Adding outlet to switched circuit or new junction box in attic?


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Old 04-26-16, 01:14 PM
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Adding outlet to switched circuit or new junction box in attic?

I already posted this query to a video on YT, but, I'd like to ask more people as well...

I've been trying to read wiring code and I'm losing my mind! Question: I want to add a constant hot to an outlet in my garage I've installed. Can I add a junction box in the attic, to send constant to the outlet? My situation is this- I've installed a door opener and replaced the existing (old) garage light with a GFCI outlet to power the opener. The original light was connected to one of two switches at the doorway. As it is, I've removed one in-line switch and wired it hot, thus powering the outlet. That works great, but, that switch also connected two other lights. One is a pull chain light in the attic and the other is another overhead light at the doorway (I have installed a burned out bulb to keep it off, for the moment.)

I see my options as either:
a) leaving it hot, as-is and installing a pull chain fixture to replace the second light or
b) reinstalling the/a new switch in the original spot (for toggling the two lights), disconnecting the opener's to the switch, and then install a new box to direct wire it to the incoming hot line.

I would prefer option "b".

Furthermore, the hot/circuit also supplies the power to the kitchen lights and one security light (the second switch on the panel). It appears to be a sort of chain with the hot being spliced/capped about 3, maybe 4 times.

There are no outlets, aside from the door opener on the circuit. The "chain" of pigtail connections I'm describing is like this: It appears the main hot from the breaker box comes in to the ceiling fan, then to kitchen switch "a", and then kitchen switch "b" and once more for the two switches in the garage).

Photos:
Kitchen Switch "A", with 3 lines in: http://i.imgur.com/Vh9suqM.jpg
Kitchen Switch "B", with 3 lines in: http://i.imgur.com/5pLoonS.jpg
Garage Switch(es), with 4 lines in: http://i.imgur.com/G0SfuJL.jpg

FINALLY to my question: If I add a box in the attic would it be alright to add it at one of the first switches or even easier, to add it in between any of the switches? Any help would be great and thanks for your time!

Oh yeah, I live in Southern Texas. The house is brick, with 10/2 wiring in the attic and from what I can tell- the entire house. I originally purchased some 14/2 to run the new box, but, I am planning on matching the 10/2 if I make a new box.

Thanks again!

Edit: I, originally, thought the hot was in a sort of daisy chain. I'm starting to think that there could be a hub or junction box that each switch on the circuit is connected to. I'll get back up there later on and look at it, after I get some opinions on my setup options.
 

Last edited by Jay Walker; 04-26-16 at 01:24 PM. Reason: Edit
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Old 04-26-16, 02:29 PM
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The original light was connected to one of two switches at the doorway. As it is, I've removed one in-line switch and wired it hot, thus powering the outlet.
Do you have power coming in at the switch or the outlet you changed from light to receptacle? I suspect it is at the switch and you just didn't connect correctly.

You will need to disconnect each 2-conductor cable and measure between black and white using a multimeter or neon test light to determine if a cable is hot. (A non contact tester will not work for this.)
with 10/2 wiring in the attic and from what I can tell- the entire house. I originally purchased some 14/2 to run the new box,
Breaker size would determine the size wire you need to use. What size is the breaker?

Note #10 is usually associated with a 30 amp breaker. A 30 amp breaker would be a code violation on a 120 volt lighting and receptacle circuit.

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Last edited by ray2047; 04-26-16 at 02:50 PM.
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Old 04-26-16, 03:00 PM
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Correct, I changed the center garage light to a receptacle. The power comes in at the switches. The receptacle gets power just fine. However, the only way for the receptacle to be energized (without interruption), I had to remove one of the single pole single throw switches.

The breaker is indeed 10/2.
 
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Old 04-26-16, 03:28 PM
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The breaker is indeed 10/2.
That IS a problem that is very dangerous. A 30A breaker will not protect 15A wiring.

If you replaced a light that was controlled by a switch with a receptacle....... you now have a receptacle controlled by a switch. If you don't want the switch to control the receptacle.... remove the wires from the switch and combine them in a wirenut.
 
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Old 04-26-16, 03:43 PM
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I had to remove one of the single pole single throw switches.
Easiest is to restore it to the way it was and run a new cable from a non switched GFCI receptacle to a new box and receptacle. Source for the new receptacle can be any GFCI receptacle. The receptacle at the ceiling should not be a non GFCI receptacle.

