how to get the wall switch to control the ceiling light

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  #1  
Old 03-21-07, 09:20 PM
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how to get the wall switch to control the ceiling light

I just found this forum and have a project to do for my stepson and have a question or two.
There's a light in the ceiling but the wall switch does not control it.
The wall switch controlled the outlet on the same interior wall until my stepson replaced it with a new one and now it is hot all the time. From what I have already read on this forum I believe it has to do with not breaking the tab off. That's OK. He wants it to be hot all the time.
My question is how to get the wall switch to control the ceiling light?
In the switch box, two cables. One is two wires + ground coming in from the top, the second is three wires + ground coming from the bottom.
Outlet box, the same, two wire cable and three wire cable.
Light fixture box, one cable, two wires + ground.
Thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 03-22-07, 04:21 AM
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Tell us the wiring at the receptacle and the wiring at the light. Did this switch ever control the ceiling light? Did your stepson replace the switch, or just the receptacle?
 
  #3  
Old 03-22-07, 04:27 AM
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You are correct that the tab on the hot side of the outlet needs to be broken for it to be switched on one side and hot on the other.

But the light has to be controlled from somewhere, is it a different location?? If it is and he wants control from the switch of discussion, you will need a 3-way switch loop between the original switch and the new location, and that requires 3 wires.
 
  #4  
Old 03-22-07, 08:16 AM
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racraft, Just Bill,
Sorry about that. I didn't make myself clear on the ceiling light. When my stepson moved in there was an old ceiling fan which was operated with two pull chains. He took it down and wants to install just a light and have the switch on the wall control it.
racraft,
The wiring at the receptacle is one 3 wire cable and one two wire cable.
The wiring at the light is one two wire cable.
He just replaced the receptacle.
Just Bill,
I guess I've already answered your question.
As I mentioned earlier the wiring at the switch is one 3 wire cable and one two wire cable.
Thanks
 
  #5  
Old 03-22-07, 08:18 AM
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I need to know how the wires in those cables are connected. Telling me one two wire and one three way cable does not help.

Do you know anything about the wire at the ceiling? Does it come directly from the switch? Does it come directly from the receptacle?
 
  #6  
Old 03-22-07, 09:17 AM
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I knew when I was in the attic I should have checked to see where the cable in the ceiling box was coming from. I do know it's not coming from the switch location.
The wire hookup in the switch box is, two blacks tied together and connected to switch, the red wire connected to the switch and the whites are capped off.
The receptacle I'm not sure ( I'm going over to the house later today), It had the same wires as the switch. The red wire and the black wire connected to one side of the outlet, the two whites on the other side.
Thanks
 
  #7  
Old 03-22-07, 09:48 AM
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If the wire to the ceiling box comes from the receptacle that used to be switched then you can make the light switched without adding any new cables. I doubt this is the case. If the wire to the ceiling box comes from somewhere else, then you will have run a new cable from the light to the switch or from the light to the receptacle in question. Or, run a wire to a new location for a new switch for the ceiling light.
 
  #8  
Old 03-22-07, 10:50 AM
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Thanks for your help and quick replies Bob.
I'll find out where the cable to the ceiling box is coming from. Maybe I'll get lucky.
If I have to run a new cable from the light to the switch it won't be too bad since the wall that houses the switch is right there at the opening to the attic.
What about the connections, will it be pretty much straight forward (black to black & white to white) or is it more involved? This is always the tricky part for me. Does it matter where the power source is coming from or the fact the switch box has a two wire cable and a three wire cable?
Thanks
 
  #9  
Old 03-22-07, 10:59 AM
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One step at a time.

Decide first on how things are wired and/or on where you will add a wire.

We can then work on how to make connections. If you have to add a cable you will likely want to abandon the existing cable.

The connections themselves are trivial. If it help you to understand them (and I urge you to do this) draw a picture on paper. First understand how the existing light is wired and also how the switched receptacle is (should be) wired to make it switched. Then making the receptacle unswitched and the light switched should be obvious. No, connect black to black and white to white will don nothing for you.
 
  #10  
Old 03-22-07, 07:45 PM
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OK, the cable in the ceiling fixture box is hot. I tracked it in the attic and it ran to a junction box on the attic wall. Two cables come out of the junction box and travels across the attic. With all the insulation and limited footing I couldn't track them down.
In the switch box, two cables, the two blacks are tied together and pigtailed to switch. The red wire is also connected to the switch. the whites are wirenutted.
The receptacle has the same wires as the switch. The blacks are tied together and pigtailed to the lower half of the outlet (brass). The red wire is connected to the upper half of the outlet (brass). The white wires are connected to the silver screws, the white from the three wire cable opposite the black from the two wire cable and the white from the two wire cable opposite the red (three wire) cable.
The receptacle use to be switched until my stepson replaced it. Now it's hot all the time.
The switch is not hot.
Thanks
 
  #11  
Old 03-22-07, 08:05 PM
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This is entirely solved by rewiring at the receptacle.

