Convert Receptacle/Light Switch to GFCI/Receptacle

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Old 01-31-10, 05:53 PM
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Convert Receptacle/Light Switch to GFCI/Receptacle

In my 80 year old house in New York, I am attempting to replace a non-GFCI combination switch/receptacle in a full bathroom. The light switch controls two vanity lights on either side of the mirror, and the single receptacle is NOT controlled by the light switch.

When I opened up the j-box, I was suprised to only find one cable entering the box.

Here are two pictures which show the light:

http://imgur.com/lHKsz.jpg
http://imgur.com/fUIEx.jpg

In the first picture you can see that three wires come in: one white, one black, one ground (the ground is hard to see). The ground is wrapped around the incoming cable and goes under the metal clamp.

The incoming white wire goes to the bottom screw of one side of the switch/receptacle.

In the second picture, you can see that the black wire goes to the top screw on the other side of the receptacle. Also, a second white wire is attached to the same side of the receptacle/switch as the black wire, but to the bottom screw. That white wire connects to the bottom/back of the box (that connection is evident in the first picture).

One additional piece of information: When I plug in my circuit tester, I get an open ground message.

How can I hook these wires up to my new GFCI/switch?

Ideally, I don't want the switch to control the receptacle. But, if that is the only way it will work, I can do that.

Any advice is appreciated.

toddmanqa
 
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Old 01-31-10, 07:43 PM
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You have a dangerous and non code neutral connection. It affects the safety of all outlets in the house.This was a switch loop with no neutral. They used the ground as a neutral. That should never be done. You need to re wire or at the very least replace the combo with a regular switch and remove the receptacle. Your simplest course of remedy may be to run a new circuit for the GFCI.

 
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Old 01-31-10, 09:26 PM
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Non-code neutral connection

I have put a plastic plug in the receptacle to render it temporarily inactive.

Since I need to run a new line, I'll replace the single receptacle/switch with a separate GFCI and separate switch.

I will run a new dedicated 12/2 20 AMP line for the GFCI receptacle (regular circuit) and a second dedicated 14/2 line for the lights/switch (with an AFCI circuit).

As is typical for a house this age, the circuit for the bathroom is also hooked up to two other bedrooms (receptacles and switched overhead lights). And, they don't have grounds for those receptacles.

After I've terminated the existing wire running to the bathroom, and placed it in a non-hidden junction in the attic, how can I test the other lights/receptacles to see if they were similarly done? Do I have to open up each light switch and receptacle? Besides my plug in receptacle tester (which won't work since the receptacles have no grounds), I do have an AC/DC Voltmeter Multimeter.

Thanks.
 
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Old 01-31-10, 10:41 PM
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I have put a plastic plug in the receptacle to render it temporarily inactive
Good. It is also very important that the ground wire be disconnected. Reconect it to the the grounding screw of the new switch you install and pigtail to the box.

I would open every box to check for violations. Some may be easier to spot visually then with a meter.

Depending on the age of your wiring the boxes may have the ground wires terminated outside the box. Use your multimeter to check if you have 120v from the metal box to black/hot. If so you can just add a grounding pigtail.

The switch is still usable as just a switch and the light it controls can stay as wired. Just add a proper 20a GFCI circuit for the new receptacle.
 
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