So plan B it is:
b) reinstalling the/a new switch in the original spot (for toggling the two lights), disconnecting the opener's to the switch, and then install a new box to direct wire it to the incoming hot line.
Explanation: All receptacles in a garage must be GFCI protected. All GFCIs must be accessible. A GFCI in the ceiling would not be accessible so the ceiling receptacle must be non GFCI but fed from a GFCI source.
The breaker is indeed 10/2.
No such thing. Did you mean 30 amp breaker. If so that must be removed immediately and replaced with a breaker suitable for the smallest size wire.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 04-26-16 at 04:50 PM.
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Old 04-26-16, 06:33 PM
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PJ, the fuse/breaker is 15A. The wire coming from it is 10/2. I removed the switch altogether so the receptacle wasn't attached to a switch. I'm updating my original post with how I think it's wired...
 
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Old 04-26-16, 06:58 PM
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Ray, thanks for the info! I am able to reach my GCFI receptacle in the ceiling. If I get my stool, then I can EASILY reach it. There aren't any receptacles that are in the circuit, otherwise that would be my plan.

As far as the 10/2, that is just the wire heading to the 15 amp breaker. I haven't removed the trim to the individual breakers though. I've just followed the line as far as I could, from inside the attic. None of the wiring is a lighter gauge than 10 (that I can see).

Also, I tried to update my original post to add a MSPaint diagram I just did, but, I'm not familiar with the site yet. I can't update it anymore apparently. Anyways, here is how I'm now thinking it is wired: http://i.imgur.com/VUJvvYL.png

Originally, I thought the first "stop" from the breaker was at the fan, then "A", then "B", then the garage switches. Now, I think it actually starts the "linking" at the garage switches. This is because the double outlet box (2 gang?) in the garage has four wires coming into it. My sweet and super-professional diagram should explain what I'm thinking.

Also, the switch for the fan has a 2-gang (?) with a blank cover. I removed it and used my no-contact to find that one of the line not connected to a switch is hot. The box also already has a wire that comes in and powers the switch as well. That is a bit weird... Here's a photo: http://i.imgur.com/lKzhFQj.jpg

I know tomorrow morning I'll have cut off the breaker, disconnect all the hots where I think it starts, turn on the breaker, and test each one. I'm a bit thrown by the fan one though.

Okay folks, thanks for your help!
 
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Old 04-26-16, 07:00 PM
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the fuse/breaker is 15A. The wire coming from it is 10/2
Who ever wired that was seriously lacking in knowledge.
I'm updating my original post with how I think it's wired...
Unless it is very different just go with replacing the switch and running a new feed for the receptacle. See post #5.
 
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Old 04-26-16, 07:14 PM
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Honestly, that's exactly what I want to do. I am just not certain of where the non-switched hot is located. At least where the "parent" or "main" hot for the circuit is located anyways. I would run another line down into the garage light switches, but, there are already four lines in there. In the attic, can I add a box, splice into the "I" hot line feeding the garage light switches, and join the door opener receptacle to a "T" on that line, or should I do all that at a point closer to the main from the breaker?
 
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Old 04-26-16, 08:24 PM
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I would run another line down into the garage light switches
Why? That box shouldn't be involved in this. You need to run from an existing receptacle or a new circuit from the breaker box. By concentrating on the switch box you are just making an easy job hard.
 
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Old 04-26-16, 08:50 PM
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There aren't any receptacles in the circuit. Adding another circuit to the breaker would be very difficult. The breakers are at the total opposite corner of the house. And I'm not comfortable with opening the box and removing the panel anyways. I would be fine with adding a junction box to one of the lines on the current circuit though. I'll get up there again tomorrow and see where the main line on the circuit initially connects and run the line for the receptacle to there.
 
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Old 04-26-16, 10:05 PM
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You could replace the two gang switch box with a 3 gang box and install a dead-face GFCI to supply the new receptacle.

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Last edited by ray2047; 04-27-16 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 04-27-16, 07:47 AM
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That could work! The closest receptacle is a wall outlet that's I plug power tools into. It's also on the livingroom circuit. I don't use it except to use my tools in the garage or to vacuum. Your idea is great. Running the garage door opener line for the deadface is easier also. The new 3 gang is close to the attic hub/box and I can easily run it.

