An Electrician Explains How to Wire a Switched (Half-Hot) Outlet

Updated on September 19, 2017
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Dan has been a licensed, journey-level electrician for some 17 years. He has extensive experience in most areas of the electrical trade.

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What Is a Half-Hot Outlet?

Most of the outlets in your home are of the duplex variety—that is, you can plug two devices into them at one time. A half-hot (or switched) outlet is a duplex outlet that has one half permanently "on" or ready to provide electricity while the other half can be turned off and an via an ordinary wall switch.

While the entire duplex outlet could be turned on via a wall switch, only one of the two plug-ins is usually switched; this leaves the other half permanently powered for other uses.

This kind of outlet is quite common in modern construction. If you plug a lamp into the switched side, you can turn the light off and on via the wall switch. Half-hot outlets are most frequently found in living rooms, but can be put into any location.

Learning how to wire a switched outlet is not difficult. It is similar to wiring a regular light fixture. Find out how below.

Note: If you are installing a new outlet or pulling additional wire to an existing one, please check this article about adding an outlet; it contains tips and suggestions for pulling wire to both new and existing outlets.

A half-hot (or switched) outlet is a double outlet that has one half permanently on (ready to provide electricity) while the other half can be turned on and off via an ordinary wall switch.

Preparing the Switched Outlet for Wiring

  1. If you are modifying an existing outlet, it is almost certain that the old outlet won't need to be replaced, although if it is more than a few years old it should probably be replaced anyway.
  2. Either the square, Decora style switch or the more common semi-round type may be used as a half-hot outlet. You may not, however, use a GFI outlet (it is not possible to modify one so that only half of it is switched), but the entire outlet could be switched.
  3. If you are purchasing a new outlet, make sure that you match the outlet's ampacity (amps) to that provided by the circuit breaker for that circuit; a 15 amp breaker requires a 15 amp outlet and a 20 amp breaker should have a 20 amp outlet.
  4. After you've taken off the faceplate, on the side of the outlet, there is a small tab connecting the two brass screw-plates together. This tab allows one wire to be used to power both halves. This tab has a slot in it so a small screwdriver can be inserted to break it off. To modify the outlet for use as half-hot, use a screwdriver or a pair of needle-nose pliers to twist and break that small connecting tab. Break only the tab on the side with the brass-colored screws; the one connecting the two silver screws needs to remain intact. See photos for details.
  5. With the tab broken, the outlet is ready for use.

Turn the Power Off First!

Breaking the Tab for a Half-Hot Outlet

The screwdriver is resting on the tab to be broken. Make sure you're working near the screws that are brass-colored.
The screwdriver is resting on the tab to be broken. Make sure you're working near the screws that are brass-colored. | Source
The red box indicates the piece you will remove.
The red box indicates the piece you will remove.
The tab has been broken out on this old outlet.
The tab has been broken out on this old outlet. | Source

What Kind of Wiring Do You Need for a Switched Outlet?

  • The National Electric Code requires that all lighting switch boxes contain a "neutral", which is an electrical term for a grounded conductor (not to be confused with a ground wire). In your outlet, it is the white wire that terminates on the outlet. Whether or not a half-hot outlet is for lighting is debatable, but you must still have a neutral in the switch box.
  • There are two possibilities for the location of the incoming power: either in the outlet box or in the switch box. Either way, you will need what is called "3-wire cable" (black, red, white, and green OR metal all sheathed together: yes I know that makes 4 wires, but that's what it's called!) to connect the two boxes.
  • Check the breaker that turns the circuit off; if it is a 20 amp breaker or fuse, you will need 12-3 wire (12 gauge, 3-wire, plus ground). If it is a 15 amp breaker, you will need either that same 12-3 or 14-3 wire (14 gauge, 3-wire, plus ground). You will find that the 14 gauge wire is cheaper and a little easier to handle.
  • The Romex (NMC) wire you will be using is generally available in 25', 50', 100', and 250' rolls.
  • Make sure you purchase enough wire, as the job will usually require more than you think. To be safe, add about 20% to your best estimate.

There Are 4 Wires in a Romex 3-Wire Cable! What Do the Colors of the Wires Indicate?

  • White: the neutral. See warning below!
  • Green or bare copper without insulation: the ground wire.
  • Red: hot.
  • Black: hot.

These will all be cabled together in a sheath. Romex wire is usually used in houses.

The White Wire: A Word of Caution

Switch boxes in older homes usually used the white wire as a power wire, not a neutral. So when the white wires in a switch box are spliced together, any that go to a switch should be ignored and left right where they are.

Do not splice those white wires already on a switch to any other white wires, and especially not to the new white wire that is a part of your new 3-wire cable.

It wasn't until 2011 that the National Electric Code ruled that a white wire being used as a neutral was required in the switch box. Prior to that, it was acceptable to use the white as the switched "hot" wire, although a conscientious electrician would color it to something else (using magic marker, black tape, etc.).

So if you are replacing an older, existing switched outlet, and if it has 2-wire cable between the outlet and the switch, then the white wire is being used as either a permanent hot or as the switched power and IS NOT neutral. Care must be taken to keep it separate from other white wires.

How to Wire a Half-Hot Switched Outlet

Before you do anything, TURN OFF THE POWER! A non-contact voltage detector can be invaluable here for detecting power through the insulation of the wire. Make sure that the power is off. A nasty shock is the least desirable outcome of your project.

As noted above, there are two possibilities for the incoming power: either in the switch box or in the outlet box. These will be treated separately below.

Fluke Voltage Detector, 1000V AC Voltage
Fluke Voltage Detector, 1000V AC Voltage

As a professional electrician, I always keep one of these testers in my pocket and a backup in my toolbox. Safety is paramount when working with electricity and this tester is a great place to start.

 

How to Wire a Switched Half-Hot Outlet That Gets Its Power From the Outlet Box

This is the preferred method of wiring a half-hot switched outlet, because if the power is coming from the switch, it is most likely a lighting circuit that is intended to operate lights, not outlets. Yes, you will probably have a lamp plugged in, but the other half of the outlet could run anything. It is best if this outlet is on a circuit intended for outlets. So if there is an option, use the power already in the outlet box.

