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Old 06-10-2010, 02:44 PM   #1
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Proper way to switch a ceiling light.


I will probably never understand why, but in my bedroom I have:

1: A light switch immediately to the left when you walk in which does ....... nothing!
2: A light in the ceiling in between the "his n' her's" closets with a pullstring!!!

It's upstairs so it would be an easy climb into the attic to get above it all. What I'd like to do is replace the ancient pull string lamp with a new one and wire the switch to turn it on.

I was thinking about running romex from the switch to the lamp and just interrupting the hot phase before it goes through the ceiling.

Anything I am missing here?

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Old 06-10-2010, 02:50 PM   #2
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Proper way to switch a ceiling light.


Not sure about your code, but just note that some codes have special rules for allowable lighting in a closet, not sure if you meant you are installing in a closet area or not though.

Does that existing switch get power at all? It is possible that it does actually control something but that the switch is broken and always 'on'. Just one thought. Anyways, it doesn't sound like you are missing anything at all.

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Old 06-10-2010, 03:35 PM   #3
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Proper way to switch a ceiling light.


No, I might have mis-worded that. The light isn't actually going in the closet, it's out in the bedroom between the two big closets in the room.

I'll admit, I haven't pulled the wires for the switch yet and seen if there is power in them, but that is next. The only thing I can think of is that maybe it was for the top half or lower half of one of the outlets at one point and maybe the outlets got changed so the outlet that was switched is now getting constant power from the two of them now being connected.
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Old 06-10-2010, 03:45 PM   #4
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Proper way to switch a ceiling light.


To use the existing switch you need to figure out whether it really used to control the light. Start by turning off the power and disconnecting one wire from the existing switch. Turn the power back on for a moment. If the light still works then the old switch controlled something else (or nothing else).

The easiest way to convert a pull string light to a wall switched light is to run a (2 conductor) cable from the light down to the desired switch location.

Disconnect the black wire (the hot power feed) from the light and connect the new cable black wire to the light in its place. Connect the old black wire to the other wire in the new cable.

If you replaced a receptacle that used to have just the top half controlled by the switch and forgot to bend and break off the little tab between the gold screws, then both halves will be live all the time and it will look as if the switch is stuck on.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 06-10-2010 at 03:48 PM.
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Old 06-10-2010, 03:57 PM   #5
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Proper way to switch a ceiling light.


Cool, that sounds right in line with everything I thought.

I have a sliiiight case of OCD so i think i'll have to pull the outlets and check them just for peace of mind's sake. If it really turns out the switch does nothing then i'll probably cap the wires and run fresh ones to the ceiling light.
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Old 06-10-2010, 04:55 PM   #6
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Proper way to switch a ceiling light.


Why dont you just turn the switch off and see which outlets don't work? Why pull the outlets out?

If you do that, try the top and bottom sockets on the outlets. The switch may control only one of them
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Old 06-11-2010, 07:19 AM   #7
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Proper way to switch a ceiling light.


Like another poster said, someone may have replaced the outlets and not broken off the tab. The switch then would do nothing as there would be power to top and bottom of the receptacle at all times.

Taking out the receptacle is the only way to see if the tabs are there or not.

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