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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
:confused:I know, I totally take advantage of this forum, but..

How can this switch be working? I am replacing some plugs and switches in our house. I'm a decent wiring guy, but don't know the wiring in this house very well (yet). The light switch below controls a light in a ceiling fan. It only controls the light, and there are no other wall switches for this light. It's not just the red wire that bothers me...
There is ALWAYS CONTINUITY between the black and red wires, REGARDLESS of the switch position.
 

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Pete, Give me a little more info: Do you have a 3 wire (red, black, white & Bare( along with a 2 wire ( black, white and bare) in the box? The ceiling fan has no control (switch) How do you turn it on?
 

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It's hard to tell from the picture but it looks to me like a three way switch. Are their three seperate screws on the switch with three seperate wires connected to them? If so it is a three way. If it's a three way, you should see one of the screws on the side is a diffrent color than the other two, or it will be marked common. A three way works by having one common and two travelers, the travelers go to the other switch that controls the same light.

They are some what hard to understand how they work at first. If you are going to replace it, make certain which ever wire is the common goes on the c`ommon terminal of the new switch, the other two wires make no diffrence how they go on.

If you can get a better picture of the back of the switch I can help you more.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ceiling fan has a pull chain. It's always hot and is turned on and off by the pull chain only. The fan light ALSO has a pull chain, so this could be like a two-switch (three way?) circuit.

As for three-wire vs two I'll have to check. I've only looked a couple times. This time I'll take a picture and post back in a few minutes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It's hard to tell from the picture but it looks to me like a three way switch. Are their three seperate screws on the switch with three seperate wires connected to them?
No. Just two screws on opposite sides of the switch. The two black wires are tied to the same screw. I've done three-way circuits before, and this may be similar because there is an on-off light switch on the fan also. I can't wrap my brain around it yet.
 

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Pete, I agree with Jeff, looks like a three way switch was used instead of a single pole, if the switch is wired wrong it will show continuity at all times. Check the switch itself, if it does not have a "on-off" on the handle its more than likely a 3 way.
 

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Pete, If the fan motor is hot all the time, power is at the fan itself, they used a 3 wire (red, black, white) down to the switch, the other wire in the switchbox must feed a plug or something else, the red wire is the load wire (switched) back up to the light. Quick way to test this is remove the black wire from switch, light won't work, check if fan does.
 

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OK so how it's wired is in the box you have a red, two blacks, and two whites. The red is on one side of the switch and the two blacks are under one screw on the other side. One black is bringing power into the box and the other is sending continous power up to the fan and the red is your switch leg for the light.

If this is correct, here's what I am thinking is happening: If you are reading continuity you have the power off, or your going to blow your meter apart. I'll assume it's off;) , If you are reading continuity in either position, start one at a time pulling the pull chain for the fan, I will bet the fan is in the run position now and is back feeding thru the light. You should hit the off position and not read continuity across the switch.

Give that a try.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'll assume it's off;) , If you are reading continuity in either position, start one at a time pulling the pull chain for the fan, I will bet the fan is in the run position now and is back feeding thru the light. You should hit the off position and not read continuity across the switch.

Give that a try.

Jeff
I thought you had it Jeff, but no go. In either "ON" or "OFF" the fan chain has no effect. Also, there is an "ON" and "OFF" on the switch itself. Only two screws.

Quick way to test this is remove the black wire from switch, light won't work, check if fan does.
I'm testing this right away, but carefully!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Pete, Give me a little more info: Do you have a 3 wire (red, black, white & Bare( along with a 2 wire ( black, white and bare) in the box?
Yes I do have two 3-wire circuits. Nether is used for a 220V circuit, and neither is connected to circuit #14 (the one in question).
 

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I thought you had it Jeff, but no go. In either "ON" or "OFF" the fan chain has no effect. Also, there is an "ON" and "OFF" on the switch itself. Only two screws.

I'm testing this right away, but carefully!
Did you just try pulling the chain once or twice? If so go a few more times, a fan will be off-high-med-low, so you need to go through all the speeds to test it. What you could do is test for continuity between the red and each black individually.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Did you just try pulling the chain once or twice? If so go a few more times, a fan will be off-high-med-low, so you need to go through all the speeds to test it. What you could do is test for continuity between the red and each black individually.
Jeff
Pete, If the fan motor is hot all the time, power is at the fan itself, they used a 3 wire (red, black, white) down to the switch, the other wire in the switchbox must feed a plug or something else, the red wire is the load wire (switched) back up to the light. Quick way to test this is remove the black wire from switch, light won't work, check if fan does.
I did check each fan speed, pulling on the chain four times each time.