  1. In order for the outlet box to work, it must already contain one or more cables made up of black, white, and green/bare ground wires all cabled together. In order to add the switch, you will be adding a Romex 3-wire cable to the box.
  2. Cut a short 6" piece of cable and remove the outer sheath. This gives you four different colored wires to splice in with the matching wires in the box. These 6" pieces (or "pigtails") will attach to the outlet. Strip off the last 1/2 inch of colored plastic coating on each end of each wire.
  3. Next, you will splice all of the grounds (green or bare wires) together with that additional green/bare 6" piece. Splicing is when you twist all the bare metal wires together so that they're in contact. You should pull them into a neat bundle with the stripped ends all together, twist them into one, put a plastic twist-on wire nut over them, and screw it down tightly as if it were a bolt head. Hold the wire nut in one hand and tug firmly on each individual wire to make sure it doesn't come loose. Pull fairly hard to test the connection; better that it comes apart now than later.
  4. Do the same with all the black wires (and the additional 6" piece of black wire you cut in step 2).
  5. Splice all the white wires together, again with the 6" additional white piece.
  6. The loose end of the 6" ground wire will terminate on the green ground screw of the outlet. The black 6" wire will terminate on one of the brass-colored screws, the red one on the other brass screw, and the white one on the silver-colored screw. It is most common to put the red wire on the bottom screw, since that will make the top plug-in "hot" at all times and will be a little easier to plug things into it.
  7. To terminate (affix or connect) the wires, bend a hook in the wire, loop it around the screw in a clockwise direction, and tighten the screw firmly. If the wire tends to come out from under the screw while tightening, you have looped it the wrong direction. Alternatively, many home grade outlets have small holes in the rear of the outlet where the wires can be simply pushed in instead of wrapping around the screw.
  8. At the switch, put a wire nut on the white wire, capping it off, and tuck it into the back of the box. It will not be used. Splice all ground wires in the box together (if multiple switches or other wires are in the box), again with an additional 6" green/bare piece to go to the switch. Terminate the ground wire on the green ground screw of the switch.
  9. Terminate the black wire from your new 3-wire cable on one of the screws on the side of the switch, and the red on the other. It doesn't matter which one goes where.

Diagram for a half-hot switched outlet that gets power in the outlet box (the preferred method).
Diagram for a half-hot switched outlet that gets power in the outlet box (the preferred method).

How to Splice Electrical Wire (the Electrical Tape Is Optional):

How to Wire a Switched Outlet That Gets Its Power From the Switch Box

  1. First, locate the cable that is bringing power into the box. You will see at least one 2-wire cable and the added Romex 3-wire cable that you're connecting to the outlet. If this is a multiple switch location (with more than one switch in the box), there will be other cables, too. The power cable will almost certainly have multiple short wires spliced to it, one wire for each switch.
  2. Cut a short 6" piece of cable and remove the outer sheath. This gives you four different colored wires to splice in with the matching wires in the box. Strip off the last 1/2 inch of colored plastic coating on each end of each of these 6" pieces (or "pigtails").
  3. Splice all the ground wires together, with an extra 6" pigtail piece of ground wire added.
  4. Splice the black power wire and the new black wire from the new 3-wire cable together, with a black pigtail added.
  5. Splice all neutral wires together, but without a pigtail. The black pigtail will terminate on one of the switch screws and the red wire on the other.
  6. The ground pigtail goes to the green ground screw on the switch.
  7. At the outlet box, if there are cables other than the new 3-wire you are using to connect the outlet to the switch, splice them together by color: Black wires together, white wires together, and all ground wires (including the one in the 3-wire cable) together, all with like-colored pigtails.
  8. At the outlet box, neither the existing black or white wires will be used for the outlet, but may be powering other outlets on the circuit if this is not a new outlet.
  9. The ground wire goes to the green ground screw on the outlet, the white wire goes to a silver screw, the black wire to one of the brass screws, and the red wire to the other brass screw. All of these wires (except for the ground wire if there are other cables in the box) come only from the new 3-wire cable.

Wiring diagram for power in the switch box (not the preferred method, but acceptable).
Wiring diagram for power in the switch box (not the preferred method, but acceptable).

Finishing the Job

  1. After wiring the outlet and switch, fold the wires back into the boxes as neatly as possible and mount the outlet and switch into the box.
  2. Attach the cover plates.
  3. If you have any trouble here, additional instructions on changing light switches or installing electrical outlets can be found in these links. You'll also find tips on removing existing outlets and switches in these articles.
  4. Turn the breaker back on and check operation. One half of the outlet should be on at all times, with the wall switch controlling the other half.

Questions & Answers

© 2012 Dan Harmon

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    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      2 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      I very highly doubt that is a problem. You didn't say, but I assume you are checking between ground or neutral and the switched wire - such things can often give a "false" reading in that the voltage may technically be there, but there is no chance of significant amperage on the circuit. And of course checking between the two hot lines will produce a voltage reading as the current tries to flow through the meter, then the disposal and finally back to the panel.

      Example - I once ran small wire all over the roof when young, as an antenna, without connecting it to anything at all. It showed several hundred volts to ground, but was completely safe to touch as there was micro amps at best. You are likely picking up a voltage "leakage" between adjacent wires or even through the body of the outlet - conductors in close proximity will often produce a voltage on the other simply through induction, but cannot support any kind of load at all. I saw that recently (using a tick tester) in an outlet downstream from a tripped GFCI - the tester showed voltage but I couldn't get a tiny water pump for a fountain to operate.

    • profile image

      timk1160 

      2 months ago

      Thanks for the response. In one of the other threads, you told Kelly " A voltmeter would show power (to ground) without a neutral, while the disposal wouldn't run ". Is the 52V I see on the switched side of the outlet when the switch is off ok? The disposal seems to be properly controlled by the switch (runs when switched on, off when switched off)?

      Does it become a constant power drain?

