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wiring light socket
Posted by: wurm
Date: July 02, 2018 11:41AM
Why does every "simple" project seem to turn into a major PITA?

I'm just trying to change out a funky porcelain light fixture in the laundry room. Seems like it should be pretty straightforward. So I undo the old one and see that there are two black and two white wires connected to the screws. Well, try as I might, I can't get the two wires wrapped around the respective screws. Now that I think of it, maybe that's all that was wrong with the older fixture.

Anyway, do I really need to connect both blacks and both whites? Or can I just throw a wirenut on one of each, connect one of each, stuff it all up there and be done with it?

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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: OWC Jamie
Date: July 02, 2018 11:51AM
The proper way to do it is to pigtail the 2 wires existing with a 3rd with a wirenut, attach the single wire to the porcelain socket.



Good Luck!
Jamie Dresser
Other World Computing
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: nwyaker
Date: July 02, 2018 11:55AM
Quote
OWC Jamie
The proper way to do it is to pigtail the 2 wires existing with a 3rd with a wirenut, attach the single wire to the porcelain socket.

Correct. And I wired my whole house...
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: wurm
Date: July 02, 2018 11:56AM
Not sure I understand. There are two screws on the socket; brass and silver. Instructions say black wire to brass screw, white wire to silver screw.
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: OWC Jamie
Date: July 02, 2018 12:00PM
And you have 2 black and 2 white. Find another bit of wire - electricity is color blind, does not have to be black and white if you have an old piece of romex (the kind of wire used in your house, I can see it in the box) and cut 8" or so off, make an extension to attach to the socket. Screws are not meant to bind more than once wire to a device unless they have a saddle clamp on them like an outlet, which is designed for one or two wire use.

Like this smiling smiley





Good Luck!
Jamie Dresser
Other World Computing
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: GGD
Date: July 02, 2018 12:04PM
Quote
wurm
Not sure I understand. There are two screws on the socket; brass and silver. Instructions say black wire to brass screw, white wire to silver screw.

You need two additional pieces of wire, one black, one white. One end of the wire will get wrapped with the two existing wires of the same color using a wire nut. The other end of the wire will go to the screw on the light fixture. Then you need to cram all of it into that box.

It looks like there are additional light fixtures controlled by the same switch, and one of those existing black/white pairs goes to the next fixture in the chain.
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: July 02, 2018 12:07PM
As noted above. Whomever installed your light socket violated the National Electric Code for.. well, pretty much forever. Especially as far back as those blue plastic boxes have been in existence. It SHOULD look like this:
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: wurm
Date: July 02, 2018 12:09PM
Ahhhh, thanks, Jamie...that picture helped. I think I got it. So basically, I'm making the two wires into one with a wirenut and a third piece of wire. And I do that for both the black and the white?

I guess the next question is, why are there two of each to begin with? I'm not screwing up something else by doing this, am I?

And thanks, cbelt, too!



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/02/2018 12:11PM by wurm.
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: wurm
Date: July 02, 2018 12:13PM
Quote
GGD

It looks like there are additional light fixtures controlled by the same switch, and one of those existing black/white pairs goes to the next fixture in the chain.

That's what I was wondering, but I don't know what they could be.
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: July 02, 2018 12:13PM
Quote
wurm
Ahhhh, thanks, Jamie...that picture helped. I think I got it. So basically, I'm making the two wires into one with a wirenut and a third piece of wire. And I do that for both the black and the white?
Exactly Correct !
I guess the next question is, why are there two of each to begin with? I'm not screwing up something else by doing this, am I?
You're okay. The socket you are replacing is 'daisy chained' with another socket in the same area (basement ? ). It's a normal approach, just it should have been done with pigtails. Somebody cut corners....
And thanks, cbelt, too!
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: GGD
Date: July 02, 2018 12:21PM
Quote
wurm
Quote
GGD

It looks like there are additional light fixtures controlled by the same switch, and one of those existing black/white pairs goes to the next fixture in the chain.

That's what I was wondering, but I don't know what they could be.

Since it's an exposed basement you should be able to visually follow the wires to see where they go. One will lead to the switch the other should lead towards the additional fixture.
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: wurm
Date: July 02, 2018 12:23PM
Excellent. Thanks.

Now I guess it's off to the hardware store to pick up a couple of feet each of black and white wire. I don;t see a lot of extra stuffed up there.
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: davester
Date: July 02, 2018 12:29PM
Quote
wurm
I guess the next question is, why are there two of each to begin with? I'm not screwing up something else by doing this, am I?

