Electrical help. (Adding outlet to light switch box)

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Yeah, you're right -- I didn't think that through. Never mind...
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Keep in mind that residential lighting circuits in the US are typically 15A and outlet circuits are typically 20A. While what you did may work, especially if you only tested it for a few minutes, longer use with something that can draw a significant amount of power (like a hair dryer) is likely to trip a breaker (best case) or cause wire overheating or worse...
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Are you using incandescent lights in the fixtures? You are probably returning the current of the hair dryer to neutral through the light bulbs. Definitely not the way you want to leave it!
nate
On 03/25/2013 10:35 AM, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
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By the way, why I did not finish it last night I I bought a single "rocker" type weitch with two switches in it. This was done to conserve space and l eave room in the same box to add an outlet next to it. When I started to pu sh everything back in the face of the rocker switch poped off and I lost th e springs that were inside it. So I need to get a new rocker type switch al though I am contemplating a single siwth shapped like an outlet that has tw o regular switchs on it turned 180 degrees if you know what I am talking ab out.
On Monday, March 25, 2013 7:34:48 AM UTC-5, 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.
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Ok. How do I determine what set up I have? I have not taken eithe the ceili ng fan/light or the vanity light off the wall, just the switch end of the c ircuit.
On Monday, March 25, 2013 7:34:48 AM UTC-5, 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.
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The two connections i made were at the top only. The bottom terminals of th e outlet had a sticker over them saying to only use these if you wanted ano ther outlet or something "downstream" protected by the GFCI. So, on the out left there are four screws, one left and right on the top, one left and rig ht on the bottom. I only used the top pair. I think one white wire to the h ot side and a "jumper" wire from the other side to one switch. (Of course t he ground wire was also attached).
I will double check when I get home. This is from memory.
On Monday, March 25, 2013 7:34:48 AM UTC-5, 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.
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On Mar 25, 11:42 am, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

the outlet had a sticker over them saying to only use these if you wanted a nother outlet or something "downstream" protected by the GFCI. So, on the o utleft there are four screws, one left and right on the top, one left and r ight on the bottom. I only used the top pair. I think one white wire to the hot side and a "jumper" wire from the other side to one switch. (Of course the ground wire was also attached).

...Snip>>>

Makes no sense to me. You can't run any receptacle, GFCI or standard, with just a hot. You need a neutral to complete the circuit.
In your OP you said:
"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"
That tells me that you "did this" (connect them to the top and bottom "hot" terminal on the gfi outlet) already, yet now you say that "The two connections i made were at the top only". Do you see my confusion?
If you have in fact only removed the hot from one switch, attached it to the Line In Hot at the GFCI and connected a jumper from the Line In Neutral of the GFCI to that same switch, then the other switch should have nothing to do with any of this since it's not even in the circuit.
I still fail to see how any of this can power the GFCI since either: Case 1 - you have no Neutral or Case 2 - You have not described your connections properly.
I suggest we stop discussing this until you know what you have and know what you have tried. Right now, AFAICT, it just can't work the way you've described it.
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something "downstream" protected by the GFCI. So, on the outleft there are four screws, one left and right on the top, one left and right on the bottom. I only used the top pair. I think one white wire to the hot side and a "jumper" wire from the other side to one switch. (Of course the ground wire was also attached).

He has the outlet wired _in series_ with the light. Plug something in and turn it on, and the light comes on too: the circuit is completing through the light, to the neutral in the light fixture.
To the OP: if you want to find out if I'm right about that, wire the outlet up the way you had it before, verify the outlet works, then remove the light bulb. The outlet will no longer work.
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wrote:

fixture.

