Had an old ceiling light socket in an un-finished basement that had used a pull chain (before it broke). Recently replaced it with a new plain socket, but there is nothing to turn it on and off except unscrewing the bulb. I'd like to add a single pole switch nearby (no more than 10ft or so).

My plan would be to run a single line from the light box, parallel with the floor joists, in flexible conduit, up, over and down to a switch box on a 4x4 post. There is nothing else running to/through the light box as of now, so I'd simply hook it up as shown.

(red being neutral...and the ends would be marked to indicate they are acting as hot)


There wasn't a ground running to the light box, on the old socket, or on the new socket as far as I could tell, would that be a problem at all?

I'm assuming that just leave the wire exposed, without some kind of conduit would be a no no if it's extending down below the joists, correct?

If I wanted to add an outlet at some point, running from the light box, would I simply tie it in to the hot and ground running to the box? And if I added an outlet, would it be a problem not having a ground? (I might just be able to detach the source wire and strip the ground back if there is enough slack)

  • What kind of wiring feeds the existing box? If it's a metal box, there should be some kind of grounding. If it's fed by metal conduit or metal armored cable, the conduit / armor may be your ground. – batsplatsterson Jan 7 '16 at 10:52
  • @batsplatsterson It's just an open wire, leading into the metal light box. I believe it runs straight from the breaker box...it's only a few feet away from it. I didn't trace it back to see if there was a ground wire hooked up to the panel or not, but it doesn't make much sense that they'd do that and not have it connected to the light box. – TRGR Jan 7 '16 at 12:20

The switch you plan to add will work fine without a ground. Do make sure there wasn't one tucked away in the lighting box, or trimmed back. It is very rare not to have a ground in every cable unless it's a very old house.

If you want to comply with the strictest codes start by ripping out the existing light circuit, then run an all new circuit to the switch first, then to the light.

The conduit is not necessary to run down the wall if it's stapled properly to the inside of the stud cavity.

As for the outlet, you should branch it off of something grounded, or go to the effort of running a new circuit, so that you can have gfci in an unfinished basement space.

Or if it's something you won't use often, or doesn't have a grounding pin, consider those adapters that give you two ungrounded outlets and a light socket from one light socket, and an ungrounded extension cord. Iirc, there are ones that have pull chains for the light too.

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  • There might be a ground wire in the line from the breaker box (no clue if it would be connected to the panel or not), but it would have been cut off, hence what I mentioned about stripping the cable back to try and expose enough to re-wire it to the light box. – TRGR Jan 7 '16 at 12:25
  • Some of the wiring is older and some was replaced years ago; if I was in a position to do so, I'd just re-do everything. It was a pain enough replacing some other outlets elsewhere and making sure they were all grounded. If I did add an outlet, I think I'd just end up replacing the whole run with new wire and proper ground. It wouldn't be that much cable and I'd prefer to have it on another, dedicated breaker. Would there be an issue if it wasn't a GFCI? None of the other existing outlets are. – TRGR Jan 7 '16 at 12:36
  • Since it's all pretty close together, and all in an unfinished space, it just makes a lot of sense to replace the wiring with current stuff. NM-B is what you want. Check the label on the panel, and bring photos of it and the bus bars to the store when you buy the breaker to help find the right one. GFCI is just nice in spaces that could have wetness. If you're spending the time to add an outlet, and you value your time > $20 an hour, it makes sense to make the outlet GFCI. You might even consider wiring it from panel, to GFCI, to switch, to light for best protection. – Billy C. Jan 7 '16 at 14:32

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