HandymanUSA — Wiring switches Questions and Answers

HandymanUSA - Wiring switches Questions and Answers

Is it possible to replace a 3-way light switch with a dimmer switch? The dimmer switch that I have has only 2 wires and the switch has 3?

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Replacing Loop Switch w/Combo Switch

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I have a switch which has one black wire on line side and one white wire on load side. I’m assuming this is a loop. I want to replace this with a combo switch outlet that will have the outlet on at all times and the switch operating it’s current load,a light. Behind the wall,there is a switch that’s on the same breaker. Can I piggy back the neutral wire from this switch to my new combo? Any suggestions?

I am afraid you can’t do what you are thinking. If you used the two wires to your switch for your outlet, all the current would return THROUGH the light bulb at the fixture.

What is don’t to get a switch and outlet in the same box at the end of a run, is use 3-wire cable between the fixture and the switch/outlet box. Then you can use the white as the neutral for the outlet and the red wire for the return to the light as the switch power lead.

If you can pull the box out of the wall and run a 3 wire cable to the outlet from the fixture, you can wire it that way. They make remodeling outlet boxes that can be installed in the hole in the drywall without nailing them to the stud.

2 vs 3 Prong Outlets/Plugs

I have a popcorn machine that requires 20amps. The plug on the machine has the new three prong configuration is there an adap ter available so this unit can be plugged into old 20 amp outlets?

I am not sure what an old 20 amp outlet is. but you can buy a new 20 amp outlet and wire that in to allow you to use the correct plug/outlet combination.

If you are sure the circuit is 20 amp including use of at a minimum 12 gauge wire, and there is a ground, just wiring in a new 20 amp outlet is the easiest approach.

How can I wire a ceiling fan to the switch that controls the outlets? There is no light or wiring in the ceiling.

Can you get above the ceiling. in the attic above?

Well that would be too easy, right? You will need to run a wire from the box you will install in the ceiling that will power and support the fan, to the switch in the wall.

To run the wire if you have no access above, you will need to fish the wire through. To do that you will probably have to cut some holes in the wall and/or ceiling and then patch them/repaint them when you are done.

Ceiling Fan Wiring

We are in desperate need of help! We are trying to install a ceiling fan with a light kit and a wall switch that control both the light and the fan separately. The problem is that we have three wires plus the ground coming from the ceiling instead of the two wires and ground stated in the instructions.

The wires from the ceiling are red, black, and white. We tested them and the red is hot from the light switch and the black is hot also. The fan/light switch we purchased has a controller that wires directly to the ceiling. The top of the controller has two wires, black and white. The bottom of the controller that goes to the fan has white, black, and red wires. Here we wired black to black, white to white, and red to the black/white wire as the instructions said for the light kit. The ground from the ceiling is threaded through the middle of the controller and connected to the two green wires.

The problem is that we don’t know how to wire the controller to the ceiling while including all three wires from the ceiling (black, white, and red) to the top of the controller (black and white). We have tried many different wiring options but nothing works. Sometimes we get a beep from the fan but that’s it. The fan, light kit, and wall switch are all Hunter if that makes a difference. I’d appreciate any advice you could give me!

Ask the manufacturer directly. They have a lot of info on their site.

Ceiling Fan Installation

I have just installed a ceiling fan (with light kit)in my gameroom but I am not sure about the wiring. The fan has a black and white wire and the electrical box has a black, red and white. I am putting the fan on a dual switch so I what the fan controlled on one switch and the light on the other. But the problem comes in on how to do the wiring when I only have one hot wire coming from the fan. Does anyone know how I should handle this so that each switch controls a functions?

Depending on what products you used and how you connected everything, the light kit should have its own black (sometimes blue) wire. You may have connected this to the fan’s black resulting in only one hot wire. You can connect the hot wire from the light kit directly to the hot wire from the switch.

Ceiling Light Wiring

I have a ceiling light with a pull chain switch. I want to add a second porcelain keyless lamp base to another part of the basement ceiling and run them both off a single-pole switch. How do I wire? Right now the wire goes directly to the existing chain-pull light.

Mount the new light fixture and the switch box where you want them. Run 2 wire with ground between the old light and the new, then from the new light to the switch.

Ok, at the old light disconnect the black from the light. Connect it to the white on the wire running to the new light. Connect the black from the wire running to the new light to the black on the light fixture.

At the new light, attach the two white wires together and attach the light fixture to the two black wires.

At the switch attach the white and the black to the two terminals on the switch. Paint the white wires black in the new light fixture and at the switch to indicate they are hot.

Help! My upstairs light switch no longer works, and I need some help figuring out what to do.

I have taken off the light fixture — all wires are firmly connected. I have taken out the bulbs and switched them (nothing). I checked the switches to see if wires are firmly secured — they are. Not experienced ,but also running very short on money and would like not to hire someone if I can get a systematic set of options to try and fix myself.

It is not uncommon for switches to fail.

Your cheapest solution at this point is to buy a new switch(s) and replace it/them. If this light is at the top of the stairs and on two three way switches, you will need to replace both. Making sure to re-wire the new switch(s) EXACTLY as they are now. If this doesn’t work, then don’t spend the money on a circuit tester because you won’t know what to do with the results of the test. If it doesn’t work, call a pro.

Antique Lamp Wiring: 2 Lamps, 1 Switch

I would like to know how to wire an antique lamp that has two lamps on it but only one switch on one of the sides. Can you help?

Mark one of the wires from one light fixture «A» Mark one of the wires from the other light fixture «A» also. Mark one of the wires from the plug «A» as well. Connect all three «A» wires together. Connect the unmarked wires of the two fixtures together and connect these two wires to either side of the switch. Connect the free end of the wire from the plug to the other (free) side of the switch. Both lights will come on and off together.

Wall Outlet Controlled by Switch

Trying to find out how to make the top plug work off a wall switch and the bottom plug stay hot?

All depends how the switch/outlet is wired if you can separate the top and bottom outlet. If the power source goes to the switch first and then to the outlet, it cannot be done.

If the power source goes to the receptical first and then goes to the switch, you would run the switch loop off of one side of the outlet, while feeding the other with the hot source. You must remove the brass metal connectors between the top and bottom outlets (between the top and bottom side screws) so that the top and bottom outlets operate independently.

Three-way Switches to Ceiling Fan w/ a Light, Too?

I’m trying to wire two three-way switches (one living room,next to balcony) to a ceiling fan on a cathedral ceiling. The three-way switch is the easy part. the hard part is the combination — variable speed / variable brightness switches and how they work within a three-way switch set-up. I’m not in Kansas anymore. I’m in the hell for novice electricians. Please help!

Keep in mind that I haven’t bought any switches yet. I’ve just rough wired power to living room switch.12/3 from switch to switch and 12/2 to fan area. (The walls are still open). Any help would be greatly appreciated.

