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Old 10-20-2008, 03:31 PM   #1
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Is a junction box my only/best solution?


I am running a new circuit to take the load from an existing circuit. The existing circuit is old two-wire sheathed wiring. My plan was to go to the last outlet that I wanted to leave on the old circuit and disconnect everything downstream from that. Unfortunately, that is a 3-gang switch where all three are 3-pole dimmers. It is an absolute mess of wiring that I don't want to mess with and I can't see which wire is feeding the downstream receptacle. It is on an interior wall so I could conceivably cut into the wall on the opposite side to identify and remove but I'd prefer to leave my walls alone as much as possible.

So that means that I'm going to have a hot wire at the first receptacle from the old circuit where I want to start the new circuit. My plan was to put in a junction box, pull the old wire in, cap it, and put a face plate over it. Any better ideas?

Also, the wire coming into that receptacle was fastened to the stud about 2" above the box and the neutral was screwed into the box instead of a ground wire. There was zero slack in the wires pulled into the box. I couldn't remove the neutral from the box and had to clip it. That left me with about 2" of wire from where it's stapled and that's not enough to pull into a JB. I have maybe 4" of the hot wire. Is my only option to try and remove that staple so I can get enough slack to pull into the JB? Any good tips on removing those staples without damaging the wires or cutting the wall more? I can definitely get my hand on it but it's on there pretty well.

Maybe opening the wall behind that light switch and disconnecting there isn't such a bad idea after all...

Thanks guys.

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Old 10-20-2008, 03:41 PM   #2
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Is a junction box my only/best solution?


If this were my project, I would bite the bullet, and rewire the entire circuit, or at least disconnect at the 3-gang switch box so you don't have a "wire to nowhere" in the wall.
You would of course have to cap the wires in a box if you were to go that way, but it is certainly not the preferred method.
In my experience, whenever you mess around with that old wiring, you risk opening up a can of worms, and will end up rewiring it anyway.

If you want to remove the cable staple, I would recommend a flat-blade screwdriver, small enough to get under the staple, but not pinching the wire, and lift it until you can get a larger screwdriver or hammer claw to pull it out the rest of the way.
When you do this, make sure the power to the circuit is cut!!

Good luck

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Old 10-20-2008, 03:53 PM   #3
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Is a junction box my only/best solution?


Turn off the power? What's the fun in that? Seriously though, I think there's grounded romex running into the 3-gang. The circuit was updated to that switch (I think). Everything downstream of that switch has not been upgraded (again, I think, there's a chance that the dining room light fixture has the original wiring but I don't think so...I can pull the light down and see).

The more I think about it, the more I see a hole in the wall opposite that switch in my future. I really don't like the idea of leaving hot wires coming from that switch. Ugh, it's going to be in the living room and my wife will be thrilled about that. Even if I do the work and patch it while she's out, she'll still see the patch.
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Old 10-20-2008, 06:16 PM   #4
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Is a junction box my only/best solution?


Patch the wall, hang a picture over it<g>

I am lucky enough to live in a household where everyone could tolerate a hole in the wall for a couple of days. I live with my parents, who are getting along in years, and it really helps to have someone like me around<g>. My sister and her 11yr old daughter also live here, and they could care less about temporary holes in the wall, or how my patchwork looks.

I like the feeling of having a job done the way I want, rather than a compromise, but I also understand that sometimes it's just not possible to do the whole job at once.

My house is 80 years old, and has the armored cable throughout. Some is newer BX, but the most recent is Romex of course.

The trouble with the old stuff is that it gets dried out at junction points, and when you open up a fixture to check it out, some of the insulation falls off.
I had that happen when we first moved into this house, 34 years ago. I installed a light fixture in the dining room, and when I turned the power back on, there was a pop from the ceiling. I had to wrap electrical tape around the wires. It's been OK ever since, but I'm afraid to touch it again unless I am willing to rewire the circuit.

I know what you're up against, when you find a lot of wires coming into a box, as you said about the 3-gang switch box. Sometimes I find too many wires for the box, and can only assume that the small fixture box was used as a junction to feed other receptacles and fixtures.
Anytime we start a job, we've got to be ready to tackle a lot more than we planned.

We also have plaster, not sheetrock, so it's especially tough to fix.
I'm going to practice with patchup in my closet after I finish pulling wires through there.
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Old 10-20-2008, 11:05 PM   #5
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Is a junction box my only/best solution?


Why not disconnect the wire in the switch box and snip it out? It is simply enough to identify with a tester. Disconnect the hots in the switch box, identify the feed, and cap it. You can either use the continuity setting on your meter to "ring out" the wire you want to get rid of, or you can make each wire hot one at a time until you find the one that goes to your receptacle.
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Old 10-21-2008, 02:47 PM   #6
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Is a junction box my only/best solution?


