Electrical help. (Adding outlet to light switch box)

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I need to add a gfi outlet to my wifes bathroom. I want to add it to the cu rrent light switch box. This box currently has two switches, one for the fa n,light and one for the vanity light. Each switch has a white wire, a black wire, and a ground. When checking with a voltmeter, the white wire on both switches always has power. Each black wire only has power when the switch is turned on. I am assuming the white wire is the power wire. Can I take th ese white wires off the switches, connect them to the top and bottom "hot" terminal on the gfi outlet, then feed the switches from both terminals on t he other side of the gfi? When I did this messing around with the switches, everything worked properly. I just thought that the black wire was always the constant power wire.
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On Mar 25, 8:34 am, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

current light switch box. This box currently has two switches, one for the fan,light and one for the vanity light. Each switch has a white wire, a bla ck wire, and a ground. When checking with a voltmeter, the white wire on bo th switches always has power. Each black wire only has power when the switc h is turned on. I am assuming the white wire is the power wire. Can I take these white wires off the switches, connect them to the top and bottom "hot " terminal on the gfi outlet, then feed the switches from both terminals on the other side of the gfi? When I did this messing around with the switche s, everything worked properly. I just thought that the black wire was alway s the constant power wire.
First, this sounds like a hack job done by someone clueless. The white wires should be the neutrals, not the hots. If they area as you say, I would put white tape on the ends to identify them. Next, the GFI needs a hot and a neutral for the circuit is protecting. You only take one hot, one neutral, and a ground over to it. If all you want protected by GFI is the new outlet, that is all that is required. If other outlets are fed by that circuit and you want to protect them and/or the light switch, light, etc then you could bring the downstream gfi protected side of the gfi back to power the existing switch or switches.
But there are some caveats here. Whatever the GFI protects, both the hot and neutral for that must be coming off the GFI. Both of those switches are probably on the same circuit, but you need to verify what is feeding what and make sure it's done correctly.
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wrote:

e current light switch box. This box currently has two switches, one for th e fan,light and one for the vanity light. Each switch has a white wire, a b lack wire, and a ground. When checking with a voltmeter, the white wire on both switches always has power. Each black wire only has power when the swi tch is turned on. I am assuming the white wire is the power wire. Can I tak e these white wires off the switches, connect them to the top and bottom "h ot" terminal on the gfi outlet, then feed the switches from both terminals on the other side of the gfi? When I did this messing around with the switc hes, everything worked properly. I just thought that the black wire was alw ays the constant power wire.

Why do you say this is "hack job"?
If the power for the fan comes into the fixture and the power to the vanity light comes into the vanity fixture, then it is code compliant to use a single run of romex to bring the hot to the switch box and back to the fixture. The switch switches the hot as it should be done. Granted, the white at the switch should be marked with *black* tape or marker to designate it as a hot, but there is nothing wrong with how the switches are wired.
That configuration, albeit for a single switch, is shown here:
http://i.stack.imgur.com/ZUimx.jpg
That said, without a neutral to the GFCI, it won't do it's job, which is to monitor the current on both the hot and the neutral.
When the OP says "When I did this messing around with the switches, everything worked properly" I'm not surprised that the switches still worked since the hot was probably being passed through the GFCI from the Line terminals to the Load terminals and then to the switches, but I would be surprised if the GFCI worked as an actual receptacle without a neutral.

White tape on a white wire? Why?

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the current light switch box. This box currently has two switches, one for the fan,light and one for the vanity light. Each switch has a white wire, a black wire, and a ground. When checking with a voltmeter, the white wire o n both switches always has power. Each black wire only has power when the s witch is turned on. I am assuming the white wire is the power wire. Can I t ake these white wires off the switches, connect them to the top and bottom "hot" terminal on the gfi outlet, then feed the switches from both terminal s on the other side of the gfi? When I did this messing around with the swi tches, everything worked properly. I just thought that the black wire was a lways the constant power wire.

Yes it is. But I would use the black in the Romex for the wire that is going to be hot whenever the circuit breaker is on and re-label the white in the Romex for the path connecting the the other side of the switch. As is, they have a white that is hot with no marking.

Yes, you could do it that way. But I'd note two things:
1 - That example is correctly taped to identify
2 - IMO, it's still not a good idea to use the white connected to the live feed, even with re-marking, when it's not necessary. You have a choice of using the black, it's right there. I would always use that to be the conductor that is directly connected, live to the panel all the time. I'd use the white with black tape for the switched side.

Yeah, if there is no neutral in that switch, then it's not going as a GFI or as an outlet either. Since he doesn't say what he actually tested or didn't test, who knows.