They have 3way dimmers now, but you will dim both fan and light. Sounds like your wiring is ok.

Installing Outlet w/Switch

I have an junction box that contains black, white and red wiring. I’d like to install an outlet with a switch. I’m not sure of the connection procedures.

The Black is your hot and the white your ground. From your junction box, run a two wire with ground to your switch and then to the light. (You can also go from the junction box to the light then to the switch, also, if that is easier.) The Red wire, is for a 3-way switch which must be controlling a light from that circuit.

If you wire the switch between the junction box and the light, connect the two blacks to the switch and just connect the two whites together. At the light wire the black to the black wire on the light and the white to the white. If you wire the light between the junction box and the switch, connect both blacks to the light and at the switch connect the black and white to the switch.

Does all that make sense? Let me know if you need further clarification.

BE SURE THE CIRCUIT is off when you are wiring. I know that goes without saying. but be careful anyway.

While I described a way that would work, when you are wiring the switch at the end of its run, that is from junction box to the light to the switch, the wiring should be as follows:

At the light, connect the white from source to the white from the light. Connect the black from the source to the white from the switch and the black from the light to the black from the switch. Then paint the white wire at the light (going to the switch) and the white wire at the switch black. This is done to insure it is clear to someone working on the wiring later, what is hot.

3-Way Switch No Longer Works

I have a 3 way switch that was hooked up and needed one side to be moved, a friend of mine came to move it he wrote down what wire is what, and disconnected it from one side and moved it, put it back together and he must have done something wrong because now we can’t get it to work. The one he disconnected is the first switch it has 3 sets of wires in one box, the first set is the power black, white, and ground. Second ceiling lights black, white and ground. The third runs to the other switch in the hallway black white red and ground. The other side was never disconnected. Its just connected to the red white black and ground. We’ve fooled with it over and over again and can’t figure out how it was hooked up. Any suggestions.

Do any of the switches work? Or is it just the 3-way to the hall that quit working? If none — Check to make sure any wire nuts in the box did not come loose and that and jumpers providing power between each switch are still connected.

If just 3-way — There is a traveler wire (usually the red) that sends the power to the other switch. It is usually on the lower right of the switch. The same wire should be in the same place for both switches.

Look at the switch you didn’t touch. On that one there will be one screw (either on top or bottom) without one on the other side. (The other two will either be at the top or bottom) Know what I mean?

O.K. that color wire. (probably black)coming from/going to the switch you didn’t touch should be connected to the light’s black wire. The other wire from the light (white) should be connected to the white wire coming from the source (the black /white combination). The black wire coming from the source should be connected to the lone screw on the switch you messed with and the two remaining wires of the red/black/white combination (probably the red and white) will then reconnected to the screws that are opposite each other,(on top or bottom together). If you wire it like that. it should work fine. Let me know.

Controlling 1 Light with 3 Switches

While I was staying at a hotel, the overhead light was controlled by a switch by the door and by 2 additional switches on either side of the bed. I would like to install this in the new home I am building. Can someone supply me with a circuit diagram?

Certainly. What you want is a four way circuit. Take a look in the articles section in this site. There is an article entitled 3 way and 4 way switches. It should give you the help you need.

Adding Dimmer, Switch Separation

I have a fan and a track light running from the same which. I want them to ran off separate switches and put a dimmer on the track light.

Unless you can open the walls/ceiling and replace the existing 14-2 with 14-3 wire. or run separate 14-2 to the fan and another 14-2 to the track light you cannot accomplish what you desire.

Light Switch to Control Two Lights

I want to add a basement light fixture that will operate off an existing switch that controls an existing light. I wired a light off of the existing light but the switch does not control it. What do I need to do to have the light switch control both lights?

Of course it is difficult knowing what is going on with out seeing the wiring, but I think all you should have to do is this In the original light fixture, connect your new wire to the exact same wires as the original light.

In other words, the original light’s black wire will be connected to the black wire running to the new light, and the original lights white wire is attached to the new wire’s white light IN ADDITION to being connected to the wires they were previously wired to.

This will make the new light in parallel with the old and connected to the switch on the same lead.

Wiring 4 Lights on 2 Switches

I want to wire four lights to two (2) switches, one on each end of the storage building. I would like to be able to turn the lights on or off from either end. Suggestions?

The way I see it, you will be bringing in power from one end and it makes sense to wire a switch at each end of the circuit. To do it you will want to use a 3 way switch at either end. Bringing power into the first switch, you will run 3 wire to the first light and then run 4 wire between all the lights to the last light. Then run 3 wire from the last light to the switch at the end of the circuit.

Lets see if I can describe this wiring.

At the first switch, the power supplying black wire is attached to the dark screw on the 3 way switch. The whites are connected to each other. Black and red from the two light colored screws.

At the first light fixture, the black and red pass right through, attach the white to the white from the light and the white from the 4 wire. Attach the black wire of the light to the 4th wire of the 4 wire. (this is the hot wire coming back from the other switch)

At the next two fixtures, the red and black pass right through. Again attach the white to the white of the light and the white of the 4 -wire. And the black of the light to the 4th wire. (Hot line)

At the last fixture, again, red and white pass right through. The white wire attaches to the white of the light. (and ends here) The black of the light again attaches the the 4th wire coming from the 3rd light and the black going to the end switch.

Finally at the end switch, you have 3 wire coming in. Attach the red and white to the light colored screws and the black to the dark.

Wiring a 3-Way Switch

I would like some directions on how to wire up a 3-way switch. I have a light switch at the top of my basement stairway, and I would like to add a switch downstairs. I am fairly familiar with electrical wiring.

You will replace the present switch with a 3 way switch and buy another for downstairs.

You will need to run 3 wire (with ground) from one switch to the other. At the upstairs switch attach the black feed that is coming from the light, to the dark colored terminal. Attach the white and red of the 3-wire wire to the other two terminals, (the light colored ones). Connect the black of the 3 wire wire to the white going to the light.

At the switch at the bottom of the stairs again attach the red and the white to the two light colored terminals. Attach the black to the dark colored terminal. Paint the white wires with black paint in the switch boxes to indicate they are hot.

By way of explanation, what you have is the hot feed going to the first switch, which is split into the red and black. Depending on the first switch position, one of the two is always hot. At the switch at the bottom of the stairs, depending on switch position you are directing the hot to the returning white wire.

Wiring Switch at End of Run of Lights

I know there is a way to put a switch at the end of a run of lights(power source to lights and then to switch).What is the key I am missing here?

Not exactly missing anything. But if you want the switch at the end, it would all be in series and you don’t want to wire it like that. It works that way with one light, but when you add additional lights, you want each of those in parallel with each other. Let me try to explain this without a picture (they are truly worth a thousand words)

power comes into the first light. Out of there runs two wires. One to the switch and one to the string of lights. In that first fixture’s box, the black will connect to the black running to the switch. The light’s white is connected to the incoming power’s white and the black to the white of the wire going to the switch. That part is easy, right? The switch is controlling power coming back to the light in the white wire.

