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Old 05-13-2012, 05:46 PM   #1
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Adding an Outlet in my Attic


I'm very new at this, so please be kind. I just got done adding an outlet in my garage attic - partly because it was so easy to tie into an existing junction box.

In the other part of my attic, I'm at a loss. Firstly, there are no junction boxes. I believe I am capable of adding one, but I have no idea which wires to splice. There is white and yellow romex running everywhere across the joists. Is all of it available to be spliced for power? Or if I'm thinking about this correctly, won't some of it (the ones running to fixtures) be dependent on a switch somewhere being turned on to make the power flow? Or are they hot all the time?

I can't tell what runs where, or what powers what. Any advice? Do they make some kind of device I can hold to a romex wire to see if its hot?

Thanks in advance for helping a DIY noob.

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Old 05-13-2012, 06:40 PM   #2
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Adding an Outlet in my Attic


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Originally Posted by pittjosh81 View Post

won't some of it (the ones running to fixtures) be dependent on a switch somewhere being turned on to make the power flow?
You are correct. If you tie into a switch loop, one of the conductors will always be hot(the white conductor taped black at its ends below) but there may not be a neutral. Switch loop is the cable pointed to with the red arrow below.
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Old 05-13-2012, 06:50 PM   #3
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Adding an Outlet in my Attic


White Romex is typically your 14/2 wire (15a) that is usually used for lights.
Yellow Romex is typically 12/2 wire and is used for your outlets.

You didn't say if you wanted it for lights or an outlet to power something.

If I may suggest....

For a light...Find the ckt (white Romex) to tie into...

For an outlet....find one of the yellow romex's...run that into a box and use a GFIC.

This is a good time to map out all of your wiring. You can typically tell what is what by where it goes down in the wall. You should already have a map of every outlet in your house.
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Old 05-13-2012, 07:10 PM   #4
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Adding an Outlet in my Attic


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Originally Posted by ddawg16 View Post
White Romex is typically your 14/2 wire (15a) that is usually used for lights.
Yellow Romex is typically 12/2 wire and is used for your outlets.

You didn't say if you wanted it for lights or an outlet to power something.

If I may suggest....

For a light...Find the ckt (white Romex) to tie into...

For an outlet....find one of the yellow romex's...run that into a box and use a GFIC.

This is a good time to map out all of your wiring. You can typically tell what is what by where it goes down in the wall. You should already have a map of every outlet in your house.
Huge help, thank you!

So as a rule of thumb, any wire running an outlet will be yellow? Also, would a wire coming from the breaker box TO a switch, also be yellow? Or could that be white? I could do a junction with such a wire, as it would always be powered, right?

I have trouble following wires and telling what they do. Any advice on that front?
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Old 05-13-2012, 08:32 PM   #5
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Adding an Outlet in my Attic


What are you planning on running on these receptacles?
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Old 05-13-2012, 08:35 PM   #6
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Adding an Outlet in my Attic


So as a rule of thumb, any wire running an outlet will be yellow? Also, would a wire coming from the breaker box TO a switch, also be yellow? Or could that be white? I could do a junction with such a wire, as it would always be powered, right?

I have trouble following wires and telling what they do. Any advice on that front?[/quote]

Pitt,

first that rule of tummb might be a bit dangerous to rely on. 15A circuits can have 14gauge (white) or 12 gauge (yellow) but 20a circuits can only be run with 12 gauge. So a yellow wire might be a 20a circuit but could also be for a 15a - you can use a larger wire (i used no 14ga in my house, even on 15a circuits). the presence of white wire does not guarantee a 15a circuit - it could have been done wrong

what you need to do is find a non switch loop wire in a circuit you can tap for a receptacle -- not the kitchen small appliance circuits, not the bath circuits. best bet is a general purpose lighting circuit.

this situation is one of the few good uses for an inexpensive non contact voltage tester. better is a "circuit finder" tool but i have never used one.

if you feel you are over your head this would not cost a fortune for a pro to do.

whatever you do dont do this
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Old 05-13-2012, 08:44 PM   #7
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Adding an Outlet in my Attic


The yellow 12-2 has only been around for about 10 years. When you are working with older wire, both 14-2 and 12-2 will be white (although I have seen older black jacketed romex).

I would advise you to stay away from existing 12-2 romex to tie into. Circuits that mandate the use of 20A circuits (kitchen, dining room, bathroom, and laundry outlets) are specifically for those areas and can't have an attic outlet on that circuit.

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