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Electrical question on switched control of electrical outlet

Electrical question on switched control of electrical outlet

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  #1  
Old 03-17-07, 07:03 AM
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Electrical question on switched control of electrical outlet

(note - edited to more correctly explain situation)

Found out both outlets on the electrical plug under my kitchen sink are controlled by a switch on the counter above.

I have my garbage disposal plugged into that plug so it works fine - when I want the garbage disposal to work, I turn the switch on.

Problem is I would like to plug in the diswasher under the sink too - but can't because the other outlet isn't hot unless the switch is turned on.

So with this configuration, either I can run the dishwasher or the disposal but not both as I don't want the disposal to be on all the time but I need the switch to be on to run the dishwasher.

How do I rewire the electrical outlet to be always hot for one plug (for the dishwasher) and to be controlled by the switch only for the other plug (for the disposal)?

(note - there is a receptacle in back of the dishwasher but that receptacle has gone bad and its a pain to have to pull the dishwasher out. Dishwasher repair person recommended to use the plug under the sink as anyone can get to it rather than using the receptacle behind the dishwasher where it is difficult to get to it)

Thanks ... DIYMike
 

Last edited by diymike; 03-17-07 at 12:51 PM. Reason: corrected use of word switch when I meant receptacle - thanks to jwhite!
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  #2  
Old 03-17-07, 07:16 AM
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You need to turn the power off and open the receptacle and tell us all the wires in the box.
If there is only one cable with two wires(black and white) then you will need to run some new cable from the switch box to the receptacle to make this work.
 
  #3  
Old 03-17-07, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by diymike View Post
(note - there is a switch in back of the dishwasher but that switch has gone bad and its a pain to have to pull the dishwasher out. Dishwasher repair person recommended to use the plug under the sink as anyone can get to it rather than having the plug behind the dishwasher where it is difficult to get to it)

Thanks ... DIYMike
Did you mean that there is a recepticle behind the dishwasher?

If you are daring enough to rewire the recepticle under the sink to make it 1/2 switched, why not just fix the broken recepticle behind the dishwasher. This is probably a much easeir fix.
 
  #4  
Old 03-17-07, 09:27 AM
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Plugging the dishwasher in under the sink will very likely be a code violation. The code puts severe limits on the length of the dishwasher cord.

Furthermore, there may not be enough power on the disposal circuit to run the dishwasher too. Figure out everything that is on that circuit, and whether that circuit is a 15-amp or 20-amp circuit.

Finally, it may be just as easy to provide a separate power supply for the dishwasher as to rewire the disposal receptacle.

Provide as much more information as you can.
 
  #5  
Old 03-17-07, 10:04 AM
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Plugging the dishwasher in under the sink will very likely be a code violation. The code puts severe limits on the length of the dishwasher cord.
Can you provide a code reference. I have never heard of this.

Furthermore, there may not be enough power on the disposal circuit to run the dishwasher too. Figure out everything that is on that circuit, and whether that circuit is a 15-amp or 20-amp circuit.
If these are average appliances this is not a problem. say 13 amps for a dw and 2 amps for a gd we are still just at 15 amps, and these are not continous loads. Most dw I see are about 10 amps and most gd 1.5 or less.

Finally, it may be just as easy to provide a separate power supply for the dishwasher as to rewire the disposal receptacle.
That I agree with.
 
  #6  
Old 03-17-07, 11:11 AM
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422.16(B)(2)(2) "The length of the cord shall be 0.9 m to 1.2 m (3 ft to 4 ft) measured from the face of the attachment plug to the plane of the rear of the appliance."

So far, we don't know yet whether the circuit serving the disposal is serving only the disposal. Hence my advice to find out what else is on the circuit before doing anything. And we certainly don't know whether or not these are "average" appliances.
 
  #7  
Old 03-17-07, 11:15 AM
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Thanks John. I just learned something new.... again.
 
  #8  
Old 03-17-07, 12:48 PM
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Question on electrical outlet controlled by switch

Thank you for all the quick replies! Here's more information:

#1 the diswasher is right next to the sink so the cord from the dishwasher is well within a few feet.

#2 the dishwasher is built-in under the counter. There is an existing electric receptacle in the back of the space where the dishwasher goes. But there is no way to get to it other than to pull the dishwasher out - which means basically un-installing it (taking out the mouting screws, then disconnecting the hoses for water to come in, the drain hose, etc so we are now adding plumbing to electrical).