I disconnected the two black wires and separated them. One of the wires is continuous with the red wire. The other wire is not. When the wires are separated, the fan works just fine using the pull chain. The fan light does not work of course.

Also the "downstream" plugs (three of them) are no longer working, so the black wire is part of that plug circuit. A different branch of the circuit still works, including some outside lights and a plug fed through the outside lights switchbox.
 

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Good work $uper$port, you called that one. So is their anything plugged into the recepticles that don't work, if so unplug it all then test again for continuity, you are reading through the neutrals with something plugged in.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
By now, somebody wants to see the breakerbox. Here's a picture. The green arrow is circuit #14. I've seen worse boxes than this, but we are out of the city jurisdiction, and I have repaired some questionable splicing and wiring in the attic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Good work $uper$port, you called that one. So is their anything plugged into the recepticles that don't work, if so unplug it all then test again for continuity, you are reading through the neutrals with something plugged in.

Jeff
There were some items plugged in those outlets. I pulled them all but everything is exactly the same. Still continuity between the red and one black. I don't know of any more plugs on that circuit, but I'll run around checking again.

EDIT: I unplugged the last outlet, that still works. Now There is NO CONTINUITY between the red and black wires. :hurray:

Can somebody tell me what this means? I'm confused. :confused:
 

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Continuity means a ''loop ''.....Something was plugged in than completed a return path..for the power your meter puts out .
Did you solve your problem...??
Do your self a favor and make a pigtaill to make for one wire under a terminal ...this could eliminate future problems ..Swith heats up and screw backs out..
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Pete, If the fan motor is hot all the time, power is at the fan itself, they used a 3 wire (red, black, white) down to the switch, the other wire in the switchbox must feed a plug or something else, the red wire is the load wire (switched) back up to the light. Quick way to test this is remove the black wire from switch, light won't work, check if fan does.
OK, so $uper$port must be correct about this. I get this.

Lets see. The continuity was due to a plugged in lamp on a branch of that circuit. Any connection to ground (i.e. through the lamp, if it was "on") would also show as grounding the red wire at the switch. The path is: black wire in fan-box to branch-circuit, to plug, through lamp, back to white wire in fan box, where the red wire is also connected. Red and black show continuity whenever anything is plugged into an outlet and "on". Otherwise called "reading through the neutrals" (I learned a new term).

So this is a safe circuit?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Continuity means a ''loop ''.....Something was plugged in than completed a return path..for the power your meter puts out .
Did you solve your problem...??
Do your self a favor and make a pigtaill to make for one wire under a terminal ...this could eliminate future problems ..Swith heats up and screw backs out..
Good suggestion! I'll definitely use a pigtail, I always use them and never screw two wires to one terminal. Yes, my problem is solved. I feel safe. Ignorance becomes understanding, and my TC membership is worth more and more. :yes:

Apologies to everyone for the non-Chevelle stuff. (I do have a 115VAC outlet in my Chevelle!) Thanks to you guys for helping! Moderators, you can move or delete this, but the "Current Events" forum doesn't get nearly as much viewing. :noway:
 

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OK, so $uper$port must be correct about this. I get this.

Lets see. The continuity was due to a plugged in lamp on a branch of that circuit. Any connection to ground (i.e. through the lamp, if it was "on") would also show as grounding the red wire at the switch. The path is: black wire in fan-box to branch-circuit, to plug, through lamp, back to white wire in fan box, where the red wire is also connected. Red and black show continuity whenever anything is plugged into an outlet and "on". Otherwise called "reading through the neutrals" (I learned a new term).

So this is a safe circuit?
Yes the circuit is safe as it is wired, I would sugest doing as said above and make a pigtail for the switch. It's simple, take the two blacks that are on the switch twist the bare ends together, now take another 6-8" piece of black wire and twist that onto the first two, put a wire nut on them. Now just hook the single wire to the switch. Screw terminals on switches are not rated for multi wire connection.

What you just learned is any time you are going to test for continuity, you have to unplug everything and/or have everything turned off. I would bet it was a lamp that was still plugged in and the switch on the lamp was turned on. This allowed the tiny amount of voltage to flow thru the entire circuit and to come back on the neutral, therefore you were reading continuity thru the neutral.

Jeff
 
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