Variation on a theme...

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  #1  
Old 02-06-05, 12:18 AM
cautious
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Variation on a theme...

I'm replacing outlets and switches because I'm finding them mostly ungrounded and poorly wired, sometimes cross-wired, etc. and I have a couple of lights that don't work, so...this is yet another question about a switch to an outlet and light - I pulled the receptacle to change it and the receptacle came out with only the ground attached. What I can tell you:

-So far all lights and switches I've found in my house are on 14-guage NM and all receptacles are on 12-guage.
-The switch in question is on 12-guage, not 14g, and there is only the one cable.
-The black runs to the top post, white to the bottom (I know this makes the neutral hot) and the cable runs down through the bottom of the box, presumably to the outlet. There is a ground available in the switch box for when I swap the switch out for a new one.
-In the outlet box I find two 12 guage cables coming in from the top. Then there's a 14-guage cable that runs through the knock-out in the back of the box, presumably to the light.

Do I just pigtail all the hot wires together including the white hot from the switch to the receptacle...then pigtail grounds and neutrals per usual? The light is actually a light/fan combo which has pull strings for fan and light. I'm worried I'm trying to make it too simple.

I'm thinking I can determine which cable comes from the switch by test wiring half the receptacle the same way I do when I am installing a GFCI in order to find line and lead, please correct me if I'm wrong.

Sorry this got so long, but I wanted to give as much detail as possible. I will be grateful for any help you can offer.
 
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  #2  
Old 02-06-05, 06:12 AM
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Connecting a white wire to a switch does not make the neutral hot. A white wire is only a neutral when it is carrying return current. It makes the white wire re-identified as a hot wire. This is perfectly legal when done properly.

You need to tell us what the switch is supposed to control. With that information we can help wire this.

No it is not as simple as connecting all the hot wires together.

One other comment. If you have 14 gauge wire on this circuit, then make sure that the circuit breaker is only a 15 amp breaker. If it is a 20 amp breaker then swap it out immediately for a 15 amp breaker.
 
  #3  
Old 02-06-05, 09:06 AM
cautious
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Hi. I swapped the breaker out for 15 amp. The switch should control one duplex outlet and a light/fan combo that has two pull-string switches.

Thank you.
 
  #4  
Old 02-06-05, 11:31 AM
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The term "one duplex outlet" is ambiguous. Do you mean both halves of the duplex receptacle, or do you mean one half of the duplex receptacle? I will answer both ways.

To wire this you need to determine which cable is which in the receptacle box. You seem fairly certain that the cable with 14 gauge wire goes to the ceiling, so the question is, which of the two cables that enter the top brings in power, and which is the switch loop.



Use a two wire tester, and with all wires disconnected, test for power in each of the cables in question. One of them should show power between the black and white wires. We will call tis the power cable.

Connect the black power wire to the white wires that goes to the switch. This white wire may be marked with a black marker. If it is not, then do so. Also connect this to the portion of the receptacle (brass screw) that is to be always hot.

Connect the white power wire to the white wires that goes to the light, and to the silver screws on the receptacle. Assuming the tab is intact between the two silver screws, you can connect one wire one screw, and the other wire to the other screw.

Connect the black wire from the switch to black wire that goes to the light. Also connect this to the portion of the receptacle (brass screw) that is to be switched.

Connect all ground wires together, to the receptacle, and to the box, if it is metal.
 
  #5  
Old 02-07-05, 08:53 AM
cautious
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It didn't work

Hi. By "duplex receptacle" I mean one standard outlet.

I wired it as you said, but have apparently bypassed the switch as both the receptacle and the light are "on" and the switch does absolutely nothing. Double checked my work this morning. I have not broken the tab on the receptacle - really don't care if the receptacle is switched or not, just trying to fix it as it was originally wired. Any ideas? Thank you.
 
  #6  
Old 02-07-05, 09:52 AM
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Did you properly determine which wire is the incoming power cable?

You have to make sure that you did not make two connections to the switch on the brass screws. Either connect the incoming hot wire to the brass screw on the receptacle (if the receptacle is to be always hot) or connect the switched hot wire to the brass screws on the receptacle. Do not connect both switch and unswitched hots to the brass screws or you will indeed make the switch irrelevant.
 
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Old 02-07-05, 12:58 PM
cautious
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Yes, before I started I determined which wire is the incoming power cable. In an attempt not to pester you I have now rewired this thing in every conceivable way, always with the same result: I have power to the receptacle and power to the light but the switch is still irrelevant. You are probably tired of this subject and tired of me but will you be so kind as to simply start over and give me new instructions? I swear I followed the first set correctly. I don't care if the receptacle is switched or if it is always hot - whatever is easier to explain. Many thanks.
 
  #8  
Old 02-07-05, 01:52 PM
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Tell me which way you want the receptacle to function, switched or unswitched.
 
  #9  
Old 02-07-05, 02:14 PM
cautious
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Let it be switched then...
 
  #10  
Old 02-07-05, 03:08 PM
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Connect the black power wire to the white wires that goes to the switch. This white wire may be marked with a black marker. If it is not, then do so.

Connect the white power wire to the white wire that goes to the light, and to the silver screws on the receptacle. Assuming the tab is intact between the two silver screws, you can connect one wire one screw, and the other wire to the other screw.

Connect the black wire from the switch to black wire that goes to the light. Also connect this to the receptacle (brass screw) that is to be switched. You will need a pigtail to do this.

Connect all ground wires together, to the receptacle, and to the box, if it is metal.

If the above doesn't work then you have nor properly identified the cables, or the switch is defective or improperly wired.
 
  #11  
Old 02-07-05, 04:38 PM
cautious
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Works like a charm. Thank you very much!
 
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