replacing switch with wall sconce

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  #1  
Old 08-17-01, 04:54 PM
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Question

my landlord had closed off a light fixture (on the ceiling)that was being controlled by two swithches. I would like to know if I could install a wall sconce in place of one of the switches so I can still have light on the stairway.

Thank you,
In need of light
 
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  #2  
Old 08-17-01, 05:24 PM
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Wow, this certainly raises a lot of questions?

Such as
  • Why did the landlord close this off?
  • What do you mean by "close off"? Can you see a cover plate on the ceiling? Or what can you see on the ceiling where the light was?
  • I assume you mean two 3-way switches, right? I.e., two switches in separate places?
  • Won't a light at switch height (usually 48" off the floor) look pretty funny?
  • How do you want to control this light? Do you want the remaining switch to control it?
  • Do you care which of the two switches you replace with a light, or will either one do?
Here's what to do next:[list=1][*]Answer my questions above.[*]Shut off the breaker.[*]Pull each switch out of the box, but don't disconnect any wires.[*]Tell us if either or both of these switches have a wire with white insulation attached to the switch.[/list=1]As you can probably tell, the current answer is "maybe".
 
  #3  
Old 08-17-01, 06:42 PM
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Wouldn't an unlighted stairway usually be a building code violation? You might want to check (anonymously) with your local building inspector. If it is a violation, the easiest fix would be to suggest that your landlord replace the light fixture or risk losing his occupancy permit.

Of course, if your landlord calls your bluff and you DO report it, you may be shooting yourself in the foot...
 
  #4  
Old 08-18-01, 07:23 AM
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Smile

First of all she did this for the simple fact that when the light bulb blow out, you need a very long ladder to change it. My brother is 6' and he still can't reach it with the ladder she has. She removed the light fixture and put a plastic vent cover in place of it( wouldn't a solid medallion be better?) There are two switches one at the bottom of the staircase and one at the top of the staircase. What i would like to do is replace the switch upstairs with a wall sconce and have it controlled with the switch at the bottom of the staircase. I checked both switches and they both have a wire with white insulation. It'll be great if this can be done. I have five children and I would like them to be safe.

Thanks again
 
  #5  
Old 08-18-01, 08:47 AM
Wgoodrich
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Best and easiest method of fixing this problem in my mind is to go to a store and buy a light fixture that hangs from a chain that would be low enough to reach and change the light bulbs. Take a step ladder and a 2 x 12 board, set the step ladder lower on the stairs and run the board from the top of the stairs to the top of the step ladder. Walk out on the board and install that new light fixture where the old one was as the wiring was originally designed.

Most likely where you want to install this wall sconce in place of that switch will not have a white grounded leg or neutral wire. Instead the white wire most likely will be a hot switched wire instead. If you have a white wire that is wire nutted in that box that does not connect to the switch itself then you may have a neutral in that box. Most likely you won't have that needed neutral in that switch box but instead having a hot switched white wire.

I would just buy a light fixture that hangs on a chain low enough to change light bulbs and reinstall it where the old fixture was.

Let us know how you come out.

Wg
 
  #6  
Old 08-18-01, 09:39 AM
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IF the 2-wire cable to the former ceiling fixture connects to the 3-way switch at the top of the stairs possibly a Wiremold extension from the 3-way switch box would be feasible.Remove the 3-way from the outlet box leaving the connection intact-look for a 2-wire cable in the box with the Black connected to the 3-way-connect a test-lite across the 2-wire cable(Black & White) and check the 3-way switching.If it checks OK you can extend from the switch box verticaly with a lenth of Wiremold and a WM Extension Box and a WM Canopy Box.For an easy & practical "fixture" I suggest a simple keyless lampholder and a "G"(globe) lamp. Good Luck!
 
  #7  
Old 08-18-01, 10:30 AM
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I think Wg's idea of a hanging light is so obviously the correct and inspirational solution, it seems pointless to continue. Since both switches have a white wire connected to them (you did mean connected to the switch as I asked, and not merely just present in the box, right??), then the sconce solution is difficult anyway.
 
  #8  
Old 08-18-01, 01:36 PM
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I would first tell the Landlord to replace the light, use compact flouresent lamp. If she said no I would call the building/health department and have this fixed. OR lay at the bottom of the stairs and call a lawyer " I can not move, I fell , I could not see in the dark.".$$$$$
This is not your job to repair, she removed a working light becuse it was too hard to change the lamp!! Is it too hard to write a check every month?
 
  #9  
Old 08-18-01, 02:15 PM
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Smile

I'm sorry, I meant to write that the wire is present in the box not connected to the switch.( Hard to think when you have children calling you every five minutes.)

I appreciate all the advice from everyone.
 
  #10  
Old 08-19-01, 11:36 AM
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Let's be more precise.[list=1][*]For the switch at the top of the stairs, do you have (choose one):[list=a][*]No white wires in the box.[*]Two or more white wires in the box connected to each other, but none of the wires attached to the switch have white insulation.[*]At least one white wire connected to the switch.[/list=a][*]For the switch at the bottom of the stairs, do you have (choose one):[list=a][*]No white wires in the box.[*]Two or more white wires in the box connected to each other, but none of the wires attached to the switch have white insulation.[*]At least one white wire connected to the switch.[/list=a][/list=1]
 
  #11  
Old 08-19-01, 03:16 PM
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ok here it goes:

The downstairs switch has a white wire but it is not connected to the switch only the black and red wires are connected to the switch.

The upstairs switch has a white wire but it is connnected to the switch along with the red and black wires.

What is so strange is that the white wire is connected on one switch and not the other but both work fine.
 
  #12  
Old 08-19-01, 03:36 PM
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Okay, we're making progress, but we still need more information.

We've been sneaking up on this, but now is time for the full story. Open up the switch boxes yet again. Do one at a time. Provide a complete inventory of every wire that enters that box, what color the insulation is, what cable it is a part of, and what it is connected to. You may ignore all bare grounding wires. Be incredibly precise.

I am curious as to why you seem to have rejected Wg's solution, and why you're being so nice to your landlord who has caused you trouble by doing something clearly illegal. I think if it were me, I'd force the landlord to correct this problem.

P.S. The solution may require you to reconnect some wires in the ceiling, so you might start checking around for a long ladder.

P.P.S. Your proposed solution to the problem, even when and if we get it to work, will be illegal too.
 
  #13  
Old 08-19-01, 07:39 PM
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Smile

Will do. I have not ignored WG's solution. I've came across a pendant lamp(hanging from the ceiling) that hangs 72" from the ceiling. Keep in mind that this is a 12' ceiling. Maybe just maybe it'll hang low enough to change the bulbs easily. I did't know that what I wanted to do is illegal and what she did is illegal.

As for my landlord. I have no other choice. I've been here for five years and I have taken care of everything myself since I know that she is the cheapest person in the world. I have done everything from changing light switches to fixing the plywood floor that she didn't want to fix because she had to rip up the carpet in order to get the job done. Of course, I ended up doing that to. I guess my fear of her putting my children and myself out into the street has gotten the best of me. Hey, she even had this place for sale. If it wasn't for the fact that she wanted to much for this place, I would be homeless. Also, I guess that i am nice to her is that she wanted to raise the rent another $300( which I can't afford) But after I told her that when she starts taking responsibility of doing all the repairs that she should be doing , then I'll pay the extra if not, forget it. In a way, I've won/lost that battle.

I'll get back to you asap about the switches.
 
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