer on the internet will solve the problem but may do little to clear the air. Keeping us happy may be last thing on the to do list.
     
  19. Feb 7, 2013 #19

    cheri28

    cheri28

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    Thanks all for your help. I think we are just going to hire an electrician - we're just at a loss (including following diagrams). He's tried so many different ways and that darn light won't shut off.
     
  20. Feb 7, 2013 #20

    cheri28

    cheri28

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    (and I wasn't ignoring any of you - sorry you thought that). :)
     

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