I currently have a bedroom in which a 15amp single pole switch is wired to the light in the room. Power is coming from the light. The two brass terminals on the switch have the white (which has black electrical tape) at the bottom of the brass screw. The hot is at the top of the brass terminal. Of course, the bare copper ground is on the green screw. The wiring is 12/2.

I have added a closet light switch tapping power from the light switch in the room using 12/2 wiring (I know it's overkill). I wired it with black from the light switch to black to the closet switch with a pigtail going to the bottom of the brass screw. However I capped the neutral wires (white) on the back of the added closet switch and another 12/2 cable is going from the top brass screw going to the closet light. As well as the white going to white of the closet. Bare to ground. The closet light bulb is only 40watts.

Now whenever I power on the closet switch light it powers on but the bedroom lights flicker and then turn off and the closet light dims in and out. Any reason why? The bedroom lights are 4 recessed lights that only use 65 watts. If I turn on the bedroom lights first and then the closet light, the closet light does not turn on until I switch off the bedroom switch light. Any ideas on how I can fix this? Thanks.

  • Don't. Find a source wire (all three wires) and install a new switch on the hot (black, or brown in new ISO standard) line and run that to the new light fixture. Mar 31, 2016 at 12:40

2 Answers 2


Your light and switch arrangement needs hot and neutral to function. You tapped it off the light switch in the bedroom, which only has hot and switched-hot (marked as white with black electrical tape). That is not a good place to get power. Here's what's happening:

With the bedroom switch on, the two pins on the switch are shorted out, so both power wires to the closet have the same voltage. It can't function.

With the bedroom switch off, current flows from hot, through your closet switch, through your closet lamp, and then through the bedroom lamps and to neutral. The lights are in series. That would light - dimly - with incandescents, but smart bulbs won't like it at all.

You cannot tap power at the switch if there's no neutral there. You should tap it at the bedroom light, where neutral is available.

  • 1
    ?? Power should NOT be available at the light fixture! If either side of the fixture is hot when the switch is "off," then the entire circuit is miswired in a dangerous way. Mar 31, 2016 at 12:38
  • @CarlWitthoft It wouldn't be all that unusual for the 'incoming' hot/neutral line to pass through the fixture's junction box on the way to the switch - particularly since there is no neutral available at the switch itself. What the OP probably has in hot/neutral to the fixture JB, that hot connected thru to the switch on black, switched hot returns from the switch on taped white, original neutral still in the fixture JB on original white.
    – brhans
    Mar 31, 2016 at 13:33
  • @brhans it may not be unusual, but it's illegal in the USA, or at least in the states where I'm familiar w/ code. And it's most certainly dangerous and should be fixed. Mar 31, 2016 at 13:43
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    @CarlWitthoft I think there was a miscommunication, brhans doesn't mean the fixture is hot (switching neutral). brhans is saying the hot passes through the BOX and goes to the switch. I think we can all agree that a switch breaking neutral is (typically) illegal. Mar 31, 2016 at 14:53
  • OP means the power supply cable from the service panel arrives at the fixture, not at the switch. Mar 31, 2016 at 16:28

I have switched off the circuit breaker and will disconnect closet switch completely. I had remodeled the bedroom and should have run the wire to a receptacle. Growing pains. Not a big deal. Thank you all for your comments.

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