I was just checking back in here before heading to the hardware store, to exchange my 14/2 for 10/2. Perfect timing!

EDIT: Well, the 3 gang I got was the wrong type. I need the one with the flanges to secure to the drywall. Also, upon double/triple checking, I noticed that some of the lines I was checking for size and originally determined they were 10/2... I found they're actually 14/2!!! The lines I thought were 10/2 had smudged markings and the actual 10/2 line I saw was on a circuit close to the one I'm working on. So, can I run the 10/2 I purchased or is it now a good fishing wire? I've already opened it.
 

Last edited by Jay Walker; 04-27-16 at 10:06 AM. Reason: Edit
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Old 04-27-16, 10:57 AM
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I would never try to use 10-2 on a 15 amp circuit. Remember I wrote:
Who ever wired that was seriously lacking in knowledge.
If you haven't used any try to take it back and get 14-2.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 04-27-16 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 04-27-16, 11:22 AM
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Ray, I should have been more clear. I meant that it's close to the switch box in the attic and that's relevant because that box and the outlet box on the wall are both close to the attic entrance. Basically, all of the outlets and box are fairly close to one another (about 6 feet from the wall outlet/switches to the attic box, about 5 feet from the ceiling receptacle to the attic box, and about 12-15 feet from the ceiling receptacle to the wall switch outlet).

I'm not going to run the new third gang like this GFCI --> attic box/junction --> ceiling/garage door receptacle.

I'm going to drop the new new 14/2 line for the ceiling receptacle and run it like this:
third gang GFCI --> Ceiling receptacle
 

Last edited by Jay Walker; 04-27-16 at 11:22 AM. Reason: spellingses
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Old 04-27-16, 12:21 PM
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I'm not sure if you're receiving what I'm saying. I guess the arrows threw you off. That's what I meant. I'm Taking the GFCI receptacle from the ceailing and putting it in place of the deadface at the switch box.. I need to drop a new line down into the new 3 gang/switchbox and connect it to the ceiling outlet, because there isn't a line that is direct to it.

Another dilemma just came up though. The fourth line doesn't supply power to the kitchen switches/lights. The garage/flood light/etc of the switchbox I'm working on is the last in the chain. I'm in the process of finding out what the 4th line is now. It's a lot of connecting/dis-connecting and back-and-fourth to the breaker, but, safety is best.

Edit: it appears the 4th line goes to another, small, light/switch for the overhead light at the sink.
 

Last edited by Jay Walker; 04-27-16 at 12:39 PM. Reason: 4th line
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Old 04-27-16, 01:28 PM
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Then it sounds like your good to go. I didn't realize you just had switch loops from the attic Jbox to the switches. I will revise my posts about wiring it that are incorrect.

Going with a GFCI receptacle will be cheaper and provide you with an extra needed receptacle so good idea.
 
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Old 04-27-16, 01:58 PM
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Bro! Running the cable sounded easy... Nope. That switch box was on the same wall and stud as one of the single switches for the kitchen. They don't share the same hole though. So to verify I had properly labeled the sink line, I marked it at the end, and pulled it up about 8 inches. "Yup, I marked the right one. So now let's just pull it back down with the string I attached to it...."

Well there's about 5 lines coming down there and wouldn't you know it, it got tangled! So, instead of fighting it, I decided I would pull it all the way up, anchor the GCFI/door opener line to it also (since I couldn't fish it out anyways), and get two in one shot. Brilliant idea! ...in theory. One hole had two lines and the other had three. The hole with three was just a bit larger so I tried using that one. Not the right one. Well, to sum it up, I finally was able to squeeze both of them in the smaller hole. I was Thiiiis close to cutting the drywall straight up to the ceiling.

Good times. Break is over. Back to work.
 

Last edited by Jay Walker; 04-27-16 at 01:59 PM. Reason: Spelling
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Old 04-27-16, 02:45 PM
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Question, to minimize the amount of wires in the cap screws, can I use the common on a 3 or 2 way switch, to supply the hot for the sink light? Also, the hot is coming from the common of the 2 way swich on the kitchen light switch. Is this a problem?
 
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Old 04-27-16, 03:38 PM
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Only one wire per screw terminal and do not use the back stabs they are unreliable. Use a larger wire nut if necessary. Are you using red wire nuts. How many wires? If you are trying to use #10 replace it with #14.
 
