kitchen over-sink light fixture needs switch

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  #1  
Old 02-03-07, 07:37 PM
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Unhappy kitchen over-sink light fixture needs switch

Hello All,

I have a old light fixture in my home over the kitchen sink. It is wired to turn on and off ONLY at the fixture itself... a chain extends down from the fixture to be pulled to turn the light on and off. There is NO wall switch anywhere.

The wiring is 12/2

I would like to install a wall switch for a new light fixture in this location close to the sink, and if possible plan ahead for a garbage disposal. (Replace the old chain fixture with a new hanging pendant that would ONLY turn on and off at the wall switch.) The wires to the current fixture run from a wall receptacle 4 feet from the sink up through the top kitchen cabinets to end at this light fixture over the sink.

Would you please tell me the best way to wire this? It is a 75 year old bungalow and the wiring will need to stay up in the top kitchen cabinet. However there is a five inch strip of wood that extends down the side of the window in front of the sink. No drywall. I am thinking (sometimes dangerous, hence my request for directions that I will pull off that strip of wood, disconnect the wires from the light fixture, run the wires from the top kitchen cabinet down behind that strip of wood to a new switch and then to the fixture? How would I also wire for a second switch there for a garbage disposal? I am ASSuMEing I can somehow use these same wires?

Hope this made some sort of sense. I appreciate your help... the house deserves to be brought back to it's original glory. Thank you!!!!!
 
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  #2  
Old 02-03-07, 08:34 PM
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First...forget powering the garbage disposal from this circuit...it would probably be a code violation to do that, as the disposal will probably specify a dedicated circuit.

Frankly, the light on this circuit violates todays code, but since it is existing, I don't think replacing the fixture requires bringing the circuit up to code. IF, however, it would be reasonably simple to feed that light from a different circuit (say a general lighting circuit), that would be best.

Some may argue that the addition of a switch loop as I am about to describe constitutes a modification to the circuit that requires bringing it to todays code...they may be right. Consult your local AHJ (authority having juristiction, aka, the electrical inspector).


Disclaimers done...

You just need a switch loop...run a new 12-2 from the fixture box to the new switch. At the fixture, wire nut the white from the new 12-2 to the black from the old 12-2 that feeds the light. Reidentify that new white wire with black magic marker or electrical tape so you know it is a hot wire. Connect the black from the new 12-2 to the fixture, and connect the white from the old 12-2 to the fixture. At the new switch, connect the new 12-2 black to one gold screw, and the new 12-2 white (reidentified as hot) to the other gold screw.

With this setup, the hot wire "detours" from the fixture, down through the switch loop white, and, when the switch is on, back up to the light through the switch loop black...hence the term "switch loop".

Good luck!
 
  #3  
Old 02-03-07, 09:35 PM
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Wonderful! Now.....

OK! I understand. you are great, thanks. Now....

There is a ceiling fixture in this room. A light only, no fan. So, correct me if I'm reading you wrong, but I think you're saying IDEALLY I should run the wires from the kitchen ceiling fixture to the above sink lighting fixture? And then the loop from the kitchen sink light to a new switch?

If I go into the attic and find this to be feasible, I am still left with this above sink cabinet issue, which the light is completely wired into now. Meaning, presently no attic involvement. This kitchen cabinet runs the entire length of the kitchen, along the ceiling, and is about 12 " high. Made of hardwood. Below it, on either side of the sink, are the "real" kitchen cabinets, which are hardwood with glass paned doors. So this long upper cabinet is basically like a functional soffit.... if I'm explaining it clearly enough.

My question is if I can run the wires in the attic

from the center ceiling light fixture

across to where I would drill down through the ceiling and the top of this kitchen cabinet

and into the cabinet to install the box inside, so the pendant would hang down over the sink,

what kind of box/etc. code wise would I put inside the attic where the wires
start there downward descent through the ceiling into the kitchen cabinet?

Cause if I'm going to venture into that no mans land of an attic, I want to do it right!

And pleeease don't tell me to call the inspector because he hates these old houses and has about a hundred things on the tip of his tongue I should do to bring it up to code. I'd love to oblige but unfortunately my children need to eat

THANK YOU!!
 
  #4  
Old 02-04-07, 11:30 AM
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Depending on how things are done, you may be able to pull power from the existing ceiling light. It depends on whether that light uses a "switch loop" to control it, or whether the power comes from the switch.

If it is a switch loop (ie, power comes to the light first, then to the switch and back), then you are in good shape. That means there is un-switched power at that light. However, if the power goes to the light switch first, then to the light fixture, there will be no unswitched power at that light. If the latter is the case, and you feed an additional light from it, that new light will only come on if the main light switch is on AND the new light's switch is on (which might be OK if you never want the sink light on when the main light it off).

All THAT said...


If I read you right, you are saying that, to feed this light from the ceiling light, you must run power into the attic from the other light, across the ceiling, back down from the attic, through some cabinets, into the new light box. You are asking how to make the transition as you go from the attic down into the cabinets. Correct?

The following assumes you use Romex, and uses the fact that romex is allowed to be ran through conduit for physical protection. If you are using a different wiring method than romex, this recommendation won't apply...