The second wire goes to another fixture on the same circuit.



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: billb
Date: July 02, 2018 12:30PM
The pigtails don’t have to be black or white although that can alleviate confusion from, say, black’s white and white’s white should you only have white wire available.



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The doorstep to the temple of wisdom is the knowledge of one's own ignorance. -Benjamin Franklin
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: wurm
Date: July 02, 2018 12:31PM
Can I just keep the existing ground wires connected as they are after I do this pigtail thing with the black and white?
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: JoeH
Date: July 02, 2018 12:35PM
Quote
wurm
Quote
GGD

It looks like there are additional light fixtures controlled by the same switch, and one of those existing black/white pairs goes to the next fixture in the chain.

That's what I was wondering, but I don't know what they could be.

Is the light controlled by a wall switch or a pull cord? Did it work before or were you replacing it because it did not work or worked intermittently?

Anyways, if the light was switched with a pull cord, the light could have been in a circuit that included a wall socket or another light. Depending on local interpretation of the electrical code both are possible, though mixing lighting and wall sockets on a circuit was deprecated in the national code years ago as I understand it. The other fixtures could have worked, or you just did not use that socket. But eventually the improper use of the screw terminals on the light fixture as a bonding point for the two sets of wires could have caused serious problems.
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: July 02, 2018 12:40PM
......light.....it.....up......



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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: billb
Date: July 02, 2018 12:48PM
You could get a green insulated ground pigtail while you are there so you don’t short the bare ground to any contacts



The Phorum Wall keeps us safe from illegal characters and words
The doorstep to the temple of wisdom is the knowledge of one's own ignorance. -Benjamin Franklin
BOYCOTT YOPLAIT [www.noyoplait.com]
[soundcloud.com]
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: wurm
Date: July 02, 2018 12:50PM
It was a pull-chain fixture with a single bulb. Turns out that light is on the same circuit-breaker as lights and switches in the downstairs kitchen. So I guess that answers the question of what those other two wires do.
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: mikebw
Date: July 02, 2018 01:07PM
Quote
billb
You could get a green insulated ground pigtail while you are there so you don’t short the bare ground to any contacts

I thought the point was that there should be no other contacts that a bare ground wire could ever touch, and if there were then you would actually want the ground to be bare to save your butt!
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: July 02, 2018 01:48PM
wurm,

If you are going to be handling any other circuits in the house, I would recommend you build a small kit. Get your hands on some of the same gage of Romex wire. A 10 foot roll of 12 gauge will do. That contains all three conductors- Black (hot), White (Neutral), Copper (Ground). You can strip off the outer white insulation and use the insulated wires inside it for pigtails.

Also get a small box of 'wire nuts' suitable for joining three 14 or 12 gauge wires together. 10 should be enought. And also... always have handy one of those little beeper non contact voltage detectors to use for your safety. Always, always, always check the wire before you touch it. It can save your life !

[www.homedepot.com]
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: Mike Johnson
Date: July 02, 2018 02:40PM
And do yourself a favor: watch a video on how to properly use a wirenut to connect three wires.
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: July 02, 2018 02:53PM
....yes, you need to know the proper way to handle nuts......



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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: space-time
Date: July 02, 2018 03:33PM
Quote
Mike Johnson
And do yourself a favor: watch a video on how to properly use a wirenut to connect three wires.

I am sure you will find both correct and wrong videos on YouTube. Can you recommend some videos that you believe show the correct method?
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: wurm
Date: July 02, 2018 03:46PM
Well, it's done. Thanks for all your advice. It was a bit more of a pain that it should have been. I made the mistake of getting a couple of feet of 10 gauge Romex. Got back home and saw that it was just too thick to work with, so rather than making another trip, I ended up clipping a few inches from the existing (there was slack). Then I made my connections with my last two big-ass wire nuts. Of course now I'll have to research to see if I connected the three wires with the nuts properly. smiling smiley

cbelt3, yes that's a good idea. I have plenty of smaller wire nuts, and I already have a non-contact circuit tester. And as a result of preparing for having a portable generator this coming winter, I've re-acquainted myself with (and made a map of) the circuit breaker panel.
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: July 02, 2018 04:04PM
Wrong way: twist wires together then twist on wire nut.

Right way: keep all wires straight and parallel then twist on wire nut.

