Dimmer operates light but if the single pole is off the dimmer switch doesn't operate. The problem is the single pole light switch has only one black and white wire connected inside. No other wires in box. The dimmer has two wires in box. Two blacks connected to switch and two whites married. Is this fixable without running any other wires through wall?

  • 1
    Chris, Welcome to the site. It is not very clear in your question what your goal is. When you say "Is this fixable" you should state what you really are meaning to achieve.
    – Michael Karas
    Nov 23, 2019 at 16:32
  • I understand how, from your perspective, this setup seems like surely it must be just like every other wiring setup any of us have ever seen, so no need to explain the lay of the land. However, actually your setup is very weird. We need all the details. Nov 23, 2019 at 16:49
  • Can you post photos of the insides of all boxes involved, including the box for the light itself? Nov 23, 2019 at 17:03
  • Also, what does this light serve? Some lighting outlets are required by Code to be able to be controlled from multiple locations... Nov 23, 2019 at 17:04
  • I am attempting to replace my dimmer with a wifi dimmer. The new dimmer requires a neutral wire hookup. The two "white wires" that are marred together I assumed were the neutral wires however upon checking for the hot wire or line wire, i found that one of those white wires is the line wire. I am assuming that it goes to the light since the other switch only contains one 14/2 wire which are connected to the single pole switch. And in the light, the white wire is marred to the wire that goes to the single pole switch. This single poke switch has to be in the on position for the dimmer to work
    – Chris
    Nov 23, 2019 at 19:20

2 Answers 2


You need smart switches. Period.

A smart switch can handle this problem easily. Anything else will require busting up drywall and laying new cable - possibly /4 cable to the switch loop owing to needing to support both a 3-way and provide neutral. Let's sidestep that, eh?

Why would anyone wire it this way? My guess is, the now-dimmer location started out only as a place to tap power for the light, and the switch loop was meant to be the only switch.

Use a smart switch with smart 3-way capability and wireless remote

You put the smart (dimmer) switch at the current dimmer location (with neutral). The line up to the lamp becomes switched-hot and neutral. That means the switch loop to the other switch is pretty useless. That is why you need a wireless battery powered remote which matches to the smart switch. Generally these look exactly like wall switches or dimmers, but can be mounted to the wall with sticky tape.

Selecting particular models is off-topic here, so I leave it to you to find an a) smart b) dimmer that c) accepts wireless remote and d) talks to whatever WiFi scheme you are interested in. Don't buy mail order; make sure the part that touches mains power has a UL listing, CSA, ETL or other NTRL. CE is not one, and is the mark of cheap Cheese junk that you are not allowed to use in mains wiring. CCC, FCC and RoHS are also used to fool you.

Or, use a smart module in the lamp box

In this case, you can use the wiring in and out of the lamp as always-hot and neutral. That can power any wired smart switch of your choice coughInsteoncough, provided the switches can communicate with the module via powerline or wireless signaling,


So, you appear to have a "switch loop" on the single pole switch, which was fine years ago and is grandfathered, but is not current code.

That appears to be in series with your dimmer switch, from your description of the behavior.

If you want either switch to control the light (known as "3-way" switching) you will need additional wires (or more likely new cables, unless you happen to have conduit) run to support that function. You'll also have to make sure that both locations have neutral in the box for meeting the updated codes, since you will be modifying the wiring.

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