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Wiring question

IronWing

No Lifer
Jul 20, 2001
62,996
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I have a switch and outlet wired like so. The outlet is not switched and I don't want it to be switched. The switch controls a bathroom lamp. I have a new GFCI with the diagram at the bottom. Can I use this GFCI and acheive the same functionality with the switch controlling the light fixture but leaving the outlet unswitched? If so, how would I wire it? Thanks for any advice.

The house was built in 1968 and the line wire is likely from that era.

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Steltek

Platinum Member
Mar 29, 2001
2,887
635
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What are you doing? Are you simply replacing the existing combo switch/outlet with a new combo switch/GFI outlet, or are you adding a whole new outlet?
 

bbhaag

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2011
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I think he wants to replace the existing switch/receptacle with a new switch/receptacle that is gfci. I don't see a ground though but that doesn't necessarily matter because the neutral wire could act as one.

If I had to guess I would say the switch is an end of line switch hence the red wire on the hot terminal for the switch and the black and white wires power the receptacle.

I would put the red wire on the line hot terminal. Then on the load terminals I would put the black and white wires. Keep in mind IDK wtf I'm talking about and that probably won't work. If you trip a breaker in your sub panel then I was wrong.:)
 

IronWing

No Lifer
Jul 20, 2001
62,996
16,461
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What are you doing? Are you simply replacing the existing combo switch/outlet with a new combo switch/GFI outlet, or are you adding a whole new outlet?
I’m replacing the switch/outlet. The switch wore out. I’m not adding anything to the circuit but the GFCI function to the switch/outlet combo.
 

Steltek

Platinum Member
Mar 29, 2001
2,887
635
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I’m replacing the switch/outlet. The switch wore out. I’m not adding anything to the circuit but the GFCI function to the switch/outlet combo.
I thought that might be the case, but wanted to be sure.
What is the exact make/model of the new switch/outlet you are using?

To determine how to wire it, you first need to separate out the circuit. The black and white wires likely come from the main circuit back to the breaker box. The red wire is likely the hot wire run to the light fixture. Is there another white wire spliced in the switch box under that electrical tape that also runs to the light fixture?
 

IronWing

No Lifer
Jul 20, 2001
62,996
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I wonder if I need to jump the line hot terminal to the load hot terminal and the black wire to mimic what the old receptacle does?
 

IronWing

No Lifer
Jul 20, 2001
62,996
16,461
136
I thought that might be the case, but wanted to be sure.
What is the exact make/model of the new switch/outlet you are using?

To determine how to wire it, you first need to separate out the circuit. The black and white wires likely come from the main circuit back to the breaker box. The red wire is likely the hot wire run to the light fixture. Is there another white wire spliced in the switch box under that electrical tape that also runs to the light fixture?
Hmm, I’ll take a look.
 
Feb 4, 2009
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Get a line tester to check if it is wired correctly.
One of those plugs. Stick it in green light means all is good red light means something is wrong and I think yellow light means it is not grounded.
 

Greenman

Lifer
Oct 15, 1999
17,955
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I think he wants to replace the existing switch/receptacle with a new switch/receptacle that is gfci. I don't see a ground though but that doesn't necessarily matter because the neutral wire could act as one.

If I had to guess I would say the switch is an end of line switch hence the red wire on the hot terminal for the switch and the black and white wires power the receptacle.

I would put the red wire on the line hot terminal. Then on the load terminals I would put the black and white wires. Keep in mind IDK wtf I'm talking about and that probably won't work. If you trip a breaker in your sub panel then I was wrong.:)
The neutral wire SHOULD NEVER BE USED AS A GROUND. It's against code, and it's unsafe.
 

PowerEngineer

Diamond Member
Oct 22, 2001
3,365
411
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I am wondering why you are deciding to put the GFI outlet in that particular location. I am guessing that your 1960's house might not have any GFI protection wired in anywhere. If that is the case, then it is a good idea to add GFI to circuits that serve your kitchen/bathrooms and outdoor outlets. Once you identify which circuits these are, then you want to add GFI protection to each circuit by putting one in an outlet that is as close as possible to the circuit breaker box. A GFI outlet will protect all the outlets further "down the line" on that circuit (away from the circuit breaker box).
 

ch33zw1z

Lifer
Nov 4, 2004
34,314
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Based on the pictures, black should go to line gold screw, white should go to line silver, and the red will go to one of the switch leads at the top.

However, without a ground cable, I don't think a GFCI outlet will work there.

You may just have to get a non GFCI

The "load" screws feed down stream

Also, that's a metal box, it should be grounded as well. Since it's not, wrap whatever outlet you end up using with electrical tape. 2-3 wraps around the outlet covering the screws will protect the box from becoming live

Edit: here's a link to a leviton switch that's very similar


It's a bit more complex than I thought, but that diagram will be the way you'll want to do it if possible.

