light switch & flourescent/lighting - change questions

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  #1  
Old 04-28-05, 12:44 PM
twobshoes
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Question light switch & flourescent/lighting - change questions

Good evening,

Background info: This is a house built in 1950 approx. Bathroom doesn't have any outlets except what is on the flourescent fixture. Light switch operates light ---which operates the outlet. (All on/All off.)

I want to: change the light switch to a light switch/plug combo AND change out the flourescent light bar for a vanity light.

What do I need to consider? Can this be done? What "roadbumps" might I come across?

I have limited knowledge of this task, but am very "handy" - and a quick learner for these tasks. As far as tools - I have a currency/voltage meter.

Help! I need something to do this weekend! (Besides, my flourescent is on the fritz...burns out bulbs about every 4 months...and I'm sick of it! Besides, the outlet is way up overhead by the light - completely inaccessible!)
 
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  #2  
Old 04-28-05, 12:49 PM
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In order to tell if this is possible, we need to know if the power goes first to the switch or first to the light. If it goes to the switch first then this is possible. If it goes first to the light then this is probably not possible without changing the wire between the light and the switch.

Note that even though this may be possible, it will probably not meet code. I would suggest running a new circuit so that you do meet code.
 
  #3  
Old 04-28-05, 12:55 PM
twobshoes
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Originally Posted by racraft
In order to tell if this is possible, we need to know if the power goes first to the switch or first to the light. If it goes to the switch first then this is possible. If it goes first to the light then this is probably not possible without changing the wire between the light and the switch.

Note that even though this may be possible, it will probably not meet code. I would suggest running a new circuit so that you do meet code.
How do I check the order of power (switch vs. light)?

What would I need to do run a new circuit? Is there somewhere that describes this task?
 
  #4  
Old 04-28-05, 01:03 PM
twobshoes
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Just looked at the switch

Originally Posted by racraft
In order to tell if this is possible, we need to know if the power goes first to the switch or first to the light. If it goes to the switch first then this is possible. If it goes first to the light then this is probably not possible without changing the wire between the light and the switch.

Note that even though this may be possible, it will probably not meet code. I would suggest running a new circuit so that you do meet code.
I just looked at the switch...it has a single black and a single red wire attached to it. Also inside the box is a disconnected white wire and what appears to be a plain wire (no color cover). Also it appears to be a "single wire" input in the back left side of the box.
 
  #5  
Old 04-28-05, 01:51 PM
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Well, you may have the wires in place to do what you want. Now describe the wiring at the light.
 
  #6  
Old 04-28-05, 02:03 PM
twobshoes
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I just opened up the flourescnet bar light and found that it does have a gfci protector built into it. and from what the diagram on the ballast says....

black/white in ---> live ---> ballast ----> red, blue yellow out to lamps.

and there is the green grounding wire for the built-in outlet on the light bar.

120v

does this help? Is there something you'd like me to look for?
 
  #7  
Old 04-28-05, 02:11 PM
twobshoes
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Just studied it a bit more and found that there is another hole bringing in one black/one white wire on the left side (total 2 black 2 white) with the ballast and the gfci tripper in between.

If needed, I can diagram the exact wiring directions/connections.

Please advise.

And I have yet to thank you for your help! Thank you very very much!!!!
 
  #8  
Old 04-28-05, 02:38 PM
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You are missing some wires somewhere. If you have a red wire at thew switch then you had better have a red wire somewhere else. Find the other end of that red wire.
 
  #9  
Old 04-28-05, 03:02 PM
twobshoes
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Originally Posted by racraft
You are missing some wires somewhere. If you have a red wire at thew switch then you had better have a red wire somewhere else. Find the other end of that red wire.
You know, I was thinking the same thing! that is why I went back and looked again..something just didn't seem right. I'll go look and find that stupid wire!
 
  #10  
Old 05-01-05, 07:25 AM
twobshoes
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No red wire...

I took the fixture off the wall and there is only a black and a white wire out of the wall. No red wire to match up with switch.....

switch box on wall has red & black wires connected. white not connected (inside box) and plain metal wire (not connected).

Advice?
 
  #11  
Old 05-01-05, 08:27 AM
twobshoes
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Also no housing box

There is also no housing box on the wall....flourescent fixture just attached to wall....
 
  #12  
Old 05-01-05, 08:47 AM
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Earlier I thought you said that there were two black and two white coming out of the wall to the fixture. Now you seem to be saying that there is only one. Please clarify.

And a the switch box has only one black, one white, one red and one bare, right? No more, no less?
 
