In my bathroom, the light and only outlet (both top & bottom
receptacles) are controlled by a switch. The wiring to the outlet is
one black wire to one side, one white wire to the other side, and the
ground wire. The light switch wiring is much older (one white, one
black in lacquered cloth sheath, no ground). I would like to convert
the outlet to hot all the time (w/ GFCI) to allow for a small shelf
stereo with presets and a clock. I suspect the only way to achieve
this is to rewire or add another outlet with a new leg. What would be
the easiest way to achieve an always on outlet?
If you want to keep the switch to control the light you would need to
run another wire to the outlet. The easiest way would be to find a
nearby "always on" outlet in the same wall (perhaps on the other side
of the wall in the next room) and run new wires from that outlet to the
DISCLAIMER: Don't try this if you don't understand basic house wiring
and appropriate safety.
If you are needing to ask, I think you should get an electrician
You have a 110v hot lead available coming to the switch. The
switch stops and starts the black wire on the way to the recep and
whatever else may be controlled by that switch. The recep
apparently has a white neutral now. Does the switch do anything
else? or just turn that recep on and off.
I suspect that the switch is a "switch leg" going up to operate a
light fixture. If this is true, then the switch wiring has no
neutral. Again I suspect that someone wired from the light
fixture to the recep. It should be possible to find the leads
serving the recep now and locate a hot that is not switched. You
can change out the existing duplex to a GFI recep assuming you can
find a cover plate to accommodate the switch and recep
(top posted for your convenience)
Keep the whole world singing . . . .
DanG (remove the sevens)
Top posting is only for the convenience of the person posting who is too
lazy to properly edit down the post they are replying to.
Usenet does have Netiquette. (It has had for years.) Your reply should be
in a question-answer format. Everybody I know reads from top to bottom.
Don <www.donwiss.com> (e-mail link at home page bottom).
Your name has been added to the National Troll list. After five
trolling occurances, you will no longer be allowed to use the internet
for a period of five years. If this is your second violation, you
will never be allowed on the internet again. You have been warned.
Some of the walls of your bathroom with have another room
on the other side. Do you have any "always on" outlets on the
opposite side of those walls? If so, then it should be easy to
install an outlet in the bathroom opposite the outlet in the next
There are many other solutions, but I'd really rather not get
into them. I feel that you may need both a book on introductory
home wire plus a mentor. I'm not trying to be nasty; just
realistic. If you want to do your own wiring, then you really
need to spend some time learning the basics.
As I understand it you have 2 conductors at the receptacle location and 2
conductors at the switch location. You are missing some wires and they may
be in the electrical box supporting the light fixture.
Open up the light fixture. If you see a total of six conductors in addition
to any grounding conductors, then you may have an easy fix to your problem.
2 conductors should be your feed hot and neutral. Two conductors should be
going to the receptacle. The last two should be going to the switch.
The receptacle already has a neutral so there is no need to touch that
connection. What you need to do to get the receptacle hot all of the time
is remove the receptacle hot conductor from the switched wire that is
connected to the light and connect it on to the hot wire feed. That should
make the receptacle hot all of the time. You can then change the receptacle
to a GFCI type.
Of course this all depends if the feed, switch legs, and receptacle feed all
go into the same box. There are other possibilities, but without additional
information it is difficult to describe a procedure. If the feed is not in
the light fixture box, then there must be another junction box somewhere
that has all of these connections.
The light fixture is actually a medicine cabinet with a 20 watt
flourescent bulb fixture on each side. Short of taking off the plates
under each bulb fixture, I'm not sure of a way of diagnosing the wiring
to and from this unit. This cabinet unit also has its' own single
outlet and a light switch. I suppose I could just leave the main light
switch on and control the lights by the cabinets' own switch, but the
cabinet switch is on the far side of the cabinet with respect to the
door entry of the bathroom. Plus, I'd also have to either bypass the
main light switch or inelegantly tape it 'on' to prevent visitors from
shutting off the switch, killing the power to the stereo memory.
It is not likely that all of the wires terminate in the medicine cabinet,
but one never knows what was going through the mind of the original
I would take a look around to find that junction box. It is possible that
it is buried in the wall somewhere though. If there is an attic above the
bathroom or a basement below I would look there for a junction box. If no
luck in those places, try shutting the circuit breaker for the bathroom
circuit off. Then open up the switches and outlets that went off nearest
the bathroom to see if all of your wires are terminated in one of them.
To get a new feed into the receptacle box, you will need to fish a cable
through the wall from the basement or attic after drilling a hole in the
appropriate spot. If you're lucky there may be, as someone else mentioned,
a receptacle on the backside of the wall where the bathroom receptacle is.
You can fish a cable from there.
The scenario John described to you is probably exactly what you are looking
for and since the fixtures are integral to the cabinet, it's unlikely it is
the junction box you'll need to find. Inside the cabinet you may find a
hatch which will open to the integral splice box, however there is a better
chance you will find the junction box you need in an attic space above the
bathroom( if you have one)
Unless you are willing to hire an electrician to clean up your mess, you
don't want to get involved in running a new cable. Those with 20 years of
experience forget how difficult it is.
However, you might have a very easy fix.
Find that junction box everyone was talking about. It probably has 4 cables
going to it; one to the breaker box, one to the switch, one to the outlet,
and one to the lights. The black from the breaker will be connected to the
black going to the switch. The white from the switch will be connected to
the black going to the blacks going to the light and the outlet. Does that
By moving the outlet black from after the switch to before the switch, it
will always be hot.
I think you have about a 50% chance of finding it like that. Good luck.
The respondent who said "if you don't know, you need an
electrician" was mostly right. If not an electrician at
least someone very familiar with house wiring.
There are 2 poles on the switch. If there is only 1 wire
connected to each pole, you are likely in trouble unless
you can easily get inside the wall to rewire. Seems likely
the hot wire from the switch runs to the light and then
continues to the receptacle (on the same circuit).
Do you take hot showers in the winter? If so, you might
want to think twice about a bath stereo. The steam -may-
commit unnatural acts with the audio equipment. :-)
In a similar situation some years ago, the easiest way
for me was to "add another outlet with a new leg". I
managed to fish the wall enough to install a gfci in
a Wiremold receptacle box. Works fine maybe 12 years
Best O' Luck,
********************************************************* Puddin' Man PuddingDotMan at GmailDotCom *********************************************************;
Sony makes a shower radio. It has five presets and a digital clock. It is
designed to hang on the shower head, but could stand on a small shelf. It
isn't stereo, but in such a small room you wouldn't get much stereo. My
original C cells are still going strong after a couple years. Let me go get
the model number... It is a TV/Weather/FM/AM 4Band Radio ICF-S79V. I
purchased mine from the Sony web site. Putting the model number into Google
I find it for $50 at Amazon.com. Several others also appear on the page.
Don <www.donwiss.com> (e-mail link at home page bottom).
Why not just put the stereo in another room and run speaker wires to
the bathroom. As for the clock, you can get a LCD battery operated
clock for $5 almost anywhere and the batteries last at least a year.
If you MUST have an outlet, you are pretty much forced to tear up
walls or run a whole new line from the breaker box.
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