adding an outlet next to a switch - a bit confusing

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by thegallery, Jul 1, 2011.

  1. thegallery

    thegallery New Member

    Messages:
    30
    Location:
    Philly, Europe
    Hi. I have a garage light switch that is 40 years old and failing. (please see photos). It's a 15amp circuit. The circuit also leads to two outlets upstairs. I know the line seems to be comfortable handling most of my shop tools because I’ve used an outlet on the circuit next to the garage light fixture. However I’d like to put a new outlet down next to the switch too. I don’t care if it’s a switched outlet or not, whatever is simplest.

    I happen to have a GFI outlet and thought I might use that. I don’t know if I can or if that complicates anything? But being that this outlet will be used very close to the door it may be useful to have extra protection if it’s offered.

    The problem is I’m not sure how to add the outlet. If you notice in the picture there are 3 lines that come into the box. One presumably is from the breaker box, one goes to the light fixture, and one travels upstairs to the other outlets. Right now all the white wires from these 3 lines are just linked together, while two black lines go on one terminal of the switch and one goes on the other. (single pole)

    So I have replaced the box with a double box, and replaced the switch and wired it exactly as I found the previous switch. All is fine. But I’m not sure how to add the outlet? I’m not sure if I need to use the ‘load’ terminals either. I wonder if any of you can tell me the correct way to add this GFI, or a regular outlet? I’m assuming I can just take a black and white link to them, but I’m not sure if that’s all I do, or if I have to use the load to go back to the circuit somehow?

    It’s been a while since I’ve done electric. But I have done plenty in the house before, replacing virtually every other switch and outlet and adding a couple new lines and circuits. I got some great books and had everything checked out by an electrician, and I had my box upgraded by an electrician. But in all the books I have now I don’t see circuit; the extra line is confusing me. So I wonder if you can safely tell me the solution? Thanks very much!

    Attached Files:

  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,263
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    That looks like some very "sick", posibly cracked, wires to the old switch. You connect the "hot" black to the brass screw, the white, "neutral", to the silver screw and the ground wire, if you have one, to the green screw on the outlet.
  3. BobL43

    BobL43 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,786
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    I agree with HJ, those wires look sick, but if you have handled them and they look in good condition to you, hook up th eGFCI outlet as HJ said, making sure the Brass screw on theoutlet is connectes to the unswitched black wire (the one that is always hot regardless of whether that switch is on or off)., and the silver screw to the white neutral wires. Make sure you connect to those screws on the GFCI outlet that are not covered with the yellow tape; those are intended to feed downstream outlets. It looks like the old metal box had a ground wire and a ground clip connecting it to the bottom of the old box. That bare ground wire is to be connected to the green screw on the new outlet. Best advice: follow the instruction sheet that came with the oultlet as to how it soould be wired. The new box looks like plastic, so it needs no ground, but the cover plates get grounded from the devices srewed onto them (the outlet and the switch. Good Luck.
    By the way, I am NOT a licensed electrician, so thake my advice as from one DIYer to another.
  4. thegallery

    thegallery New Member

    Messages:
    30
    Location:
    Philly, Europe
    Thanks very much for your help. Yes the wires look weathered but they are actually fine. It all works like a charm. Thanks again.
  5. BobL43

    BobL43 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,786
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    You are welcome. Glad it all worked out for you.
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