05-07-2012 06:37 PM
I'm installing a replacement semi flush light in our dining room and when taking out the old light discovered a fourth wire that isn't in any of my instructions. I see the white wire, the black wire and the ground wire, but what is this separate red wire? Do I simply put a wire nut over it and push it back up? The wires were really tightly in the ceiling so when I pulled it out the cap came off and I don't know what the red wire was attached to. Can anyone advise me?
05-08-2012 10:36 AM
Hello TMM. Welcome to the Community!
If whoever originally wired your home followed normal convention using wire colors, then the red wire is either a second circuit, or more likely the power coming from a wall switch. Since you mention the red as an "extra" wire then I assume that the original light used the black wire as the power lead. Was that old light turned on and off using a wall switch?
If you answered yes, then that red power lead is indeed an "extra" wire and just needs to be capped off. The black wire switched the old light and you would want to use that for the new light as well. The instructions only refer to 3 wires because that is all you need to hook up a grounded light fixture.
If your answer is no, and the old light had its own pull switch, then it may be that there is a wall switch that in effect did nothing before since the red wire was capped. I suppose it's possible that in the past there was a double switch which used 2 power wires that was changed to a single. It is easier to cap off an extra wire than to pull it out. If it sounds like I am not sure, well, that's true. You would need to trace where those wires come from in order to figure out what's what.
I find it useful to wrap wire nuts with electrical tape after installation to help prevent them from loosening or popping off as I gently push the wiring back into the box.
I hope this helps, and let me know if I can be of further assistance.
I'm a Home Depot Store Associate, trained and authorized to help people on the Internet.
05-20-2012 11:14 AM
Take a look inside the switch box and see if the other end of the red wire is in there and not connected to anything. Sometimes when homes are wired the electrician will anticipate that they may be a ceiling fan installed, which in that case you can install a combo switch to control the light and the fan separately . You can visit light switch wirirng if you need a switch wiring diagram. Hope this helps.