Home>Discussions>ELECTRICAL & LIGHTING>Change light switch to outlet?
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JLMCDANIEL
Re: Change light switch to outlet?

Best guess- bottom screw of live switch is hot, the two white wires that are nuted togeather is the common unless live switche controls more than one light. Remove dummy switch and cap the wire ends. pig tail from outlet silver screw to nuted whites, and from the outlet brass screw to the wires connected to the bottom of live switch (black/red). This will give you and ungrouded outlet. Test with test light or meter.

If it doesn't work get back to us.
Jack

diysteph
Re: Change light switch to outlet?

Thanks! I'll give it a try. You say it will give me an ungrounded outlet, are ungrounded outlets safe?

Blue RidgeParkway
Re: Change light switch to outlet?

please don't do any disconnecting before making sure the wiring is not live. you could have a multi wire circuit and the breakers might not be tied together. you could also have wires from other circuits running through the box.

Thing to check is if there is a fourth screw or a place where one once was on this "dummy" 3-way switch.

you really should track down the wiring for the "dummy switch" before you start modifying the circuit. you could test the switch or swap it out with a known working one first to find out what it might control. Perhaps this unknown 3-way switch is functioning as a slave to a dimmer switch to a light elsewhere and the dimmer switch is in the off position so you see no effect when you switch it now.
Quite likely if not obvious and the switch is working would be that it might be switching a receptacle possibly just half of a duplex receptacle. For example if the three-way switch that is connected to the known light is in a hall the other three-way switch might be for a receptacle in a room that also has another entrance way (door or opening off of a hall) and there is a second switch there. It could be that a former split yoke on a duplex receptacle location was swapped out for a new duplex receptacle and the replacement was not split so neither 3-way switch for the former would work. Another possibility is that it is correctly wired but the other side was swapped with a regular SP switch or a 4-way switch in error so a weird combination of switching has to take place before you find what it is controlling - point being those wires may be LIVE and they MAY NOT BE CORRECTLY WIRED.

another possiblity is that between power from the panel and the power to whatever device this unknown switch loop is supposed to be controlling may have an upstream GFCI which has tripped. If so the grounded conductor would STILL BE CONNECTED/LIVE even if the ungrounded conductor was open.

swapping out one three way switch for a known working one is repair/maintenance. changing a 3-way switch to a receptacle is not either. you mentioned this was an apartment. Do you have a landlord, managing agent, super, maintenance department, etc.? and you likely require a permit since you are proposing to alter/redesign the wiring system not just make a repair, maintenance, like for like type adjustment to it.

havanagranite
Re: Change light switch to outlet?
Blue RidgeParkway wrote:

please don't do any disconnecting before making sure the wiring is not live. you could have a multi wire circuit and the breakers might not be tied together. you could also have wires from other circuits running through the box.

Thing to check is if there is a fourth screw or a place where one once was on this "dummy" 3-way switch.

you really should track down the wiring for the "dummy switch" before you start modifying the circuit. you could test the switch or swap it out with a known working one first to find out what it might control. Quite likely if not obvious and the switch is working would be that it might be switching a receptacle possibly just half of a duplex receptacle. For example if the three-way switch that is connected to the known light is in a hall the other three-way switch might be for a receptacle in a room that also has another entrance way (door or opening off of a hall) and there is a second switch there. It could be that a former split yoke on a duplex receptacle location was swapped out for a new duplex receptacle and the replacement was not split so neither 3-way switch for the former would work. Another possibility is that it is correctly wired but the other side was swapped with a regular SP switch or a 4-way switch in error so a weird combination of switching has to take place before you find what it is controlling - point being those wires may be LIVE and they MAY NOT BE CORRECTLY WIRED.

swapping out one three way switch for a known working one is repair/maintenance. changing a 3-way switch to a receptacle is not either. you mentioned this was an apartment. Do you have a landlord, managing agent, super, maintenance department, etc.? and you likely require a permit since you are proposing to alter/redesign the wiring system not just make a repair, maintenance, like for like type adjustment to it.

#2
03-19-2008, 01:53 PM
Blue RidgeParkway
Senior Member

Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 480

Re: Installing GFIC new outlets for old wiring
Also could you explain please what it means to whip a new box? When the inspector was describing the rules to install new box for the bathroom outlet he said to whip the new boxes from the one now behind the top of the wall with the light and shaver outlet to be covered with blank to the two new ones, one on the ceiling for new light and fan and one down to the vanity new GFIC outlet. What does whip the box mean? He must have explained it at the time because I wrote this down after in my notes but I don't remember what it ment. The Lowes guy had no idea what I was talking about.

in less then one year she goes from not knowing what it means to whip a new box. to expert and knowing what requires a permit. now obviously that isn't logical.

bsum1
Re: Change light switch to outlet?
Blue RidgeParkway wrote:

please don't do any disconnecting before making sure the wiring is not live. you could have a multi wire circuit and the breakers might not be tied together. you could also have wires from other circuits running through the box.

