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Thread: Wire coding

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Suburb Chicago
    Posts
    28

    Angry Wire coding

    Went to put new switches in bathroom. Problem is the wire coloring are red, white and orange. Not sure what is hot, nuetral and ground. I am used to black, white and green. Also on leviton switch it has two copper screws only, no copper and silver. What is up.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Coventry, RI
    Posts
    340

    Default Re: Wire coding

    How old is the wiring? Have you already disconnected the switch that is there? If not then just hook it up as the old switch is hooked up. Normally switches are only connected to the hot wire coming into the box and the hot wire going to the light and the ground wire so you would not have a silver screw. The neutral wires are normally just tied together with a wire nut.

    If you have taken off the wires and don't remember how they went you could do one of a couple of things. If the wires going to the light are easily accessible see how the wires are connected to it. The light will hopefully have a black, white, and ground that you can figure out what the hot, neutral, and ground wires are connected too.

    If that doesn't work for you could use a test light. The question would be whether you have a ground wire or not. Are you assuming that one of the wires is a ground wire or is it a metal box that is grounded? If one of the wires is a ground wire you can use a test light to figure out which is the hot wire.

    First make sure that none of the wires are touching each other or anything else. Turn on the power. Use the test light to test red to white (if it lights up then you have one of them hot). If so now test red to orange (If it still lights up then you have the red one as the hot wire) If testing red to orange does not light the test light then the white wire would be your hot wire. If red to white didn't do anything test white to orange and that should light up. Of course that isn't going to tell you which is the ground wire if there even is a ground wire. Your best bet would be to see what is going on with the wires connected to the light.

    The other issue you may have however is that potentially there could be two hot wires coming into the box. If you are at all unsure of what is going on your best bet would be to call an electrician.

    Mike

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Pacific Northwet
    Posts
    1,418

    Default Re: Wire coding

    Same thing as Mike said, but simpler:

    If you've removed the switch, you'll have two wires dangling out of the box. Just attach either wire to either screw on the new switch.

    The white is neutral. Red and orange are not permitted to be neutral. Neutral is never connected to a switch. (When you see a white wire connected to a 3-way switch, it is NOT a neutral and should be marked to indicate that it is not. Same with a switch on a 240V circuit.)
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

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