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Installing a New Light, Frequency for Testing a GFCI Receptacle and Wiring Recessed Cans

July 2, 2010

DIY Electrical Wiring Help Rob asks:
I want to install a new light fixture. The fixture itself has 1 white wire, 1 black wire and the ground wire. However the wiring from the house has an additional red wire. When I wired it, I left the red wire capped, but when I turned the switch on, the circuit breaker flipped. How should I connect the wires?

Answer:
You should connect ground (bare copper or green wire) to ground, neutral (white wire) to neutral and hot (black wire) to hot. If this is the same configuration which you already have, then you need to test the wires to determine what you have existing.

Turn the switch(es) off. Use a voltage meter and test between the ground and neutral wires. You should have zero volts. Test between the neutral and black wires. You should have zero volts. Test between the neutral and red wires. You should have zero volts. If you have voltage while testing either of these configurations, then the configuration(s) with voltage is not switched.

If there are 2 switches, then only turn on one switch. Now test between the neutral and black wires. If you have voltage, then this wire is controlled by the switch you just turned on. If you do not have voltage, then check between the neutral and red wires. If you have voltage, then this wire is controlled by the switch you just turned on.

If you determine that you have something else, then let me know what your voltage readings were and I can help you further.

 

David Blass asks:
Is there a code requirement on the frequency for testing a gfi receptacle? If yes where can i find it, and what does the code say the frequency is?

Answer:
There is no code requirement regarding the frequency of testing GFCI receptacles. I believe that this is a manufacturers requirement. Most manufacturers suggest that you test your GFCI receptacles monthly.

 

Adam asks:
I have installed 6 recessed lights in a room in my house and now need to wire them up. I intend to run a new circuit for the lights and they will be operated by a singular switch (possible dimmer). I am familiar with wiring, but on airplanes, not houses! A written explanation will work, but I think a diagram would be great if you could provide one.

Answer:
Install 14/2 NM cable (romex) from your breaker box to the switch box. Now install a 14/2 NM cable from the switch box to your first recessed can. Next install a 14/2 NM cable from your first recessed can to your second recessed can. Repeat this process for all six recessed cans. This circuit needs to be connected to a 15 amp circuit breaker maximum.

 

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