I meant put black tape on the white.
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On 3/25/2013 7:29 AM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

current light switch box. This box currently has two switches, one for the fan,light and one for the vanity light. Each switch has a white wire, a black wire, and a ground. When checking with a voltmeter, the white wire on both switches always has power. Each black wire only has power when the switch is turned on. I am assuming the white wire is the power wire. Can I take these white wires off the switches, connect them to the top and bottom "hot" terminal on the gfi outlet, then feed the switches from both terminals on the other side of the gfi? When I did this messing around with the switches, everything worked properly. I just thought that the black wire was always the constant power wire.

The NEC used to allow using the white as the power feed to switches without remarking the wire to black (or some other appropriate color).

That is the way the NEC wants it done now (and was a good idea before).

I agree that there does not appear to be a neutral, and a GFCI won't work.
=================================If switches are in a metal box they do not have to have a ground wire attached to them. The requirement for a ground wire in a plastic box is a relatively recent addition. (The grounding of the switch is in case a metal plate is used.)
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the current light switch box. This box currently has two switches, one for the fan,light and one for the vanity light. Each switch has a white wire, a black wire, and a ground. When checking with a voltmeter, the white wire o n both switches always has power. Each black wire only has power when the s witch is turned on. I am assuming the white wire is the power wire. Can I t ake these white wires off the switches, connect them to the top and bottom "hot" terminal on the gfi outlet, then feed the switches from both terminal s on the other side of the gfi? When I did this messing around with the swi tches, everything worked properly. I just thought that the black wire was a lways the constant power wire.

I've marked the white hot with black since I wired my first circuit about 30 years ago. I don't recall where I read about marking it, or whether it was just a "suggestion" at the time, but it made so much sense - especially in a fixture box where the white wire is wire nutted to the black wires. It eliminates so much confusion and assumptions.

.

=========> If switches are in a metal box they do not have to have a ground wire

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o the current light switch box. This box currently has two switches, one fo r the fan,light and one for the vanity light. Each switch has a white wire, a black wire, and a ground. When checking with a voltmeter, the white wire on both switches always has power. Each black wire only has power when the switch is turned on. I am assuming the white wire is the power wire. Can I take these white wires off the switches, connect them to the top and botto m "hot" terminal on the gfi outlet, then feed the switches from both termin als on the other side of the gfi? When I did this messing around with the s witches, everything worked properly. I just thought that the black wire was always the constant power wire.

.

r

We're on the same page here. My use of the term hack job went too far. Like you, I would have marked those wires. And I would have used the black in that Romex for the wire that was directly live and used the white with tape for the other side of the switch. But as is, it's not what should be called a hack job.
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On 3/25/2013 11:24 AM, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

current light switch box. This box currently has two switches, one for the fan,light and one for the vanity light. Each switch has a white wire, a black wire, and a ground. When checking with a voltmeter, the white wire on both switches always has power. Each black wire only has power when the switch is turned on. I am assuming the white wire is the power wire. Can I take these white wires off the switches, connect them to the top and bottom "hot" terminal on the gfi outlet, then feed the switches from both terminals on the other side of the gfi? When I did this messing around with the switches, everything worked properly. I just thought that the black wire was always the constant power wire.

I prefer it the other way around. I like the true black (hot) wire to reside at the device that's being controlled by the switch
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On 3/25/2013 12:56 PM, RBM wrote:

If you're like me, you keep some 14/3 WG around for lighting circuits. ^_^
TDD
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On 3/25/2013 12:56 PM, RBM wrote:

>

The code actually has an opinion. The re-marked white "shall only be used for the supply to the switch", which is almost the same as what you said (200.7-C-1). (This appears to be a relic from when you you could use a white wire - not re-marked - as the supply to a switch.)
Is a traveler a "supply to the switch"?
============================The OP does not appear to like the answers here and has posted his question at alt.engineering.electrical.
Perhaps he could use a neutral-to-air adapter.
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On 3/27/2013 10:46 AM, bud-- wrote:

I didn't know that it was actually code. Of the thousands of single pole switches I've seen wired over the years, I've practically never seen one remarked, and I'd say that of those that were clearly installed by electricians, the white is almost always the hot to the switch. I can't say the same for 3 ways. Most of what I see, and what I do, is use white and red for travelers and black for commons. It seem that at some point in the 50's -60's, it was standard to use the red as the commons.
This OP seems a bit odd in that he first does work that he's totally clueless about, then later asks questions as to why it doesn't work properly. I think Doug Miller treats him properly.
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On 3/27/2013 8:37 AM, RBM wrote:

>>>>>>>

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>>>>>

>

I dug out the old code books. A white conductor (not re-marked) was allowed as a hot feed to a switch (but not the switch leg) in the 1996 NEC (in effect to the 2002 NEC). This was changed in the 2002 NEC to what it is now.

