I am replacing a lutron dimmer timer switch with just dimmer switch. The problem is the black wire that goes inside the current switch’s body. The new switch doesn’t have the need for this black wire so I’ll likely cap it but how will i take it out?

It seems integrated into the body of the switch.enter image description here

  • Looks like a backstab, but not clear. See if you can find a model # - should be on the back of the switch. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Mar 3 '19 at 17:38

As @manassehkatz says, that is probably a wire "back-stabbed" into the dimmer. That means it will be tightened/loosened by operating the nearby screw.

It also means that the two black wires affected by that screw are in contact with each other. It could be that:

  1. Your power is coming from the left side of the image, and the dimmer actually controls two lights or fans or whatever. Something like:

    power >> ----+    +----> light 1
                 |    |
                      +----> light 2
  2. Your power is coming from one of the two right-side wires, and the dimmer controls the left-side wire. In that case, the second wire will be an "un-dimmed take-off" that goes to some other place where unswitched/undimmed power is needed. Something like:

    light <--+    +----- << Power
             |    |
                  +-----> Unswitched/undimmed to someplace else

In either event, the "How will I take it out?" is easy - just unscrew that screw. But you need to MARK THE WIRES!!! Use tape, or a marker, or colored bread-bag ties, or nail polish, or whatever you have available, but make sure you don't lose track of what is what.

  • I do have two lights dimmed by this switch. And my new dimmer switch also has this hole at the back. (See imgur.com/a/uCfTGnd ). Should I just copy the arrangement in this new switch? – Captain Jack sparrow Mar 3 '19 at 18:37
  • 2
    Yeah, try that first. When the new homeowner goes to replace it, she'll be able to find this question, too! :-) – aghast Mar 3 '19 at 20:30

It very much looks to me like the third wire (not on a screw) is in a backstab.

Many switches offer both screw and backstab connections, that is to say, you are allowed to use either one. You should not use both unless UL has listed the device for using both at once, and if so, the instructions will permit this*. Also you should use both never, because you should use backstabs never, because they are just not reliable and cause a lot of problems. Builders use them because when you wire up 200 outlets a day, they are faster by enough to justify the risk, especially since you'll be long gone before the problems emerge, but if you're a homeowner doing repairs, backstabs are a total lose.

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that the backstab and the nearer screw are internally connected inside the switch. Those two wires should be pigtailed to the switch. At that point, the wiring will make a lot more sense, and we won't need any more explaining.

None of these wires are neutral, if that's what you're looking for. Follow the hot wire(s) coming off that switch back to their cable, then follow the cables' white wires. If they join in a bundle of all-white, that's your neutrals. Keep them all together and add the switch's.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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