At the receptacle, the red wire in the 3-wire cable should be connected to the black wire in the two-wire cable. Neither of these should connect to the receptacle itself. The remaining black wire (from the 3-wire cable) connects to either one of the two brass screws on the receptacle, and the two white wires (one from each cable) connect to the two silver screws on the receptacle.
 
  #12  
Old 03-22-07, 08:32 PM
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I'm not sure I understand what is "entirely solved".
 

Last edited by trevortara; 03-22-07 at 10:45 PM.
  #13  
Old 03-23-07, 04:26 AM
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We need to know if the two wire cable leaving the receptacle feeds the light. We do not yet know that.
 
  #14  
Old 03-23-07, 06:42 AM
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Bob, I of course made the assumption that it did. Even if it's not correct, it's worth trying what I said. If it doesn't work, there's only one other logical explanation, and we can try that next. This attempt is safe, and it's a lot easier than trying to figure out where the cable goes for sure. And I think my solution has a better than even chance of working.

"Entirely solved" means that you get what you want: the receptacle will be always hot, and the switch will once again control the light.
 
  #15  
Old 03-23-07, 06:50 AM
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Well, it's certainly worth a try. I'm not optimistic. Since the switch originally controlled a receptacle (and still would except that the receptacle was replaced), I am thinking that whomever installed the light just grabbed power from a convenient location in the attic.

One question, before changing any wiring. Are the light in the ceiling and the receptacle on the same circuit. If they are on different circuits, don't even bother with the test.
 
  #16  
Old 03-23-07, 06:55 AM
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Maybe I misunderstood, but I thought that the switch used to control the light (and the receptacle) before the receptacle was replaced.
 
  #17  
Old 03-23-07, 07:06 AM
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That's not what I read (in the original post).
 
  #18  
Old 03-23-07, 07:25 AM
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John, the switch never controlled the ceiling light as it was a pull chain design.

Bob, the receptacle is on a different circuit from the light in the ceiling.

Thanks
 
  #19  
Old 03-23-07, 07:32 AM
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With the light on a different circuit you have no choice but to run a new wire.

Disconnect the light from the box in the attic that it is run to. Route the same cable (if it is long enough, if it includes a ground wire and if it is in good shape) to either the receptacle, or to the switch. If the cable won't reach then use a new cable. If running a new cable, run three conductor plus ground, to allow someone in the future to install a fan. Then decide if you want just the light switched or the light and half the receptacle.

The other alternative is to install a second switch that controls the light and leave the existing switch to control half the receptacle (and fix the receptacle).
 
  #20  
Old 03-23-07, 07:35 AM
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Okay. I understand now. Forget all of my posts in this thread.
 
  #21  
Old 03-23-07, 09:39 AM
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Thanks for your help John.

Bob, I've decided to just go ahead and install a new three wire cable. Point well taken on the fan. My stepson's wife will probably want to hang one in the near future.
Now if you can take me thru the connections I won't bother you anymore and my stepson will think I know what I'm doing. (LOL)
I want the switch to control the ceiling light only.
I want the receptacle to stay hot all the time.
I'm not sure how to connect a two wire cable with a three wire cable. Should the extra wire be pigtailed or tied off?
The switch box and the receptacle box have a two wire and a three wire cable and I'm going to install a three wire cable.
Thanks
 
  #22  
Old 03-23-07, 10:22 AM
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At the switch, disconnect the red wire that is presently there. You do not need it and it will only get in the way. Place a wire nut over the end of the wire. You can also disconnect it at the receptacle, but you do not have to.

Remove the existing cable that feeds the ceiling light. Disconnect it at the junction box in the attic and at the ceiling box. Pull it up and remove it from the attic.

Run a new 14-3 (if this is a 15 amp circuit) or 12-3 (if this is a 20 amp circuit) CABLE from the switch box to the ceiling light. Consider replacing the ceiling box now with a fan rated box so you donít have to do so later. At the ceiling box connect the white, black and bare gRound wires to the light. The ground wire must also be pigtailed to the box, if the box is metal. If the light has no ground wire then connect the bare ground wire to the metal box only. Cap the red wire and do not use it.

At the switch connect the white wire to the other two white wires. Use a new wire nut, do not attempt to reuse an old one. Connect the black wire to the now empty terminal of the switch. Cap the red wire. Connect the bare ground wire to the other ground wires.
 
  #23  
Old 03-24-07, 07:43 PM
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Thanks Bob for all your help.

I've got it all wired up and just have to hang the light fixture.

A question came to mind when I was wiring the receptacle (removing and capping off the red wire).

When wiring the outlet do you connect the black and white wires from the same cable across from each other or is it black from one cable and white from the other cable?

Thanks
 
  #24  
Old 03-24-07, 08:36 PM
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Black wires connect to brass-colored receptacle screws. White wires connect to silver-colored receptacle screws. If the tabs have not been broken out, it doesn't matter which of the two brass screws a black wire is connected to, nor which of the two silver screws a white wire is connected to.
 
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