We had thought the dishwasher was defective so we had the GE dishwasher repair person came out to check it out. He had a special tool that can detect electric current. He tested the dishwasher and said the power was out and that most likely it was a bad electric receptacle in the back. He then looked under the sink and said it was better to put the electric plug through the hole where the hoses came through the dishwasher cabinet to under the sink and to plug it into the receptacle under the sink (he didn't indicate that this violated any code - it is within the length of the power cord supplied with the dishwasher - its about 3-4 feet). He then found out that both outlets in the receptacle underneath the sink were controlled by the switch over the counter. He unplugged the disposal, plugged in the dishwasher, turned the switch on and the dishwasher then worked fine. He said that other installations he's seen had one outlet in the receptacle that is hot all the time for the dishwasher and the second outlet be controlled by the switch for the garbage disposal. He did not say anything about an overload if both ran (I don't think there aren't any other devices plugged in on that circuit - in the circuit breaker box downstairs there is a separate circuit breaker labelled garbage disposal). He said this was better since if there were any electrical problems, we could more easily get to the outlet under the sink instead of having to pull out the dishwasher, remove hoses, etc. and suggested to get the receptacle rewired.

Sorry for long writeup but now you see where these questions on how to wire the receptacle comes from - where one outlet is hot all the time and one is controlled by the switch.

Thanks again for help

DIYMike
 
  #9  
Old 03-17-07, 12:57 PM
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In this situation, most of the time the dishwasher is not plugged into a recepticle at all. it is hard wired to a cable that comes out of the floor or wall.

Since you know this has a problem, and you do not know what that problem is, you need to fix it to be sure your house is safe.

a dishwasher is not that hard to slid out. water line, drain line and electrical.

to just move the power source to another spot, and leave a faulty electrical circuit un fixed, is IMHO a bad idea.
 
  #10  
Old 03-17-07, 01:07 PM
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I still believe that it is probably easier to fix the receptacle behind the dishwasher than to rewire the disposal plug. Furthermore, I believe that the result will be more satisfactory.

Nevertheless, if you still want to plug it into the disposal receptacle, we need you to follow the advice you got in the very first response that you got in this thread from Joe. Shut off the breaker (not just the disposal switch) before you pull the receptacle out.
 
  #11  
Old 03-17-07, 02:10 PM
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Electrical question on switched control of electrical outlet

what's interesting is I too, thought the dishwasher, being permanent and not a portable one, had to be hard wired to the house electrical wiring and it shouldn't be something that you plug in with an electric cord.

I am in California - maybe rules here are different than other places?

The Home Depot where I purchased the dishwasher said it HAD to be installed using an electric cord - I asked them if that was to code and they said if it was hard wired, they won't install it. When I pulled the old dishwasher out, I noticed that indeed, it was connected with an electric plug so figured they knew more than me and that using the electric plug was ok.

I will turn power off and check the wiring on the recepticle to the switch.

If I get enough energy, I guess I can try dismounting the dishwasher - its a shame because it was just installed. If the hoses are long enough maybe I won't have to disconnect them and can pull them back. But if the plug goes dead again, I'll have to do it all over again which is what was attractive from what the GE dishwasher repair guy said in using the recepticle under the sink.

Is leaving a faulty recepticle unsafe (per jwhite advice to fix it knowing it is a problem). If it definitely is a problem, then that's what I'll have to do.

Again thanks for all the advice

DIYMike
 
  #12  
Old 03-17-07, 02:23 PM
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I believe that you may have slightly misinterpreted what you heard at Home Depot. They won't install it unless it plugs in, but that doesn't mean that somebody else can't install it hardwired. The point is that they are going to send out an appliance installer, not an electrician, and this installer isn't trained to hardwire it.

Pulling out a dishwasher is usually as simple as taking out the two small screws that hold it to the countertop and sliding it out. No big deal. If you fix it right, the plug will not go dead again. It's pretty rare for a receptacle to go bad, especially one that never gets any action.

We'll wait for your information on the disposal receptacle.
 
  #13  
Old 03-17-07, 02:46 PM
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Electrical question on switched control of electrical outlet

You are correct. The people Home Depot send out know how to connect up wire nuts to the cord so they can plug it in - they are not electricians. But I believe Home Depot wouldn't be telling me to do this if it violates code. The guys coming out are installing them using the cord at other homes too so I guess its ok here?

Is it unsafe to have bad electric recepticles in the house?
 
