Timer switch help

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by jt_bit_brain, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. jt_bit_brain

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 23, 2008
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    I am replacing a mech timer with an elec timer and can't get it to work.
    I have wired the red to the load and black to the line, green to a group of white wires all nutted together and the white from the timer to a group of pure copper wires (without insulation) which is tied to the side of the light switch next to the timer.

    I switched the green and white with no results.
    I noticed that the white wires sparked when I put a multimeter on them.

    I put a Multimeter across the load and line wire and got 121 V.
    When I touched the white wires with a single lead it sparked fairly vigorously so I didn't go any further.

    I have a picture of the original wiring if that would help.
    It's too large to post to this site.

    I had to have an electrician rewire a 4 plug socket somewhere else in the house because it never worked.
    He said the person who wired the house didn't know what they were doing.
    I told him that was funny because it was a licensed electrician who built the house.
    He told me I will most likely find some nonstandard wiring in other places as I remodel.
     
  2. thingmaker3

    Retired Moderator

    May 16, 2005
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    Can you provide manufacturer name and part number for the new timer?
     
  3. jt_bit_brain

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 23, 2008
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    Thank you for your quick response.
    The timer is an Intermatic EI210 Electronic in-wall countdown timer.
    I picked it up at Lowes.
    It has a green, red, white, and black wire.
     
  4. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
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    Just so you know what's what - the house wiring colors should be: Black - 120 VAC hot.
    White - 120 VAC common. Green or bare copper - Earth ground. Red - (if in the wall) 120 VAC hot with the phase opposite the black wire.

    I just looked at the installation pdf for the timer, and it is correct if the house wiring is also correct. The timer green wire should go to the bare copper and not the white wires.

    If the ground is good, then you should be able to use your meter (set to AC volts) to read from ground (bare copper) to the black and white wires already in place. There should be no voltage reading to the white wires, and 120 VAC to the black. The lines out to the lamp should also read 0 volts. Anything not like this means the wiring may be messed up.

    I had a interesting time in a house where the electrician hadn't kept his white and black wires straight. That means it could be quite dangerous to poke around in the wiring. Unless you are very comfortable working with lethal voltages, get an electrician to sort things out.
     
  5. jt_bit_brain

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 23, 2008
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    Thanks for the feedback.
    I have a sneaky suspicion that the white wires are the hot wires.
    That is why they sparked when I contacted them with a single lead of a MM.
    It follows with the electricians comment, who rewired my 4 plug outlet, about the nonstandard wiring in the house.

    If the white wire is hot, then I should connect the wires in this fashion
    1} white wires all connected together in the wall box to the black wire on the new timer (specified as "hot")
    2} Red wire on new timer to the black wire connected to the "load" terminal on existing timer switch
    3} Green wire to bare copper wire.
    4} White wire to the black wire in the wall box which is now connected to the "line" plug on the existing timer

    I should also be able to put a MM lead on the white wires in the wall box and one on the bare copper (gnd) line and read 115-120.

    Are these statements correct?
     
  6. thingmaker3

    Retired Moderator

    May 16, 2005
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    IF the hot and neutral have been reversed, then your proposed connections should work. But first, check with a meter as suggested by Beenthere.

    It's a shame for me, as an electrician, to have to admit it - but not all electricians are good electricians.
     
  7. jt_bit_brain

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 23, 2008
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    I got the timer wired in.
    I want to thank Thingmaker3 and Beenthere for you help with this project.
    I'm sure to you guys it was a fairly straightforward project.
    Here was the key.
    I cautiously used a multimeter across ground to figure out which one was hot rather than trial and error the wiring.
    It sound simple but I wasn't totally comfortable connecting a MM to all the wires.
    I figured out that the black wire that went to the original switch labeled load was actually the hot wire.
    I thought that was the fan so I never second guessed it.
    After realizing a switch really doesn't care which wire you attach to the load and line terminal, it made sense.
    Anyway, it works.

    One last question. The bare copper wire "ground" was never connected to the switch box. It bundles into the box and one wire extends to the first of 3 switches.
    Each switch has a jumper from one to the other.
    Is that up to code?
    I always thought a direct connection from each switch to ground was the best scenario.
     
  8. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
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    That is not acceptable. A copper wire should run to the green terminal of each switch and to the box (if it's metallic).

    We hope you had the breaker OFF while making the connections.
     
  9. thingmaker3

    Retired Moderator

    May 16, 2005
    5,072
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    Inspectors like to see all of the ground (green or bare) wires connected together inside any box. Your green wire should be connected to the bare copper wires.

    If the switch-box is metal, there should be a "pigtail" from the box to ground - again a bare wire or green wire. It should be screwed into place in the box with one of those green grounding screws you can buy in the hardware store. (They are slightly over-sized to insure a good electrical connection between the screw, the wire, and the box.)

    A plastic box does not require this.
     
  10. jt_bit_brain

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 23, 2008
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    0
    Thanks Guys,
    That is what I thought.
    I will do the additional rewiring as you recommend.

    Have a great day!
     
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