I often to both, especially the wrong way for fine (18-20ga wire). Either way, tug on the connection to ensure the wire nut it doing its job.




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all who would be called good
must suffer with him.

You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead.

There is no safety for honest men except
by believing all possible evil of evil men.

We don’t do focus groups. They just ensure that you don’t offend anyone, and produce bland inoffensive products. —Sir Jonathan Ive

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And hope is a lousy defense.

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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: davester
Date: July 02, 2018 04:11PM
Quote
RAMd®d
Wrong way: twist wires together then twist on wire nut.

Right way: keep all wires straight and parallel then twist on wire nut.

Sometimes the "wrong way" is the only way to get it to work, especially if you have multiple connectors of different gauges.



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: GGD
Date: July 02, 2018 04:25PM
Quote
RAMd®d
Wrong way: twist wires together then twist on wire nut.

Right way: keep all wires straight and parallel then twist on wire nut.

I often to both, especially the wrong way for fine (18-20ga wire). Either way, tug on the connection to ensure the wire nut it doing its job.

Not sure that I agree with this. You want the wires to be in tight contact with eachother so that they conduct electricity directly with eachother.

You don't want the wire nut to be what's conducting between the wires, that thin spring metal core of the wire nut makes an excellent heater element.
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: JoeH
Date: July 02, 2018 04:27PM
12 or 14 G is about all you will need for creating wiring pigtails on standard 15 or 20 A 120 V circuits. Save buying 10 G or larger wire for heavy duty circuits, and usually those are the kind you call in an electrician.
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: Mike Johnson
Date: July 02, 2018 05:04PM
Quote
space-time
Quote
Mike Johnson
And do yourself a favor: watch a video on how to properly use a wirenut to connect three wires.

I am sure you will find both correct and wrong videos on YouTube. Can you recommend some videos that you believe show the correct method?

[m.youtube.com] is fine

It's important to start with clean straight insulated wire, then strip it, and check it for damage. Don't make a new connection from some bent oxidized wire. Always use the correct size wire nut -- there's a reason they put this big ol
sizing charts on the package. Generally don't pre-twist the ends before putting them in the nut. Turn the nut until the wires themselves are twisted outside the nut. Give it a solid tug. Don't tape it or try to crimp it with a tool.

I'm not an electrician. But by this point I've probably rewired just about every outlet, switch, and fixture in my house. I can't count the number of broken or loose wire nuts, or even missing nuts, I've come across.
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: July 02, 2018 05:05PM
Sometimes the "wrong way" is the only way to get it to work, especially if you have multiple connectors of different gauges.

Agreed.

That's why I'm flexible with a whatever works doctrine. The important thing is making sure the wire nut is secure once done.


Not sure that I agree with this. You want the wires to be in tight contact with eachother so that they conduct electricity directly with eachother.

I don't know that there's NEC instructions on this, it's just something I've read (you know where) and heard directly from a couple of long-time licensed professional electricians. But a tightly installed wire nut will have all conductors touching together, making solid contact, directly with each other.


You don't want the wire nut to be what's conducting between the wires, that thin spring metal core of the wire nut makes an excellent heater element.

Ok, that's just not going to happen. That spring metal in theory could be a parallel conductor, but two pieces of copper wire will be far more conductive, whether or not they're twisted together.

Installing a wire nut will twist small gauge wires, and put no small degree of pressure on heavy gauges that may remain untwisted. A tug confirms that.

Again I use both ways. I don't think the 'wrong' way is more susceptible to some kind of failure. The only problem might be if someone 'pre-twisted' wires say— clockwise, then applied the nut counter-clockwise. I don't see that happening.

So how ever you feel about twisting, tug your nuts, and if it feels good, you're in the right.




When a good man is hurt,
all who would be called good
must suffer with him.

You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead.

There is no safety for honest men except
by believing all possible evil of evil men.

We don’t do focus groups. They just ensure that you don’t offend anyone, and produce bland inoffensive products. —Sir Jonathan Ive

Perfection is the enemy of progress. -Winston Churchill

-An armed society is a polite society.
And hope is a lousy defense.

You make me pull, I'll put you down.

Mister, that's a ten-gallon hat on a twenty-gallon head.

I *love* SIGs. It's Glocks I hate.
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Re: wiring light socket
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: July 02, 2018 05:17PM
....like a bird....on a wire.....



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I reject your reality and substitute my own!
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