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Old 04-27-16, 03:53 PM
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Thanks.

Yeah I'm using the red ones. there are (now) 5 sets of 14/2 wire coming in. I didn't think the "quick" connect plugs were very reliable. However, the hot line that supplies the juice, is actually coming from the switch box for kitchen light "b" switch, and it's connected in one of those push-in connectors. It's a second wire at that "common" hot that feeds the 3 gang and thus the lights and door opener/receptacle.

I just finished replacing the ceiling line and removing the old one from the attic box. I'm taking a break and going to install the receptacle that's to replace the GFCI on the ceiling in a few minutes.

Edit: I just addressed the feed on the switch on the kitchen. I removed the second connection, wire butted and taped it off, with a single jumper (?) wire to a new switch.
 

Last edited by Jay Walker; 04-27-16 at 04:24 PM. Reason: Edit
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Old 04-27-16, 05:49 PM
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wire butted and taped
If you need tape you did something wrong. Not sure what "butted off" means.
 
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Old 04-27-16, 06:09 PM
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Oh, sorry... I'm not sure of the proper terminology. And I also thought that taping a cap on even if it's tight, is good. Anyways, I joined the incoming hot that went to the switch and added I guess it's called a pigtail off of that so there is only one lead going into the switch instead of using that and the push in thing.

I'm just about done with the 3 gang. After that I need to attach/install the receptacle to the ceiling and all should be good. I'm just moving very slowly.
 
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Old 04-27-16, 07:00 PM
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Alright, it's completed. I've tested the functionality of the GFCI and the following recepticle and checked proper wiring with a Klein RT100 receptacle tester. Everything seems to work fine... for the most part.

Two things I've noticed:

One: The flood/motion light outside takes a while to come on. And that's after flipping the switch and waving my hand in front of it. When it does come on it's fine. I can then turn it off and on at the switch. However, if I leave it off for a minute then it takes a while again.

Two: The overhead light and it's corresponding illuminated switch seem to have a minor flicker. It works just fine otherwise. I made a quick video of it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yq-HsvBnHxo

So, until I recheck all the connections and ensure I'm not missing anything, I've turned the breaker off.

Any ideas?
 
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Old 04-27-16, 07:27 PM
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The flashing is because you are using a CFL bulb on a switch that does not have a neutral for the indicator light. A switch with out a neutral for the indicator light is in series with one leg of the power to the light. I does not draw a enough current to affect an incandescent bulb but will cause a CFL to try to start or a LED to glow.
 
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Old 04-27-16, 07:37 PM
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So, the switch is illuminated by letting very minimal current through, to be able to illuminate, and thus let just enough current through to the light, which is why they both have a minor flicker? Not enough to fully illuminate the light and while is draws a small amount of current through the led that illuminates the switch, the switch LED momentarily loses the current it needs to be illuminated... right?

Alright, I get that. What about the flood light? None of that wire was touched, aside from the new switch. Although, the new switch is a 3-way and not an in-line/2-way like the original one (only extras I have were for my old place.)
 
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Old 05-01-16, 07:38 PM
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There are three solutions to your flickering bulb problem"

1. Replace the switch with a non-indicating switch.

2. If you have a neutral available, get an indicating switch or plate. Wire it so it is on all the time (I am assuming the purpose of the indicating switch is to find it in the dark).

3. Add more load to the light fixture.

Some motion detector lights have a built in delay as the circuit calibrates itself to the actual conditions. This is noticed only when the power to the fixdture is just turned on.
 
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Old 05-01-16, 08:05 PM
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Well,

I'm not sure if the motion one was a bulb thing or not. I put in a CFL and tried the switch on "test" mode and it came on fine. So, there's that. I also put in a one-way switch. I checked all the connections (even the ones I didn't touch) and all was right. It seems to work quicker with the CFL in the second light socket. Weird.

With the illuminated switch issue, I just put in an incandescent bulb. I didn't want to bother with re-wiring it.

Everything is running fine, over the last few days. Here's some quick pics. Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet
Apparently, the attic is a good hiding spot for presents still... Anyways, all is good now!

Thanks for your help Ray and folks!

EDIT: This is what the switches look like in the dark: http://imgur.com/a/WmT0Q
 

Last edited by Jay Walker; 05-01-16 at 08:27 PM. Reason: EDIT
 

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