I'm not electrically literate so I'm looking for some help here.
The switch that controls the light in our bathroom also controls the
only power outlet in the bathroom. I want to make it so the outlet is
The switch has two wires coming off it and the outlet has two wires and
a copper ground wire.
where do I go from here?
thanks for any advice.
Go to the attic (or basement)and find out where the wires are
connected. If you're lucky, there will be a junction box there. You
can't do anything at that switch box. Check the wiring at the light
fixture, your main junction will either be there or at the receptacle
(if not in the attic or basement).
Call an electrician. He'll charge you a service call, but there are
almost no excuses to charge you any more than standard charge. No
materials, no inspections, etc. Shouldn't take a pro an hour.
Tom in KY, Spend a few bucks, get a pro. Live to see another day.
"There must be at least one outlet in each bathroom, adjacent to
the sink, in addition to any outlet that may be incorporated in
the light fixture. All such outlets *must* be GFCI-protected.
"The NEC says that switches may not be installed inside bathtubs
or showers. The CEC says that switches may not be installed
"within reach" of bathtubs or showers (consult an inspector
if you can't make it at least four feet)."
so it says at :
the missing puzzle pieces: does the light switch have a separate
additional switch on it? how many wires are in the light's box? where
are all these devices?
like in our yellow bathroom, if the switch and the outlet are in the
same small single sized box, get some plastic wiremold parts including
a deep surface mounted double box and adapter to your single and put a
gfi side by side with the light switch. choose the lighted handle
modern rocker switch easily found in the dark.
this project may also involve an electrician or maybe a nice new
lighted medicine cabinet. it requires a gfi which is better than what
you presently are describing, and gfi's hook right up to those two
outlet wires just fine even if there was a bad ground. so at least put
a gfi in to replace the outlet.
at a different house we installed new flourescent lights with the gfi
and now there are 2 lights for shaving and a switched outlet and an
when you get done plugging in all the rechargable shavers and trimmers
and hair dryers you'll want a power strip in the bathroom.
There are a lot a variables that could be going on here. Trying to
explain all of them is not something easily done in a newsgroup. From your
question I have to guess that you don't have the knowledge to safely do this
job. I suggest the pro.
BTW it sounds like the bath is not not up to current code and may have
other issues that would make working on it more difficult and dangerous for
someone without knowledge and experience. Hopefully the pro can bring it up
to code with minimal cost to you.
I agree to hire a pro if you are not literate with wiring, or at least
find someone that has electrical knowkledge.
However, it's often easier to just add another outlet and leave the
old one alone. Especially if the bath is on the ground floor, it's
usually easier to just fish a new line up there.
I do understand your frustration. Years ago I lived in a rental once
that had that switched outlet and the landlord was like totally
paranoid about anything electrical, so he would not let me change it
or add another outlet, even though I was working for a construction
company at that time, and doing wiring on the job. That switched
outlet really irritated me. I finally made up a heavy 12-3 cord with
an outlet box on the end and ran it down to the basement next to the
pipes under the sink and plugged it into a basement outlet.He couldnt
say anything about this because it was an extension cord. When I
moved, I took it with me.
If the switch only has two wires coming off it, then the light and the
outlet cannot easily be separated. It would require running a new line to
the outlet; either from the switch or from somewhere else.
Depending on circumstances that might take an electrician an hour or it
might take 4 hours; no way to tell from here.
The person who suggested an X10 at the the light was probably recommending
the cheapest solution, but putting a new line in will be better in the long
Install a NEW outlet GFCI it, and ignore or remobve the old outlet.
As ar as the hire electrician, buy a GOOD BOOK, get a knowledgable
friend to help and learn something! Take a class on wiring!
If we never tried something new we would all still be in diapers:( and
our moms would be breast feeding us.
Learning to drive a car is hazardous, but has rewards. so is wiring.
Call an electrician. The bathroom isn't one of the safer places to start
'learning' about eletrical wiring. If you screw up a wall outlet in the
living room that's one thing. But if you screw it up in a place where
people are likely to be wet you risk killing someone.
That said, if you can find where the wiring goes to/from the outlet and the
switch you might be able to easily re-route it. If this is a bathroom
that's got attic space above it you'd most likely find it up there.
From that description is sounds like there's a junction box somewhere else
that's got the 'rest of' the wires needed to complete this circuit. Find
that junction box and instead of pulling the hot lead for the outlet through
the switch you'd feed it directly. Might be a simple change. But without a
lot more information it's just guesswork.
Do yourself a favor, ask your neighbors to recommend a decent electrician
and get an estimate. You might find it's cheap enough to let a professional
do it and avoid any unnecessary risks.
If you do decide to tackle this yourself be sure to replace that regular
outlet with a GFCI.
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