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Thread: Re/Moving a light switch

  1. #1
    DIY Member philp's Avatar
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    Default Re/Moving a light switch

    I'm opening up a wall between our family room and kitchen and have a few small electrical problems which I hope someone can help with.

    1. One light fixture is on a 3-way circuit (2 switches) and now I don't need the extra switch and want to drywall patch over the wall plate. How can I remove this switch and not leave live wires in the switchbox behind the drywall?

    2. I have to move the first switch about 4 feet and the cable will not reach the new location (it is about 1 foot too short). What is the right way to splice in new cable (if this is allowed) or do I have to run new continuous cable from the circuit breaker?

    3. I'm changing one light fixture from a single ceiling light to 4 pot lights - what is the right way to wire this up? The existing light fixture has one white, one black and an earth cable - can I run this to the first pot light then run new cable from this to the second pot light, then the third and fourth in parallel?

    Thanks for any advice!

  2. #2
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    1) Depends somewhat on how everything in that 3-way circuit is wired , from the supply line out. If you can post a diagram or describe it in detail, that would help.

    2) A splice is allowed, but it has to be done in a junction box and that box has to be accessible. Note that this doesn't mean you have to splice at the end of the existing cable -- if you can more easily provide an accessible box somewhere earlier in the cable run, that's OK.

    3) Yes.

    Note: I'm an amateur; a real electrician might have other (and better) advice. Note also that this advice assumes you're in the US, which may be wrong.

  3. #3
    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    Mikey's got it.

    I agree about #1, we'd need to either see a diagram, or know EXACTLY what wires are in that box.
    If there is more than just one 3-wire cable then it's possible you cannot do it easily.

  4. #4
    DIY Member philp's Avatar
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    Thanks. I'm in Canada but I guess we have similar code to the US...

    1. There are two cables in the switch - one is white/black/red (14/3) and the other white/black (14/2). The 14/3 runs between the switches and the 14/2 from second switch to the light. The first switch has the 14/3 and a 14/2 from the circuit breaker.

    2. Does the junction box have to be attached to a stud? Why does it need to be accessible (I presume this must be NEC rules but is there a simple explanation for this rule)?

    3. So does that mean that each light will have 3 pairs of cables joined (except the last light)? i.e. one white/black from the previous light, one going to the next light and the white/black of the light itself.

    Sorry about being so pedantic - just want to be safe...

  5. #5
    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    1) That box CANNOT be buried. You would have to run a new wire from the first switch up to the light in order to completely remove the second box.

    2) It does not have to be attached to a stud, it just needs to be accessible. Meaning it can't be buried behind sheetrock or the like.

    3) You will have two cables in each light and one in the last. Each light will also have the fixture wires.

  6. #6
    DIY Member philp's Avatar
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    Thanks - much appreciated - I understand exactly what I have to do now.

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