Thing to check is if there is a fourth screw or a place where one once was on this "dummy" 3-way switch.

you really should track down the wiring for the "dummy switch" before you start modifying the circuit. you could test the switch or swap it out with a known working one first to find out what it might control. Perhaps this unknown 3-way switch is functioning as a slave to a dimmer switch to a light elsewhere and the dimmer switch is in the off position so you see no effect when you switch it now.
Quite likely if not obvious and the switch is working would be that it might be switching a receptacle possibly just half of a duplex receptacle. For example if the three-way switch that is connected to the known light is in a hall the other three-way switch might be for a receptacle in a room that also has another entrance way (door or opening off of a hall) and there is a second switch there. It could be that a former split yoke on a duplex receptacle location was swapped out for a new duplex receptacle and the replacement was not split so neither 3-way switch for the former would work. Another possibility is that it is correctly wired but the other side was swapped with a regular SP switch or a 4-way switch in error so a weird combination of switching has to take place before you find what it is controlling - point being those wires may be LIVE and they MAY NOT BE CORRECTLY WIRED.

another possiblity is that between power from the panel and the power to whatever device this unknown switch loop is supposed to be controlling may have an upstream GFCI which has tripped. If so the grounded conductor would STILL BE CONNECTED/LIVE even if the ungrounded conductor was open.

swapping out one three way switch for a known working one is repair/maintenance. changing a 3-way switch to a receptacle is not either. you mentioned this was an apartment. Do you have a landlord, managing agent, super, maintenance department, etc.? and you likely require a permit since you are proposing to alter/redesign the wiring system not just make a repair, maintenance, like for like type adjustment to it.

#7 08-31-2008, 11:26 AM
Blue RidgeParkway
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 328

Re: Is the entrance cable undersized? (distribution panel)

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is this the same 1940s condo with the 20 amp 250v air conditioner outlet in the living room? seems weird that the two hot wires for the 20 amp 240 circuit aren't the same size.

don't buy until you've had an electrician in. even if you have a main at a central location for the building with a meter this panel should be able to completely shut down all the circuits with less than seven switch motions no main in there.

not an electrician here but it looks like trouble on the 240 with 20 amp circuit breakers skinny wires and at least where we're at wire nuts aren't allowed in a panel but a gray nut on hot wires seems really bad thought those were just like green ones only for grounds? and the wall finish to the panel and where the wires all enter knockouts don't see the bushing lock nut romex clamp things that keep the romex cable from being pulled out and keep the panel sealed. how is this thing mounted? i don't see any mountings and the holes for mounting are all open! looks like spackle is the only thing holding this thing up? the other thing that that seems strange is white wires under one of those wire nuts that has been taped up with black tape like to change its color? ask an electrician here or there but i think that might only be allowed to do on switch paths not in a panel? doesn't seem right that two wires are on each lug feeding the panel for a residence, converted condo or not, like kentvw said and stranger that the colors are crossed, i pretty sure that not called entrance that called a feeder instead. seems weird that there is no big lug on the neutral for the feeder cable too. the bits of trim copper and brass screw sitting in the bottom of the subpanel isn't good either i think.

your inspector if he doesn't know or questions something should be telling you in his report to get a licensed electrician in to inspect the panel so you have to notify your realtor and the seller that you do not accept the inspection and want a specialty inspection immediately or else withdraw your offer so you can get estimate to make corrections if you need to do. if the inspector you hired took off the panel cover he should be able to tell more about the panel to you or else he had no business opening it up in the first place.

#10 08-31-2008, 12:53 PM

Blue RidgeParkway
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 328

Re: Is the entrance cable undersized? (distribution panel)

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i don't say things clear one of the yellow nuts you didn't point to has white wires on the left that are retaped black. there looks like two fat neutral wires on the bar prolly one for the feeder and one for the 220 circuit but don't see the big lug on top of the bar that takes two little screw positions thats what i ment. i don't think you can have parallel feeder for residential at least not here never flies esp cuz you have a 240v circuit so cant be 120 service right? two wires on one lug even if allows needs special kit piece either plate that has nested for each wire or a connect lug thing. the electricians on the site will know the right words for it when double luggling or double taps are allowed, dont know where you are but here is not allowed the wire nuts or double tapping except a double tap on grouwnd wire. the wires going in for hot dont look big enough and that the possible main is in a locked room not accessible to you makes the need for a main in your feeder panel since you can't turn off all the power to this residence with less than seven or six flips.

now you say they are going to add even more from this panel to make your deal so it seem you should get electrician now not later to tell you what to demand cuz this do not look good. how is this panel secured for installation cuz dont see any mount holes were used. big space in the wall to the right bottom edge where spackle fell off to.

remember i am no electrician one thing i do know for sure is that the panel schedule list must be complete and right your new picture of the list is a no brainer fail.