  #13  
Old 05-01-05, 08:56 AM
twobshoes
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Originally I thought there was 2 black/2 white out of the wall ---> the fixture.

But now that I've removed the fixture, I see that there is in fact only 1 black and 1 white coming out of the wall. And there is not a metal housing box on the wall behind the fixture. Old house, old wall, plaster?.....

The switch --> one black, one white, one red and one bare (? ground)
 
  #14  
Old 05-01-05, 09:27 AM
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Then there is a junction box somewhere where these two cables come together. Start looking for it if you want to solve the mystery. But you may not need to solve the mystery to accomplish your goal. Test between the black and white wires in the switch box. Do you get 120 volts?
 
  #15  
Old 05-01-05, 09:51 AM
twobshoes
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tested between the black/white and got 120 (needle shows slight movement left --> right = 120 area on ohm reader)
tested between red/black...with switch in off position - no movement/reading.
tested between red/black with switch in on position - needle flies over to the right of the meter (? what does this mean)
 
  #16  
Old 05-01-05, 10:13 AM
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I sure hope you're testing for AC voltage instead of the ohms you mentioned.
 
  #17  
Old 05-01-05, 10:57 AM
twobshoes
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Originally Posted by John Nelson
I sure hope you're testing for AC voltage instead of the ohms you mentioned.
ok, thoroughly confused. have my multitester and tried to measure readings, but apparently not doing it correctly. Only time I get any reading is when it's on the ohm portion.

AC - no reading

Is there somewhere on this site that I can look at? for guidance?
thanks
 
  #18  
Old 05-01-05, 11:07 AM
twobshoes
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Ok, feeling kinda' stupid....but here goes...
when checking ac volts...should the power be On or Off at the breaker switch?? I turned it off for safety...but now am thinking it should be on??

Please advise. (and have patience for my learning curve).

thank you
 
  #19  
Old 05-01-05, 11:25 AM
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How do you expect to measure voltage with the breaker off?
 
  #20  
Old 05-01-05, 11:34 AM
twobshoes
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See?? I told you I was feeling kinda stupid!

I'm trying to be careful, given that I've not done this before. But obviously erring on the side too careful...crossing that line to stupid.
 
  #21  
Old 05-01-05, 12:20 PM
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If you had tried to test for ohms with the breaker on, you probably would have fried your meter. Caution is good. Separate the wires carefully, chase the kids and dogs from the room, turn on the breaker, and set your meter on the 250-volt AC scale. Touch the probe tips, and nothing else, to the wires carefully.
 
  #22  
Old 05-01-05, 12:27 PM
twobshoes
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Originally Posted by John Nelson
If you had tried to test for ohms with the breaker on, you probably would have fried your meter. Caution is good. Separate the wires carefully, chase the kids and dogs from the room, turn on the breaker, and set your meter on the 250-volt AC scale. Touch the probe tips, and nothing else, to the wires carefully.
should it be black probe to black wire/ red probe to white wire?

And how about the red?
 
  #23  
Old 05-01-05, 12:37 PM
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If the voltmeter is digital, it doesn't matter. It'll read either + or - volts. If the voltmeter is analog (which it sounds like you have because you're talking about a "needle"), then it matters. Read your instructions, or just try it. If the needle seems to want to move below zero, reverse the probes.
 
  #24  
Old 05-01-05, 01:37 PM
twobshoes
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Ok, test results:

black probe/black wire + red probe/white wire = 120 v
black probe/black wire + red probe/red wire = 120 v

red, white, black and bare wire all feed out of 1 single wire - black covering (not white like current photos or romex (? spelling) show).
 
  #25  
Old 05-01-05, 02:17 PM
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Good. Then most likely you can install a receptacle here. To be sure, conduct one more test for me. Shut off the breaker, remove all the bulbs from the light fixture, turn the breaker back on, and make the tests again.
 
  #26  
Old 05-01-05, 03:26 PM
twobshoes
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Actually, that test was made when:

no light switch attached to wires - just bare "live" wires coming out of the switch box. (breaker was on)

Light fixture is still on wall - attached (black wire/white wire). Just no bulbs inserted b/c one is burned out and I removed them to see what wtg. they were.

So, I believe I did the test you are asking for....

I did forget to test one combo......that would be testing the red wire/white wire combo....do you need that?
 
  #27  
Old 05-01-05, 03:47 PM
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Your test results confuse me. Since you got 120 volts between black and white, and between red and white, it seems that the black and red are already connected (other than by the switch). So that seems to make the switch useless. Please double check to see if you did the test correctly and as described. Make 100% sure that all of the loads potentially controlled by this switch are removed--all bulbs removed, everything unplugged.
 
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