Also, the light won't work unless there's something plugged in to the outlet, and turned on.
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wrote:

of

ed another outlet or

e four screws,

sed the top pair. I think

one switch. (Of

turn it on, and the

eutral in the light fixture.

et up the way you had it

ill no longer work.
I was going to go down that path (no pun intended) but since there is so much confusion as to what he has and how it's wired, I decided there was no sense in attempting to explain the possible reasons that things are acting like they are.
At one point he said "I will say the outlet worked becasue I had a hair dryer connected to it and both lights worked. Also, when the switch for "test" was hit, the outlet did not work and both lights still worked."
Seems to me that if he turned off the light that he had jumped the GFCI to, the outlet would have stopped working, but since he's describing what he has/did "from memory" I figured that any more speculation would just add to the confusion.
Bottom line is that if there is indeed no neutral in the box, which based on the original description, there isn't, the GFCI is not going to work properly. He'll need to source power from someplace - perhaps the vanity light, perhaps the fan - and pull a length of Romex from there - assuming there's (legal) room in one of those fixture boxes for another set of connections.
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Correction -- *he* doesn't need to do that, the *electrician he hires* will need to do that.
He doesn't understand enough about electricity to do this, or any other wiring project, safely.
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wrote:

ll need to do that.

iring project, safely.
I was using the generic, code compliant "he". ;-)
To be honest, I was torn between "this is a.h.r and we should be teaching members how to do their own work" and saying "call a professional". In fact, early on I started typing "Put the tools down and step away from the switchbox", but stopped.
At one point, many years ago, I didn't "understand enough about electricity to do this, or any other wiring project, safely". However, some very nice member's of this group (maybe even you) were patient enough to answer my questions and teach me the right way to accomplish my goals. Since the OP has already shown that he is willing to do the work - and is still alive to tell us what he's tried so far - maybe we should try and talk him through this. Some will agree and some will not...and that's fine.
I hope that after reading the responses in this thread, including this one, he is now aware that he should have asked what needed to be done before he picked up any tools.
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I understand, and agree with you -- up to a point. Perhaps you're unaware of this *specific* person's history in this group and at least one or two others I can think of. Attempting a project that he's totally ignorant of, getting stuck, and *then* posting requests for help is not a one-time thing with "stryped", it's a long-established pattern. (Check out his car repair problems over the years, in rec.crafts.metalworking, and you'll see what I mean.)
That, in and of itself, wouldn't be much of a problem, if it stopped there. But it doesn't. What makes it a problem is that the pattern *also* includes ignoring advice that doesn't match what he wanted to hear. That, plus 120VAC, is a Really Bad Combination.
Knowing, as I do from having read some of his other posts, that his household includes a wife and kid(s), I think it's highly irresponsible for him to be messing around with 120VAC when he clearly doesn't understand what he's doing.

I agree. I further hope that he has the sense to put the tools down, and call a professional, or at least a competent handyman.
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Point taken!
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On 3/25/2013 2:04 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

It's actually a real joy to see the comprehension on someone's face when I'm teaching them how things work. I've always tried to explain why it should be installed a certain way and not just how. I figure that the more a feller understands about that mysterious electricity, the safer he's going to be. ^_^
TDD
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As with so many things, it's important to keep a healthy level of fear and concern. Lack of, leads to dangerous mistakes.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .

It's actually a real joy to see the comprehension on someone's face when I'm teaching them how things work. I've always tried to explain why it should be installed a certain way and not just how. I figure that the more a feller understands about that mysterious electricity, the safer he's going to be. ^_^
TDD
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On 3/25/2013 12:12 PM, Doug Miller wrote:

remember who this is posted as. he is not known for following advice, nor for not doing something that one would not normally do.
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I'm well aware of that -- which is why my advice to him has been: - this can't be done safely - this can't be done legally - call a professional
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I am sorry. I will re look at this this evening and post. What I did no was only attached to the top posts of the gfi I have not done anythign with th e bottom. I can see the confusion. I am sorry about that.
On Monday, March 25, 2013 7:34:48 AM UTC-5, 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.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote in

Both white *and* black are power wires: the white wire brings power to the switch, the black wire takes power to the load when the switch is turned on.

No. You need a neutral conductor for an outlet, and you don't have one.

When wiring a switch leg (which is what you have there), both white and black carry power. Normally, the white wire is constant power, and the black wire is switched power, just as you have there. The white wire is supposed to be marked black at the exposed ends, though.
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