So on another note, is there a neutral coming back from the light fixture? I think that's what's @Steltek was looking for too
 
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bbhaag

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2011
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The neutral wire SHOULD NEVER BE USED AS A GROUND. It's against code, and it's unsafe.
That's not what I meant no need to get yelly about it. All I meant is that the neutral wire, at least in US residential electrical systems, is inherently grounded back in the sub panel. That is why a gfi will work even if no ground wire is present.

I didn't mean to infer that they were interchangeable or that they should be connected together.

Neutral Wire

Once hot wire has initialized the beginning of a circuit, there must be another wire to complete the circuit. This role is filled by neutral wire. Neutral wire carries the circuit back to the original power source. More specifically, neutral wire brings the circuit to a ground or busbar usually connected at the electrical panel. This gives currents circulation through your electrical system, which allows electricity to be fully utilized. Additionally, this prevents faulty or excess currents from residing in your outlet.

Neutral wires are identified by their white or gray casing. Although they may not always be circulating an electrical current, they should be handled with as much caution as hot wire.
 
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Feb 4, 2009
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That's not what I meant no need to get yelly about it. All I meant is that the neutral wire, at least in US residential electrical systems, is inherently grounded back in the sub panel. That is why a gfi will work even if no ground wire is present.

I didn't mean to infer that they were interchangeable or that they should be connected together.
He is a professional and talking code and ultimate safety, which isn't a bad thing.
 

Greenman

Lifer
Oct 15, 1999
17,955
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That's not what I meant no need to get yelly about it. All I meant is that the neutral wire, at least in US residential electrical systems, is inherently grounded back in the sub panel. That is why a gfi will work even if no ground wire is present.

I didn't mean to infer that they were interchangeable or that they should be connected together.
Sorry. I misunderstood what you said.
I get annoyed about that one as I've seen several promote the idea over the years, and it's a real bad idea.
 
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bbhaag

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So on another note, is there a neutral coming back from the light fixture? I think that's what's @Steltek was looking for too
That is because I believe it's an end line switch. That is why there is only one red wire supplying power to the switch.
Then the black and white wires supply power to the receptacle. Well the black wire does anyway.....
End-Line Switches

If power goes to the fixture before heading to the switch, you have "end-line" wiring. Only one cable enters the switch box, coming from the fixture.
He is a professional and talking code and ultimate safety, which isn't a bad thing.
That's all fine and dandy I'm all for safety especially when is comes to electricity but he got all yelly at me because he misunderstood what I was saying.
 
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ch33zw1z

Lifer
Nov 4, 2004
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That is because I believe it's an end line switch. That is why there is only one red wire supplying power to the switch.
Then the black and white wires supply power to the receptacle.



That's all fine and dandy I'm all for safety especially when is comes to electricity but he got all yelly at me because he misunderstood what I was saying.
I understand pretty much what's going on here, except the light needs a neutral return afaik.

I'll spend more time thinking on the path the cables are taking, just seems that if you want the light switch to work then the light fixture needs to be fed from the switch.

Edit: So i guess what would work is feeding a 2 wire to the light fixture, from the fixture runs a 3 wire to the outlet box.

At the fixture, you tie the hots together, the neutrals (including one neutral to the fixture), and then the red wire attaches to the fixture.

Then at the outlet you attach the hot (black) to gold line in, neutral (white) to silver line in. and finally, the red wire goes to the switchable hot.

Hope I got that right, and if so that would explain the lack of cables in the outlet box, but still have a switchable light.

Seems a bit convoluted way to run it, but probably was just the way that electrician did things.
 
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Paperdoc

Platinum Member
Aug 17, 2006
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ALERT: READ the bottom part - I may have to revise all this, depending on what OP can report.

Some confusion and misinformation among these. I do see what has been raised as a small issue - there appears to be NO Ground wire in the box, even though the outlet fixture does have a Ground terminal. That may be because the cables in the wall from the breaker panel do not have any bare Ground wire, OR it may be because that Ground wire is there and is only connected to the BOX itself and not continued on to the screw terminal of the fixture. In the latter case it will still function, because the construction of the outlet fixture itself means the metal mounting frame of it is also part of the Ground screw and Ground (round) hole in the outlet.

Even if there is NO Ground connection to this box and outlet fixture, that is NOT a problem here. A GFCI device does NOT need a true Ground to operate. The safety protection it provides depends on measuring the currents flowing in the Hot and Neutral lines and verifying that they match very closely. Unbalance is taken as evidence of improper current leakage out of the circuit, casing the device to trip. That is why one use of GFCI devices in older homes with NO Ground wires in the cables is simply to replace the old (often 2-prong) outlet. The result of that "upgrade" does provide protection against improper current flow in a manner that is different from what a Grounded outlet can do, even though such a circuit does not provide a true Ground at the outlet.