I would install the new fixtures box, with conduit running for physical protection of the romex from the box up through the cabinets, and simply stub the conduit up through the ceiling into the attic...no need for a box up there since there is no junction is being made. Personally, I would use PVC conduit, and carefully round the bare conduit end that will stub into the attic so that it will not snag the romex. They may make a fitting to give a smooth end for that stub, but I'm not sure.

I'm picturing a sink being on an outside wall (since that is where mine is), thus making it nearly impossible (unless its a steep roof) to crawl into that corner of the attic. If your situation is similar, I would feed the romex through the new box and conduit up into the attic, and keep pushing enough up that you can grab it and pull it over to where you need it.

Then proceed as before with the addition of the switch loop. Use conduit to provide physical protection for that romex as well if any of it must run exposed in the cabinets.


Once this new feed is installed, you would open the outlet box where the existing feed to the light comes from and disconnect it. If possible, physically remove the wires. If not, put wire nuts over them and push them into the back of the box. You might write an explanation on the inside of the faceplate so someone in the future will know what those wires are.
 
  #5  
Old 02-04-07, 11:45 AM
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Sounds like you may have talked to the inspector before...Just remember that the inspector is there to help make your house safe, and most are not looking for excuses to fail you.

For your pocketbook, it is a good thing that old houses are not required to meet todays code, so the inspector shouldn't be able to require upgrades to circuits that you are not modifying.

For your safety, however, it is a good thing to make an effort to bring things up to code as you can. Code is all about safety. As I alluded to before, modifying old "grandfathered" circuits (aka, circuits that were up to code when installed, but that do not meet todays code) requires bringing them up to code, which is why moving that light's power feed is probably a good idea.


Of course, just because a circuit doesn't meet todays code does not make it inherently unsafe. Just don't expect to use it as you would todays circuits.

It's certainly a good idea to add safety features such as GFCI protection in places where it wasn't required before, but now is. Kitchen counter recepticals, bathroom recepticals, garage recepticals, and outdoor recepticals all ought to have GFCI protection, but may (probably) don't in older houses. Installing GFCI recepticals doesn't take long, doesn't cost much, and, best of all, you can do it as you have opportunity.

Make out a list of upgrades and just try to take care of one or two items at a time...it'll take a while, but eventually you'll have a much better, and somewhat safer installation.
 
  #6  
Old 02-04-07, 04:57 PM
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Or instead of NM (Romex) with conduit protection you may be able to run AC cable all the way or run NM with Greenfield over it in the cabinet for protection. You could even use surface race in the cabinet.
 
  #7  
Old 02-04-07, 05:18 PM
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Lightbulb G R E A T :)

I appreciate your help so much. I'm ready to start tomorrow when it will be warm enough to turn off the breakers (yes, all of them... you know how old houses are wired ) and I will let you know how it goes.

Now about Inspectors.... hmmm. I'll TRY to believe you! My last visit went like this:

He was here to inspect the new hot water venting system through the roof, which was out of compliance before and he dinged me for THAT one when he was here to inspect my newly piped gas meter lines.

He notices a open workbox on the exterior of the house, where long ago someone ran electrical wires across a carport. The wires aren't hot anymore, who knows when someone yanked them in the last 70 years.

He says "That is a safety hazard. You need to get an electrician out here immediately."

My heart sinks. No more money. This will never end. I say "But the wires aren't hot, please check them yourself."

He says "Doesn't matter. No exposed wires. Call an electrician"

I stare at the ground trying not to cry. Then !Lightbulb! I say "Can't I just get one of those box-cover-thingys at home Depot and cover the wires up?"

He say "Yes"

$1.00 later I was back in code compliance. But GEEZ!!! If I didn't know about that "box-cover-thingy" I'd be writing out yet another check to yet another happy electrician and THAT is why I hope Mr. Inspector won't be back for quite awhile!!

Sorry to vent! THANK YOU AGAIN
 
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Old 02-04-07, 06:41 PM
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I have to agree about some (but of course not all) inspectors. The people who bought the house next door years ago completely remodeled it. Just to be sure of no problem they had it totally rewired by a master electrician.

Each time the inspector came out he found something else. Things like a switch box 6" to high. Each time it was something different and always very minor. The electrician was not charging for the corrections and was becoming more and more exasperated. They meanwhile were living in a house with out electricity except for a couple of extension cords from the neighbors.Finally after three months it was approved.

To this day think the inspector was looking for something to cross his palm. I found it interesting and strangely coincidental that the day after the inspector approved the wiring. the gas company pulled the gas meter saying they had just realized it was more then 10 years since the house's gas lines had been inspected. They went from no electricity to no gas for heating and cooking. It cost them $500 to get the meter reinstalled.
 
  #9  
Old 02-05-07, 09:22 PM
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Talking It's beautiful....

It is amber Venetian glass, It hangs perfectly over the sink, It seemingly GLOWS, and best of all.... it has a SWITCH. Which is ~ most likely ~ in Code Compliance, seeing as it runs through the attic and down the wall....

No, BEST OF ALL is wonderful people like yourselves that help we knowledge deficient but inquiring minds. Next time you feel like not posting a response here, think of my bea-u-ti-ful hanging kitchen light.... with a switch.


THANK YOU CHIRKWARE & RAY

Gigi in San Antonio

....washing dishes to the light of a beautiful pendant lamp, waiting for the unavoidable return of the Inspector.....
 
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