Piggyback Wiring. Need Help.

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  #1  
Old 04-03-07, 05:49 AM
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Piggyback Wiring. Need Help.

Hi folks,

I've done replacing switch with dimmers, replaced ceiling fans, and other simple electrical stuff but this one is not as straight-forward.

I'm adding a new outlet and and lights with a switch. How do I wire it to an existing box with light switches. Please refer to my pics.

I'm not sure but I think..
#1 is source
#2 is existing light
#3 is an outlet
#4 is fireplace

Note:
#1 and #2 might be mixed up
#3 and #4 might be mixed up


#5 is my new outlet
#6 is my new light with my new switch

Thanks much!


http://gompol.googlepages.com/piggybackdiagram.jpg
http://gompol.googlepages.com/piggybackwiring.jpg

Please copy/paste the links
 
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  #2  
Old 04-03-07, 06:01 AM
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Your drawing is missing a connection.

First, to simplify it, remove the ground wires. They just clutter up the picture.

Second, you have no connection drawn between the hot wires. One one side of the duplex switch there is a tab between the screws. I am assuming one wire on each screw. Show that connection on the drawing. One of those wires is your incoming power hot wire, and the other is the receptacle hot wire.

Connect the hot wire for the new receptacle to the incoming hot wire.

Connect one side of the new switch to the incoming hot wire.

Connect the other side of the new switch to the black wire for the light.

Connect the white wires for the light and the receptacle to the other white wires.

Connect all grounds together and to the metal box.
 
  #3  
Old 04-03-07, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by racraft View Post
Second, you have no connection drawn between the hot wires. One one side of the duplex switch there is a tab between the screws. I am assuming one wire on each screw. Show that connection on the drawing. One of those wires is your incoming power hot wire, and the other is the receptacle hot wire.
How do I tell if its Hot-From-Light/Receptacle or Incoming-Hot?

I'm currently at work but I if remember correctly, when I looked last night at the back of the duplex switch, the screws on the left side have a negative sign and the other just a blank. So the negative is the Hot-From-Light/Receptacle? Or other way? or that negative sign doesn't tell me at all?

I saw this picture online. Looks kinda like my setup.
http://www.sweethaven02.com/BldgConst/Electrical01/en5145b0025.gif

I'll repost a diagram later tonight when I get home with your solution to make sure I understand this.

Thanks again.
 
  #4  
Old 04-03-07, 07:22 AM
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There's no "negative sign" on a switch. Such a symbol has no meaning in home wiring.

You don't really care which hot wire is bringing unswitched power in and which hot wire is taking unswitched power out. It doesn't make any difference because they all get connected together. The only wires you need to be aware of are the switched wires, which will be the wires on the side of the switch that does NOT have the tab. The unswitched hot wires are on the side of the switch that DOES have the tab.

P.S. The diagram you found is pretty useless.
 
  #5  
Old 04-03-07, 10:46 AM
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Your diagram does not make sense.

If only 1 wire is a source, then everything needs to branch off of it.

Whites & grounds should all be connected togeter. (Do not connect white to ground of course)

Blacks should all be twisted togeter UNLESS it is switched. If the device needs to be switched, then you place a switch on the black (hot) between the source wire and the wire going to the device. The diagram below only pertains to the black. All whites need to be connected together, and all grounds need to be connected together.

SOURCE BLACK
|
|----------------SWITCH -------------- EXISTING LIGHT
|----------------SWITCH -------------- FIREPLACE
|-------------------------------------- EXISTING OUTLET
|-------------------------------------- NEW OUTLET
|----------------SWITCH -------------- NEW LIGHT
 
  #6  
Old 04-03-07, 08:34 PM
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I think I got it!

Pls check out my new pictures/diagrams..
http://gompol.googlepages.com/piggybackwiring.jpg
http://gompol.googlepages.com/piggybackdiagram.jpg

A few things..

I found the tab you were talking about (see live pic) and it makes sense cuz the tab connects the source and the existing outlet to make the outlet always live.

Also, I've decided to get rid of that ugly duplex switch, converting to a 3-gang box with 3 single switches.

I got rid of the bare wires in the diagram.

The black dash shows hot but no power to the device.

Please let me know if I'm good to go.
I cant believe this but this stuff is actually making sense to me now.

Thanks for all your help!!
 
  #7  
Old 04-03-07, 08:45 PM
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The diagram looks good. Implementation of the diagram will take some skill. Potential problems:

- Finding a wire nut that can handle six wires.
- Finding a box big enough.
- Making the connections well enough to allow neat repacking of the box.

Start by telling us whether you're dealing with #14 or #12 wire.

P.S. That cable you labeled "light switch" should be labeled "light fixture", right?
 