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      2 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      @timk:

      You should have the white from the panel and a jumper from the black to the panel connected to the outlet, on opposite sides. If that blows the breaker with nothing else connected to the panel wires then you either have a problem with the new outlet or the panel wires are shorted together. The panel white and black wires should never be connected together, although it is common to use a white on the wire going to the switch to splice to the panel black wire.

      It is also possible that the original wiring used a black wire to splice to the black panel wire, returning a white wire (that should have been painted black!) to the outlet - if that is the case then that "white that should be black" should terminate on the brass screws of the outlet, not the silver ones. It actually sounds like this is the problem; confusion over what color goes where in those wires from the switch.

      One of the switch wires goes to the black panel wire and the other to the brass terminal on the new outlet, regardless of what color they are.

      (I'm assuming in all this that the incoming power from the panel goes to the outlet box, not the switch box.)

    • profile image

      timk1160 

      2 months ago

      Hey Dan, We have an old house. Under the kitchen sink is a half hot outlet. Recently we changed the outlet and now it is all messed up. I clipped the tab on the new outlet. The jumper splice (black from breaker, white to switch, jumper to outlet) is in the outlet box. When the white is connected, the breaker won't set. I found continuity between it and the white wire leaving the outlet. Suspecting a short, I disconnected the white from the "jumper" splice and the switch and ran a separate wire directly from the switch to the jumper splice in its place. Now I get both at 115V when the switch is on but the switched side only drops to 52V when the switch is off. I'm confused.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      3 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      @Kelly:

      If you splice your new pigtail to the incoming power to the GFCI and there is no power at the switch then your splice is bad. Keep in mind that checking across the two wires at the switch will indicate zero; you must check between one and the ground.

      Just in case, I'll mention that you need to join the wires together (splice them) before the GFCI with a wirenut. You cannot put your new wire to the other brass screw on the GFCI. Doesn't sound like you did, but I'll throw that out there just in case. You should have three wires in the wire nut: the incoming power, the pigtail to the GFCI and the pigtail to the switch.

      When you twist the wire nut on, grab the wire nut in one hand and tug on each wire, separately, fairly hard. Better to come apart before assembling everything than when you push it into the box and don't notice.

    • profile image

      Kellyma1974 

      3 months ago

      I am using a voltage meter, there is a neutral going to the outlets on the bottom, but no neutral on the switch. The main power line was on the gfi so I spliced it to the switch, when I turn everything back on after working on it the gfi outlet works but no power to the switch. Is it possible that the power isn’t strong enough to be spliced to the switch or I’m splicing it wrong?

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      3 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      @Kelly:

      That should have worked fine. No, one wire size too small won't hurt with a short pigtail, though if it goes from the switch to the outlet it should definitely be the right size. Probably #12 if it's in a kitchen - most of those are 20 amp circuits even in older homes. And switching an entire outlet is fine.

      I really don't know where to go from here without being there to look at it myself. Are you sure your neutrals (white) wires are tight and go to the outlet? You didn't say if you are checking for power with a voltmeter or the disposal. A voltmeter would show power (to ground) without a neutral, while the disposal wouldn't run.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      3 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      @Bill:

      No, a bad breaker won't do that - it will just not put any power at all to the outlet (or power whether the breaker is on or off, though that would be rare).

      More likely is that you have a poor neutral connection. Try plugging in something that requires a good bit of power and see what happens. A vacuum perhaps, or a circular saw. A bad neutral could let enough power through to run a night light, especially if it is an LED, but not enough to operate a heavy appliance.

    • profile image

      Kelly 

      3 months ago

      Also I bought all new switches and GFI and outlets because my brother tried working on it at first and he blow a few things ( we have no clue what we are doing) so I wanted to start with all working new equipment. I guess I should stick to my day job fixing body plumbing is nothing like fixing wires in a house lol.

    • profile image

      Kelly 

      3 months ago

      Thank you so much for helping, I found where the main power comes from and it’s hooked to the GFI that’s next to the switch, so I did a pigtail of the (hot) black wire to the switch and then the other black wire that runs from the outlet from underneath the sink to the other bronze screw on the switch. I really thought that would work but now I’m not getting any power to the outlet underneath the sink again. I went to Home Depot and bought extra wire to make all the pigtails but I think I bought the wrong gauge wire would that make a difference? Also is it ok that one whole outlet is on a switch? Thank you so much for your help again.

    • profile image

      bill 

      3 months ago

      dan i have an outside receptacle that when i check the hot side it is on the right side or black wire but when i add even a night lght both sides of the receptacle indicate hot ,replaced the receptacle no change . could this be a def breaker at the panel box?

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      3 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Hi Kelly:

      Normally that switch would be running at least one half of at least one of those outlets. It is possible that it doesn't, but that would be rare.

      Given that, I'd check the wiring at both switch and outlet. Checking for power at the outlet might tell you something, and certainly looking at how it is wired will - if there is only one "hot" wire to an outlet it is not a half-hot. Might be switched, but not only half of it. A power check will also tell you if power is making it to the switch.

      Replace switch or outlets as necessary. Try to figure out for absolutely sure where that switch wire is going to.

      If none of that is helpful about all that is left is to run a new wire from the switch to an outlet for the disposal.

    • profile image

      Kelly 

      3 months ago

      Hi Dan, I was reading through your past post trying to look and see if anyone had the same problem I have but I couldn’t find anything. I just bought a place and under the sink is two separate outlets, and a switch on the counter wall that’s next to another outlet (the switch and out let are housed together in the same blue box), when I plug something into either outlet under the sink they don’t work. I’m trying to hook up the switch so I can plug a garbage disposal to one whole out let under the sink and the other whole outlet to the dishwasher. How can I get power to the switch to run the outlets on the bottom?

    • profile image

      Michael Morgan 

      4 months ago

      thanks Dan, replacing the switch worked!

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      4 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Robert:

      Assuming that none of those three fan wires is a ground, one is for the fan, one for the light fixture in it and one neutral. You will need two switches to control it properly.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      4 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Hi Michael:

      Yes, the first suggestion is to inspect or replace that switch. There is a possibility of a bad connection on the first switch in the line as well.