Now the OTHER wire leading to the other lights is connected in parallel to the light. Black to the white coming back from the switch, and white to the white on the incoming power wire. Picture that wire as the black and white of the next light.

At the next lights fixture, you connect the black of the light fixture to the black wire and the white to the white.

If you want to add another light to this string, you run the wire to the next light and attach the blacks all together and the whites all together. and you can repeat this for each light in the string.

3-way Switches w/ Light Fixtures between Switches

I have read the article and the other messages concerning this subject, but no one has addressed the condition of having multiple fixtures between two 3-way switches. Is this possible? I suppose I could rewire the circuit (in my attic) to locate both 3-way switches at the end of the run, but I still don’t know how to do that with multiple fixtures (4). I appreciate any help before I pull the rest of my hair out.

It can be done, if you bring the power in to one of the fixtures then over to the switches. But of course where the problem lies, is that there are two hot lines with 3 way switches, so ordinarily, between switches there is no way to connect a light. there are three wires. After the switches you are back to 2 wires so a light can be wired. Hence when you see how it is done, it will look complicated. because wiring-wise, we are still putting the lights after the switches.

Also, to address the issue of multiple fixtures, they are the same as always. just wire them in parallel. The black and white pass through all but the last fixture in the line, with the lights black and white tied into them.

Wiring 3 Switches on 2 Receptacles on 1 Circuit

I see a lot of articles on wiring two switches to a single light or receptacle. I need to wire three switches to two separate receptacles on the same circuit. Can you help me out?

Did you look at the article on this site (http//www.handymanusa.com/articles/3-wayswitch.htm ) for an explanation? What you are doing is the same except substituting outlets for lights, but same idea. You want to look at the part written on 4 way switches since that is what you have when you are using 3 (or more) switches.

Installing Lights & Fan in Attic

I have recently installed attic stairs to gain access to our attic. I now need to install three lights, and an attic fan. The fan is a gable end fan for cooling. Can I install the light through an existing light fixture in the ceiling? How about the fan. Should I run a separate breaker for the lights and fan to the fuse box? How do I run the wire to the fusebox.

You can certainly use the existing wiring up there to wire your new lights. In fact you may be able to wire the fan to the lighting circuit as well. What is the amp rating on the fan and what other loads are on that lighting circuit. It would be ideal to run a new circuit up there and as long as it was up there, you could use it for the lights up there as well as the fan. However, it may very difficult to snake that wire down.

Here is how you should do it.

Is your home a two story (plus the attic)? That will make it more difficult. For a one story home, you would snake the wire through an inside wall, drilling down though the top plate from the attic and drilling up through the sole plate from the basement. (DON’T MISS THE WALL) You have to measure and measure and make sure both holes are between the same studs. If you use a wire (like a wire coat hanger) with a hook on the end, you can snag the wire coming down and guide it to your hole. (Make it a big hole on the bottom to ease the process.)

Electrical Wiring for Garage

I am about to install a garage door. The garage is already wired but I need to know how to run power from the house to the garage. Step by step directions would be very helpful. Thanks everyone.

Will you be wiring it on a new circuit breaker? If the garage is on its own circuit presently, that may not be necessary, but it is the ideal.

You will need a 15 amp circuit breaker and enough 14 gauge wire to run the distance from your box to the center of our garage where the opener will be.

Run the wire, drill through walls etc to get the wire where you are going. Be sure to drill through the center of the boards, with about a 3/4 inch hole.

Attach a single outlet box to the ceiling joists in the garage and wire in a 15 amp outlet. Garage outlets should be GFI if they are not dedicated. which this one is.

If you have no experience in wiring in the circuit breaker, you should probably hire an electrician to do that part. I could explain that all to you, but I feel uncomfortable doing so.

Let me know if you have any specific questions.

this is sort of general, but not seeing any particular obstacles. I will let it go at this, and rely on your to ask if you run into trouble.

I have an old house (1910) with new wiring. The wiring was completed before I bought the house. When the new outlets were put in, they were put in metal boxes *outside* my baseboards (sticking out into the room). This is ugly, and doesn’t keep with the character of the house. The outside walls are all plaster on brick, so I know it would be prohibitively difficult to mount them flush with the wall. What I’m wondering is if I can put them in the floor?

Yes you can mount the outlets in the floor. Just make sure you are buying boxes and covers UL rated for floor installation. As you probably guessed the typical plastic covers do not cut it for the floor.

Grounding Electrical Outlets

I have a couple of wall outlets which are two prong and not grounded. I would like to know if I replace these with three pronged outlets can I just ground them to the outlet box? The wiring is old and has no ground so will a piece of copper wire from the receptacle to the box do the trick?

Just attaching the ground wire to the box will work if the box is grounded. Determine if your metal boxes are grounded.With power off check for continuity between box and neutral. If there is continuity than box is grounded. If the boxes are fed by metal sheathed cable(commonly called BX but referred to in the Code as AC, Armor Clad cable) then you probably have a grounded box.

If your boxes are metal and grounded you can install a self-grounding outlet. Or install a ground clip that snaps on the edge of the box and provides a connection for an equipment grounding wire to the green screw of a typical 3 prong outlet. Or if there is a threaded 8/32 hole in the back wall of the box connect with a green pigtail(8 of green wire with 8/32 green screw).

If your boxes are not metal, or are not grounded then you should connect the ground to the box and then connect the box to a grounding electrode with a separate ground wire.

Another option if your box is not grounded is to use a GFI protected outlet, with no wire connected to the ground screw. This outlet and any downstream of it will be protected from grounds by the GFI feature (downstream outlets can have the three prongs, but do not connect any wire to the ground screws). This is permitted by most codes (you should check with your local authorities) as long as the outlets are labeled properly. The GFI outlet would be labeled no equipment ground and the downstream protected outlets would be labeled GFI Protected and No Equipment Ground. Anything you plug into these outlets will be protected by the GFI outlet, so no ground wire is necessary.

Let me know if all this makes sense. and how things turn out. Clearly if the box is grounded you are in fine shape. The next easiest option is the GFI outlet.

Installing a Door Chime

My husband and I bought a 2 door chime kit and couple of years ago. We have misplaced the instructions. We already have a door bell installed in our house but we spend a lot of time in our basement and we can’t hear the doorbell when it rings. We wanted to install one so that we can hear it. Our problem is that we must have lost our instructions. We need to find some simple instructions. We would like to connect the door bells if possible. I sure hope that you can help us.

Wiring a door bell is relatively simple. I am certain you can do it without the directions. (who read those things anyway..)

Did your new chime come with a transformer? you can use your existing one in any case. Did you intend to just add a chime for the basement? You can do that.

