Can I ask some simple electrical advice here? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 18 Old 01-09-2020, 03:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Can I ask some simple electrical advice here?

The wall there my components will be just has a single outlet on it. The top half is switched and the bottom half is always on. I pulled it out because I want to change it to a two gang box that has one whole outlet pair on the wall switch and the other always on. I drew up the attached pic to show what I see in there. Can anyone help me with out to rewire this? Thanks so much.
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post #2 of 18 Old 01-09-2020, 03:59 PM
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The two wire romex should also have a white wire and it is missing in your diagram.

first buy two outlets with unbroken jumpers (or add a wire jumper to that existing outlet)
for the one always on remove the red wire.
For the one on the switch just connect the white and red.

That is the simple explanation but there are more elegant ways of using pig tails and cleaning it up, having said that, this is a project that if you have to ask you probably shouldn't do it yourself.

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post #3 of 18 Old 01-10-2020, 09:44 AM - Thread Starter
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I have changed a million outlets in my day and I'm generally ok doing this kind of stuff but this one was confusing me. The white wire is missing. I can't tell if it's just cut off way back in there or what.
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post #4 of 18 Old 01-10-2020, 10:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
I have changed a million outlets in my day and I'm generally ok doing this kind of stuff but this one was confusing me. The white wire is missing. I can't tell if it's just cut off way back in there or what.

Then which neutral is going back to the service panel? I would assume that the two wire Romex is the main power feed for the outlets and the 4 wire just carries the juice to the switch and back for the switched component.

You should run an outlet tester on this outlet.

If the 4 wire is providing the power for both circuits there must be another power feed at the switch, and if that is the case that two wire Romex is a mystery, you should trace it. I think one possible scenario would be it is running power back to the switch and then it connects to the red wire. A waste of a good wire as if there is power at the switch then the 4 wire is all you need for the two circuits. Maybe a rookie set up to begin with.

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post #5 of 18 Old 01-10-2020, 11:06 AM
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Here is my unqualified guess. Please take it with a cart of Himalayan salt:

The 4 wire Romex is the power feed, with the red being the switched live and the black the permanent live. The two wire is a feed to another outlet or device, and they might be using the ground as the neutral. That does not seem kosher but it's the only explanation I can think of.

Edit: You could disconnect the 2 wire romex and see what happens.

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post #6 of 18 Old 01-10-2020, 11:22 AM
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As a Journeyman Electrician I always cringe when I open a box to find wiring like this. There is a reason you need to be licensed to work with electricity.
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post #7 of 18 Old 01-10-2020, 09:19 PM
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Post a diagram of the wires in the switch box that controls the upper portion of the outlet.
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post #8 of 18 Old 01-12-2020, 10:50 AM - Thread Starter
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I looked at the switch and it's the red wire. So I think this should do it, right? Do the two grounds need to be connected?
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post #9 of 18 Old 01-12-2020, 10:55 AM
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Yes, the grounds need to be connected and it should work.
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post #10 of 18 Old 01-12-2020, 11:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
I looked at the switch and it's the red wire. So I think this should do it, right? Do the two grounds need to be connected?
The grounds and neutrals should both be pigtailed.

No offense is intended here, rather just an opinion from an electrical contractor..... You said that you "have changed a million outlets in my day", yet you ask if the "two grounds need to be connected".

You can get away with untrained DYI on most finish items in a structure like paint and simple repairs, but I can't stress enough that electrical is at the very top of the list that if you have to ask what to do, then you are not the one to be doing it.

1) Kill the power to the house... not just the circuit in case the neutral is carrying a second circuit that you don't know about...... nothing will hit you harder than getting in between a neutral.

2) Make sure all pigtails are done properly.

3) Make sure you don't strip too much insulation off of the wires before landing them onto the outlet.

4) Verify your work with a working outlet tester.
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post #11 of 18 Old 01-12-2020, 11:40 AM - Thread Starter
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No offense taken. I admit I'm not an expert in electrical and I know I should be having an expert do it. I'm just trying to save some money and I greatly appreciate the help of you guys here.
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post #12 of 18 Old 01-12-2020, 11:42 AM
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That second wire without a neutral (white) makes no sense and is not to code. Everything else you show is correct. The termination point of those white wires is what’s being called a pigtail and most people prefer the pigtail method, although it is allowed to bring that white wire jumper from the always-on switch to the second silver screw on the switched outlet and then let the jumper bar make the connection. This should be easier for you to do.

As to that second romex leading out with just a black wire I would strongly advise you to figure out where that is going. It is totally wrong. I would disconnect it and see if something stops working and if not cap it off and forget it. At least look again in the back of the Jbox and see if it doesn’t have a white wire pigtailed and stuffed to the back. Why someone would pick up power in that box and then use the neutral from some other circuit is just bizarre.

On a side note is the box now a double box or are you planning to pull out the single and replace it with a double. If it was mine I would leave the original as the switched outlet and then add a new double next to it getting 4 always on for my equipment. I would then plug a UPS (power supply, conditioner and battery backup into one of them for the main stuff and still have 3 left over for not critical things.

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post #13 of 18 Old 01-12-2020, 12:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
Post a diagram of the wires in the switch box that controls the upper portion of the outlet.

Where does it get the main power feed.
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post #14 of 18 Old 01-12-2020, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
Where does it get the main power feed.
It has to be bringing the power in on the RBWG romex as in the original configuration the jumper is removed and all worked. He also confirmed the red wire is the switch leg as he checked at the switch. That means someone wired a single black wire to the hot leg and is using that to feed something else without picking up the neutral. This is not to code for that to work would require a shared neutral at some other location. They haven’t allowed this from the days of knob n tube.

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post #15 of 18 Old 01-12-2020, 01:24 PM
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I think there is a power feed at the switch (it could just be a 2 wire and it could feed other circuits) and that extra 2 wire Romex missing the neutral is looping it back to the switch and ultimately the red wire because they didn't know better. If the OP would disconnect the mystery 2 wire and the switched circuit dies we would have a partial answer.
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post #16 of 18 Old 01-12-2020, 01:44 PM
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Yes the hot pair has to be in the switch location. No other wires would be required except what is in the RBWG romex. That odd black wire is being made hot at the switch and god only knows at this point where it runs. Looping back to the switch location would serve no purpose as it could only be duplicating the other black wire and that also would not be to code. The only logical explanation is it runs off to some other outlet and finds a neutral there to share, not to code or worse yet someone has something hooked to it and is using the safety ground (bare wire) as the neutral really not to code.

I would disconnect it with the power off and tested and then turn the power on and test the loose wire and hopefully it is dead and hopefully nothing else is not working. If that’s the case cape it and forget it. If something else doesn’t work then he has a new problem to troubleshoot. Don’t fix it by hooking the wire back up.

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post #17 of 18 Old 01-12-2020, 03:37 PM
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I don't think we can assume any rational thought went into the original wiring, perhaps a homeowner special
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post #18 of 18 Old 01-12-2020, 05:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the help guys. I am back up and running with a dual outlet setup now. I appreciate the help and concern.
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