    • profile image

      Michael Morgan 

      4 months ago

      hey Dan, thanks for this! I recently had all the switched outlets on a circuit go bad. The always hot still works fine but the switched outlet does not work at all. A breaker was not tripped either. Perhaps the switch went bad? Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      5 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      @Brian:

      Just put them in a wire nut together and twist the nut as if screwing a bolt on. When done, hold the nut in one hand and tug on each individual wire with the other to verify that they are both snug. If they are to come out, better to do it now than as you push them into the box where you can't see it happen!

    • profile image

      Brian 

      5 months ago

      Dan, thank you so much. I was considering going down the splicing route to see if it would work, but since I wasn't sure, I figured I'd read a little first... happy to hear your reply. I've spliced elsewhere before, so I'm comfortable with it, just wasn't sure if it would do the trick here. Thank you sir.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      5 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      @ Brian:

      Not at all - what you are asking isn't a problem. Remove the switched wire from the outlet and cap it off with a wire nut (if there are two of them, splice them together). Either splice two short "jumpers" to the permanently hot wire and terminate one on each of the brass screws or simply replace the outlet with one that has not had the tab broken out. The intent here is to get the unswitched hot wire to both top and bottom of the outlet.

      Be sure that any switched wires continuing on are spliced together, though, or you will lose that switched power further down the line.

    • profile image

      Brian 

      5 months ago

      Dan, thank you for all of the input. One question - I have 5 half-hot plugs connected to the same wall switch. Three of the 5 of them are pretty useless as half-hot and I'd love to change them to "always on," leaving the remaining two controlled by the switch. I'm getting the impression that is impossible... correct?

    • profile image

      Angie Barker 

      5 months ago

      Thanks, Dan. I have an electrician coming next week, and just needed to know what to ask him to do. I appreciate your input.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      5 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Hi Angie:

      I'm sorry, but the answer is "No". You need a green ground, a white neutral and TWO hot wires; one switched and one not. As it is the best you can do is either a switched outlet or an unswitched, but you cannot have both. A half-hot, of course, is both switched and unswitched depending on whether you are plugged into the upper or lower portion.

      It is possible, however, that you could fish some new wire through, particularly if the exit from the wall is directly under the switch.

    • profile image

      Angie Barker 

      5 months ago

      Hi Dan-

      I have a switch above my sink that has a dedicated 20amp breaker. The wires connected to the switch are white (with black tape), black, and green. From there, they are spliced to a white, black, and green wire enclosed in flexible metal housing. The metal housing extends from the switch (above my counters) to the wall at the back of my kitchen cabinets and out below my sink.

      I think the former owner was planning on hardwiring a garbage disposal but never got around to it. As of now, the wires are capped off and the breaker is off. However, I would like to use these existing wires under my sink to install a half-hot outlet for my new plug-in disposal and a new dishwasher. Your article talks about red wiring, but in my scenario there is no red wire. Is using the existing white, black, and green wiring an option for a new half-hot electrical receptacle?

    • profile image

      Steven 

      5 months ago

      That worked! Thank you for all your help.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      5 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Stephen: I can't imagine why a white wire is spliced to two blacks and folded into the box except to provide power to the switch, but also can't see that it would do any harm to add a pigtail to the blacks and terminate it on the unused brass screw now that you have broken the tab off. The worst that could happen is that it immediately blows the breaker or, if something really strange is going on, put 240 volts into the outlet somehow. Use a lamp to test it with if you don't have a tester - that way if there is too much voltage you're out a light bulb instead of a vacuum cleaner or something.

      My guess is that those black wires are the permanent hot and that the white is being used to provide a hot wire to the switch; the returning black from the switch is used to provide switched power to the outlet. You might look and see if that white and the black to the outlet are in the same outer sheath; that they go together to wherever they end up.

    • profile image

      Steven 

      5 months ago

      Thanks for your quick reply.

      There are 2 black wires and (another) white wire spliced together in the back of the box. Should I add a pig tail to that?

      Thanks again,

      Steven.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      6 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Hi Birdfeeder. First, the lack of a ground wire (I assume there was none in the box - that they were not spliced together and folded into the back of the switch box) is a little troubling. Anything built in 1989 should have a ground wire in the box, but probably not terminated on the switch. If it were my home I would use it anyway, but it IS against code. Do check that there aren't some bare wires nutted together, with no insulation on them at all, though - those would be ground.

      Your voltage is OK, and is what you would expect when checking between two wires on a switch and turning the switch on and off. You will need to determine which is hot all the time, though - with the switch off, check between the two wires and a neutral (white) wire. If there is power between the black (for instance) and the neutral when the switch is off then the black is hot and the yellow is the switched wire - the one you want for the light. The neutral from the light will go to the other whites in the box.

      This is assuming that there are white neutral wires in the box that go nowhere but to another white. Not to any switch. At that time it was common to use the white as a switch leg, and in that case it is not a neutral. The test above should tell you if there is a neutral there.

    • profile image

      Birdfeeder1 

      6 months ago

      Dan, a clarification to my earlier question. Regarding the voltage difference, when I mentioned I checked the voltage in an outlet, note that it wasn't the switched outlet but another outlet in same room. Sorry for the confusion. Thanks.

    • profile image

      Birdfeeder1 

      6 months ago

      Dan, I have a half switched outlet in my bedroom (Chgo built 1989) & would like to leave outlet as is but add a ceiling light to switch. I have a new light fixture, ceiling box (old work), 14/3 romex to connect from fixture to switch. I opened the switch box, which also contains a 3way next to it, & found the single pole w/black wire on top screw & a yellow wire on bottom screw of switch. The yellow is connected to the 3way (I think on the right side) & then it exits the box. Also in box were white (wirenutted) & black (also wirenutted), but no green. Is this ok? I haven't opened the outlet box since it's behind a dresser. How would I wire the switch to light the new ceiling fixture?

