enter preformatted text hereI'm updating the light switches in my kitchen and one of the switch boxes has 2 switches: one single pole with 3 black wires and one 3-way pole switch.

I disconnected all the wires from the single pole switch and connected to the new switch. At that point I had forgotten where the third wire went on the switch and just added to the top connection. When turning the switch on none of the lights turned on and my breaker was tripped.

I tried different variations and was able to get the dinning room lighting working, BUT all of the ceiling recessed lighting are not working.

I changed the new switch back to the old one and now I'm not able to get the recessed lighting to turn on either.

The image shows both switches (never touched the 3 way switch)and the different wire combinations per row and its results.

Did something going to the recessed lighting break? Where should I wire the 3rd black wire?

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  • 1
    A closer pic of the wiring on the switch in question and a pic of the wires going into the back of the box so we can see how they're grouped into cables would be very helpful. You can edit those into your question, please don't post them as an "answer".
    – FreeMan
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 11:55
  • Blind "black-box" experimentation is bad. It can damage wires by overloading them, and test your breakers' ability to trip (FPE? Challenger?) The breaker tripping was a sign you should have stopped. Also generally, one experiments with the aim to stop at the first combination that works, right? Well, many combinations will work and then kill you. With electrical, be Tesla not Edison - think, don't spam. Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 21:08
  • @FreeMan I got a voltmeter and got a reading for the current bottom wire to be 120V. Please see photo for inside of box. Thank you!
    – Chowow
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 6:59

1 Answer 1


I was able to get the circuit working by removing the 3 way switch's ground wire. That was causing it to trip. Thanks all!

  • 3
    You need to dig deeper -- the fact that removing a grounding wire stopped the tripping is telling you that something else is wrong, and removing the grounding wire is simply masking the symptoms of that other fault Commented Mar 4, 2022 at 3:29
  • 1
    This doesn't answer the question. It merely provides a hack that leaves the circuit in a dangerous state.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Mar 4, 2022 at 8:25
  • I guess that this is what Harper means when he says "you'll keep experimenting until you find something that works, but that something could kill you". The ground wire is meant to provide life protecting safety. Having a circuit that only works when this safety is removed indicates that something is terribly wrong somewhere else.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Mar 4, 2022 at 12:52

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