Replacing a 3-way Switch with a Receptacle


Old 09-10-05, 12:53 PM
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Post Replacing a 3-way Switch with a Receptacle

I have overhead recessed lights in the kitchen. They are switched by two three-way switches. One in the kitchen itself, and one at the top of the basement stairs (they lead off the kitchen). My goal is to (a) remove the basement stairs switch, replacing it with a receptacle, and (b) replace the 3-way switch in the kitchen with a "normal" switch.

In the box in the kitchen, I have a back wire, a red wire, and a blue wite (plus ground). In the basement stairs box I have a red wire, a black wire, and a white wire (plus ground).

So far I've done the following. I installed a "normal" switch in the kitchen by connecting it to the red and black wires (plus ground) and capping the blue wire. At the same time, I connected the red and black wires together in the basement stairs (where the second switch used to be), capping the white. The switch works fine.

Then, I started on the receptacle installation in the basement stairs location. I connected the white wire (previously capped) as well as the black wire (which is connected to the red wire) to the receptacle. My electrical tester says there is power at the outlet, but when I connect anything, it doesn't work. I'm using a GFCI outlet just because that's all I have on hand, but I don't know if that's the issue or if something bigger is the problem (since I essentially have the receptacle connected to the white wire on one side, and the red + black wired on the other side (plus ground).

I can't find resources online for this specific type of work. Can anyone offer any advice as to what I'm doing wrong? I would greatly appreciate it.
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Old 09-10-05, 01:13 PM
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If the only wires you have at the basement stairs switch are a white wire, a black wire and a red wire (plus a ground) then you need to make changes at the light itself. These directions assume that you have a white, black and red wire at each switch and nothing else.

At the kitchen switch connect the black wire to one side of the switch and red wire to the other side of the switch. Cap the white wire. It sounds like you did this already.

At the basement steps connect the the white wire to the silver screw side of the receptacle. Connect the black wire to the brass screw side of the receptacle. Cap the red wire.

You now need to identify which light has incoming power and has the connections for the switches. Hopefully this is at one light, although it may be at more than one. Identify the light that has two red/black/white cables and at least two black/white cables. You will also need to identify the incoming power wire and the wire that goes to the second recessed light. If you find something other than this, let us know.

At the light that has the above mentioned wires:

Connect the black power wire together with the black wire to the kitchen switch and to the black wire to the basement stairs. Cap the white wire that goes to the kitchen switch. Connect all remaining white wires together, including the white wire for this light. Connect the red wire that goes to the kitchen switch to the black wire for this light and to the black wire that goes on to the next light. At all locations connect the ground wires to each other, to the metal boxes, to the light and/or to the switch or receptacle.
Old 09-10-05, 02:58 PM
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Thanks for the quick reply

I was hoping you wouldn't say that; I was dreading the prospect of removing the three recessed lights in the kitchen ceiling for this.

To clarify, at the kitchen switch I have red, black, and blue (plus ground) and at the basement stairs I have red, black, and white (plus ground). What I had done at the kitchen switch is connect the black and red to the switch and cap the blue wire. Is that correct?

At the kitchen box there are several white wires, all pigtailed together (can pigtail be used as a verb?). They come into the box and leave the box, but are not attached to the switch. I imagine that I leave those alone, but please confirm.

In the meantime, I'll be taking down some lights off the ceiling. Thanks again.
Old 09-10-05, 04:17 PM
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Sorry, I missed the part about blue wire at the kitchen switch. I read it earlier, but forgot it.

It sounds like power comes into the kitchen switch box. If this is the case then you may not have enough wires to power a receptacle at the basement stairs that is always on.

Please provide detailed information about the wires at the kitchen switch. I need to know where the wires come from, such as from conduit or from cables. Either way, they should be in groups, such as the black wire with one white wire, and the blue and red with one white, etc. Provide detailed information and we should be able to sort it out.

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