How to use currently unused light switch?


Old 11-14-10, 11:55 AM
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How to use currently unused light switch?

I have an unused light switch in my kitchen (and by unused I mean there's a light switch installed in the wall that doesn't operate anything). I believe it was put there to allow for the installation of under-cabinet lights. Btw, the switch isn't for a disposal, we have that elsewhere.

So I would like to install under-cabinet hard-wired lights. However, I don't know how to tell if the light switch is "ready". I've taken the faceplate off and looked at it. The white and black wires are each connected under an electrical cap (the orange screw thing). I'm decently handy but haven't done too much with electric, beside dimmers and installing new lights.

So is it as simple as running the wires from the lights down to the switch box? Thanks.
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Old 11-14-10, 12:29 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Milwaukee WI
Posts: 1,338
So you have one black and one white wire and they are wire-nutted in the same wirenut? If so that would a switch loop which may already be in use for some other lighting, etc. circuit.

To test further, you can turn off the power, un-wirenut those wires, put each separately in its own wirenut. Turn the power back on and see if something does not work.

Edit: On re-reading your post, it seems unlikely that my guess about how it's set up is correct. Maybe you can tell us more about how many conductors, and how many cables, are in the box, and what's connected to what.
Old 11-14-10, 12:41 PM
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I've taken the faceplate off and looked at it. The white and black wires are each connected under an electrical cap (the orange screw thing).
Do you mean they each have a wire nut on them or that they are tied together? Tied together would probably mean a bypassed switch loop. That would not be usable for your purposes.

If they are not tied together then maybe it can be used. Turn off the main breaker.

Remove the wire nuts. Be sure the wires are well separated and not touching anything.

Turn on the main breaker. Using a test light or multimeter check for 120v between the two wires.

No power it isn't usable. If you have power go to the next step.

Have a helper turn off each 15a and 20a breaker till you find the breaker. Leave the breaker off and recap the wires.

Check what else is dead with that breaker off. If any of the counter top receptacles are dead that means the wires are on a counter top receptacle circuit and can by code not be used for lighting.

You didn't mention if there is a ground. If no ground it can't by code be used. You can't extend an ungrounded circuit.

Also as originally asked by
ArgMeMatey is there only one cable? Most of the aboves assumes one cable.

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