Changing outlet from switched to constant on

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Old 05-28-12, 10:45 AM
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Changing outlet from switched to constant on

Hi all, new to the forums and hoping I could get some assistance.

Both of my bathrooms have a single light switch that turns on the light and powers the only outlet. Obviously, this is a bit inconvenient for nightlights and such. I want to change it so that the outlet is constant and only the light is switched. Here's what I have to work with:

The light switch box has 3 cables with two wires each (black and white).
All three white wires are tied together with a wire nut. Two of the black wires are on the bottom right screw on the switch and the third is on the top right screw. (The switch is a standard single pole, 1 top right screw, 1 bottom right screw, and the top left for ground). There is also a bare ground wire not connected to anything.

At the outlet box is a standard GFCI. One black, one white, and a bare ground (again) connected to nothing.

If pictures are needed, I'm at work now so right now they aren't an option, but will be once I get home this evening.

Thank in advance =)
 
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Old 05-28-12, 10:49 AM
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The two blacks are power in and constant power out to another part of the circuit. They should not be under the same screw head. One wire per screw. A pigtail would solve this.

The single black is the switch controlled power out to the fixture.

You are going to need to run a new cable to provide constant power to the GFI

There are also switches with a night light module that would not require new cables to be run.
 
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Old 05-28-12, 11:36 AM
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So basically, that "extra" cable is piggybacked on to my light switch to control the GFI?

Also, i don't know if it will help any, but I did have one picture of the light switch on my phone, here it is:
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Is there NO way to have constant power to that outlet other than running a new cable? I ask because that unfortunately isn't an option for us =/
 
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Old 05-28-12, 11:43 AM
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The GFI is feed from the fixture box if it controlled by the switch or the fixture feeds the GFI. You are going to need to run a new cable unless you have the single black providing power to the switch. Can you test to see whether the single black or the double blacks are hot with the switch off?
 
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Old 05-28-12, 12:05 PM
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I have a multimeter so yeah, I can check it when I get home (which hopefully will be in an hour if the dealership decides it's ridiculous for us to stand around doing nothing all day and lets us leave early). I'll post the results later.

I anticipated this to be an easy fix, but became unsure once I got looking at the wires lol
Thanks for your help so far =)
 
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Old 05-30-12, 09:27 AM
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Ok so last night I turned off the power to the outlet and disconnected one set of black and white wires, leaving just one black on each terminal on the switch, and two whites tied together w/ a wire nut:
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Turned the power back on, flipped the light switch and nothing. No lights or power at the GFI. I turned the power back off and switched which black and white wires were connected. This time when I turned the power back on, I got both light and power at the outlet.

Decided to pull the light fixture off the wall, and when I did, I saw a cable running from the fixture down to the GFI:
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So yeah, looks like running an entirely new cable is gonna be the only way I can get constant to the outlet unfortunately.

My upstairs bathroom is the same way (switched GFI), but it looks like it might be wired differently (I didn't have much time to take it apart and look), so going back to what you were saying before, about one of the black wires having power when the light switch is off, how would I make the outlet constant if that's how my upstairs bath end up being wired?
 
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Old 05-30-12, 09:34 AM
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You would need to splice a cable from the GFI to the one with the constant hot.

Additional note, some might consider this a new install and as such it would need to be on a 20 amp circuit.
 
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Old 05-30-12, 11:08 AM
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Ok thanks =)

One other thing, should I be concerned that the bare ground wires aren't connected on this circuit? It's not on the switch or the GFCI and when I took the lamp off the wall last night, I noticed it wasn't grounded either.
 
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Old 05-30-12, 11:32 AM
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If a switch in a metal box and the grounds are pigtailed to the box the switch usually doesn't need a ground. In all other cases the grounds must be tied together and to the fixture plus the box if metal.
 
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Old 05-30-12, 11:58 AM
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should I be concerned that the bare ground wires aren't connected on this circuit?
I meant to say earlier that I noticed that's a metal box in your picture. If the grounds are twisted together and bonded to the box, that's a sufficient ground connection - as Ray said.
 
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Old 05-30-12, 02:56 PM
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I'll double check them again, but I don't think they were attached to the box at all. I know the GFCI box is plactic and the bare ground is just there. Same with the wall light fixture, the grounds were just twisted together and not connected to the ground on the fixture.
 
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Old 05-30-12, 03:08 PM
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All the grounds should be connected together and to any metal boxes if used. Plastic boxes are not grounded as they are non-conductive.
 
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