OP, as others have said, this appears to be an "end of line" switch installation. That is, power to this lighting circuit is fed from your breaker panel to the ceiling light fixture box, and then a second cable comes from that box down to this switch box. In the ceiling box, the Hot feed line bypasses the light fixture and is just fed on to your switch box on the Black wire; the White Neutral line in the ceiling box is fed to BOTH the light fixture and the White wire coming down to this switch box. The old device you are trying to replace has three wires to it: Black (to the screw labelled "Common Feed") is Hot from the breaker panel via the ceiling box, White is Neutral from that ceiling box, and Red is the Switched Hot - the output from the switch portion to take power back up to the light fixture elsewhere. Looking now at the diagram for the new GFCI Switch / outlet combo device, it uses the labels LINE for the oncoming source of power (Black Hot and White Neutral) and LOAD for the output of power going back to the ceiling box. So, connections are:
BLACK to the LINE Hot Terminal (Brass) screw
WHITE to the LINE White Terminal (Silver) screw
RED to the LOAD Hot Terminal (Brass) screw

You do NOT need to make any connection to the LOAD White Terminal (Silver) screw that is covered with a Yellow sticker. And since you do not appear to have any bare copper Ground wire on the box, you make no connection to the device's Green Ground screw.

Internally in that device, the LINE Hot and Neutral wires are connected to the outlet portion permanently so they are always on. The Hot line is connected also through the switch portion to the Load output terminal (Red wire) so the switch can control power sent back to the ceiling light fixture.

WAIT!!
I may have misunderstood the labels and connections on the diagram for the new replacement GFCI device!

OP, the diagram also includes two black lines at top right labelled "Switch Leads" that I do not understand. So, some questions for you to answer.
1. Are there really two wires leading out from that area? If so, what colours are they?
2. Are there any other instructions for this device beyond that diagram you showed? Does it tell you what to connect where?
3. Look closely at the side with the two BRASS screws. Are those two completely separate, OR is there a metal "bridge" connecting them together?

Depending on what you can tell us, my advice above may be wrong regarding the connection details, and require revision. So please post further info. The wiring diagram that ch33zw1z posted above for a Leviton device looks VERY like your diagram, and has better instructions.
 
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ch33zw1z

Lifer
Nov 4, 2004
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@Paperdoc - I posted a diagram from leviton earlier, I think the only thing difference from what you said is that he needs to put the red hot on the switch lead. The load connections feed downstream outlets
 
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IronWing

No Lifer
Jul 20, 2001
62,996
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Sorry for ghosting the thread. I have not had an opportunity to flip the breakers today so I can take another look at the receptacle as I needed continuous power to the computer today. I don’t trust that previous owners didn’t cross wire circuits so I have to kill all power to the house when pulling receptacles. Tomorrow I should be able to see what is going on with the switch and wires to the light fixture. Thanks for all the input.
 

Greenman

Lifer
Oct 15, 1999
17,955
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Sorry for ghosting the thread. I have not had an opportunity to flip the breakers today so I can take another look at the receptacle as I needed continuous power to the computer today. I don’t trust that previous owners didn’t cross wire circuits so I have to kill all power to the house when pulling receptacles. Tomorrow I should be able to see what is going on with the switch and wires to the light fixture. Thanks for all the input.
If "cross wired" means that a 120v circuit is controlled by more than one breaker you have an extremely serious problem.
 

PowerEngineer

Diamond Member
Oct 22, 2001
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If "cross wired" means that a 120v circuit is controlled by more than one breaker you have an extremely serious problem.
Agreed.

I suggest that you set aside some time to map out all the circuits in your house by opening all the breakers and then closing each breaker one at a time and testing which lights/receptacles are energized. You do have a serious problem if any lights/receptacles are energized by more than one breaker.

IMHO you should also do this before deciding which receptacles need GFI protection for the reasons I have described earlier.
 

ch33zw1z

Lifer
Nov 4, 2004
34,314
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I used a $30 Klein power tracer kit to make a map. Time consuming, but I have each room on a piece of paper, next to my breaker panel. It gives me *some* idea of what is what
 

IronWing

No Lifer
Jul 20, 2001
62,996
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I finally had a chance to get back into the receptacle. There are a lot of wires in there and lots of electrical tape. I decided to drop the GFCI idea and do a simple like for like replacement with the switch and outlet. It all works. Thanks for everybody's input.
 

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