Wiring Ceiling Fan - reuse switch that controls outlet


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Old 05-27-15, 12:01 PM
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Wiring Ceiling Fan - reuse switch that controls outlet

I'm planning on installing a new ceiling fan and was hoping to have a few questions answered before I dive into things. First some context:

The existing wall switch controls half of the outlet on the other side of the room. I'd like to convert this outlet to be always hot and use a dual switch for the fan something like this:

http://i.stack.imgur.com/bHKsX.jpg

I opened up the outlet and this is what it looks like (I forgot to take a picture of the inside of the box, I can do that if it helps):

http://i.stack.imgur.com/AlZjR.jpg

And this is what the switch looks like:

http://i.stack.imgur.com/3mNvU.jpg
http://i.stack.imgur.com/gpDow.jpg

I crawled in the attic and it looks like the 12/3 romex from the switch to the outlet runs through there.

In order to set this up right, can I cut that romex line in the attic and attach it to a box for the ceiling fan? And then pull the excess line that is attached to the outlet and discard it?

In order to convert the outlet to be always hot, do I need to buy a new one? I'm assuming there isn't a way to replace the tab?
 
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Old 05-27-15, 12:24 PM
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pull the excess line that is attached to the outlet and discard it?
No. 99.9% chance it is stapled to the stud.

The way to do this is install a fan rated box and run 3-conductor cable from there to the switch box. (remove the old switch box so you can fish the cable and replace with an old-work box when done.)

All grounds connected per code.

At the receptacle install a new receptacle using the black and white wires. Cap the red. Do not break the tab on the brass side. Do not use back stabs as was previously done. They are less reliable then the screws.

At the switch:
  • Cap the red wire going to the receptacle.
  • Connect all whites together.
  • Connect the black of power in and black of cable to receptacle to a pigtail.
  • Connect pigtail to the side of the switch with a tab between screws. (Either screw because they are connected by the tab.)
  • Connect red from ceiling box to one switch.
  • Connect black from ceiling box to other switch.

At the fan whites connected to each other. Red to blue. Black to black.
 
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Old 05-27-15, 02:21 PM
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Thanks for the quick reply. Didn't consider the fact that it would be stapled...would have been a lot easier that way

So I think I understand everything. Basically, I keep the existing wire in place, and run a new 12/3 wire and change the connections up a bit.

The one part I didn't quite understand is:

remove the old switch box so you can fish the cable and replace with an old-work box when done
I'm still a little confused about how best to fish a new wire through the wall without punching holes in the wall (assuming that there isn't a fire block). Since the existing wire will remain in tact, is the only reason for removing the old box to create space to grab the cable? And then use the same box?
 
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Old 05-27-15, 02:53 PM
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is the only reason for removing the old box to create space to grab the cable?
Yes.
And then use the same box?
No. I wrote replace the existing box with an old-work box.

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Old 05-27-15, 04:39 PM
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If you are going to remove the box ,best bet would be to put a 2 gang similar to the one Ray posted and then use 2 single pole switches instead of that 2 switch arrangement.
Geo
 
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Old 05-27-15, 04:58 PM
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Ahh..I get it...I wasn't familiar with the terminology

Any suggestions as to how to run a new cable through the wall? Honestly, I'm most apprehensive about this since I don't want to cut any holes.
 
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Old 05-27-15, 05:10 PM
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Drill a hole in the stud plate above the receptacle or iif large enough use the existing hole. Usually you can just push the cable through the hole and push it down. The larger hole for a 2-gang box will make this easy. If the wall is insulated you may need to use a fish tape. If no insulation I sometimes use a string with a weight such as a nut lowered through the hole then pull the cable with it.

In the attic the stud plates should be obvious if you dig under the insulation. If you have trouble dill a 1/8" hole in the ceiling 2" from the wall* directly in front of the switch box and push a straightened coat hanger through the hole and look for it in the attic.

*2" out because there may be a 2x nailer for the ceiling Sheetrock closer. Easier to just drill through the Sheetrock.
 
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Old 05-27-15, 05:16 PM
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Makes sense. There is actually a hole for the existing wire that is coming through there, so I can drill right next to it (it's just too small). There is insulation in the wall, which is what I'm worried about (and fingers crossed there isn't a fire block).

I have some fiberglass tape, but I'm worried it's a little too flexible. I'll play with it and let you guys know.
 
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Old 05-27-15, 05:39 PM
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There are fiberglass fish rods also
 
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Old 05-28-15, 12:46 PM
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Another quick question...Can I go with 14/3 instead of 12/3?

