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Old 10-26-2007, 09:50 PM   #1
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Adding a wall switch to a pull chain fixture


We have a raised ranch which originally had a two car garage that was then converted into a finished room. Two rooms actually- one is a storage room. Inside the storage room is one of the original garage pull chain light fixtures and one of the ceiling mounted outlets for a garage door opener. I would like to add a wall switch to turn the light on and off instead of the pull chain. The room is very rough so it doesn't need to be fancy. What steps would I need to follow for this? This is a project I am going to do with my 12 year old. Thanks for any advice, pointers, links etc...

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Old 10-26-2007, 10:19 PM   #2
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Adding a wall switch to a pull chain fixture


You'll have to fish a switch loop to the switch location. Also get a new fixture that doesn't have a pull chain.

POWER OFF

- Remove existing fixture from the ceiling.
- You (hopefully) have one black wire and one white wire. (if not come back before you do anything else or remove any wires from the fixture).

Now it's fishing time, unless of course you're lucky and the walls aren't finished. You have to get a piece of 14/2 NM from the light fixture mounting box to the switch box. Done? Good

IN SWITCH BOX

- Connect one wire to one screw, the other to the other. Doesn't matter which wire goes to which screw.
- Install switch in box.

IN LIGHT BOX

- Wrap black tape around the white wire to re-identify it as a hot wire.
- Wire-nut the new black (old white) wire to the original black wire.
- Wire-nut the black wire (has always been black) to the black wire on the new (no chain) fixture. (their might be screws on the fixture instead in which case you would connect the wires to them, clockwise)
- Connect, by whatever means is applicable, the original white wire to the white wire (or silver screw) on the new fixture.
- Install fixture onto box.

Turn on the power and test. Celebrate a job well done. Be happy.

BTW, since you have young eyes watching your every move....no shortcuts. Take every safety precaution, even if you think it's a silly one.

Turn off power at the breaker. Turning off the switch isn't enough. After the light is free from the ceiling and before you touch anything, retest for power with a simple test light or non-contact tester.


Last edited by jproffer; 10-26-2007 at 10:24 PM.
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Old 10-27-2007, 04:52 AM   #3
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Adding a wall switch to a pull chain fixture


What Jproffer said with one caveat... Check the breaker size for the circuit supplying the light.

15A breaker= 14/2 NM

20A breaker= 12/2 NM

Other than that, just print out post 2 and have fun with the kid.
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Old 10-27-2007, 06:37 AM   #4
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Adding a wall switch to a pull chain fixture


You might want to explain this to the 12 y.o.

Assuming you have a black and white wire currently in the ceiling box:

The black wire is the "hot" wire and the white wire is the "neutral" wire. You want to run the black "hot" wire to the switch using the black wire in the new romex (NM type wire) and use the white wire in the new romex to return a switched "hot" wire to the ceiling box. I normally wrap the new white wire (the one from the switch which is a "switched hot wire" with blue electrical tape to indicate it's a switched hot wire. The switch box will not have a neutral wire.
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Old 10-27-2007, 07:13 AM   #5
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Adding a wall switch to a pull chain fixture


Quote:
Originally Posted by spebby View Post
You might want to explain this to the 12 y.o.

Assuming you have a black and white wire currently in the ceiling box:

The black wire is the "hot" wire and the white wire is the "neutral" wire. You want to run the black "hot" wire to the switch using the black wire in the new romex (NM type wire) and use the white wire in the new romex to return a switched "hot" wire to the ceiling box. I normally wrap the new white wire (the one from the switch which is a "switched hot wire" with blue electrical tape to indicate it's a switched hot wire. The switch box will not have a neutral wire.
That would be cool Spebby, except it would be a VIOLATION of National Electric Code 200.7(C)(2).
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Old 10-27-2007, 07:26 AM   #6
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Adding a wall switch to a pull chain fixture


Andy, I assume you mean the blue tape is a violation of code. I wasn't aware that the referenced code banned a particular color. I thought it said a white wire was permitted to be "hot" from a switch box but must be reidentified whereever it's visible. But it has been several years since I looked at a code book. I am not an electrician.
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Old 10-27-2007, 07:43 AM   #7
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Adding a wall switch to a pull chain fixture


Quote:
Originally Posted by spebby View Post
Andy, I assume you mean the blue tape is a violation of code. I wasn't aware that the referenced code banned a particular color. I thought it said a white wire was permitted to be "hot" from a switch box but must be reidentified whereever it's visible. But it has been several years since I looked at a code book. I am not an electrician.

