Return to the Electrical Wiring Forum | Post a Follow-Up

Outdoor lights

Posted by ckaf (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 19, 10 at 11:30

I am running into a wiring problem that I need to see if I can get some advice on. I began getting a short this winter on the breaker that controls my entry way and outdoor lights. The previous owners had 2 outdoor lights added to the sides of the house which are wired into the same switch that controls the original 2 outdoor lights. When I started getting the short I found the wiring in the attic where the 2 lights were added and disconnected them. This kept the breaker from popping and I left them un hooked to be repaired this Spring. Well it is spring time and I am not able to get the lights working. I believe I found the cause of the short (jacket on wire was cracked and touching the metal outlet box outside) and am now trying to put it back together.
I will try to a explain the wiring as clear as possible but it is a bit confusing (see attached image). There is a junction box in the attic. Coming into the junction box in the attic there is 2 conductor romex coming in from the light on the north side of the house. There is 2 conductor romex coming up from the entry way (providing power) and 2 conductor romex coming in from the light on the south side of the house (which goes to a outlet box on the side of the house). The wiring from the entry way has a white wire that is always hot and a black wire that is switched hot. I connected the switched hot wire to the black wire to the light on the north side of the house. The white wire from the North light I connected to the white wire going to the south light (in order to connect to neutral at the outlet box). The black wire going to the south light is connected to the always hot wire. This is where it begins to get fuzzy. The wire going to the south side light goes into a junction box. So right now I have a black and white from the junction box in the attic. The Black is always hot (to power the outlet), and the white is my neutral wire for the North light. The first problem is that I cannot get the switched hot to the outlet box because I need neutral for the north light and hot (to power the outlet). Within the outlet box there is the set of wires coming from the attic, another set going to the light, the set for the outlet and then another mystery set (white and black). When I check voltage between the hot from the attic and either of the mystery wires I get 120v, so my thought is that these are both neutral. Just to add another layer of complexity my wife noticed that the outlet in the room directly inside from the outdoor outlet box is not working. This outlet was working when the attic wires were disconnected this winter, but since I separated the wires in the junction box it is not (must have something to do with the mystery wires).
There are 2 other outdoor lights that are original with the house are on the same 3 way switchs and they both work fine. This 3-way switchs properly control these lights (and the switched hot in the attic). I am probably going to have to call an electrician but thought I would see if I can get any ideas on this first. I attached a diagram which will hopefully help. Thanks.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wiring diagram

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Outdoor lights


I noticed that this item has been out here all week without a response. I think the reason is the length of the post and too many "mysteries". Also, your assumption of a voltage reading of 120V between two neutrals is incorrect, and I think that may have scared a few folks away. If these are neutrals, hooked to the neutral buss in the circuit breaker box, there would never be a voltage difference between them. Further it would help if your drawing had all of the devices (switches, recepticals, lights) on the circuit. There are just too many details left unresolved for anyone here to help.

My recommendation would be to call an electrician.

RE: Outdoor lights

I agree with kurto... to many variables...

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Electrical Wiring Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here