      Also, w/single pole switch in off position, when I measured the voltage between the yellow & black switch poles w/digital meter it showed 108 VAC, yet when single pole is turned on voltage shows 0 VAC but the light plugged into outlet goes on. Note that the 3way next to it was in on position but the hall lights themselves-controlled by 3way-were off, not sure if this matters (I forgot to check voltage w/3way "on". I check the outlet & it showed 124VAC. Is this normal or should I be concerned?

      Thank you for the assistance.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      6 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Hi Steven. I'm afraid that unless there is another black wire that is hot all the time in the outlet box you're out of luck here. Nothing you do with the white wires will do anything to provide power to the upper half of that outlet - it requires a black wire. I'm guessing here that with two whites in the box, that there is a pair of black wires as well, spliced together with a wire nut and folded into the back of the outlet. If there is, try and add a short piece of black wire to the splice and put the other end onto the upper brass screw. That's about your only chance to make that outlet a half-hot. If there are no other wires in that box you will have to run a new wire from the switch to the outlet - could get pretty messy.

    • profile image

      Steven 

      6 months ago

      I have a switched outlet that I would like to turn into a half-hot outlet. It's an older setup with 2 white wires connected to the silver screws and 1 black wire connected to the bottom brass screw. I broke the tab between the 2 brass terminals, and now the top outlet is dead. Should I connect the white wires differently now that the tab is broken?

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      7 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      It really sounds like you've lost a connection somewhere in an outlet box. A wire has come disconnected and is no longer getting power. The switch leg is obviously working fine, the permanent power at the box is working - everything is fine but the single yellow wire in the first outlet.

      Check all the wires in each box, looking for a wire nut that perhaps has come off or should have had another wire in it. Somewhere a connection has been lost in the physical action of tugging wires around, taking them off the outlet and putting them on the new outlet.

    • profile image

      firstfirm 

      7 months ago

      Hello again, thanks for your quick response and helpful information.

      I hooked up the second outlet, the same as the first (also the same as the old one I took out), the yellow to the lower brass and the black to the upper brass, the white to the upper silver and ground to green. Also prior to connecting, again I cut/pulled out the little brass piece between the 2 screws.

      Now the second outlet is working perfectly! The upper part is on always and the lower part of the outlet is controlled by the switch and can be turned off and on!

      Unfortunately the first outlet has not changed, the upper part of the outlet is on always which is correct, but the lower part of the outlet is not controlled by the switch, the lower part never works.

      I am alright with this, but do you have any other suggestions to try to get the first outlet lower part to work and be controlled by the switch? If not, no problem, I can live with it.

      Thanks for all your help.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      7 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Firstfirm: Suggest you pull the switch from the wall and look at the wires there. It is possible that the power from the breaker panel enters the outlet box first, then goes to the switch. If that is the case, the switch leg of the circuit, from the switch to the outlet, may be white, and the yellow wire spliced to it in order not to have a white wire on the brass screws.

      It is also possible that by not wiring the second outlet (which could actually be the first one), connections are not being made that would provide power to the outlet in question.

      But in no case should a white wire that goes to the white screws be connected to a wire going to the brass screws. That will blow the breaker immediately.

    • profile image

      firstfirm 

      7 months ago

      Hi Dan,

      I have a single switch that controls the lower part of 2 separate outlets. The switch controls the lower and the upper of both outlets are on all the time.

      When I tried to replace the first outlet, I found a section on the yellow and white cables each with a section that was stripped bare and might have been connected, not sure.

      The cables separated when I pulled the outlet out of wall.

      I was concerned about the 2 bare cables in the wall, so I taped each of them up separately not connected.

      I then connected the new outlet - same as old one - yellow to the lower brass and the black to the upper brass, the white to the upper silver and ground to green. Prior to connecting, I cut/pulled out the little brass piece between the 2 screws so it matched the old outlet.

      I have not installed the second outlet yet.

      When testing the new outlet it's not working properly. The switch does not work. The upper part of the new outlet is on always which is correct, but the lower part of the outlet does not work when you turn on the switch. The lower outlet never works.

      Where is my cabling incorrect? Does the yellow and white need to be connected for it to work properly? Is there a special outlet I need? And what do I need to know to prepare for the second outlet installation?

      Please advise if you need any additional information or have any questions.

      Thanks so much!

    • profile image

      Michael 

      7 months ago

      That all makes sense. Mine is tied to

      The same breaker. Makes sense capping the red at the panel instead. Thanks Dan, you are the man!

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      7 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      As long as the black isn't tied to a different breaker, you're fine. If it was you have two circuits in each box and outlet, and very likely have 240 volts in the outlet boxes, which is OK but any such box (and outlet) needs labeled indicating that.

      A more common method of accomplishing the task would be to use the black incoming to the switch as well as continuing on to the outlet, with the red being the switched line. The red from the panel box is then just capped off in the switch box.

      By doing that there is no possibility of having dual circuits at each outlet, plus it is the common method, and any future work on the outlets should be obvious what is going on.

    • profile image

      Michael 

      7 months ago

      Thanks Dan. I did have an actual 12-3 wire (black, red, white, ground). I just wire nutted the Black wires at the switch and used red for the hot to the switch (and then the switched side of the outlet) and black then at first outlet for always hot side.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      7 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      12-3 refers to a black, red, white and ground (the ground isn't counted). If this is what you did then yes, outlets can be wired as a half-hot. If, however, there is only a black, white and ground going from the switch to the first outlet, and then on to others, you cannot. You need that red wire.

    • profile image

      Michael 

      7 months ago

      Thanks for this tutorial. Very clear thank you. I have source power running from the panel to the switch (12-3) and I have 12-3 then running from switch to the first outlet, and outlets belong that. Can I wire it this way? I ran it this way unfortunately and already drywalled. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Rob No More 

      8 months ago

      You should change your screen name to "Dan The Man" :)

      Thank you sir!

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      8 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      You got it! That will distribute the 2 circuits around the room, using both of them in equal amounts. The only real change is the in any given outlet there will be only one circuit rather than two, and that's how it's normally done anyway.

      Depending on just how your outlets were done, you will may have to nut two blacks together on the first outlet, along with a 6" "pigtail" that goes to the outlet. This may well be already done in the box, though; otherwise you would have had TWO blacks and TWO reds to each outlet so that there was a black and red, both still hot, to supply the next outlet in line.