Under the 1996 NEC the hot feed to the first 3-way could be white (not re-marked). Far as I know for all other wires in the switch circuit the white should have been re-marked.
Under the current NEC I don't think a traveler is a "supply to the switch" and, if true, a 3-wire to the 3-way switch that returns back to the light would not be allowed (which is absurd). Presumably the re-marked white should be a traveler under the current code. IMHO the 2002 revision should have just eliminated any reference to switch circuits (re-marking always required).

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=====> >> The OP does not appear to like the answers here and has posted his

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+1 on the re-marking always required.
I can't imagine why anyone would not take the little bit of extra time to remark a white that is being used as a hot. For the little effort that is required, it allows anyone who comes along later to have a little more confidence that the circuit is wired correctly. I think it adds an air of "quality" to the installation. The next person that comes along can look at it and say "OK, I'm pretty sure I know what's going on here because the installer took the time to mark the wire for me."

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On 3/27/2013 1:48 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

switch wires that you know nothing about. If you do know something about line voltage switch wires, you'd know that you typically don't switch neutrals, so regardless of the colors,markers etc., you'd know it's going to be hot, or at least you'd expect it to be hot.
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switch wires that you know nothing about. If you do know something about l ine voltage switch wires, you'd know that you typically don't switch neutra ls, so regardless of the colors,markers etc., you'd know it's going to be h ot, or at least you'd expect it to be hot.-
Oh, I agree...
My point was that if the installer went to the trouble to mark the wire, then the odds are that he *didn't* switch the neutral. It's not going to make me do anything less safe, but I would feel a little bit comfortable that I'm not going to be suddenly suprised by what else I find in the box.
Do you feel/act differently when you open a box that is neatly installed with wires that are the proper lengths, connected with the right sized wire nuts, pigtails done right vs. a boxed crammed with too much wire, duct taped connections and a piece of bell wire holding the switch to the box because the screw head snapped off?
That's all I'm saying. If someone goes through the trouble to mark the white wire, then I get the feeling that the person cared enough to hopefully do other things right.
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On 3/27/2013 4:19 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

switch wires that you know nothing about. If you do know something about line voltage switch wires, you'd know that you typically don't switch neutrals, so regardless of the colors,markers etc., you'd know it's going to be hot, or at least you'd expect it to be hot.-

I get your point and I agree. I guess what I'm saying is that as a professional, I don't need to see a black marker on a white switch leg, to tell me that it was done correctly, but you are correct in that I can determine this by other aspects of the workmanship. I do a lot of work where people have illegally finished their basements, and now need a C/O to sell their houses. In my area this is a procedure that requires several inspectors,contractors, and architects to rectify. For my part in obtaining an as built certificate of compliance for the wiring, I meet with a certified electrical inspector and together we examine the place to see if it's ready to burst into flames or is pretty much OK. We literally don't even need to open a box to know what we're going to find. Just by the placement of the outlets and switches, and the appearance of any visible cables, and we know if the installer had a clue.
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I I I I [christmas presents]
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On 03/27/2013 01:48 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

I agree but in a professional environment a lot of times things that are nice to do but are not required are not done for cost reasons. Time money. I personally would always mark the wires but then again I am not a professional electrician.
Either in this thread or the one where the guy was installing the motion sensors someone mentioned that marking was not always required by code. I don't know when that change occurred but having worked primarily on older houses I'm assuming that unmarked wires were allowed when those houses were built - as I've never seen the wires marked!
nate
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wrote:

for the vanity light. Each switch has a white wire, a black wire, and a ground. When checking with a voltmeter, the white wire on both switches always has power. Each black wire only has power when the switch is turned on. I am assuming the white wire is the power wire. Can I take these white wires off the switches, connect them to the top and bottom "hot" terminal on the gfi outlet, then feed the switches from both terminals on the other side of the gfi? When I did this messing around with the switches, everything worked properly. I just thought that the black wire was always the constant power wire.

Nonsense. This is perfectly normal wiring. Google "switch leg".
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On 03/25/2013 09:02 AM, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Actually sounds like switch legs. Code says you have to tape stripe the white on a switch leg but I don't think I have ever seen one like that that I didn't tape myself. :(
So the answer to the OP's question, no you can't, because there isn't a neutral in that box.
Another consideration is that a recep in a bathroom is now required by code to be on a 20A circuit - if there is currently no recep in there I am assuming that the lights and fan are on a general lighting circuit which is likely 15A and shared with other rooms on this floor, both of which would preclude you using that wiring for your new recep. The right way to do this is to just pull a new 12/2 homerun to your breaker box and use that for a GFCI receptacle in the bathroom. Whether that much work is worth it really depends on how problematic that's going to be (is there an open ceiling in the basement directly under where you want this receptacle?)
good luck,
nate
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