  #14  
Old 03-17-07, 02:58 PM
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"Is it unsafe to have bad electric recepticles in the house?"

Usually not, but not always.
 
  #15  
Old 03-19-07, 04:05 PM
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Electrical question on switched control of electrical outlet

Here's the latest:

Based upon all your input, I decided to do the right thing and to go ahead and pull dishwasher.

I got some help and we pulled the dishwasher from the cabinet and my friend crawled in and changed the outlet.

Result - no change. Even with a new outlet, there is no current - its dead.

Went down to circuit breaker box and reset everything. Tried again - no power.

Now I'm worried about electrical problem. So I went out and got a Greenlee non-contact Voltage detector, 1000 VAC CAT IV at Home Depot ($15) to detect power in outlets and circut breakers. I used it on the circuit breaker box and while a number of the circuits lit up the LED, I was surprised that seeming working circuits register nothing.

I tried it on circuits in the house and while some lit up the LED when I plugged the voltage detector in one side (right) of the plug and did not light up the LED when I plugged it in the other side (left), a number of circuits lit up the detector on both sides. What does that mean? Is there a problem? I went over to my friend's house and it consistently lit up only when plugged in the right side - plugging in the left always showed nothing.

I wonder if I have an electrical problem - I've had to change a couple bad outlets in the past - which I almost never had to do in other houses - the house isn't that old but its at least over 30 years, I'm near the beach which has a corrosive effect on metal.

What do you folks think?
 
  #16  
Old 03-19-07, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by diymike View Post
What do you folks think?

I think you have a faulty connection between the panel and the recepticle behind the dishwasher.

I also think that you do not understand electrcity enough to fix this problem on your own.

I think you need to hire this done, and insure that your and your family are safe.
 
  #17  
Old 03-19-07, 07:09 PM
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Don't put too much value on the non-contact tester results. We don't know exactly how you used it, so we cannot interpret the results.

Are you still planning to tell us about the disposal receptacle wiring? We seem to be taking tangents off of tangents off of tangents. I'm not sure where we're going now.

Your overall symptoms are vague and don't point to anything specific. You might have an electrical problem, or you might just be conducting the tests improperly. If it worries you, you might want to have an electrician come in and take a look.
 
  #18  
Old 03-19-07, 07:32 PM
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Replacing a receptacle in an attempt to fix a problem, while cheap, is usually the wrong solution. Unless a receptacle is visibly damaged or the terminals are loose, there is usually nothing wrong with them. A better solution would have been to test the wires with the receptacle intact.

This does sound like a problem BEFORE the receptacle. What else is on the circuit? Are there other junction boxes? Have you tested the circuit wires at the panel and at the other junction boxes?
 
  #19  
Old 03-19-07, 08:10 PM
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Electrical question on switched control of electrical outlet

per racraft I did try to test the panel - that's why I purchased the tester - to see if the wires and the panel were hot or not and hence these new questions.

per Mr. Nelson - at this point I have been convinced not to try to change the recepticle wired with the switch for the disposal and to fix the "bad" recepticle behind the dishwasher. Sorry about the vagueness - its kind of difficult to describe everything in the space of the forum. On how I did the testing, basically I tested using the voltage detector tool by pushing it into the plugs of the recepticle.

per jWhite - I am in total agreement with you - I called a licensed electrician to seek his advice on what to do here - he will be here tomorrow afternoon.

Thanks everyone for your time. I will give an update on what he says and what happened to follow up and close this discussion
 
  #20  
Old 03-20-07, 04:22 AM
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By testing the wires at the panel I meant that you should use a meter or a two wire tester to check the output voltage on the wire.

Your problem with the receptacle behind the dishwasher is that it has no power. That means that the breaker is bad (easy test) or that you have a bad connection at a junction box on the circuit (easy but perhaps time consuming test) or that you have a break in the wall.

That is what you should be testing. Attempting to use the receptacle under the sink may be a code violation and is the wrong solution to the problem.

By ignoring the receptacle behind the dishwasher you could be leaving a fire waiting to happen.
 

Last edited by racraft; 03-20-07 at 08:23 AM.
  #21  
Old 03-20-07, 07:46 AM
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I supect you have an open neutral on that circuit. Please let us know what the electrician finds.
 
  #22  
Old 03-26-07, 01:41 AM
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Electrical question on switched control of electrical outlet

ok - here is what happened:

I hired a licensed electrician to check out the circuit breaker box.

