Tracing a load line connected to light switch?

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Old 02-17-16, 09:12 PM
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Question Tracing a load line connected to light switch?

My kitchen has a 3-gang j-box with 3 switches...one for the kitchen lights, one for under cabinet lighting, and a 3rd that does nothing. I took off the plate and confirmed that the switch has both a hot and load line connected to it.

The builder thinks it is pre-wiring for a pendant light over our island, however, there is no ceiling j-box and cap over the island. This leads me to believe that somewhere in my kitchen is a live wire buried behind the sheet rock.

Before we go down the "rip out the sheet rock and follow the cable" road, are there any tools or techniques I can use to possibly trace where this wire is going?
 
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Old 02-17-16, 09:25 PM
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You can use a toner or Fox and Hound. I would connect the tone generator to the load side of switch with the switch off, and try to trace line with the receiver.

I've also had some luck using the circuit breaker identifiers, which are cheaper than the F&H. You would connect the transmitter to the circuit with switch on, and use the receiver to try and trace the line.

Neither way is guaranteed to work, especially if run is in conduit or MC cable.
 
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Old 02-17-16, 09:51 PM
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If you aren't able to locate the cable..... at least remove the wire from the switch and wire nut it off.
 
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Old 02-18-16, 05:47 AM
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Is the kitchen open to an adjacent room, such as a family room?

If there's a room next to the kitchen with no ceiling lights, check to see if the switch controls any receptacles in that room.

You need to check the upper and lower halves of the receptacles separately, they are usually wired half-switched and half constant hot.

If you don't have any switched receptacles, my only guesses to where the cable would go is a ceiling light like you said, or a cable ran to an additional run of under cabinet lights that weren't installed.
 
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Old 02-18-16, 06:50 AM
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Forgot to mention that, yes, I already capped it off just to be safe. And before doing that, I did check every receptacle. None of them are on that switch.
 
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Old 02-18-16, 08:43 AM
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Is it somewhere near the sink? Could also be intended as a disconnect for a dishwasher or disposal. Any mystery boxes or wires down under the sink?
 
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Old 02-18-16, 10:37 AM
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The builder thinks it is pre-wiring for a pendant light over our island
I think the builder should ask his electric subcontractor what the third switch is for and where the cable goes.
 
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Old 02-18-16, 12:01 PM
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I have a similar switch at the bottom of the stairs going upstairs. I have no idea what it goes to...
 
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Old 02-18-16, 05:27 PM
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I did check every receptacle. None of them are on that switch.
Are there any signs the receptacles were changed from the original ones? Not in the kitchen but in an open adjacent room.
It's a common mistake made by homeowners when replacing receptacles to not know the receptacle was switched and wire it as normal.
 
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