So I’m doing my first household electrical repair and am having a time doing it. So I had a flush mount light fixture stop working (2 socket). So I replaced the bulb sockets because they were all corroded. Now when I got everything unhooked I have 3 sets of wires going to this junction box. So I have 3 whites, 3 blacks, and 3 grounds. When I took it down they were all a mess, and only 2 grounds were hooked up.

So after changing the sockets, I joined the two blacks and made a pigtail and joined both whites and made a pigtail. I hooked all the blacks together, all the whites, and just left the grounds hanging and not touching anything. Only because they were too short to reach back after I cut them.

I hooked it all up and the light just stays on non stop. Lightswitch has no effect, also this just has 1 switch to power it.

I had a buddy tell me it was a switch leg and to find the only hot wire, hook it to the light switch black. Then the white from the switch goes to the black on my light fixture black. So I did that and had nothing, no light, switch on off didn’t make a change. What confused me with that was I had a set of wires just hanging there, not hooked up, thought maybe they needed to be included. Idk I’m stumped, old lady is second guessing my handywork, no kitchen light, aggghhhh.

Someone gimme a hint on what I’m missin here lol

  • 1
    The thing you called "messed up" is actually the way it was supposed to be. What you're missing is that color coding is to distinguish the wires in cables, and does not reflect the wire's function or purpose. Also, wires which are disconnected, are usuall so for a reason, reconnecing hem is throwing mains power on God knows what. Anyway, the danger here was thinking "I am new to this, yet I know more than the pro who wired it this way and it worked". Nov 30, 2018 at 7:58
  • I never called anything “messed up” I said they were a mess. I know neutral is white and black is hot. And initially they were all hooked up. But I appreciate the help from the peanut gallery
    – Bill Rose
    Nov 30, 2018 at 13:42

1 Answer 1


Likely one of the wire pairs is the switch connection, what your buddy calls the switch leg. probably the one that didnt have ground connected. In this case, on that wire pair, neither black nor white is common.. instead one wire is hot to switch and the other wire is hot return from the switch. Youre supposed to mark the white wire with tape or ink to indicate its not common but often its not marked. You want return from the switch to be hot for the light fixture. Dont patch it to the other whites..its not a common. This matches your buddys instructions so far. You didnt mention if you hooked up common as well as hot on the fixture. That would be a problem if it has only hot no common... The third pair is likely another connection downstream from your fixture on the circuit, so you are leaving somwthing disconnected, maybe an outlet. My guess is that if you didnt identify which pair goes to the switch you may have used the wrong wires intended to extend the circuit downstream but you thought they were the switch leg. So my advice is confirm the switch leg with a meter. The only other guess i have is there are a couple other ways the box might be wired into the house circuit.. but they are hard to explain and seldom used.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.