Door chimes run on a very low voltage so they need the transformer. To add a new chime for the basement to your existing system, simply connect it in parallel to the present bell. To do that run the door bell wire from the two terminals on your existing chime to the new chime in the basement. If the present bell and your new one are both single door single chime systems there will only be two screws on each. Simply run a wire from the screws labeled transformer to each other, and a wire between to two labeled doorbell (or whatever its called on yours)

If you have a two note system (where it half rings for the backdoor and full rings for the front door) again, run the wire between the screws labeled transformer and between the screws labeled front door (or backdoor if that is the one you want to ring downstairs)

Splitting a Circuit

I recently moved into a house where the previous owner had done some wiring in the garage. I have a refrigerator and freezer in the garage. When they cycle on, there is a drop in voltage that in turn causes the lights in the adjoining family room to dim. There is an obvious overloading of the circuit. How can I most efficiently correct the the problem?

The best way, would be to connect the garage outlets to their own circuit. You would add a new circuit breaker to your box and run a wire up to a convent place to join their present wiring and disconnect them from the other house wiring.

Is wiring a circuit something you are willing and capable of doing yourself? If you are uncomfortable with the whole project, you could still do a portion, and then hire an electrician to wire the circuit breaker into your box.

Gas Heater and GFI Too Close?

I try to make a 115Vac outlet for my water fountain and pathway light systems. So I cut the little hold in my garage wall just enough to fit 2 plus-in with GFI and using the metal box. But one thing make me worry is the back of my outlet box is next to my GAS water heater. it’s about 1foot between them. Could you please tell me is this OK or it is violated the city safety or it’s very dangerous because could blow up if my water heater have a gas leak.

I believe code requires 3 feet between an electrical ignition source and a gas meter. I am not aware of a requirement for proximity to a heater. To be safe though you should have about 3 feet to the gas line and burner of the heater (the upper part of the tank is not a problem)

To be on the safe side, call your local building inspector and/or the gas company. They will know for sure and be able to answer a question about local codes.

Better to be safe than sorry.

Patching over a Live Wire Connecting Box

How do I patch over a live wire connecting box on my wall? Can I use drywall technique, or should I just put a steel plate on wall for easy access. I removed a light fixture from the wall. Could you please tell me my options without leaving an unsightly bump on the wall?

You do need to leave access to any electric box with a wire junction. Since wires are joined there, there needs to be an access cover. You can buy neutral looking covers that look like switch covers, with no switch hole.

Adding Electrical Circuits in the Garage

I bought a 40 year old ranch home about a year ago. The electric service fuse box has been replaced with a circuit breaker panel. In the garage is a single ceiling mounted light socket. When the previous owner had a garage door opener installed the installer decided to use one of those screw in sockets with an outlet on the side to plug the door opener in to. Now, what I want to do is add a dedicated (hot all the time) outlet next to the opener (so that my kids stop shutting off my opener with the light switch). )

Then I would like to use the existing light junction box to power two 4 foot florescent lights, controlled by the existing switch/circuit. As far as I can tell there a couple of ceiling lights and a few outlets in the basement on the same circuit. I also want to add two new outlet boxes (for workbench type use) and an outlet for a standup freezer on the back wall of the garage. In the future I would also like to add a couple of spot lights above the garage door outside with a couple of switches controlling them from the garage and upstairs somewhere. I don’t want to mess with any of the existing circuits in the house since everything seems to be just fine the way it is. It appears as far as I can tell that there are two regular 15A circuit breaker slots free in the breaker box. I’m looking for suggestions/opinions on how to spread the load of the new outlets I want to add over two breakers. Will two be enough? Will I need more than two? Am I pushing my luck adding two 4 foot lights to a circuit that had a single bulb previously? (actually a single bulb and a garage door opener)?

Ok. lets go for some easy ones.

First. there should be no problem with the new fixtures where the old one was (where the garage door opener is).

Two. make sure any outlets in the garage are GFI protected. You can do that by installing one GFI outlet first in the string and the others daisy chained through it. (cheaper than a GFI circuit breaker)

Then I would use one of your spare breakers spots for the freezer, all by itself.

The last one, put in a 20 amp circuit and wire the garage door opener and the shop outlets to it. For the outdoor spots you can use the new one, or even the old one (with the indoor florescent)

Light Bulbs Keep Blowing

Just moved in to our home in October. Our garage has two single-bulb (up to 100 watts) overhead sockets. I am constantly replacing the bulbs — new ones last maybe 6 weeks in these sockets. Any suggestions on what may be causing this?

Check the voltage in the circuit. I recently had a problem with the voltage in my house being 135 Volts. There was a problem in some of the electric company’s circuit nearby, and after I told them it was high, and they fixed it, my lights lasted longer too. 125V should be the maximum.

Another thought is the garage door may be causing a lot of vibration on the joist they are mounted on. The vibration will cause the lights to have a shortened life. They do sell (somewhere) lights for high vibration applications.

Rewiring House

I have aluminum wiring in most of my house and work as a electrical maintenance at a plant. My question is something that I don’t see at the local hardware store Do you have to have a qualified electrician come inspect all your wiring when done. I was thinking of putting in a new box with circuit breakers since I have fuses and know that I have to have one put the box in, but what about the wiring after he is done. I want to know if I can.

Most areas (maybe all) allow you to do your own wiring, and by the way that includes a new breaker box if you are comfortable with that.

Then you need to check with your town’s building inspector about inspection.

When I rewired my farm house recently, it was the electric company (actually a cooperative) that required the inspection and not the town. That requirement will vary.

Electrical

I installed lights on the outside of my house and ran the romax to a new switch in the garage above my existing switch to my garage light. That switch only has one romax line to the switch. I have a chain light above in the attic, do I need to run a romax line from the chain light to my new switch to get power or what?

The wiring described sounds like your garage light and your outside lights are in series and, depending on the size bulbs you used, they are all lit dimly when the garage light is»OFF» and the outside lights are «ON». In any case, remove the wiring you now have between the two switches and run the new switch (for the outside lights) to the attic chain outlet where there is bound to be a source of power.

Security Light

I have three lights on one switch in front of my house. one light on each side of my garage door, and one by the front door. I’d like to change them out to a security Light. Do I have to change all three of them or can I just change one. Or is it ok to change all three of them?

By security light. do you mean a light that turns on with a motion sensor. also light activated??

If it is a light which comes on when it senses motion at night. then you would need to leave the switch on for it to work. That would mean the other lights would be on as well. If that is not what you want, you may have to replace them all with the same type. Since the lights are presently turned on by the switch, it is not likely that you could easily separate the security light from the other two so they are switched separately. (It can be done, but would involve running some new wires and a new switch.)

So. did I answer the question? Umm. Yes, you can replace the one light with a security light. and leave the other two. but that means the other two will be on all the time. So. yes it would be ok. and probably the easiest thing to replace all three.

