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There are a wall switch and a receptacle in our bedroom. The wall switch controls upper half of the receptacle, which a floor lamp is connected to. I would like to:

  • install a ceiling light
  • make the wall switch control the ceiling light
  • make the receptacle always-on

I have read about this similar question but after removing the cover plates of the wall switch and the receptacle, I find that there are more wires than I thought. I made a diagram of the wiring of the wall switch and the receptacle:

wiring diagram of wall switch and receptacle

A to E are Romex cables. All bare metal ground wires have been omitted for simplicity.

I have read about various wiring diagrams but I am still not too sure which wire goes where.

My understanding is that:

  • Cable B is connected to the service panel
  • Cables A and C are the same cable

But what do cables D and E do?

I guess this is what I need to do but I'm not too sure:

  1. buy a new receptacle
  2. disconnect the old receptacle (R1, R3, R4)
  3. connect the new receptacle to black and white wire (R3, R4), but NOT the red wire
  4. disconnect the wall switch from the red wire (SW2)
  5. run a new 14/2 Romex (black + white + ground; NO red) from wall switch to ceiling
  6. in the wall switch box: connect new Romex black wire to SW2 and white wire to W2
  7. connect the other end of the new Romex to the ceiling light

Are my steps correct?

1 Answer 1

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I think you have this pretty well figured out. Sometimes it is not clear which cable is bringing in power from the panel, but you have already identified that as cable B. Cables D and E are presumably carrying power to additional locations. A little unusual to have a 3-way split like that, but not in any way a problem - electric circuits (US style) are trees. Sometimes a single long thing and sometimes branching in multiple ways.

Technically you can pigtail from existing R3 wire to connect to R1 and R3. But a little better to replace the receptacle as you planned. For the replacement receptacle, I highly recommend you spend $3 instead of $1 to get a receptacle that has "screw to clamp". The cheaper receptacles have backstabs (single use, notorious for causing problems) and screws that require the traditional curved wire. The better receptacles let you wire straight in (easy, like a backstab) but instead of the wire going into a single-use internal clamp it goes under a metal piece under the screw and can easily be screwed down nice and tight. In fact, with screw to clamp you get 2 wires per screw, so you could even get rid of the wire nuts and connect 3 wires (2 on screw, 1 on the other screw) on hot side and 3 on neutral side.

If you have metal boxes then regular switches always ground to the box (i.e., no ground wire connection needed) and better quality receptacles (the same ones that have screw-to-clamp connections) also ground to the box. If you have plastic boxes then you need to make sure to connect the ground wire to the receptacle.

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  • Thank you! TIL there are screw to clamp receptacles. I looked it up in Home Depot and Leviton brands it as Decora Plus Heavy Duty. Unfortunately I checked several receptacles in the home, they all use cheap backstabbing receptacles. Is it necessary to replace them with heavy duty ones? Oct 24, 2023 at 0:07
  • I also found that Leviton has a new series called Decora Edge which uses plastic levers to secure wires homedepot.ca/product/1001798805?eid=QR_STORE_30007_Visual Oct 24, 2023 at 0:10

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