Repurposing a lightswitch / splicing

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Old 07-18-08, 02:06 PM
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Repurposing a lightswitch / splicing

I'll try to give as much detail as I can in hopes that someone can answer me.

I have two light switches located in a room that controls an electrical outlet. I want to use one of the light switches to control track lighting that I am adding. The wiring to the switch that I am trying to repurpose is using 12/3 wiring. I already cut the 12/3 wire, in the ceiling between two headers. Is it possible to wire up the track lighting to either switch or still use one switch to control the outlet and one to control the new track lighting? If not either, what are the possibilities that I have? If there are any details you need, just let me know.
 
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Old 07-18-08, 02:51 PM
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Welcome to the forums! What would make you just cut a 12/3 cable between joists? The 12/3 is running between the two switches, allowing them to operate the receptacle from each location. So, in essence, you can't just use one of the switches to control another application without rewiring the other switch to the receptacle and changing it to a single pole switch. Do you know where your hot feed is for this switch set up? Do you have any testing equipment?
Cutting the cable may hinder you in doing what you want, so we may have to start from scratch.
 
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Old 07-18-08, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by chandler View Post
Welcome to the forums! What would make you just cut a 12/3 cable between joists? The 12/3 is running between the two switches, allowing them to operate the receptacle from each location. So, in essence, you can't just use one of the switches to control another application without rewiring the other switch to the receptacle and changing it to a single pole switch. Do you know where your hot feed is for this switch set up? Do you have any testing equipment?
Cutting the cable may hinder you in doing what you want, so we may have to start from scratch.
It wasn't purposeful. I had a leak from a pipe and the wire was low and was cut in the process by the plumber, who was quite surprised to find it. Since the ceiling was open I wanted to do the wiring for the lighting. I don't have a multi-meter or anything to test with.

What would starting from scratch entail? My original plan was to use Romex 12/2 and run it from the ceiling box and just unhook the old wires. I guess that would also make both switches not work
 
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Old 07-18-08, 07:47 PM
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It would help to figure out exactly what the purpose of the wire was so you can figure out the best course of action.

Did the 2 switches operate the same thing from different parts of the room or where they next to each other in the same box? Do the 2 switches work now? What test equipment do you have available?
 
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Old 07-18-08, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by pcboss View Post
It would help to figure out exactly what the purpose of the wire was so you can figure out the best course of action.

Did the 2 switches operate the same thing from different parts of the room or where they next to each other in the same box? Do the 2 switches work now? What test equipment do you have available?
The 2 switches operated an outlet from different parts of the room. What test equipment would be needed? Would a multimeter suffice or is something else needed?
 
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Old 07-19-08, 05:34 AM
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Here is what I would do... just my opinion.


I would take both those 3 wires in the ceiling and install them in a 4" round box, buy a piece of trak with a floating canopy, remake all the splices so now the two switches control the trak and be done with it, its the least amount of work, and it will work... You will have to lose the switched receptacle, but hey, at least your trak will work...
 
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Old 07-19-08, 06:53 AM
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Ok, now we just need to figure out where the power enters and leaves the 3way switch setup. Can you look at each switch and tell the number of wires and colors inside the box and attached to the switches?

The problem with just splicing the wires in a box like Chris sugested is that you will not have enough wire to make the splice. You need 6" of free conductor in the box from each cable.
 
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Old 07-19-08, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by pcboss View Post
Ok, now we just need to figure out where the power enters and leaves the 3way switch setup. Can you look at each switch and tell the number of wires and colors inside the box and attached to the switches?

The problem with just splicing the wires in a box like Chris sugested is that you will not have enough wire to make the splice. You need 6" of free conductor in the box from each cable.

Hopefully can just pop a few staples and get the slack...
 
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Old 07-19-08, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by pcboss View Post
Ok, now we just need to figure out where the power enters and leaves the 3way switch setup. Can you look at each switch and tell the number of wires and colors inside the box and attached to the switches?

The problem with just splicing the wires in a box like Chris sugested is that you will not have enough wire to make the splice. You need 6" of free conductor in the box from each cable.
#1 has a red wire on the top left and black wire on the top right. There is the ground on the green screw. There are two black wires on the bottom right screw.