    • profile image

      Rob Again 

      8 months ago

      Thanks Dan!

      So, on the first outlet: Black & White go to the outlet and the 2 Reds wire nutted together

      Second outlet: Red & White go to the outlet and the 2 Blacks wire nutted together

      Repeat

      Is that correct?

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      8 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Unless your outlets are switched, with a switch somewhere in the kitchen, (that would be very unusual), each outlet appears to have 2 circuits going to it. Verify this if possible, by turning off the breakers. If that breaker is a two pole, however, it will not be possible to turn off just one of the circuits.

      If this is the case, I would suggest putting just one circuit to each outlet, with the other one being spliced on through in order to feed the next outlet in the circuit. At the next outlet, use the other hot to feed the outlet, splicing the first one through.

      Kitchens are required to have 2 circuits in them, and for good reason; small appliances such as toasters or microwaves require considerable power. It seems that the requirement was satisfied by making each outlet have both circuits, which I've never seen done but is quite possible, but as long as both circuits are available you will still have the power required. Just make sure that both circuits are being used, with approximately the same number of outlets on each circuit.

      I assume that the hots are red and black, not two blacks. Take considerable care in either case to never tie the two circuits together anywhere.

      If the outlets ARE half hot, with one half of it switched, it will not be possible to reproduce that with the new outlets. Instead they will all have to be made with the permanent hot supplying power. Or the entire outlet switched, your choice.

    • profile image

      Rob 

      8 months ago

      Hi Dan,

      My kitchen outlets are fed by 3 wires (with the brass tabs removed).

      I've remodeled and bought pop out outlets (Legrand 15-Amp Adorne Pop-Out Square Duplex Electrical Outlet from Lowes). These are only 2 wire (hot, neutral & ground). How should I deal with the extra hot wire?

      Thanks in advance.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      9 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Yes, you can tie them together with the hot feed but it will disable the switch and both will be hot all the time. Or you could remove the wires from the switch and tie those two together, bypassing the switch. Either way is quite legal.

    • profile image

      Frank 

      9 months ago

      Can i make hot the switched outlets by tieing the red snd black wires to the hot feed and be legal?

    • profile image

      Lucy A 

      13 months ago

      Thanks for a wonderful, clear posting!

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      13 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      If the power originates in the switch box then you will have to install additional wire because that black wire is switched and you need both that and a constant hot wire.

      If the power originates in the outlet then that white wire is most likely not a neutral at all, but either a constant hot or a switched hot. Either way it should be marked, usually by wrapping it with black tape, to indicate it is hot. In this case you already have a constant hot in the outlet box, to run the outlet, and won't need any additional wire.

    • profile image

      Justin 

      13 months ago

      What if you only have a hot and a neutral coming from the switch

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      13 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      You will have to replace the wire from the switch to the disposal with a 3 conductor wire, using it to wire a half hot outlet in the wall to plug both dishwasher and disposal into. It might be possible to add both an outlet (using the disposal wire) and a second switch to control the disposal, again addition a half hot outlet or two outlets into the wall. Either way will require running some new wire to the wall, but if you could add a second switch in the same stud bay as the outlet it might be easier to do that. If so, the first switch could be removed, with the wires simply spliced through the box and a blank cover put on it.

    • profile image

      Kurt Mall 

      13 months ago

      Hello, I removed a hardwired garbage disposal that is turned on/off by a switch above the counter(wires below counter). I'd like to add a dishwasher to the circuit but am not sure how to connect to this wire because of the switch. The disposal is on a dedicated 20A circuit.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      19 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      @Stephanie: this can be done by wiring it to the same wires, both black and white, that are used on the half of the existing outlet that is permanently hot. Presumably where the dishwasher is plugged in. Simply splice into those wires, along with the green one, by removing them and adding both the new wire and a new, short (6") piece in a wire nut with the short piece going back to the outlet where the wire had been originally. Make sure that you use a new outlet rated at 20 amps.

      Do be aware that you may well overload that circuit and blow the breaker. You already have a dishwasher and disposal on the circuit; adding a coffee pot or other high current appliance and trying to operate all three at the same time could easily overload the circuit.

    • profile image

      Stephanie grantham 

      19 months ago

      We have a half hot outlet under our sink that runs our dishwasher as well as our disposal that is connected to a switch. We are trying to add a separate outlet to our island through the same circuit. Please help!

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      20 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      That's great! Told you it was something simple, and likely a loose connection. I've troubleshot enough of those to know! Glad you got it all working.

    • profile image

      Ron Modlin 

      20 months ago

      Got it!

      Simple, absolutely.

      Took the red wires and twisted them tightly before installing the nut.

      It all works correctly now.

      Love it when a plan comes together!

      Thanks for the help. You helped me learn something new!

    • profile image

      Ron 

      20 months ago

      Hi Dan, Thanks for the "to do" list.

      I will do what you suggested.

      Yes, I believe it's something that is not difficult... I Hate When That Happens!

      Thanks again!

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      20 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      You spliced all red wires from the replaced outlet into one wire nut? None were left out? And the red wires are the switched ones? If that is all that was done, then the other outlets must work. Suggesting a loose wire in the wire nut that is not making good contact. Possibly, if you replaced the other outlets, a poor connection there. If the switch was replaced, either the wiring is wrong there (it sounds right, though) or a bad switch. Rare, but I have seen brand new switches that were defective.

      I would carefully double check all work done for loose connections. Is it possible that the red (or black) wires on the 4-way switch were swapped? Check that both wires on the end of the 4-way switch are in a single cable (the two wires on the same end must be in the same cable).

      Whenever making connections, whether in a wire nut or under a screw, give each wire a good hard tug to see if it will come out. Better now than later, as you install the outlet into the box and don't notice a wire falling off.

      From your description this cannot be a major problem and when you find it you're most likely going to hit yourself in the forehead with a loud "DOH!" sound. Don't give up too easily.

    • profile image

      Ron Modlin 

      20 months ago

      Hi Dan, Thanks again for the information.