Is it possible to replace a 3-way light switch with a dimmer switch? The dimmer switch that I have has only 2 wires and the switch has 3?

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Replacing Loop Switch w/Combo Switch

I have a switch which has one black wire on line side and one white wire on load side. I’m assuming this is a loop. I want to replace this with a combo switch outlet that will have the outlet on at all times and the switch operating it’s current load,a light. Behind the wall,there is a switch that’s on the same breaker. Can I piggy back the neutral wire from this switch to my new combo? Any suggestions?

I am afraid you can’t do what you are thinking. If you used the two wires to your switch for your outlet, all the current would return THROUGH the light bulb at the fixture.

What is don’t to get a switch and outlet in the same box at the end of a run, is use 3-wire cable between the fixture and the switch/outlet box. Then you can use the white as the neutral for the outlet and the red wire for the return to the light as the switch power lead.

If you can pull the box out of the wall and run a 3 wire cable to the outlet from the fixture, you can wire it that way. They make remodeling outlet boxes that can be installed in the hole in the drywall without nailing them to the stud.

2 vs 3 Prong Outlets/Plugs

I have a popcorn machine that requires 20amps. The plug on the machine has the new three prong configuration is there an adap ter available so this unit can be plugged into old 20 amp outlets?

I am not sure what an old 20 amp outlet is. but you can buy a new 20 amp outlet and wire that in to allow you to use the correct plug/outlet combination.

If you are sure the circuit is 20 amp including use of at a minimum 12 gauge wire, and there is a ground, just wiring in a new 20 amp outlet is the easiest approach.

How can I wire a ceiling fan to the switch that controls the outlets? There is no light or wiring in the ceiling.

Can you get above the ceiling. in the attic above?

Well that would be too easy, right? You will need to run a wire from the box you will install in the ceiling that will power and support the fan, to the switch in the wall.

To run the wire if you have no access above, you will need to fish the wire through. To do that you will probably have to cut some holes in the wall and/or ceiling and then patch them/repaint them when you are done.

Ceiling Fan Wiring

We are in desperate need of help! We are trying to install a ceiling fan with a light kit and a wall switch that control both the light and the fan separately. The problem is that we have three wires plus the ground coming from the ceiling instead of the two wires and ground stated in the instructions.

The wires from the ceiling are red, black, and white. We tested them and the red is hot from the light switch and the black is hot also. The fan/light switch we purchased has a controller that wires directly to the ceiling. The top of the controller has two wires, black and white. The bottom of the controller that goes to the fan has white, black, and red wires. Here we wired black to black, white to white, and red to the black/white wire as the instructions said for the light kit. The ground from the ceiling is threaded through the middle of the controller and connected to the two green wires.

The problem is that we don’t know how to wire the controller to the ceiling while including all three wires from the ceiling (black, white, and red) to the top of the controller (black and white). We have tried many different wiring options but nothing works. Sometimes we get a beep from the fan but that’s it. The fan, light kit, and wall switch are all Hunter if that makes a difference. I’d appreciate any advice you could give me!

Ask the manufacturer directly. They have a lot of info on their site.

Ceiling Fan Installation

I have just installed a ceiling fan (with light kit)in my gameroom but I am not sure about the wiring. The fan has a black and white wire and the electrical box has a black, red and white. I am putting the fan on a dual switch so I what the fan controlled on one switch and the light on the other. But the problem comes in on how to do the wiring when I only have one hot wire coming from the fan. Does anyone know how I should handle this so that each switch controls a functions?

Depending on what products you used and how you connected everything, the light kit should have its own black (sometimes blue) wire. You may have connected this to the fan’s black resulting in only one hot wire. You can connect the hot wire from the light kit directly to the hot wire from the switch.

Ceiling Light Wiring

I have a ceiling light with a pull chain switch. I want to add a second porcelain keyless lamp base to another part of the basement ceiling and run them both off a single-pole switch. How do I wire? Right now the wire goes directly to the existing chain-pull light.

Mount the new light fixture and the switch box where you want them. Run 2 wire with ground between the old light and the new, then from the new light to the switch.

Ok, at the old light disconnect the black from the light. Connect it to the white on the wire running to the new light. Connect the black from the wire running to the new light to the black on the light fixture.

At the new light, attach the two white wires together and attach the light fixture to the two black wires.

At the switch attach the white and the black to the two terminals on the switch. Paint the white wires black in the new light fixture and at the switch to indicate they are hot.

Help! My upstairs light switch no longer works, and I need some help figuring out what to do.

I have taken off the light fixture — all wires are firmly connected. I have taken out the bulbs and switched them (nothing). I checked the switches to see if wires are firmly secured — they are. Not experienced ,but also running very short on money and would like not to hire someone if I can get a systematic set of options to try and fix myself.

It is not uncommon for switches to fail.

Your cheapest solution at this point is to buy a new switch(s) and replace it/them. If this light is at the top of the stairs and on two three way switches, you will need to replace both. Making sure to re-wire the new switch(s) EXACTLY as they are now. If this doesn’t work, then don’t spend the money on a circuit tester because you won’t know what to do with the results of the test. If it doesn’t work, call a pro.

Antique Lamp Wiring: 2 Lamps, 1 Switch

I would like to know how to wire an antique lamp that has two lamps on it but only one switch on one of the sides. Can you help?

Mark one of the wires from one light fixture «A» Mark one of the wires from the other light fixture «A» also. Mark one of the wires from the plug «A» as well. Connect all three «A» wires together. Connect the unmarked wires of the two fixtures together and connect these two wires to either side of the switch. Connect the free end of the wire from the plug to the other (free) side of the switch. Both lights will come on and off together.

Wall Outlet Controlled by Switch

Trying to find out how to make the top plug work off a wall switch and the bottom plug stay hot?

All depends how the switch/outlet is wired if you can separate the top and bottom outlet. If the power source goes to the switch first and then to the outlet, it cannot be done.

If the power source goes to the receptical first and then goes to the switch, you would run the switch loop off of one side of the outlet, while feeding the other with the hot source. You must remove the brass metal connectors between the top and bottom outlets (between the top and bottom side screws) so that the top and bottom outlets operate independently.

Three-way Switches to Ceiling Fan w/ a Light, Too?

I’m trying to wire two three-way switches (one living room,next to balcony) to a ceiling fan on a cathedral ceiling. The three-way switch is the easy part. the hard part is the combination — variable speed / variable brightness switches and how they work within a three-way switch set-up. I’m not in Kansas anymore. I’m in the hell for novice electricians. Please help!

Keep in mind that I haven’t bought any switches yet. I’ve just rough wired power to living room switch.12/3 from switch to switch and 12/2 to fan area. (The walls are still open). Any help would be greatly appreciated.

They have 3way dimmers now, but you will dim both fan and light. Sounds like your wiring is ok.

