Another Evil Red Wire Question

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  #1  
Old 11-20-12, 09:05 AM
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Another Evil Red Wire Question

I want to change a light switch to a combo switch/outlet. Currently the switch is wired as follows. The two black wires (one from the light and the other from the feed) are attached to the black pole on the switch. The two white wires (one from the light and the other from the feed) are wired together, but are not attached to the current switch. A red wire which comes from the feed, is attached to the other pole on the current switch. The red wire has me confused. This is not a double switch situation, which I understand, is normally where one might see red wires.


Can I install the Levitron combo switch/outlet and if so, where do all the wires go? I don't care if the switch has to be on to use the outlet, or not. Whatever is the easiest way to wire it is fine with me. Can anyone help?
 
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  #2  
Old 11-20-12, 09:06 AM
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Did you mean a brass screw used for a black wire. If you have a black screw it is a 3-way switch and the red is to be expected.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 09:31 AM
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This sounds like a three way switch - what you're calling a "double switch situation." You sure there's not another switch for this fixture?
 
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Old 11-20-12, 10:03 AM
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Thanks. I meant to say three way switch. There is no other switch for this fixture.
 
  #5  
Old 11-20-12, 10:09 AM
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Thanks. The back of the current switch has markings for "black" and "white". The black wires are attached to black and thr red is attached to the white pole. There are no other switches for this light.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 10:23 AM
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The back of the current switch has markings for "black" and "white".
The "white" should be for a neutral on a lighted or timer switch. Is the screw associated with "white" silver? How many screws on the switch not counting ground? Is the switch marked on/off? Can you post pictures of the back and both sides of the switch?
 
  #7  
Old 11-20-12, 01:21 PM
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Ray, I can't send pics, but facing the current switch, which I'm sure isn't an orginal switch, since the house is about 50 years old, there are only two screws, not counting the ground.. They are both brass and on the right side. There aren't any on/off markings on the switch. This an arrow on the side indicating "Top" and the black wires are attached to the top screw.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 01:49 PM
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OK, so you have a red wire under a brass screw and two black wires under the other brass screw?
 
  #9  
Old 11-20-12, 02:04 PM
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That's correct. I tried just putting the black wires on the brass screw and red wire on the silver screw on the new combo switch/outlet, but that doesn't do anything.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 02:24 PM
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I tried just putting the black wires on the brass screw and red wire on the silver screw on the new combo switch/outlet, but that doesn't do anything.
The silver screw is intended for a neutral. Do you have a neutral in the box? If you don't have two or more white wires connected only to each other it is unlikely you have a neutral in the box. (Just because a wire is white doesn't mean it is a neutral.) If you don't have a neutral you do not have a complete circuit for a receptacle.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 02:24 PM
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Something's not right in your description - you're saying there are two hot wires attached to the switch and one going up to the fixture. Additionally, you have one hot on the same screw as the outbound wire, which would negate the switch.

I think you're next step is to figure out just what these three wires are, I don't think you have that yet.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 03:47 PM
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As I indicated previously, there are two white wires, which are connected to each other and pushed to the back of the box. They are not connected to the switch. The only wires connected to the switch are the two black wires, which are connected to each other and attached to one brass screw and the one red wire, which is attached to the lower brass screw. I don' know any other way to describe this. I can only assume that the one red wire is not a hot wire, but it' there and it is attached to the lower brass screw. I guess I'll have to call in an electrician, although I just know that this must be solvavble. Thanks for your help.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 04:16 PM
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This is solvable but you need to figure out what these three wires are - what is hot coming in and what is going to your fixture?

I would suspect the red is hot and the two blacks are going to the fixture but that doesn't make sense based on the information you've provided thus far.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 05:00 PM
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Is this cable or conduit? If cable how many 2-conductor cables (black and white) and how many 3-conductor cables (red,white, black)?

Do you have a multimeter or test light (but not a non contact tester)?

Is this what you are trying to install?
 
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Old 11-20-12, 06:11 PM
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Ray, that is what I'm trying to install. There is one, two conductor cable with black and white wires and one, three conductor cable with black, white and red wires.

I don't have a test light, but will buy one if necessary.
 
  #16  
Old 11-20-12, 06:16 PM
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Using Rays diagram the blacks go to the black, red to orange. You will need to add a white pigtail from the two whites and connect it to the silver screw of the receptacle. Connect the ground to the green.

One wire per screw head.
 
  #17  
Old 11-20-12, 07:44 PM
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OK, to make sure I understand. I connect one black wire to the top black screw and the other to the bottom black screw. Connect the red wire to the brass (orange) screw. Connect the two white wires to the silver screw using a pigtail. Question: Do I leave the connection clip between the two black screws on there, or should I break it off? And Lastly, the ground wires are currently attached to the metal box in the back. Can I leave that, or must I attach them to the switch itself?
 
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Old 11-20-12, 07:55 PM
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The clip must stay in place. Normally you would take those two black wires, pigtail them to one wire and connect it to either black screw. Today's code calls for that device to be connected to ground. It would be desirable to bring a ground wire to that device.
 
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Old 11-20-12, 08:07 PM
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Important if this is in a bathroom the receptacle must be GFCI protected. One way would be to use a GFCI combo instead of the one I posted.
 
  #20  
Old 11-21-12, 01:15 PM
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Ray and PJmax, Thanks a lot for your help. I just installed the switch/outlet combo as you recommended. It works great. The hardest part was folding all of those wires so it would go far enough into the box, but I finally got it. Thanks again.
 
  #21  
Old 11-21-12, 01:32 PM
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Thanks so much for your help. It works great.
 
  #22  
Old 11-21-12, 01:35 PM
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pcboss Thanks again, I wired as you suggested. and its working great.
 
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