Attic light

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Burgy

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My attic light is a simple one bulb chain pull fixture. However, for the light to turn on, the main level hallway light switch must be turned On. The hallway switch is a single pole switch; it doesn't control any other light fixtures.

I am going to replace the attic fixture with a dual socket fixture so I can get better lighting in other directions. I would also like to add a light switch for that attic light. Can I add a switch that will turn the light on/off regardless if the main level light switch is on/off? How would I steal power from the existing line to use with new switch?

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Snoonyb

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It depends upon where the hall switch is in relation to the romex to the attic fixture.

However, it is probable that the hall switch is just a switch leg and the hot pair is in the hall light fixture box.

It also may be possible to find a hot pair in the attic, install a "J" box and pull the power for the attic fixture from there.
 

Burgy

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Snoonyb I will find power source. I understand what you mean. Shouldn't be too difficult.

Sparky the hallway switch turns on the hallway light but also sends current to the attic light. The attic light fixture has a pull chain. If the hallway switch is turned off, the attic light can't turn on. I will look at it today and see what I can find.
 

Sparky617

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It sounds like they tapped off of the hall light to power your attic light. If power comes into the hall light box and then down to the switch you could install a light switch in the attic to control your attic light independent of your hallway light. If the power comes to the switch box you'll need to find power in the attic to control just your attic light. You could add a switch between the hall light and the attic light to allow multiple lights in the attic w/o a pull chain, but you'd still be dependent on the hall light switch being turned on. A three way switch isn't an option without changing the 14/2 to 14/3. It all depends on how much work you want to do to fix this.

If it were me, I'd rewire it. But I studied to be an electrician in high school and can repair drywall if needed.
 

Sparky617

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What is the white wire doing? Anything? Is there just the one 14/3 (red/black/white) wire coming into the box? Or are there two pieces of Romex in the box.
 

Burgy

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There is only 1 line coming into the box. I am headed up to attic to follow the attic light fixture line. I will keep you posted.
 

Sparky617

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Is the white wire just taped off and the red and black wires are connected to the switch with the red being the hot? If so, it sounds like you have a hot (red) unused neutral (white), and the switch leg (black). With three wires you have options. You could install a second switch in the box and control the attic light separately from the hallway light. Or you could install a switch in the attic in a convenient place to the hatch to control just the attic light since it would appear you have unswitched power in the attic, likely in the ceiling fixture box. With the low power draw of LEDs you could just have the attic lights be controlled by the hall switch and eliminate the pull chain light. A pair of LED lights in your attic would draw less than 15 watts.
 

kjones1829

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If you have a series connection, then it is normal for all the lights to turn after turning on the switch. If you have a parallel connection, then that's the time that you could add another switch intended for the other light.
 

Sparky617

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In AC house wiring, what he has is called a switch leg. It would appear that the they ran 14/3 from the ceiling box down to the switch. You can wire it with just 14/2 as shown in the diagram in the link.

 

Burgy

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Here are some more pictures. Sorry they are not great. I will explain. Sparky, the white wire in the hallway switch is connected to a terminal on the light switch.

First pic is of the attic light fixture. 2nd pic is of the junction box right above the hallway light. The hallway fixture is connected via pig tails. Yellow and Black wire nuts.

3rd pic shows, though you can't really tell, 3 lines coming in from one side of the junction box. 1 of those lines is from the attic light fixture; white and black wire. A 2nd line is coming up the wall from the hallway light switch. I put a red dot on the white wire so I would know it is NOT for the attic fixture. The 3rd line I believe is the incoming power though I have not confirmed that. I put a red dot on the white wire there as well.

The 4th pic shows two additional lines and those are for other lights in another area not to worry about. Those are stealing electricity. Pretty busy junction box.
The 5th pic shows the entire junction box mess.
The 6th pic shows the top of the junction box (partial) where the attic light fixture (white line) and hallway light switch line and hot line come in.

So what I would like to do is to add a light switch up in the attic so it works independently with the hallway switch. I already have the dual light fixture so I just need to confirm what new Line I need to connect to and do I use 14-2 wire? Also, do I reconfigure how the hallway light switch is connected.
 

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Snoonyb

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(Here are some more pictures. Sorry they are not great. I will explain. Sparky, the white wire in the hallway switch is connected to a terminal on the light switch.)

This along with the switch in post #6 are indicative of a 3way switch, so, is there another switch that controls this/these light fixtures?
 

Burgy

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Snoonyb you are right and I just discovered where the other 3-way switch is on the other end of the hallway going out the back door. I have never used it and never thought to see what it turned on/off. I am pretty new to this house.

In my previous post with all the pics, I just now discovered something new and a correction. In the previous email and pic #3 I had thought that the hallway light switch came in from the right side of the junction box; one of the lines I had marked with a red dot. Well that didn't make sense I now realize because that is only a black and white wire, NO RED. Both 3-way switch lines are coming in on the other side of the junction box; red/white/black wires. I followed the lines all the way to the walls blindly under several inches of insulation.

The red wires from both 3-way switches are wired together. The white wires from the 3-way switches are wired together. The black wires from both switches are wired independently along with other black wires including the attic light fixture. The white wire from the attic light fixture is wired together with other white wires but not any whites from the 3-ways.

See additional pics below. The 2nd pic shows a 3 way switch black wire connected to the attic light fixture black. 3rd pic shows the other 3 way switch black wire connected to the incoming hot black and some other black wire that I haven't identified yet and I might not need to at this point.

I can easily disconnect the attic light fixture line but where would I reconnect it assuming I am adding a single pole switch in the attic. It would be a single pole switch, correct?

Let me know if I can get you other pictures or information. Thank you for your help and patience. I am learning as I go.
 

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Burgy

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Update. I was able to disconnect the attic light fixture and reconnect it to the power and neutral lines and take it off of the 3 way configuration and so now I can use the attic light independently from the hallway 3 way switches. Tomorrow I will add a light switch (single pole) in the attic to operate the attic light using the exiting wire that the fixture is connected to. I think I should be ok but if you feel I am missing anything let me know.
 

Snoonyb

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Sounds like a deal to me.

Just make sure that the switch is easily accessible and not in the way of things you are going to store there.
 

Burgy

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Just to update. All completed. I installed a junction box and then a wall light switch (one that illuminates) in the perfect location. Thanks again for all the help.
 

Snoonyb

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You are welcome, and the price was right.
 

Forlorn

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Hmm, that sounds interesting. I think you can actually do it, but I am not quite sure how you can do it. As I understand, the hall switch is just a switch leg, and the hot pair is in the hall light fixture box, just like someone said above. I would advise you to look for a hot couple in the attic. You should be able to find one in there and install a "J" box in there so you could pull the power for the attic fixture right from that box.
 

Jeff Handy

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Hmm, that sounds interesting. I think you can actually do it, but I am not quite sure how you can do it. As I understand, the hall switch is just a switch leg, and the hot pair is in the hall light fixture box, just like someone said above. I would advise you to look for a hot couple in the attic. You should be able to find one in there and install a "J" box in there so you could pull the power for the attic fixture right from that box.
They solved the issue a year ago, May 2020.
 

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