He found not one, but two circuit breakers bad. One was the one for the dishwasher - it was corroded (I live near the beach and ocean). He thought I might be able to live with the other one (they cost almost $60 each) but when we went upstairs we found the other side of the kitchen was out so I told him while he was here to go ahead and replace both.

It turns out the electric box is obsolete - so many people had problems with them (can't remember the name, all I remember is it starts with a Z) they are not to be installed anymore - an electrician friend of his has one in his garage but he can't use it anymore. So the circuit breakers aren't that easy to find. His wholesaler didn't carry them anymore. We had to check out OSH and Home Depot and were lucky to find some at HD. We discussed taking out the box and replacing it - to do that have cost over $500 for a new box and his time. He counted the number of circuit breakers in there and checked them all - the others were fine so the conclusion was to keep the box for now.

Once he changed the breakers, everything was fine. I asked about changing the outlet under the sink where one would be hot all the time for the dishwasher and one would be controlled by the switch for the disposal. He said that would be ideal and that newer homes have it that way - it is no longer allowed to have the plug in the cabinet behind the dishwasher. He said supposing something were to go wrong with the dishwasher - there is no easy way to turn it off. If the plug was under the sink you could just pull the plug. He opened up the switch and found only one wire going down so it would be an effort to change it. I asked if he couldn't run the wire from the dishwasher outlet to the outlet under the sink. He said yes but it wasn't just a wire, he would need to install a box, run conduit, have to fish it, etc. He thought it was ok to just plug it in behind the washer since everything was ok now.

I also had some questions on some switches where my tester lit up on both sides of the same outlet. He had tested the incoming current to the box and it was fine but testing some of the outlets did not have 120 volts - they were low. He started pulling out the circuits and found a problem with the neutral wire and also with some corroded outlets. While I probably could have changed them myself, since he was on-site, I had him change all the recepticles out - they don't cost that much except that it turns out a few needed GFI (those were like $12 each) per code but I'm glad he was here to keep me straight.

All in all, I feel very comfortable now. It was well worth the expense to have a professional check it all out both to have it done right and to have ease of mind in knowing things are correct and safe.

Thanks guys for posting help.
 
  #23  
Old 03-26-07, 07:40 AM
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Sounds like you have a Zinsco service panel. You should consider replacing as soon as your budget can afford it. As you already found out the breakers are no longer available. The breakers in these units have been known to fail in that they do not trip when required.
 
  #24  
Old 03-26-07, 07:53 AM
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Mike,

The panel is one of the first places you should have checked when you found the dishwasher panel was not working. You could have saved yourself (and all of us) much aggravation by determining that you were not getting power to the circuit.

As for the receptacle behind the dishwasher... I believe your electrician is mistaken. When the dishwasher is not located next to the sink, it is quite common and perfectly legal to have the receptacle behind the dishwasher. Pulling the dishwasher out allows one to remove the cord and plug.

One can simply go and turn off the circuit breaker to turn it off in an emergency. In my own house it would probably be easier and faster to go turn the circuit breaker off than to pull the stuff out from under the sink to get to the cord and plug to remove it.
 
  #25  
Old 03-30-07, 12:58 AM
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Electrical question on switched control of electrical outlet

yep - Zinsco is the one. Will definitely consider replacing it - got 20% of cost sunk in replacement of the 2 circuit breakers so will have to live with it for a little while longer

Yes - in hindsight, it seems obvious that I should have checked the circuit breaker. However, I didn't have the knowledge or tools to do that. Watched the electrician do the testing with his meter and know better for next time. However, while knowing, I'm not exactly comfortable around the panel so I'd probably hire an electrician again to do the work.

Also know which circuit breaker is the one that connects to the dishwasher now so I can flip it should I need it.

Thanks again for everyone's help!
 
  #26  
Old 04-02-07, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by jwhite View Post
Did you mean that there is a recepticle behind the dishwasher?

If you are daring enough to rewire the recepticle under the sink to make it 1/2 switched, why not just fix the broken recepticle behind the dishwasher. This is probably a much easeir fix.

24 posts? The third gave a great (best) answer. Sorry I didn't read the rest of them. Lazy does not save time or money.
 
  #27  
Old 04-04-07, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by diymike View Post
yep - Zinsco is the one. Will definitely consider replacing it - got 20% of cost sunk in replacement of the 2 circuit breakers so will have to live with it for a little while longer
I only know one person who's Zinsco panel that started a fire.

I do not wish to scare you just convice you that this is something that should be done.
 
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