Amazing, in 4 months her words are much clearer and she's an expert?

Blue RidgeParkway
Re: Change light switch to outlet?
havanagranite wrote:

#2
03-19-2008, 01:53 PM
Blue RidgeParkway
Senior Member

Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 480

Re: Installing GFIC new outlets for old wiring
Also could you explain please what it means to whip a new box? When the inspector was describing the rules to install new box for the bathroom outlet he said to whip the new boxes from the one now behind the top of the wall with the light and shaver outlet to be covered with blank to the two new ones, one on the ceiling for new light and fan and one down to the vanity new GFIC outlet. What does whip the box mean? He must have explained it at the time because I wrote this down after in my notes but I don't remember what it ment. The Lowes guy had no idea what I was talking about.

in less then one year she goes from not knowing what it means to whip a new box. to expert and knowing what requires a permit. now obviously that isn't logical.

I knew how to extend the circuit and the switch loop, even described it correctly in that post. The post was about an incomplete phrase used by another person who was difficult to understand (with a mouth full of chaw) which I had written down "whip the box" which is actually not correct it was incomplete, and since it is missing a preposition, and of course the phrase didn't make sense without it, but was makiing sure it didn't mean something else, or that I misheard the word "whip". Oh, by the way, since the new light fixtures and the re-route of the branch circuit path were more than six feet from the original box location, there were no "whips" involved.

Blue RidgeParkway
Re: Change light switch to outlet?
bsum1 wrote:

Amazing, in 4 months her words are much clearer and she's an expert?

amazing yourself bsum, oops thats bsum1 (among many others) now.

why not quote and link the actual string? the OP had a horrific problem discovered all and then some, remember? good thing he didn't buy it! Funny how all your nasty posts had to be removed by moderators isn't it? The topic string is here:
http://advice.thisoldhouse.com/showthread.php?t=8041 Andrew was very pleased with the information I helped him with on both of his strings, and he said so both publically on the posts and in private messages. Unlike the now banned buddy of yours, I was right about the required disconnects and all else I pointed out, he of course was completely wrong on the required disconnect issue (2005 NEC rules in NJ at that time) and several other points that he arrogantly insulted and argued (several of those obnoxious posts also removed by administration) and the on-site electrician found the iissues I did, all violations plus found even more problems.

you really should read the main forum page for TOH Discussions and the user agreement. this is a discussion forum not fake "professional" consultations.

remedialmofo
Re: Change light switch to outlet?

Blue RidgeParkway is a she? :confused: That's news to me. I never got involved in their arguments but had always read members referring to them as he/him but either way I do not wish to get to know them :D

havanagranite
Re: Change light switch to outlet?

[quote=havanagranite]#2
03-19-2008, 01:53 PM
Blue RidgeParkway
Senior Member

Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 480

Re: Installing GFIC new outlets for old wiring
Also could you explain please what it means to whip a new box? When the inspector was describing the rules to install new box for the bathroom outlet he said to whip the new boxes from the one now behind the top of the wall with the light and shaver outlet to be covered with blank to the two new ones, one on the ceiling for new light and fan and one down to the vanity new GFIC outlet. What does whip the box mean? He must have explained it at the time because I wrote this down after in my notes but I don't remember what it ment. The Lowes guy had no idea what I was talking about.

that sounds alot more complete then just whip the box. sounds very specific. but sounds like you didn't understand the term whip. and reading the whole post a person quickly realizes that you didn't understand much about electrical work even though you were trying and even relying on the person at lowes for knowledge

bsum1
Re: Change light switch to outlet?
Blue RidgeParkway wrote:

amazing yourself bsum, oops thats bsum1 (among many others) now.

This is a joke , right ?
Coming from you is humorious:rolleyes:

Quote:

why not quote and link the actual string? the OP had a horrific problem discovered all and then some, remember? good thing he didn't buy it!

Don't need to, the issue that person had doesn't apply here. What does apply is your dumbed down posting and suddenly you're vocabulary is vastly improved as well as you're knowledge.

Quote:

you really should read the main forum page for TOH Discussions and the user agreement. this is a discussion forum not fake "professional" consultations.

And you are preaching this to others?

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