I removed an old light fixture (I believe original to the 1940 home) to find 3 black wires and 3 white wires. I didn’t pay attention to how they were wired to the light fixture before removing. I didn’t realize how many there were or that it was a switch loop. I believe the power source white and black are the ones in fabric, as they look older and mimic the other wiring I’ve found in the house. The fabric black wire is connected with another black wire. The third black wire is standing alone. The fabric white wire is standing alone, while the two newer-looking white wires are connected.

I’ve tried a lot of combos to try to get it working. The only one that has worked so far was when I hooked the black of the light fixture to the 2 already connected black wires and the white of the light fixture to the 2 already connected white wires. However, the fixture stayed on and did not turn off with the light switch. Any information is super helpful!

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    We need to know how they were previously connected. You should not be trying any combinations at all - because many combinations will work, and then kill you. You should use science to figure out what the wires do. Jul 6, 2023 at 2:37
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    Unfortunately as I stated, I didn’t pay attention to how they were previously connected before disconnecting the light fixture. I left alone the combos that were wired together from the ceiling wires. I didn’t realize it was a switch loop when removing the light fixture.
    – Mary
    Jul 6, 2023 at 2:41
  • Can you post a photo of the inside of the switch box please? Jul 6, 2023 at 4:18
  • See the many duplicates above. They'll give you enough insight into possible scenarios that you can sort this out. Good luck and be safe.
    – isherwood
    Jul 6, 2023 at 13:16

2 Answers 2


Another issue here is that it appears that there is no box that the wires are in. a proper box must be installed before trying to determine what configuration the wires need.

If you are skilled in installing a box, do so then the somewhat tedious process of wire analysis can begin.

If you cannot install a box. Call an electrician and let them do the entire job.

  • Pretty sure the fixture counts as a "box" in this condition.
    – Huesmann
    Jul 6, 2023 at 12:51
  • Thank you! I ended up calling an electrician. After a lot of research, I realized I am outside of my expertise with the added risk factors of the old fabric wiring, no box, and switch loops.
    – Mary
    Jul 6, 2023 at 13:39
  • @Huesmann, not in U.S. or Canada.
    – RMDman
    Jul 6, 2023 at 15:37

Check, I fairly certain that one of the black/white wires go to the switch. The switch would only have those two wires connected to it. If so connect the blacks together, the white from the switch goes to the hot of the light and the grounds get connected together. This is the way it was done many times years ago. If this is correct the switch will then operate the light.

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