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Old 02-03-2009, 07:17 AM   #1
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High Hat Install On Old Circuit


Hello everyone, I just joined the forum as I'm looking for some advice on a project that I am planning. I am going to be installing high hats in my bedroom, first time I'm ever trying this, so I'm trying to map things out to make sure I don't burn the house down.

Below is a link to a couple of diagrams I've put together. The first shows the existing connection and the second how I plan to hook things up. I've traced the circuit going into the bedroom from the attic and the first picture is what I came up with. As you'll see there is currently a switch that control a wall outlet and then electricity goes from there to two more outlets in the room.

I'd like to use that switch to control the new high hats. I am planning to also make the outlet which the switch currently controls hot all the time.

Can you please take a look at the diagrams, especially the second one and let me know if I'm heading in the right direction. The dotted lines represent the new connections into the circuit/switch for the high hats. The picture also shows the rewired outlet so that it is on constantly.

My house was built in 1969 so if you have any tips or pointers related to anything I should be looking out for that would be very helpful.

Thanks in advance for your help.

http://www.a407.com/projects/highhats/highhats.htm

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Old 02-03-2009, 07:30 AM   #2
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High Hat Install On Old Circuit


First of all, what does the entire breaker feed?

Do you have aluminum wire?

I have attached this pic, I don't have time right now to type.

Dont reuse wire nuts.
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Old 02-03-2009, 07:34 AM   #3
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High Hat Install On Old Circuit


Looks real good. My only concern would be the three cables in a most likely very small wall switch box. Replacing a box in a finished wall can be challenging for a DIYer. DO you think you would want to attempt it?
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Old 02-03-2009, 07:35 AM   #4
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High Hat Install On Old Circuit


I see rgsgww's point about wiring the lights "serially". Your diagram is right, but the word "serially" is wrong.
You will be wiring them in parallel.
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Old 02-03-2009, 08:02 AM   #5
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High Hat Install On Old Circuit


As speedy was saying, box fill might be a concern with all of these cables. Replacing a box is tricky to do in finished walls.
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Old 02-03-2009, 08:04 AM   #6
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rgsgww thank you for the prompt response

Quote:
Originally Posted by rgsgww View Post
First of all, what does the entire breaker feed?
I'm planning to get up in the attic to trace the other side of the circuit (second set of cables coming out of the first box top left) this weekend. I believe it is going to other lights in my hallway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rgsgww View Post
Do you have aluminum wire?
I do not, everything that I've seen so far is copper. I've switched out most of my outlets around the house as I've redone the rooms and always seen copper.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rgsgww View Post
I have attached this pic, I don't have time right now to type.

Dont reuse wire nuts.
Thank you, very, very helpful. The existing (black wire) connection at the switch is actually not two wires under one screw. The way it is connected right now is just one wire with about 1/2 inch of insulation stripped off which runs through the switch and connects to the wire coming from the attic with the wire nut.

Thanks for the tip on the wire nut and everything else.
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Old 02-03-2009, 08:08 AM   #7
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High Hat Install On Old Circuit


An easy way is to turn the breaker off and see what doesn't have power.

I could never trace anything in my attic with 2 ft of insulation. I lost my needle nose up there fishing wire. They weren't kliens or any nice brand thank lord.
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Old 02-03-2009, 08:23 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
Looks real good. My only concern would be the three cables in a most likely very small wall switch box. Replacing a box in a finished wall can be challenging for a DIYer. DO you think you would want to attempt it?
Thank you. I am actually planning to move the box closer to the doorway because where it sits right now it is covered by a drawer chest so you have to reach behind it to operate the switch. It looks like I may have to go one stud over so I may have to put in a couple of new cable drops, one from the attic to feed the switch and one to the outlet box below.

I'm certainly going to attempt it but not looking forward to it
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Old 02-03-2009, 09:33 AM   #9
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I would only add that in your existing diagram you do show the high hats wired in series. Just pointing that out.