  #8  
Old 04-03-07, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by John Nelson View Post

- Finding a wire nut that can handle six wires.
- Finding a box big enough.
- Making the connections well enough to allow neat repacking of the box.
Ah! Good points.
This is coming from a non-electrical person but what if I make it with two wire nuts. So put 3 wires in 1 nut. Another 3 wires in another nut. Then take a 2-inch wire and connect the 2 nuts? TADA! Or what is the normal electrician approach in this case?

Originally Posted by John Nelson View Post
Start by telling us whether you're dealing with #14 or #12 wire.
Not sure what you mean by this. Do you mean that I could piggyback again in the future and it will be overcrowded?


P.S. Yes that should be "light fixture" not "light switch"
 
  #9  
Old 04-03-07, 09:06 PM
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Are the cables 14/2 or 12/2? It's written on the side of the cable. Hopefully, you figured out what the existing cable was before you bought your new cable, and you bought the same kind.
 
  #10  
Old 04-03-07, 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by John Nelson View Post
Are the cables 14/2 or 12/2? It's written on the side of the cable. Hopefully, you figured out what the existing cable was before you bought your new cable, and you bought the same kind.
Crap! I just checked the new wire I put in. It just says Romex brand Simpull.
I threw out the box a long time ago. I had a previous project before, adding two ceiling fans piggybacking with existing box and the Home Depot guy says I was safe with this wire.

And no, I didnt check the existing cable. Cant really tell.

And more bad news.. I've already wired my 2 recessed lights w/ the new wire. Yikes!

What are the consequences if its lower or higher gauge that I used? Is it really a big deal? The outlet will be used by a plasma TV thats it. And the light switch will be used by two 3" recessed lights.
 
  #11  
Old 04-04-07, 04:54 AM
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The danger with using wire that is a higher gage (physically smaller wire) is that the wire could heat up, start a fire, burn your house down and perhaps you with it. Not good.

The danger with using wire that is a lower gage (physically larger wire) is that someone somewhere along the way will see the larger gage size and think the circuit has more power available than it does.

What size circuit breaker controls this circuit 15 or 20 amps? If it is 15 amps then you are legal with either 14 or 12 gage wire. If it is 20 amps then you are only legal with 12 gage wire.

Either way, determine the size wire you used and the size needed for the circuit.
 
  #12  
Old 04-04-07, 05:04 AM
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Its labeled 15 amps on the circuit breaker.

Any other way to tell between 12g or 14g aside from reading the labels?

If I post a pic of the wires, can one tell from the size?
How about if I take a pic of my wire stripper with the 12g and 14g holes wrapped around the bare wire? I'll do it tonight when I get home.
 
  #13  
Old 04-04-07, 06:39 AM
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As long as the breaker is 15 amps, you're good with whatever you have. But if we are going to compute the size of box you need, we need to know.

Wire strippers are not accurate enough to measure wire gauge with reliability. If you have any of the cable left, it is written on the side every few feet as I said earlier.

Just as a side note, it is a really scary thought to me that you're embarking on an electrical project without knowing the significance of wire gauge. This is usually the first or second thing people learn about wiring. It suggests that you're going into this project without proper preparation. I suggest you stop here and read a book or two. Otherwise, it seems very likely you will make other critical mistakes without even knowing it. You might get everything to work, but have your house burn down six months later because of an improperly made connection.

Not everything that works is safe.
 
  #14  
Old 04-04-07, 07:55 PM
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Ok. I went thru about 5ft of the new wire I'm using and all it says is..
**** ROMEX (R) BRAND SIMPULL (TM) **** 3-18-05 KILGORE
No labels if its 12 or 14. I even tore some of the sheathing but still no labels.

I'll buy a wire gauge tomorrow and measure to be sure.
For tonight, I did the wire cutter idea. Heres the pic.
http://gompol.googlepages.com/wiresize.jpg
I'm no expert but both (top pics are new wire and bottom pics are old wire) looks like a 14awg.

When I did my ceiling fan piggyback project, I relied on the Home Depot guy so I didnt think much anymore of it cuz he said it was safe. I guess I shouldnt have done that. I did some more internet reading on electircal basic and took out some electrical books from the library today too.

I'll post back tomorrow after measuring.

Btw, the 3-gang box that I bought says "27/14 24/12" and its 55 cu in.
 

Last edited by g00ber; 04-05-07 at 05:31 AM.
  #15  
Old 04-05-07, 06:41 AM
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The box is big enough. And you can find wire nuts capable of 6 #14 wires.

For grounding wires, you'll need to join 9 of them (6 from the cables and three from the switches). That will require the little trick you already described.
 
  #16  
Old 04-09-07, 10:03 AM
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Its all wired up now! Thanks for all your help!

That was a pain in the butt to put 6 wires in 1 nut. Especially when the last guy who wired it up cut the ground wires too short.
The wires kept slipping out, but I didnt give up. I gave each wire a good tug to make sure it doesnt slip out. Took me 2-3 hours to get it done. Busted my skin below my fingernail but it was a great learning experience.

Cya
 
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