Installing Outlet w/Switch

I have an junction box that contains black, white and red wiring. I’d like to install an outlet with a switch. I’m not sure of the connection procedures.

The Black is your hot and the white your ground. From your junction box, run a two wire with ground to your switch and then to the light. (You can also go from the junction box to the light then to the switch, also, if that is easier.) The Red wire, is for a 3-way switch which must be controlling a light from that circuit.

If you wire the switch between the junction box and the light, connect the two blacks to the switch and just connect the two whites together. At the light wire the black to the black wire on the light and the white to the white. If you wire the light between the junction box and the switch, connect both blacks to the light and at the switch connect the black and white to the switch.

Does all that make sense? Let me know if you need further clarification.

BE SURE THE CIRCUIT is off when you are wiring. I know that goes without saying. but be careful anyway.

While I described a way that would work, when you are wiring the switch at the end of its run, that is from junction box to the light to the switch, the wiring should be as follows:

At the light, connect the white from source to the white from the light. Connect the black from the source to the white from the switch and the black from the light to the black from the switch. Then paint the white wire at the light (going to the switch) and the white wire at the switch black. This is done to insure it is clear to someone working on the wiring later, what is hot.

3-Way Switch No Longer Works

I have a 3 way switch that was hooked up and needed one side to be moved, a friend of mine came to move it he wrote down what wire is what, and disconnected it from one side and moved it, put it back together and he must have done something wrong because now we can’t get it to work. The one he disconnected is the first switch it has 3 sets of wires in one box, the first set is the power black, white, and ground. Second ceiling lights black, white and ground. The third runs to the other switch in the hallway black white red and ground. The other side was never disconnected. Its just connected to the red white black and ground. We’ve fooled with it over and over again and can’t figure out how it was hooked up. Any suggestions.

Do any of the switches work? Or is it just the 3-way to the hall that quit working? If none — Check to make sure any wire nuts in the box did not come loose and that and jumpers providing power between each switch are still connected.

HandymanUSA - Wiring switches Questions and Answers

If just 3-way — There is a traveler wire (usually the red) that sends the power to the other switch. It is usually on the lower right of the switch. The same wire should be in the same place for both switches.

Look at the switch you didn’t touch. On that one there will be one screw (either on top or bottom) without one on the other side. (The other two will either be at the top or bottom) Know what I mean?

O.K. that color wire. (probably black)coming from/going to the switch you didn’t touch should be connected to the light’s black wire. The other wire from the light (white) should be connected to the white wire coming from the source (the black /white combination). The black wire coming from the source should be connected to the lone screw on the switch you messed with and the two remaining wires of the red/black/white combination (probably the red and white) will then reconnected to the screws that are opposite each other,(on top or bottom together). If you wire it like that. it should work fine. Let me know.

Controlling 1 Light with 3 Switches

While I was staying at a hotel, the overhead light was controlled by a switch by the door and by 2 additional switches on either side of the bed. I would like to install this in the new home I am building. Can someone supply me with a circuit diagram?

Certainly. What you want is a four way circuit. Take a look in the articles section in this site. There is an article entitled 3 way and 4 way switches. It should give you the help you need.

Adding Dimmer, Switch Separation

I have a fan and a track light running from the same which. I want them to ran off separate switches and put a dimmer on the track light.

Unless you can open the walls/ceiling and replace the existing 14-2 with 14-3 wire. or run separate 14-2 to the fan and another 14-2 to the track light you cannot accomplish what you desire.

Light Switch to Control Two Lights

I want to add a basement light fixture that will operate off an existing switch that controls an existing light. I wired a light off of the existing light but the switch does not control it. What do I need to do to have the light switch control both lights?

Of course it is difficult knowing what is going on with out seeing the wiring, but I think all you should have to do is this In the original light fixture, connect your new wire to the exact same wires as the original light.

In other words, the original light’s black wire will be connected to the black wire running to the new light, and the original lights white wire is attached to the new wire’s white light IN ADDITION to being connected to the wires they were previously wired to.

This will make the new light in parallel with the old and connected to the switch on the same lead.

Wiring 4 Lights on 2 Switches

I want to wire four lights to two (2) switches, one on each end of the storage building. I would like to be able to turn the lights on or off from either end. Suggestions?

The way I see it, you will be bringing in power from one end and it makes sense to wire a switch at each end of the circuit. To do it you will want to use a 3 way switch at either end. Bringing power into the first switch, you will run 3 wire to the first light and then run 4 wire between all the lights to the last light. Then run 3 wire from the last light to the switch at the end of the circuit.

Lets see if I can describe this wiring.

At the first switch, the power supplying black wire is attached to the dark screw on the 3 way switch. The whites are connected to each other. Black and red from the two light colored screws.

At the first light fixture, the black and red pass right through, attach the white to the white from the light and the white from the 4 wire. Attach the black wire of the light to the 4th wire of the 4 wire. (this is the hot wire coming back from the other switch)

At the next two fixtures, the red and black pass right through. Again attach the white to the white of the light and the white of the 4 -wire. And the black of the light to the 4th wire. (Hot line)

At the last fixture, again, red and white pass right through. The white wire attaches to the white of the light. (and ends here) The black of the light again attaches the the 4th wire coming from the 3rd light and the black going to the end switch.

Finally at the end switch, you have 3 wire coming in. Attach the red and white to the light colored screws and the black to the dark.

Wiring a 3-Way Switch

I would like some directions on how to wire up a 3-way switch. I have a light switch at the top of my basement stairway, and I would like to add a switch downstairs. I am fairly familiar with electrical wiring.

You will replace the present switch with a 3 way switch and buy another for downstairs.

You will need to run 3 wire (with ground) from one switch to the other. At the upstairs switch attach the black feed that is coming from the light, to the dark colored terminal. Attach the white and red of the 3-wire wire to the other two terminals, (the light colored ones). Connect the black of the 3 wire wire to the white going to the light.

At the switch at the bottom of the stairs again attach the red and the white to the two light colored terminals. Attach the black to the dark colored terminal. Paint the white wires with black paint in the switch boxes to indicate they are hot.

By way of explanation, what you have is the hot feed going to the first switch, which is split into the red and black. Depending on the first switch position, one of the two is always hot. At the switch at the bottom of the stairs, depending on switch position you are directing the hot to the returning white wire.

Wiring Switch at End of Run of Lights

I know there is a way to put a switch at the end of a run of lights(power source to lights and then to switch).What is the key I am missing here?

Not exactly missing anything. But if you want the switch at the end, it would all be in series and you don’t want to wire it like that. It works that way with one light, but when you add additional lights, you want each of those in parallel with each other. Let me try to explain this without a picture (they are truly worth a thousand words)

power comes into the first light. Out of there runs two wires. One to the switch and one to the string of lights. In that first fixture’s box, the black will connect to the black running to the switch. The light’s white is connected to the incoming power’s white and the black to the white of the wire going to the switch. That part is easy, right? The switch is controlling power coming back to the light in the white wire.

