Old 3 way switch to an outlet

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  #1  
Old 01-08-06, 09:42 AM
tpm
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Old 3 way switch to an outlet

Hello, I have an old, unused 3 way switch in my garage that no longer is needed. I would like to remove the switch and replace it with an outlet. I have 3 sets of wires running into the box, 2 black wires are attached to the bottom of the switch, 1 black wire to the top of the switch. I also have 1 white wire attached to the bottom half of the switch with the additional 2 whites wire nutted together along with a single ground wire. The other grounds are wire nutted together. Can this be done?? I do not know if these wires are feeding the other 3 way switch Thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 01-08-06, 09:52 AM
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It is usually (but not always) impossible to replace a 3-way switch with a receptacle. But let's see what we've got.

If I count right, you have three black wires, three white wires, and an unreported number of grounding wires. Is that right?

It also sounds like maybe you said that you have a grounding wire connected to two white wires. Is that correct, or did I parse that sentence incorrectly?

It also sounds like you have three black wires and one white wire connected to the switch. A 3-way switch has one green grounding screw, one (usually) black common screw, and two (usually) brass traveler screws. Rather than identify the connection points as "top" and "bottom", can you please identify the color of the screw that the wire is connected to (or, if the wire is pushed into a backstab hole, the color of the adjacent screw).

Is this wired with Romex cable? If so, can you number the three cables as 1, 2 and 3, and identify the cable each wire is coming from when you mention each wire?
 
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Old 01-08-06, 12:07 PM
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Thanks for the reply John. I do indeed have 3 romex cables (14g) coming into the box. Cable #1 black is running to the push in tab at the top of the switch which would be the brass screw, near the grounding tab. The white from # 1 cable is going to the push in at the bottom of the switch, opposite the dark screw. #2 cable black is running to the push in tab at the bottom of the switch by the dark screw. the white from #2 is going to the wire nut. # 3 cable black wire is going to the actual dark screw with the white going to the wire nut. I did forget to check which grounding wire is tied to the white wires, I could always open it back up again. Thanks again
 
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Old 01-08-06, 01:37 PM
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Open it back up again and check. We need to know what those grounding wires are doing, especially if any of them might be connected to a white wire.

By the way, the last description was excellent and very clear.
 
  #5  
Old 01-08-06, 02:25 PM
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OK open it back up.. I did. and thanks for the help The grounding wire (bare copper) from the # 1 cable is wire nutted together with the 2 white wires.
Ps. I remember when the switch was no longer needed that the guy doing the work was not an electrican and really didn't know what he was doing. the original application was for a light fixture in a 2 1/2 car garage. the switch in question is now not used and is by my entry door into the garage. The 2nd switch is by the walk through exit door on the other side of the garage. A dividing wall was put up to make an apartment and that 2nd switch is being used to control a ceiling light. The switch (1st) we are talking about was made useless. I really hope this is of help!! THANKS
 
  #6  
Old 01-08-06, 02:34 PM
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Someone didn't have enough wires to do this correctly and used a ground wire as a white neutral. Can you open the other switch and the light and tell us the wires in there. We need to find where that ground is connected to some white wires. We need to correct the misused ground wire But it can be done with the wires you have. Just need to fix that ground.
It seems that #3 goes either to the light or the other switch and the ground is being used a white neutral
 
  #7  
Old 01-08-06, 07:03 PM
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Makes sense now that you point it out guys, (that's why you get paid the big bucks)!! thanks. It may take me a while to get to the "light fixture" as there is now a ceiling fan attached to it. would it be helpful in letting you know how the second switch is wired?? or should I just wait. May not be able to get back to you for a day or so. Really appreciate the help
 
  #8  
Old 01-08-06, 07:37 PM
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This seems to be the week for people to discover unsafe wiring in their homes. We've had three cases here of the grounding wire being used as a current-carrying conductor just this week.

Your top priority is now mitigating the hazard. Your original goal of installing a receptacle has moved down to lower priority. If you're lucky, you can accomplish both at the same time. But we need the complete story before we can do this. It's going to take good information-gathering skills on your part to sort this mess out.

Start with the information about the second switch.
 
  #9  
Old 01-11-06, 04:57 AM
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Sorry for not getting back sooner. Will be able to get to that 2nd switch by Friday and will report back (as it's in an accessory apartment, boy I miss my garage!). Keep in mind that the original wiring from the builder was a 3 way switch setup. Thanks
 
  #10  
Old 01-11-06, 03:02 PM
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I doubt that the builder screwed it up this badly. Somebody messed with it.
 
  #11  
Old 01-11-06, 04:31 PM
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Hi John. what I'm saying is it must have been done when the apartment was constructed some time later. The #2 switch (not the one we talked about) was changed from a 3 way to a single switch leaving the one I described as being useless.. but being in a very good location for an outlet! I'll get the wiring info on that 2nd switch as soon as I can. Thanks for the patience.
 
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