Replacing 3-way switched light with outlet

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  #1  
Old 11-25-14, 02:56 PM
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Replacing 3-way switched light with outlet

Howdy!

I'm finishing a basement in a house built in 1963. I want to replace a light controlled by two switches with an outlet that will be controlled by the same switches. The wires between the switches and the light are a very old version of 14-2 (blk, wht, and gnd wires only). At the junction box for the light, there are two black and one white wire nutted together. The other two white wires were directly connected to the light. The one black wire had two other black wires pigtailed off of it and they were connected to the light.

After removing the light, I attempted to connect the outlet by extending new 14-2 ROMEX, matching original white wires to the white wire of new ROMEX, the black to the black, and the ground to the grounds. The result is that the outlet works when both switches are on, shuts off when both are off, but still retains half power when either one of the switches is off (a 60watt bulb burns ~half as bright).

It appears that one of the white wires may be a hot instead of a neutral, but that should be the one tied together with the two black wires(?). I've had to run a fair amount of new wiring in the basement so far, which has been (mostly) a piece of cake. Unfortunately, the wiring for these switches is run through the outer cinder black walls and behind the finished ceiling, so redoing it would be a much more serious an undertaking.

Thanks for your help.
 
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  #2  
Old 11-25-14, 03:46 PM
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What is the wiring at each switch. How many 2- conductor cables and any 3-conductor cables (red, black, white). What wires connected only to each other, if any, what wire(s to the common and travelers.

Note code wise this is all academic only. Ungrounded cables can not by code be extended because the new wiring must meet current code which requires a ground. You can not by national code use this lighting circuit for a new device.
 
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Old 11-26-14, 10:33 AM
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Hi, Ray. Thanks for the response.

Box#1 has two switches with three wires coming into the box: A 3-way switch (Common-black wire; Traveler-black; Copper-white), a black and white wire nutted together, and a single pole switch controlling the outside light (top screw-black; bottom screw-white).
Box#2 has one 3-way switch on this circuit: Common-black wire; Traveler-black; Copper-white.

It appears that power is going into the junction box where the light was, however, none of the white wires were marked in a way that would make future troubleshooting easy. So far, I've managed to get the 3-way switches (wired as described) working with the outlet, however, now when the single pole switch is engaged, half power goes to the outlet and half to the outside light. Not exactly sure how that's happening.

As for grounding the outlet, all cables going into and out of the light junction box (which remains intact) are grounded to the box. If I extend new cable to an outlet and ground that cable to both the light junction box and the outlet box, would that not be sufficient to satisfy the code?

Again, thanks for your help with this.
 
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Old 11-26-14, 10:44 AM
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[Box #1]A 3-way switch (Common-black wire; Traveler-black; Copper-white)...Box#2 has one 3-way switch on this circuit: Common-black wire; Traveler-black; Copper-white.
That is not correct or safe if I am reading correctly. There should be two travelers with insulated wires. It reads as if one of the travelers has a bare wire connected to it. Is that correct?
 
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Old 11-26-14, 10:56 AM
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Sorry......wording problem. 'Common', 'Traveler', and 'Copper' denote the screws. All of the wires mentioned are insulated. None of the bare copper wires are involved in the description of the switch wiring.
 
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Old 11-26-14, 12:05 PM
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Actually you have two traveler screws the same color and the common is the odd color so if the copper is the odd color that is the common. However if this is cable not conduit you still have a problem. If cable there should be a red wire in there some where because you need at least one 3-conductor cable. They probably used two 2-conductor cables using three of the four wires. You can't do that because all current carrying wires must be in the same raceway (sheath - conduit). I 'd just leave what you have as is and run a new circuit for the switched receptacle.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 12-02-14 at 04:18 PM.
  #7  
Old 12-02-14, 03:58 PM
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Howdy again, Ray

A little research led me to the conclusion that the original wiring at the light junction box was what appears to be a slightly backwards form of switch loop, wherein the black wire from power was attached directly to the black wires of the light, white wire from power was nutted together with the black wires from two 14-2 cables going to one 3-way switch and a single pole. When I dug into the cinder block wall a little farther at one of the switch boxes, I discovered that that each 3-way was connected via 14-3. In one of the boxes, the black wire from the 14-3 was nutted together with a white wire (conductor) from one of the 14-2 cables from the light junction box.

So, I realize that I can't just replace a switch looped light with receptacles given the lack of a neutral. In this case, I'll just remove the 3-way switches and work directly with the 14-2 cable bringing power into the light junction box. No problem. Except....

The single pole switch that was fed from the switch loop powered an outside light via a switch leg, e.g. the black and white wires from a 14-2 cable were attached to the swicth, run up to the outside light junction box, where the white wire from the switch was nutted to a black wire from the central light junction box, the black wire from the switch was nutted to the black wire on the light, and the white wire from the central light junction box was nutted to the white wire on the light.

I've now cleaned things up in the central juntion box and have the power wires nutted to the wires leading to the outside juntion box/single pole switch (black nutted to black; white nutted to white) and have verified that power is being supplied to both the switch and the outside light junction box. However, when I flip the switch, nothing happens. How can go about I troubleshooting this leg of the circuit?

Thanks for your time.
 
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Old 12-02-14, 04:21 PM
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have verified that power is being supplied to both the switch and the outside light junction
How? If you used a non contact tester the results don't really mean anything.
 
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Old 12-04-14, 03:29 AM
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First with a non-contact tester, then with a multimeter that showed 120V being fed to the outside light junction, then nothing to the switch. Long story short: I need to run a new switch leg from the outside junction box back inside to the switch. If nothing else, this has been educational.

Regarding the outside light junction box, the entire circuit is on a 15A breaker, so I'd planned to run the new switch leg down from the outside light through 1/2" PVC and back in through the brick wall to the switch box at the original location. Since this is a 15A circuit, can I run 14-2 or do I need to use 12-2 since part of the run from light to the switch is outside?
 
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Old 12-04-14, 03:32 AM
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If the breaker is 15 amp you can use #14.
 
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