Now the OTHER wire leading to the other lights is connected in parallel to the light. Black to the white coming back from the switch, and white to the white on the incoming power wire. Picture that wire as the black and white of the next light.

At the next lights fixture, you connect the black of the light fixture to the black wire and the white to the white.

If you want to add another light to this string, you run the wire to the next light and attach the blacks all together and the whites all together. and you can repeat this for each light in the string.

3-way Switches w/ Light Fixtures between Switches

I have read the article and the other messages concerning this subject, but no one has addressed the condition of having multiple fixtures between two 3-way switches. Is this possible? I suppose I could rewire the circuit (in my attic) to locate both 3-way switches at the end of the run, but I still don’t know how to do that with multiple fixtures (4). I appreciate any help before I pull the rest of my hair out.

It can be done, if you bring the power in to one of the fixtures then over to the switches. But of course where the problem lies, is that there are two hot lines with 3 way switches, so ordinarily, between switches there is no way to connect a light. there are three wires. After the switches you are back to 2 wires so a light can be wired. Hence when you see how it is done, it will look complicated. because wiring-wise, we are still putting the lights after the switches.

Also, to address the issue of multiple fixtures, they are the same as always. just wire them in parallel. The black and white pass through all but the last fixture in the line, with the lights black and white tied into them.

Wiring 3 Switches on 2 Receptacles on 1 Circuit

I see a lot of articles on wiring two switches to a single light or receptacle. I need to wire three switches to two separate receptacles on the same circuit. Can you help me out?

Did you look at the article on this site (http//www.handymanusa.com/articles/3-wayswitch.htm ) for an explanation? What you are doing is the same except substituting outlets for lights, but same idea. You want to look at the part written on 4 way switches since that is what you have when you are using 3 (or more) switches.

Installing Lights & Fan in Attic

I have recently installed attic stairs to gain access to our attic. I now need to install three lights, and an attic fan. The fan is a gable end fan for cooling. Can I install the light through an existing light fixture in the ceiling? How about the fan. Should I run a separate breaker for the lights and fan to the fuse box? How do I run the wire to the fusebox.

You can certainly use the existing wiring up there to wire your new lights. In fact you may be able to wire the fan to the lighting circuit as well. What is the amp rating on the fan and what other loads are on that lighting circuit. It would be ideal to run a new circuit up there and as long as it was up there, you could use it for the lights up there as well as the fan. However, it may very difficult to snake that wire down.

Here is how you should do it.

Is your home a two story (plus the attic)? That will make it more difficult. For a one story home, you would snake the wire through an inside wall, drilling down though the top plate from the attic and drilling up through the sole plate from the basement. (DON’T MISS THE WALL) You have to measure and measure and make sure both holes are between the same studs. If you use a wire (like a wire coat hanger) with a hook on the end, you can snag the wire coming down and guide it to your hole. (Make it a big hole on the bottom to ease the process.)

Electrical Wiring for Garage

I am about to install a garage door. The garage is already wired but I need to know how to run power from the house to the garage. Step by step directions would be very helpful. Thanks everyone.

Will you be wiring it on a new circuit breaker? If the garage is on its own circuit presently, that may not be necessary, but it is the ideal.

You will need a 15 amp circuit breaker and enough 14 gauge wire to run the distance from your box to the center of our garage where the opener will be.

Run the wire, drill through walls etc to get the wire where you are going. Be sure to drill through the center of the boards, with about a 3/4 inch hole.

Attach a single outlet box to the ceiling joists in the garage and wire in a 15 amp outlet. Garage outlets should be GFI if they are not dedicated. which this one is.

If you have no experience in wiring in the circuit breaker, you should probably hire an electrician to do that part. I could explain that all to you, but I feel uncomfortable doing so.

Let me know if you have any specific questions.

this is sort of general, but not seeing any particular obstacles. I will let it go at this, and rely on your to ask if you run into trouble.

I have an old house (1910) with new wiring. The wiring was completed before I bought the house. When the new outlets were put in, they were put in metal boxes *outside* my baseboards (sticking out into the room). This is ugly, and doesn’t keep with the character of the house. The outside walls are all plaster on brick, so I know it would be prohibitively difficult to mount them flush with the wall. What I’m wondering is if I can put them in the floor?

Yes you can mount the outlets in the floor. Just make sure you are buying boxes and covers UL rated for floor installation. As you probably guessed the typical plastic covers do not cut it for the floor.

Grounding Electrical Outlets

I have a couple of wall outlets which are two prong and not grounded. I would like to know if I replace these with three pronged outlets can I just ground them to the outlet box? The wiring is old and has no ground so will a piece of copper wire from the receptacle to the box do the trick?

Just attaching the ground wire to the box will work if the box is grounded. Determine if your metal boxes are grounded.With power off check for continuity between box and neutral. If there is continuity than box is grounded. If the boxes are fed by metal sheathed cable(commonly called BX but referred to in the Code as AC, Armor Clad cable) then you probably have a grounded box.

If your boxes are metal and grounded you can install a self-grounding outlet. Or install a ground clip that snaps on the edge of the box and provides a connection for an equipment grounding wire to the green screw of a typical 3 prong outlet. Or if there is a threaded 8/32 hole in the back wall of the box connect with a green pigtail(8 of green wire with 8/32 green screw).

If your boxes are not metal, or are not grounded then you should connect the ground to the box and then connect the box to a grounding electrode with a separate ground wire.

Another option if your box is not grounded is to use a GFI protected outlet, with no wire connected to the ground screw. This outlet and any downstream of it will be protected from grounds by the GFI feature (downstream outlets can have the three prongs, but do not connect any wire to the ground screws). This is permitted by most codes (you should check with your local authorities) as long as the outlets are labeled properly. The GFI outlet would be labeled no equipment ground and the downstream protected outlets would be labeled GFI Protected and No Equipment Ground. Anything you plug into these outlets will be protected by the GFI outlet, so no ground wire is necessary.

Let me know if all this makes sense. and how things turn out. Clearly if the box is grounded you are in fine shape. The next easiest option is the GFI outlet.

Installing a Door Chime

My husband and I bought a 2 door chime kit and couple of years ago. We have misplaced the instructions. We already have a door bell installed in our house but we spend a lot of time in our basement and we can’t hear the doorbell when it rings. We wanted to install one so that we can hear it. Our problem is that we must have lost our instructions. We need to find some simple instructions. We would like to connect the door bells if possible. I sure hope that you can help us.

Wiring a door bell is relatively simple. I am certain you can do it without the directions. (who read those things anyway..)

Did your new chime come with a transformer? you can use your existing one in any case. Did you intend to just add a chime for the basement? You can do that.

