In our garage we have a switch that controlled a light in the ceiling for a small laundry room. I have torn out that room and, in doing so, removed two lines coming down from the garage attic. When I went up into the attic to pull up those two lines I found a junction box that included the line coming from the switch that was connected to the ceiling light and also to two other lines powering another ceiling light and two other switches on the other side of the garage.

I pulled the wiring from the box and disconnected it all (and didn't take a pic before doing so) so I could remove the new unneeded lines and intended to simply re-wire as found to return everything to working order.

However, after connecting all the blacks, all the neutrals, and all the ground, the switch that controlled the light in the laundry area no longer controls the light. When the switch is in the off position, the ceiling light is on and stays on until I flip off the breaker. The switches and ceiling light on the other side of the garage work properly.

Garage switch

enter image description here

I have tried multiple ways to re-wire the switch and the lines in the attic but to no avail, including installing a new single-pole switch.

I think the problem, in part, is related to the panel hot line and the hot wire on the line going into the ceiling/attic are pigtailed, which I think means that the line going into the ceiling is always powered on.

Appreciate any help you can provide...

1 Answer 1


With the hot being supplied at the ceiling fixture when you tied the hots and neutrals together you wired the light hot all the time. If the switch wiring was included when tying things together when you turn the switch on it should trip the breaker. To correct this the best practice is to wire the white going to the switch to the hot and Mark this white wire black or another color other than green, or gray. Next the black coming from the switch to the black on the light and the white on the light to the bundle of whites (not the white black already connected). This way the remarked white is easy to identify as an old style switch leg. If you pulled the old 12-2 or 14-2 with ground out you should pull a new 12 or 14 3 with ground as modern code requires a neutral at the switch location for smart switches. Then the always hot to the switch would be tied to the black hot from the panel to the switch and the red wire connected to the other side of the switch would be to the black of the light. Grounds connected together and whites connected together in the ceiling box. If not using a smart switch just cap it until it may be needed later.normaly Normaly red is used as the switched conductor by profesionals. This should get your light working and the other devices powered from this location. I just reviewed the photos again and you already have an x-3 with ground going to the switch but the wire is short, adding a junction box in the ceiling would allow some connections to be made then a short piece of wire to the old junction box to make these connections , I would check at the switch box to see if there is enough wire slack to make the switch connections if not an old work box can be added and another short section of wire added to make it to the switch. In a garage it would add 1 box that will be exposed and need a solid cover and 1 box in the ceiling that will need a cover but this way be cheaper and less work than pulling new conductors unless the walls are still open.

  • Thanks, Ed. To make sure that I understand - the white wire you're indicating I should "wire to the switch" is the white wire coming down from the ceiling, right? And by wire it "to the hot" is to connect that same white wire coming down from the ceiling to the hot wire from the panel?
    – JMak00
    Oct 28, 2018 at 21:38
  • Ed, I am confused here, sorry for the follow-up...the white wire in, "wire the white going to the switch to the hot", is that the white wire going to the ceiling or the white coming into the switch box from the panel?
    – JMak00
    Oct 28, 2018 at 21:52
  • I must have missed your comments, the wire from the switch is a switch leg. We connect the white going from the switch to the junction box to the hot from your panel in that junction box. The black conning back goes to the light. The white wire at the switch should be marked or taped so it is identified as a hot. Most of the time wire colors matter with switch legs white can be a hot when you tied like colors together you wired the light hot all the time.
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 31, 2019 at 22:33

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