      Current situation is that I followed your latest instructions for the outlet in question. I removed the red wires (switch function) from the outlet and spliced them with a nut. The duplex outlet is now hot.

      However, I have lost the "switched" function for the other outlets in the room. One half (bottom) of each outlet is hot and the other half (top) is dead.

      Fyi, when I installed the new outlet without removing the tab, of course the result was exactly as you said: the outlets were totally "hot".

      I have replaced a total of 6 outlets in that room. the outlet I have been asking your advice on was the final one to be changed. And, it seems to coincide with the "switched" function issue.

      So, I'm scratching my head at the moment.

      Also, there are 3 light switches in the room. One at the entrance and 2 others on the wall by the bed. I replaced the entrance switch and one of the switches by the bed.

      The entry switch had 2 red and 1 black wire attached. I attached the black wire to the black (lower) screw and a red wire above that, then the second red wire on the opposite side.

      The one switch I replaced by the bed was a 4 pole switch. 2 red on one side and 2 black on the other side.

      The third switch in the room is buried behind the headboard and not planning to replace.

      Any additional thoughts?? time to punt??

      Thanks

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      20 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Yes, it will change the instructions. If you hook up all the wires just as they were, without breaking off the tab on the new outlet, every outlet on the circuit will be hot all the time. You must still remove the red (or whatever color is switched) wires and splice them together with a wire nut if there is more than one of them. If there is only one switched wire, cap it with a wire nut but do not terminate it on the new outlet.

      That way the switched part of the circuit is still intact, still not connected to the permanently hot wires, and can still function for the rest of the outlets on the circuit. It simply isn't connected to the single outlet that you do not want to be switched.

    • profile image

      Ron Modlin 

      20 months ago

      Hi Dan,

      I want to add a wrinkle to my wiring plan. I will replace the existing outlet with a new one. When I do that (and I still want this outlet to be totally hot) what if I don't remove the bridge connecting the upper/lower brass screws on the black/red side? How would that change the instructions you provided earlier?

      Thanks again.

    • profile image

      Ron 

      20 months ago

      Dan, thanks for the quick response. I will try your suggestion.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      20 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      I'm going to assume that the top half is unswitched, and that it has black wires going to it.

      Remove the red wires and splice them together with a wire nut. They will now be attached together but will not go to the outlet.

      Add another wire to the black wires. This will likely require removing them from the outlet and splicing the two existing black wires, along with two short additional pieces of black wire, into one wire nut. Put the two ends of the two short pieces onto the two brass screws of the outlet. The goal here is to provide power to the lower outlet screw, where the red wire was, while keeping the two existing black wires spliced together.

      Make required adjustments to these instructions, depending on which half of the outlet is switched, and which color wire is switched. Again, the goal is to remove switched wires from the outlet and then provide power to the terminal where they were, using the unswitched wires to do so.

    • profile image

      Ron Modlin 

      20 months ago

      Hi Dan, in a bedroom there are several electrical outlets, all half switched. I would like to make one of these outlets all hot. The outlet has 2 white wires, 2 red wires and 2 black wires attached. The other outlets are similarly wired. I tried replacing the outlet and not removing the tab on the "brass" side, however, this resulted in just making the switch non-functional. Any ideas?? Thanks.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      21 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      You want to replace a half hot outlet with a switch (dimmer) to run some LED lights. And you want to convert another half hot outlet into constant on.

      Yes. The first outlet has a permanent hot, a neutral and (hopefully) a ground in it. Everything you need is thus there to operate a switch and lights. If you want both switches to operate the new lights, use the switched wire as a hot - if not, use the permanent hot as the hot wire. Note that this will NOT be a three way switch setup - that both switches will have to be on in order to turn the lights on if you choose the first option.

      The second outlet also has that permanent hot, neutral and ground. All that is necessary there is to either replace the outlet OR to jumper the bottom half onto the top half and cap off the switched wire, leaving it unused in the box.

    • profile image

      mike 

      21 months ago

      I have a bedroom circuit, power into the switch, then into 2 receptacles on either side of the bed that are switched at the top. I want to change one of these receptacles to a 2nd dimmer switch (was well as the first one) and add 6 recessed LED lights. The remaining receptacle will be a hot-only receptacle. IS this a possible scenario?

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      21 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      That's only necessary if you did NOT separate the white wires. If you clipped the little tab and ran the two different whites to the two screws you're fine. Good to hear that you were successful with your project.

    • profile image

      david 

      21 months ago

      thanks. everything seems to be working now...

      should I somhow connect the breakers so if one trips the other will also?

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      21 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Yes. It is possible to use the same neutral...but ONLY if you know which phase they are and if you know exactly what you are doing. Plus, a 2 pole breaker becomes necessary when that is done.

      So bottom line is to separate the white wires as well. And it would probably be a good idea to label the outside of the outlet (with a sharpie, maybe) indicating two circuits are used and which two. Otherwise you or someone else may turn one of them off and think that it has killed the entire outlet.

    • profile image

      david 

      21 months ago

      I have a situation where the switched half is a different circuit than the outlet. my question is... should I separate the white wires by breaking off the little tab between the silver screws?

    • profile image

      Alex 

      22 months ago

      Thank you for the feed back! I will try it.

      (Great site btw)

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      22 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      The half hot outlet will have both a permanent hot and a neutral in it. Additional outlets can be powered from either that or the switch box by using the permanent hot and the neutral from either the switch box or the outlet box. In the diagram, it will be the black and gray (white) wires, along with the green of course. Simply splice into those wires with a wire nut.

      You could even add half hot outlets by using a 3 rope wire with black, red, white and green if you would like to. Two of my living room outlets, for instance, are operated from the same switch.

      Caution needs taken if it is to be done from the switch box, however, as there will be a lot of wires in that box and a deep or oversize box will be required.

    • profile image

      Alex 

      22 months ago

      In the example of power in the switch box, after you have set up the half hot, how do you power up other outlets past the half hot one?

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      22 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Hi Nicholas. What you describe, a GFI to operate both a dishwasher and a disposal, will not work as there is no way to switch only half of the GFI. The switch would have to be on any time the dishwasher is running.