#2 has a red wire on the top left and black on the top right. There is the ground on the green screw and a white wire on the bottom right.
 
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Old 07-19-08, 08:50 AM
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Left and right, top and bottom mean little in switches. What matters is the color of the terminals. On the 3 ways you should have a screw that is an odd color, normally black. Ignore the green ground screw.

Also look to see the wires tucked into the box but not attached to the switch.
 
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Old 07-19-08, 08:52 AM
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Descriptions such as "top" and "right" are meaningless. You need to go by screw color when describing switches with more then two screws (not including ground). There should never be more then one wire per screw but that may be a clue to the hot. Does one of the blacks that are paired under one screw go to the other switch?
 
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Old 07-19-08, 09:17 AM
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The #1 switch I was referencing is in a 4-gang box. The first switch is the switch that controls the outlet.

There are two 12/3s. For the first bound of 12/3, the red wire is going to a brass screw, the black is going to the opposite brass screw. The white wire is tied (with a wire nut) to the red of the second bound of 12/3. The black wire from the second bound of 12/3 is going to the black screw of the switch. There is a second black wire on the switch (on the same black screw) that is going to the switch next to it (which controls an outdoor light and is a single-pole) to the bottom brass screw.

The switch I called #2 isn't in the same 4-gang box. It's on a wall in a different part of the room. The red and black are on the brass screws and the white is on the black screw.
 
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Old 07-19-08, 09:29 AM
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I'm out, good luck with this one guys....
 
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Old 07-19-08, 09:53 AM
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Without diagramming this you have a dead-end 3 way at the one end.

You will not be able to add the fixture at the splice point. You will not have a neutral wire.

Do you have access above the switches to try to fish a wire down the wall into the switch boxes?

In ordr to fix the switches the way they were you will either need to add 2 junction boxes with blank covers that will remain permanently accessible or to re-run one or both parts of the wiring that was cut.
 
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Old 07-19-08, 10:08 AM
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I have access to fish wire to switch #2, but not fish wires to switch #1 that has both sets of 3-wire.

Originally Posted by pcboss View Post
Without diagramming this you have a dead-end 3 way at the one end.

You will not be able to add the fixture at the splice point. You will not have a neutral wire.

Do you have access above the switches to try to fish a wire down the wall into the switch boxes?

In ordr to fix the switches the way they were you will either need to add 2 junction boxes with blank covers that will remain permanently accessible or to re-run one or both parts of the wiring that was cut.
 
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Old 07-19-08, 10:14 AM
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Just a few more questions.

How close is the location of the cut wire to where you want to add the track lighting?

Are there white wires in the one switch box connected to other whites and capped together?

Can you live with a blank plate on the ceiling?

Have you done any wiring before and do you have a book like "Wiring Simplified"?

I believe that we can make a simple change to the current wiring and allow you to add the track.
 
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Old 07-19-08, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by pcboss View Post
Just a few more questions. How close is the location of the cut wire to where you want to add the track lighting?

Can you live with a blank plate on the ceiling?

Have you done any wiring before and do you have a book like "Wiring Simplified"?
The cut wire is about a foot away and can actually reach it the track lighting itself.

I suppose I can live with the plate.

I haven't done home wiring before, but can pick up the book in question.
 
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Old 07-19-08, 12:26 PM
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Would this be what I am looking for on how to wire this up?

Edit: Does this make the outlet always hot, or does switch 1 control the outlet and switch #2 control the light? Or do both switches toggle both light and outlet?
 
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Old 07-19-08, 01:31 PM
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Great diagram.

This is not quite the same situation that you have. Does that book show a dead-end 3 way setup?

It is pretty much what I think you can do by adding a 2 wire + ground cable from the dead-end 3 way to the new track fixture.

We just need to make certain that you have other white wires connected together in the first switch box.

As far as the switched receptacle, can you see the colors and if a brass colored tab on the side of the receptacle is broken off? Look on the side with the small slot.
 
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Old 07-19-08, 01:48 PM
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Look at the diagram in this link posted by Builder Bob. I think this is what you have.

http://www.iccsafe.org/cgi-bin/ultim...;f=11;t=001010
 
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