Nope. The violation lies in using the white as the switch leg. It MUST be the constant hot.
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Old 10-27-2007, 07:45 AM   #8
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Adding a wall switch to a pull chain fixture


Thanks for correcting my post Andy.
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Old 10-27-2007, 08:13 AM   #9
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Adding a wall switch to a pull chain fixture


I use a smple line to remember this, back on black. You do this for you don't have two white wires connected to your light which could be very confusing to someone in the future.
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Old 10-27-2007, 08:25 AM   #10
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Adding a wall switch to a pull chain fixture


No problemo.... I think if we are going to "DYI" we should do it right. Abacuslearns, Since this is going to be a team project with your son, I think you ought to buy a meter and a non-contact voltage tester and confirm that the black in the light box is in fact the hot wire and the white in the box is in fact the neutral wire. It should be, but stranger things have happened. Also, the way I wire garages there is a 50-50 chance you may have a red wire hidden in that box to.

Remember, safety first! Only have power on the circuit when testing the circuits with a meter!(or non-contact voltage tester) Explain to the wife that while the pro DIY father/son electrical team is on the job she needs to stay at least ten feet away from the panel. In our field, we have "lockout/tagout"(LOTO) programs which involve putting a device over the breaker in the off position and inserting a padlock. I don't think this is necessary for the average homeowner---but everyone in the house should be educated on what is going on and ONLY one person turns the breaker on and off.

Always wear safety glasses!! My Walmart has them in the optical dept. for under five dollars. As a pro, I put them on as soon as I step out of the van in the morning. It is second nature( like wearing a seat belt).
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Old 12-20-2011, 04:35 PM   #11
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Adding a wall switch to a pull chain fixture


I'm trying to do a very similar project and am not completely understanding the instructions.


First, do i HAVE to replace the pull-chain fixture that is currently there or can I just use it and leave the pull-chain switch in the "on" position?

Secondly, based on the instructions above from "jproffer", am I tying the two wires coming out of the ceiling together along with the black wire coming from my switch and then the white wire from the fixture to the white wire coming from my switch? So, in essence, I'll have one wire nut with three wires tied together in it and one wire nut with 2 white wires tied together in it?

thanks!
Chris
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Old 12-20-2011, 05:00 PM   #12
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Adding a wall switch to a pull chain fixture


No sir.

You have power at the light...two wires, black and white (one would assume...if it's not, don't do anything and come back here).

All you're doing is taking the black wire to a switch and back. So after you get the romex pulled to the switch, connections will be as follows:

- Black from the original cable at the light to white going to the switch. (2 wires in this wire nut)
- White at the switch (the new one you just pulled) to the bottom of the switch.
- Black at the switch (the new one you just pulled) to the top of the switch.
- Black from the switch to black on the light


if you still don't follow I'll try to make a crude diagram for you.

Oh, no you don't HAVE to replace the fixture...just leaving the chain pulled is fine.


In the future, you might want to start a new thread (although in this case, it made for less typing on both our parts )
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Old 12-20-2011, 05:17 PM   #13
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Adding a wall switch to a pull chain fixture


Im not sure what you mean by the "original cable" in the first step. Do you mean the black wire coming out of the ceiling will be tied to the white wire coming from my new switch?

What happens to the white wire in the fixture?

Thx!
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Old 12-20-2011, 05:27 PM   #14
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Adding a wall switch to a pull chain fixture


It stays on the fixture.
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Old 12-20-2011, 05:29 PM   #15
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Adding a wall switch to a pull chain fixture


And its not connected to anything?

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