Second double check the switched receptacle to make sure that they did not only switch half of the outlet on the red wire and brought constant hot into the other half. If they did you will need to replace that receptacle as the tab will be broken between the hot terminals (brass colored).
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Old 02-03-2009, 10:00 AM   #10
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You could use the existing red wire to make the switched receptacle hot all the time, just join it to the in/out black wires at the switch. And if you need to move the switch, consider leaving the existing box and wiring, and running a **/2 cable from there to the new location, then just cover the old box with a blank face cover.
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Old 02-03-2009, 10:05 AM   #11
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Quote:
You could use the existing red wire to make the switched receptacle hot all the time, just join it to the in/out black wires at the switch. And if you need to move the switch, consider leaving the existing box and wiring, and running a **/2 cable from there to the new location, then just cover the old box with a blank face cover.
Now that's thinking out of the 'box'.........
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:30 PM   #12
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Thank you all for all the very helpful feedback. I've gone back and traced the other side of the circuit and holy shizzle! It seems that the people before me just kept tapping into this circuit like it was a direct line from the utility company.

I've found another circuit in and adjacent room, which I have access to from the attic, with a lot less that looks like the way to go. I went with the advice above to turn everything on, plus used a tester in the outlets, and then switched the circuit breaker off to see what was on there.

The next project after this is to go back and clean-up the mess on the previous circuit I was planning to use.

Thanks again, much appreciated.
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Old 02-03-2009, 04:49 PM   #13
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So I went back up in the attic to trace my new target circuit to tap into. I started tracing the lines to the adjacent bedroom and in the process traced another line that was going to the room before that. I traced the cable to the drop from the attic into the wall, which I thought was feeding a switch right by the doorway. I tugged on the drop very slightly and there was no resistance on it at all. I pulled a little harder and next thing I know about 5 feet of bx cable came up with the cables at the end cut evenly and still wrapped in paper. When I put the tester on it, it started beeping. I hooked up the volt meter to it and it showed almost 123 volts.

I found the breaker that controls the line and have done the on/off test to see what else goes out and can't seem to find anything else connected to it. One side of me is happy that I found what appears to be a virgin circuit coming from the main box but the other side is suspicious as to why this is so.

Is this simply a case of somebody screwing up during the construction or could it be the case that there was a problem with that circuit and it was abandoned at a later point since the house was built? Is there anything I can do to test this further to make sure there are no potential hazards with using this circuit?
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Old 02-03-2009, 05:38 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yellowrubiu View Post
So I went back up in the attic to trace my new target circuit to tap into. I started tracing the lines to the adjacent bedroom and in the process traced another line that was going to the room before that. I traced the cable to the drop from the attic into the wall, which I thought was feeding a switch right by the doorway. I tugged on the drop very slightly and there was no resistance on it at all. I pulled a little harder and next thing I know about 5 feet of bx cable came up with the cables at the end cut evenly and still wrapped in paper. When I put the tester on it, it started beeping. I hooked up the volt meter to it and it showed almost 123 volts.

I found the breaker that controls the line and have done the on/off test to see what else goes out and can't seem to find anything else connected to it. One side of me is happy that I found what appears to be a virgin circuit coming from the main box but the other side is suspicious as to why this is so.

Is this simply a case of somebody screwing up during the construction or could it be the case that there was a problem with that circuit and it was abandoned at a later point since the house was built? Is there anything I can do to test this further to make sure there are no potential hazards with using this circuit?

Scary! I found almost the same thing.

I can almost assure you that is GE brand bx.

Shut the circuit off and trace the dead line. This is the only way to assure that there will be no hazards. I think somebody might have done some remodeling...leaving the bx there.
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Old 02-03-2009, 05:49 PM   #15
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It looks like your tic tester is checking a white wire. And you retested using a digital voltmeter. Without going into great detail it may not really be a live wire. I would be interested to see if it tests live using a light tester or wiggy solenoid type... these put actual loads on the circuit.

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