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Old 03-19-2011, 03:19 PM   #1
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Need to add a light near switch in 3-way setup....


Hi all! New here, so thanks in advance for your help.

I have a turn of the century 2-story house, plaster and lath, and old fabric BX wiring (ungrounded) throughout. I need to add a light at the base of my ground-floor stairs, as the only other light is up on the second floor (usually there is a light on the middle landing which would light both runs of stairs). The light is controlled by a switch upstairs as well as a switch at the base of the stairs.

The plan was to place a wall sconce just above the ground floor wall switch so that I have easy access to the wires feeding that switch. The ONLY thing that I can do is tie into the switch at the base of the stairs. There is no other way for me to run wiring from the upstairs light fixture. It is too far away from where I need the new light, and it would be next to impossible to run new wire through the ceilings, walls, and down to the ground floor.

I have read posts that this IS possible, ISN'T possible, not recommended, etc., etc. Pretty much all possible answers. Can somebody provide some kind of answer as to whether this solution is possible? If so, what wires need to be tapped into at the switch end to accomplish this?

Finally, if this is NOT possible, does anyone have any other suggestions (besides calling an electrician, contractor, etc.... times are pretty tough $$$)? There is no other source of power near this location other than this one switch.

Thank you all for your help!

-Dave

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Old 03-19-2011, 03:51 PM   #2
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Need to add a light near switch in 3-way setup....


More info is needed. What kind of 3way switch is at the base...meaning is it a dead end, is the feed in there, or is the switch leg in there? A dead end 3way will just have the 3 wires in there (black, red and white). If your switch leg is in the bottom switch box, then ur solution is easy. Just come off that switch box and tie into the common and neutral. If not, then you might habe to open a can of worms. But like I said before, more info is needed.

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Old 03-19-2011, 04:45 PM   #3
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Need to add a light near switch in 3-way setup....


Sorry about that. I should know better! :-)

Yes, this particular ground floor switch is a leg I believe. One run of BX containing three wires (no ground). The second floor switch has two BX lines entering it. Unfortunately, I can not access the light wiring in order to see any additional configuration. The ceilings are very high upstairs, and my 6-foot ladder just doesn't give me enough lift. Further, due to the age of the house, I can not determine the colors of the fabric wires in either switch box. They are all a faded gray. Perhaps if I stripped back the armor to the fresh fabric underneath I would be able to see.... but that is not realistic for this situation. Just touching the fabric shielding causes it to fall away from the wire. I do not want to disturb things too much.

I hope this helps......

-Dave
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Old 03-19-2011, 06:44 PM   #4
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Need to add a light near switch in 3-way setup....


If the switch only has three wire in you can NOT do it. The switch only connects to the other switch and does not have a neutral wire.
If the switch has more wires that are not connected to the switch then it might be possible to add the fixture but it might not be possible control it with the existing switch. You might need a new switch for the new fixture.
It all depends on the current wiring. Also the code does not permit adding to a circuit that is not grounded so you really would be in violation of the code if you altered this circuit.
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Old 03-19-2011, 08:51 PM   #5
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Need to add a light near switch in 3-way setup....


Prosper,
This can be accomplished if you can replace the two-wire bx from top light to top switch with a 3 wire.
If you can do this, it can be accomplished with two-wire, electronic switches.
If you think you can replace this wire, I'll explain further.
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Old 03-19-2011, 09:19 PM   #6
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Need to add a light near switch in 3-way setup....


Thank you all for your comments. After reading through different posts, and then exploring the responses that I received, I guess I have to accept the fact that I will need to add a completely new circuit/switch for a downstairs light, separate from the 3-way hallway light. Not ideal, but it will be the easiest. Joed, thank you for your input and explanation about the neutral wire situation. That was the explanation that I needed. As far as the grounding, unfortunately nothing in the house has any grounding, so without rewiring the entire house, there is really no way to avoid the situation. I DID just rewire the kitchen all the way to the breaker, so at least one room is modernized so far. It is just next to impossible to get wires run to where they need to be in such an old, solid house. Do_It_Right, thank you for confirming that the circuit is possible with the modifications that you suggested. Unfortunately, since the ceiling is solid plaster/lath, and the attic area is finished, there is literally no way for me to replace such a substantial length of cable without major renovations. I appreciate the insight and the offer for additional information.

Thank you all for your help!

:-)

-Dave

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