Existing wires look like they are 12/3:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/emawebzdow...57.42.jpg?dl=0

But the circuit is 15 amps:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/rpt8uav243...03.58.jpg?dl=0

So is it fine to go with 14/3 for this connection?
 
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Old 05-28-15, 12:53 PM
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So long as the breaker is 15 amps you can use 14-3.

Picture shows a white cable. Most newer 12-3 would be yellow. Old cable would be white so you need to read the print on the jacket.
 
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Old 06-02-15, 10:22 AM
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Hi Ray,

Had another quick question. So I actually needed to do this in 3 separate rooms and when I moved on to the second room, I was surprised when I found that the romex at the switch only had 2 wires (plus the ground):

https://www.dropbox.com/s/r0wsgjq3xx...04.18.jpg?dl=0

So I opened the outlet and noticed that the white and black wires are actually joined together.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/r0wsgjq3xx...04.18.jpg?dl=0

In order to have the outlet always be hot, do I just connect, white to white, and black to black and then wire up the outlet as normal?

And then run a 14/3 romex to the ceiling fan (as previously described).
 
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Old 06-02-15, 11:41 AM
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Sorry but your pictures don't seem to explain what you wrote. Can you move back and give us pictures of the whole box and the connections.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 03:56 PM
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Sorry about the poor pictures...does this one help?

https://www.dropbox.com/s/u6oae6y0gt...33.02.jpg?dl=0

Unfortunately, I started unplugging things before I realized that the white and black wires were connected.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 06:21 PM
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I know it is wrong and I don't have a clue why they did it.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 07:16 PM
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Just stopping by at Ray's request. That wiring.... also shown below... is a switch loop. The receptacle has the jumper removed on the brass side. One black wire is always live and one is controlled by a switch. So one receptacle is always live and the other is switched.

I don't like those type of locking connectors. They may be code compliant but, in my opinion, they aren't totally reliable.

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Old 06-03-15, 07:50 PM
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Dang I was looking at a shadow and I thought it was a black wire. You confused me when you wrote a black and white wire connected together and saw that shadow.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 08:01 PM
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In order to have the outlet always be hot, do I just connect, white to white, and black to black and then wire up the outlet as normal?
Yes. If the tab between the screws is missing replace the receptacle.
  • At the new switches all whites connected together.
  • Black from receptacle pigtailed to both switches.
  • Black and red of new cable is connected one to each switch
 
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Old 06-03-15, 10:57 PM
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Thanks guys.

When I said black and white connected, I meant where the third blue connector thing (from the right) is connecting those two wires. Sorry for not being very clear.

It just threw me as odd, as I was expecting to see wiring similar to the other room. In my head I don't quite understand how this works, but I can try and read up on it.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 11:11 PM
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Nothing to read. Look at the box. There are two cables coming in the top. The cable on the left is the power in cable. White is neutral and black is always live. So that black went to one of the two receptacles. That was the always live one.

Now.... the right cable goes to your switch. The white is connected to the always live black. This white wire brings power to the switch. The black is switched power coming back. It connected to the switched half of the receptacle.

 
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Old 06-04-15, 09:57 PM
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Makes sense...thanks for explaining!

I had a couple of quick questions regarding best practices. Not that I plan on doing this, but more curious than anything else:

1. Why replace the outlet? I understand that the tab is broken, but why not just bridge the gap (e.g. replace the functionality of the tab) with a short wire?

2. Similarly, with a standard outlet, is it better practice to pigtail the blacks and connect to one screw, or have each black connect to a separate screw (assuming the tab is in place).
 
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Old 06-05-15, 04:56 AM
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You can put a jumper between the screws.

I consider it better practice to pigtail the wiring leaving a single neutral and hot wire to the device.
 
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Old 06-05-15, 08:14 AM
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But only one wire per screw and you shouldn't use the back stab connections because they are less reliable than the screws so once the jumper is in place no place to connect. You can use two pigtails one to each screw. Given how cheap receptacles are it just for me makes more sense to change out the receptacle. Best practice would still be pigtailing as suggested by PJ but with a new receptacle, bridge intact, you only need one tail.
 
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Old 06-08-15, 09:52 AM
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Thanks for the info..I'll follow those guidelines

As I opened up more switched, I found that the ground wires weren't actually connected to the switches, they were just twisted together.

What are the downsides of this? I fixed the ones I found, but wondering if I should open up more switches.
 
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Old 06-08-15, 05:00 PM
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gmonley, please read the PM I sent you.
 
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Old 06-08-15, 05:37 PM
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Connecting a ground wire to the switch is options for metal boxes. (I think a metal cover plate is an exception to that rule. It is required for plastic boxes.
 
 

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