Trying to wire the bathroom light switch, but vanity light will not come back on. There are two wires, black and red, plus a ground wire that wasn't hooked to anything originally just touching the side of the box. The black and red wires were stuck straight into the back of the switch that went out, not wrapped around the screws on the side. I am at a loss as to what to do. The red line has been dead until just recently when I got a second new switch to hook everything up to. The red wire is now currently hot after not having been so during my previous attempts.

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    It sounds like you have very little experience with electricity. For example, you mention an outlet but make no reference to a white wire. Its hard to take on a complex project as your first. You might want to find an experienced friend or get in a pro and follow what they do.
    – bib
    Jun 26, 2013 at 22:25
  • Sounds like good advice than you! The white wire was connected to the fan in the junction box by the way. Jun 28, 2013 at 20:08
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    Red and black wires alone in a switch box setup like you describe should indicate that one is always hot and the other is hot only when the switch closes the circuit. But because you have an intermittent hot on the red, you should have it checked by an electrician. There may be a bad connection elsewhere in the circuit.
    – bib
    Jun 28, 2013 at 20:16
  • Can you take a picture and label all the wires that you know? Apr 16, 2015 at 19:27

1 Answer 1


sounds like you probably have a 14-3 wire but the red wire may not be doing anything. The black wire should be across the switch and anything on the other side of the switch will go off and on with the switch. White wire shouldn't go across any switches. On receptacles, the black wire always goes to the brass screws and the white wire always goes to the silver screws. There are two ways to connect to a switch or receptacle with 14 gauge wire: you can push it in the holes in the back or you can connect it to the screws.

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