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Recently purchased a home built in 1986. Just inside the front door, is a three switch panel. One is for the outside patio light, the second is for an inside entry light as well as a flood light above the outside of the garage. The third seems to be some sort of "master switch". It controls all of the outlets in the front room (about 4-5), the overhead light in the kitchen, the light/motor for a ceiling fan, and the exhaust fan over the stove.
I've done a little searching, and I think it's called a switch loop if I'm understanding it correctly, but I don't want it. The plugs will include the tv/stereo/dvd/etc as well as other things and having it accidentally switched off would be an annoyance. Is there any way to make each power use point be on it's own? Also, if it makes a difference, the kitchen light, ceiling fan/light, and stove fan all have their own individual wall switches. I'm fairly handy and am not afraid to learn how to patch drywall if that kind of work is required. Also, is this situation even safe?

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Well, removing the switch is the easy part. All you have to do is: 1) turn off power to the box 2) you will see two black wires going to different poles of the switch. Unscrew/remove the wires and tie them together using a wire nut 3) turn on the power Now the circuit will behave identically to the case when the switch is 'ON' They will still be on the same circuit.

If you want each unit to be controlled by its own switch you have to run the cabling to the switch box: 1) cut out an opening where you want the switch to be and install an electrical box (plastic or metal) 2) run 12-2 (for 20A circuit) or 14-2 (15A circuit) romex from your switch box to the device box (e.g. light) 3) find the black wire of the original cable going into your device and tie it to the black wire going to your switch box using a wire nut 4) in the device box tie the white wire to where the black wire used to be. Tie the other end of the white wire in the switch box to the other terminal of the switch. Wrap a small piece of electric tape on both sides of the white wire to indicate that it is 'hot' (normally white is 'neutral') 5) repeat for every unit.

  • Sounds easy enough (for the top one) I have no idea of what the gauge of wire is at that point, or what would be required, but does this sound like it's safe? – Matt Dec 6 '13 at 18:38
  • As to the gave, check the breaker that controls it. If it is 15A, use 14-2. There is no harm in using 12-2, it is just more $. However, if you have a 20 A breaker, you must use 12-2 wire. It should be safe provided you turn off the power before working. You should always be very careful, make sure all the connections are secure, etc, but it is relatively safe. – Yuriy Dec 6 '13 at 19:37

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