Door chimes run on a very low voltage so they need the transformer. To add a new chime for the basement to your existing system, simply connect it in parallel to the present bell. To do that run the door bell wire from the two terminals on your existing chime to the new chime in the basement. If the present bell and your new one are both single door single chime systems there will only be two screws on each. Simply run a wire from the screws labeled transformer to each other, and a wire between to two labeled doorbell (or whatever its called on yours)

If you have a two note system (where it half rings for the backdoor and full rings for the front door) again, run the wire between the screws labeled transformer and between the screws labeled front door (or backdoor if that is the one you want to ring downstairs)

Splitting a Circuit

I recently moved into a house where the previous owner had done some wiring in the garage. I have a refrigerator and freezer in the garage. When they cycle on, there is a drop in voltage that in turn causes the lights in the adjoining family room to dim. There is an obvious overloading of the circuit. How can I most efficiently correct the the problem?

The best way, would be to connect the garage outlets to their own circuit. You would add a new circuit breaker to your box and run a wire up to a convent place to join their present wiring and disconnect them from the other house wiring.

Is wiring a circuit something you are willing and capable of doing yourself? If you are uncomfortable with the whole project, you could still do a portion, and then hire an electrician to wire the circuit breaker into your box.

Gas Heater and GFI Too Close?

I try to make a 115Vac outlet for my water fountain and pathway light systems. So I cut the little hold in my garage wall just enough to fit 2 plus-in with GFI and using the metal box. But one thing make me worry is the back of my outlet box is next to my GAS water heater. it’s about 1foot between them. Could you please tell me is this OK or it is violated the city safety or it’s very dangerous because could blow up if my water heater have a gas leak.

I believe code requires 3 feet between an electrical ignition source and a gas meter. I am not aware of a requirement for proximity to a heater. To be safe though you should have about 3 feet to the gas line and burner of the heater (the upper part of the tank is not a problem)

To be on the safe side, call your local building inspector and/or the gas company. They will know for sure and be able to answer a question about local codes.

Better to be safe than sorry.

Patching over a Live Wire Connecting Box

How do I patch over a live wire connecting box on my wall? Can I use drywall technique, or should I just put a steel plate on wall for easy access. I removed a light fixture from the wall. Could you please tell me my options without leaving an unsightly bump on the wall?

You do need to leave access to any electric box with a wire junction. Since wires are joined there, there needs to be an access cover. You can buy neutral looking covers that look like switch covers, with no switch hole.

Adding Electrical Circuits in the Garage

I bought a 40 year old ranch home about a year ago. The electric service fuse box has been replaced with a circuit breaker panel. In the garage is a single ceiling mounted light socket. When the previous owner had a garage door opener installed the installer decided to use one of those screw in sockets with an outlet on the side to plug the door opener in to. Now, what I want to do is add a dedicated (hot all the time) outlet next to the opener (so that my kids stop shutting off my opener with the light switch). )

Then I would like to use the existing light junction box to power two 4 foot florescent lights, controlled by the existing switch/circuit. As far as I can tell there a couple of ceiling lights and a few outlets in the basement on the same circuit. I also want to add two new outlet boxes (for workbench type use) and an outlet for a standup freezer on the back wall of the garage. In the future I would also like to add a couple of spot lights above the garage door outside with a couple of switches controlling them from the garage and upstairs somewhere. I don’t want to mess with any of the existing circuits in the house since everything seems to be just fine the way it is. It appears as far as I can tell that there are two regular 15A circuit breaker slots free in the breaker box. I’m looking for suggestions/opinions on how to spread the load of the new outlets I want to add over two breakers. Will two be enough? Will I need more than two? Am I pushing my luck adding two 4 foot lights to a circuit that had a single bulb previously? (actually a single bulb and a garage door opener)?

Ok. lets go for some easy ones.

First. there should be no problem with the new fixtures where the old one was (where the garage door opener is).

Two. make sure any outlets in the garage are GFI protected. You can do that by installing one GFI outlet first in the string and the others daisy chained through it. (cheaper than a GFI circuit breaker)

Then I would use one of your spare breakers spots for the freezer, all by itself.

The last one, put in a 20 amp circuit and wire the garage door opener and the shop outlets to it. For the outdoor spots you can use the new one, or even the old one (with the indoor florescent)

Light Bulbs Keep Blowing

Just moved in to our home in October. Our garage has two single-bulb (up to 100 watts) overhead sockets. I am constantly replacing the bulbs — new ones last maybe 6 weeks in these sockets. Any suggestions on what may be causing this?

Check the voltage in the circuit. I recently had a problem with the voltage in my house being 135 Volts. There was a problem in some of the electric company’s circuit nearby, and after I told them it was high, and they fixed it, my lights lasted longer too. 125V should be the maximum.

Another thought is the garage door may be causing a lot of vibration on the joist they are mounted on. The vibration will cause the lights to have a shortened life. They do sell (somewhere) lights for high vibration applications.

Rewiring House

I have aluminum wiring in most of my house and work as a electrical maintenance at a plant. My question is something that I don’t see at the local hardware store Do you have to have a qualified electrician come inspect all your wiring when done. I was thinking of putting in a new box with circuit breakers since I have fuses and know that I have to have one put the box in, but what about the wiring after he is done. I want to know if I can.

Most areas (maybe all) allow you to do your own wiring, and by the way that includes a new breaker box if you are comfortable with that.

Then you need to check with your town’s building inspector about inspection.

When I rewired my farm house recently, it was the electric company (actually a cooperative) that required the inspection and not the town. That requirement will vary.

Electrical

I installed lights on the outside of my house and ran the romax to a new switch in the garage above my existing switch to my garage light. That switch only has one romax line to the switch. I have a chain light above in the attic, do I need to run a romax line from the chain light to my new switch to get power or what?

The wiring described sounds like your garage light and your outside lights are in series and, depending on the size bulbs you used, they are all lit dimly when the garage light is»OFF» and the outside lights are «ON». In any case, remove the wiring you now have between the two switches and run the new switch (for the outside lights) to the attic chain outlet where there is bound to be a source of power.

Security Light

I have three lights on one switch in front of my house. one light on each side of my garage door, and one by the front door. I’d like to change them out to a security Light. Do I have to change all three of them or can I just change one. Or is it ok to change all three of them?

By security light. do you mean a light that turns on with a motion sensor. also light activated??

If it is a light which comes on when it senses motion at night. then you would need to leave the switch on for it to work. That would mean the other lights would be on as well. If that is not what you want, you may have to replace them all with the same type. Since the lights are presently turned on by the switch, it is not likely that you could easily separate the security light from the other two so they are switched separately. (It can be done, but would involve running some new wires and a new switch.)

So. did I answer the question? Umm. Yes, you can replace the one light with a security light. and leave the other two. but that means the other two will be on all the time. So. yes it would be ok. and probably the easiest thing to replace all three.


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