I took down an old large chandelier to replace it with a new smaller one. It took a few weeks to repair the ceiling and find a new chandelier and I didn't take a photo of the original wiring setup.

Now that I am ready to put our new chandelier up, I noticed that there are two lines in the box, each with a white, black and ground cable. I tried connecting both blacks to the chandelier black and both whites to the chandelier white, but that just kept the light on all the time, and the switch did nothing.

Using a line tester, I noticed that both blacks and one of the whites are always hot, whether the switch is on or not.

Can anyone help me figure out the proper connections?

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I opened up the light switch and now I'm even more confused. There are two switches connected to what seems to be one three pole line. One switch (right) is for the chandelier and the other switch is for two adjacent recessed lights.

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  • Oh, lovely. Can you post a photo of the inside of the switch box? Also, what make/model circuit breakers do you have? Dec 1, 2016 at 3:37
  • Alright, can you post photos of the inside of the recessed-light boxes? Dec 1, 2016 at 4:52

2 Answers 2


Both switches are single pole. The one with the red wire is going to 1 fixture, and the one with the white is going to a second based on the photos with the hot being the common black. A non-contact volt meter may show power on the wires that is not really there with a load. This is called inductive coupling and happens when a hot wire is run in close proximity to a second wire (this is how transformers work).

This won't be too hard to figure out. Notice that one of the cables black white & ground come in together. With the power turned off connect both blacks together and the light fixture to the 2 whites. Turn the breaker on and the light switch on the right hand side will control this light.

If you would like to figure out the true feeder with the power off connect a light to 1 set of black & white wires of the same cable if the light comes on with the power restored this is the feeder. If the light doesn't come on this is a switch loop and the black is usually tied to the hot or line side of the feeder and the return from the switch is on the white.

  • 1
    Figuring out the true feeder is the best practice here because the white wire of the feeder cable is the neutral and the other white is the switched hot. The chandelier white should be connected to the neutral and the chandelier black should be connected to the switched hot, for maximum safety when changing light bulbs later. Dec 1, 2016 at 15:05

Thanks for all the advice! I finally got it to work. I connected the two black wires like you suggested and the chandelier to the two whites, but it still wasn't working. So I decided to take out the dimmer switch and replace it with a basic switch and voila! I must have shorted the dimmer switch at some point trying the different wiring scenarios.

  • I almost burned my house to the ground the day I bought it and moved in because of a shorted out dimmer switch. Not a big fan of them, they can be pretty sensitive and delicate.
    – leigero
    Dec 1, 2016 at 20:17

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