Sorry for the thread hi-jack, but this quote made me think of the pics I posted here a while back regarding my re-wire project

Quote:
I know what you're up against, when you find a lot of wires coming into a box, as you said about the 3-gang switch box. Sometimes I find too many wires for the box, and can only assume that the small fixture box was used as a junction to feed other receptacles and fixtures.
Anytime we start a job, we've got to be ready to tackle a lot more than we planned
sometimes you just have to cut it all out.....
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Is a junction box my only/best solution?-box-1-medium-.jpg   Is a junction box my only/best solution?-box-2-medium-.jpg  
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Old 10-21-2008, 02:51 PM   #7
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Is a junction box my only/best solution?


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Originally Posted by InPhase277 View Post
Why not disconnect the wire in the switch box and snip it out? It is simply enough to identify with a tester. Disconnect the hots in the switch box, identify the feed, and cap it. You can either use the continuity setting on your meter to "ring out" the wire you want to get rid of, or you can make each wire hot one at a time until you find the one that goes to your receptacle.
For continuity I would have to have to test the wires coming from the switch with the hot coming into the receptacle right? The problem with that is they are on separate floors and I don't have anything to use as a lead that is long enough. I'll try to take a pic of the switch later but when I first pulled it out I thought, "nope," and stuck it back together. I'll take another look at it because I'd really rather not cut or put in a JB.
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Old 10-21-2008, 02:55 PM   #8
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Is a junction box my only/best solution?


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sometimes you just have to cut it all out.....
Yeah, but did you put it all back together? More importantly, did it all work?
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Old 10-21-2008, 03:35 PM   #9
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Is a junction box my only/best solution?


well....I posted the pic mostly as an example of the scary stuff you can find in a house, not as an apples to apples comparison to the situation. My situation was a bit more extensive. I removed nearly every wire in my house and re-wired it. The pic shows just a sample of what was removed. So yes, the rewire is complete, and yes, it works. However, I did not model the rewiring after what is shown in the pic.
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Old 10-21-2008, 07:29 PM   #10
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Is a junction box my only/best solution?


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Originally Posted by jheavner View Post
For continuity I would have to have to test the wires coming from the switch with the hot coming into the receptacle right? The problem with that is they are on separate floors and I don't have anything to use as a lead that is long enough. I'll try to take a pic of the switch later but when I first pulled it out I thought, "nope," and stuck it back together. I'll take another look at it because I'd really rather not cut or put in a JB.
You can take the wires in the switch apart, and cap the hot. Then check continuity, between each hot and neutral. Then short the hot and neutral in the receptacle, and check again at the switch. Find which one has continuity when the receptacle is shorted.
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Old 10-21-2008, 11:00 PM   #11
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Is a junction box my only/best solution?


Or use a long extension cord from the outlet you are looking to disconnect. The hot blade would be the shorter blade in the extension cord. Definitely make sure the power is off first!
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Old 10-22-2008, 08:34 AM   #12
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Is a junction box my only/best solution?


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Then short the hot and neutral in the receptacle, and check again at the switch. Find which one has continuity when the receptacle is shorted.
That's brilliant. It's simple and yet it never occurred to me to do that. I was either going to buy a 100' extension cord or try to hook a piece of 12 gauge speaker wire. Still doesn't change the fact that the wiring in the switch intimidates me but I think I'm going to have to take the plunge.

I didn't take my pics last night cuz my wife got home late and I was using that time to run some low-voltage wiring that required some minor cutting/drilling. We have to paint 75% of our walls and most of them are in pretty rough shape and need a lot of repair and yet she still gets bothered when I cut or drill the tiniest hole in them. She's going to be thrilled when she gets home on Friday and the basement bathroom walls have been destroyed to run dedicated circuits to the kitchen above.
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Old 10-22-2008, 10:37 PM   #13
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Is a junction box my only/best solution?


Ok, so I got brave tonight and decided to have another look at the switch to see if I could identify the hot wire going to the downstream outlet. I removed the outlet and unscrewed the 3 switches. I didn't cut power because I wasn't going to do anything, just look, and I needed the light. The three switches are all dimmers and one is a 3-pole. I gently pulled them out and everything was fine. I was looking, not touching, when there's a flash, a loud pop, and the lights go out. I turn the breaker back on to assess the damage. Two of the switches are fine but the dimmer on the 3-pole no longer works and the light can be turned both on and off from that switch but the other switch can only turn the light on/off if this switch is on.

Did I simply fry the dimmer or did I also do something to the wire going to the other switch? I never realized dimmers were so delicate.
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Old 10-22-2008, 10:53 PM   #14
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Is a junction box my only/best solution?


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Did I simply fry the dimmer or did I also do something to the wire going to the other switch? I never realized dimmers were so delicate.
Yes, the dimmer is just shot. Think about it. A normal switch is rated at 15 amps, 1800 watts at 120 V, but a dimmer is usually 600 watts and has delicate electronics inside. They can't handle the high current short that you gave it. But this is just another testament as to why you should turn the power off when working or just looking at equipment.
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Old 10-23-2008, 01:52 AM   #15
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Is a junction box my only/best solution?


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The hot blade would be the shorter blade in the extension cord. Definitely make sure the power is off first!
If you turn the power off the hot blade will be neither one!

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