      To make this work you will have to install a second outlet next to the GFI, using the "load" contacts on the GFI to power it, for the disposal. That way the second outlet can be switched while leaving the GFI on at all times.

      I might also be possible to install a single duplex outlet, powering it from the "load" side of a GFI elsewhere in the room. You could then switch just half the outlet while retaining the protection of a GFI.

    • profile image

      Nicholas Hodge 

      22 months ago

      Similar as you've answered before, but maybe a little different. I've just installed 20A outdoor gfci plug (switched from above counter) and want to plug dishwasher and disposal to it. Can I remove wall switch and attach corresponding wired with wirenuts and a half solid wallplate, or leave switch as is in on position and install sink mounted push button for disposal? This would be very helpful. Thank you in advance!

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      If the power is in the switch box, use a 2 wire cable. The power black to the switch, and black on the two wire cable to the GFI where the black would normally go. Neutral splices in the switch box without terminating on the switch at all.

      If the power is in the receptacle box, use a 3 wire cable between receptacle box and switch box. Black splices without terminating on the GFI, and goes to the switch. Red goes on the GFI where the black would normally go and the other end to the switch. Neutral splices in the receptacle box, plus terminating on the GFI, and the other end simply ends in the switch box. In this manner, the power must go from the receptacle box to the switch, through the switch and return to the receptacle box and GFI.

    • profile image

      Brad 

      2 years ago

      How would you control an entire GFCI receptacle with a switch? My understanding is that a neutral is required in newly installed switch boxes so I cannot do a switch loop. Thank you.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      I'm sorry, but no. There are far too many variables to try and give an estimate of costs. From labor costs in your area to distance from the switch box (panel box?) to ampacity of the circuit and others as well.

    • profile image

      BarbaraGeraghty 

      2 years ago

      Hi Dan,

      Can you provide an estimate for the following. I think my plumber is taking advantage of me.

      three wire romex needs to be run between the switch box and under sink receptacle box.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      It will require a new wire to be installed. It sounds like the outlet is already switched: if so you will need a new wire from the switch to the plug. Or, possibly, from another outlet on the same circuit, but care must be taken to assure it IS the same circuit.

      If it is not switched already, then a wire from the outlet to a switch is required.

      But are you positive there isn't a black wire already in the box, perhaps tucked back where it can't be seen without removing the outlet from the box? While it is possible, it would be unusual to find a red wire in a residential outlet box without a black wire also being there, and it is typically that black wire that is hot all the time.

    • profile image

      Jennifer 

      2 years ago

      I'm trying to make an existing outlet half hot. I noticed the current outlet only has one red and one white wire. How can I make this outlet half hot with only two wires?

    • Linda Robinson60 profile image

      Linda Robinson 

      2 years ago from Cicero, New York

      Hello Dan what a tremendous hub, so much essential information that is so perfectly worded making it very understandable, detailed and interesting. So nice meeting you.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      3 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Hope it helps you out. Good luck with your project!

    • profile image

      Timc2 

      3 years ago

      Thank you very much this was very helpful.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      3 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Finally got it. Yes, you will have to hat another wire to than outlet from the switch. All you have now is a switched wrote and you need a permanent hot.

    • profile image

      Timc2 

      3 years ago

      The switch runs the outlet underneath the sink that I want to make half hot.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      3 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      But what is that switch doing? What does it operate? Is it running the outlet you want to be a half hot? That will require getting another wire to the outlet box for a hour that is not switched.

    • profile image

      Timc2 

      3 years ago

      I had not planned on installing a new switch.

      The switch box which is located above the counter contains a switch and a GFI outlet. The switch has a black wire on the top screw, and then a red wire on the bottom screw which is pigtailed to the power. There is no ground wire on the switch.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      3 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Then you need 3 wires to the switch, including the green. Are you installing a new switch box and switch?

    • profile image

      Timc2 

      3 years ago

      Yes, the outlet I want to make half hot has black, white and green. The black is connected on the brass terminal, the white on the silver terminal, and ground to green screw.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      3 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Let me try again. The outlet has a black, white and green. You want to make it a half hot.you will need two colors wires plus a green between the two, but the white in a romex can be colored black or red.

    • profile image

      Timc2 

      3 years ago

      In your diagram above it is definitely set up where the power is in the switch box.

    • profile image

      Timc2 

      3 years ago

      Thank you for the quick response. I mispoke it is black, white and green in the outlet box. No conduit was used near as I can tell. At the switch there is a black wire connected to the top brass screw and a red wire pig tie to the bottom brass screw. They took the ground wire and connected it to a GFI plug which is next to the switch, but there is no ground wire on the switch.

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      3 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      If it is a Romex cable it has a white as well. Probably buried back in the box. If it is a conduit, you can pull an additional wire through the conduit. If I'm misunderstanding, let me know.

    • profile image

      Timc2 

      3 years ago

      Great explanation, thank you. Question, I am wiring a half hot under a sink so I can run a dishwasher and garbage disposal but there's only 3 wires, black, red, and ground in the box. They had a GFI outlet underneath which I am replacing per your comments above. What is the easiest way to get the additional hot line there?

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      3 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      I'm sorry, but not really. However: is there a sub panel anywhere? Does your tool trace a GFI (a bathroom should be on a GFI). Is the receptacle wired reverse polarity? Is it hot?

      Failing all else, I would definitely flip breakers until I found that circuit: it is just possible that someone wired it without being on a breaker (removing the panel front, you can check the main breaker for the Sperry signal).

    • profile image

      Ed Newbold 

      3 years ago

      Thanks for a clear tutorial. Appreciate it. Also, I've been tracking each of my outlets down to the circuit breaker box very successfully (using a Sperry tool), but one of the circuits (to a basement bathroom that was added years later) does not trace back to the breaker box. That worries me. Do you have any suggestions/comments about this situation?

      Cheers,

      Ed in Columbus, OH

    • Sumona Ireen profile image

      Sumona Ireen 

      3 years ago from New York, US

      good hub ..............................i like it.

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