I want to change a light socket in my garage to an outlet, so I can hook some shop lights up to it. When I looked at the socket, I saw some really strange wiring.

When they built the house, they used a single 14-2 to go from the switch to the socket AND the outlet for the garage door opener. There's one too few wires...They ran the black wire from the switch to the socket, so it's a switched hot. The white wire is connected to hot and goes to the outlet. The GROUND wire is connected to neutral in the switch's box and becomes the neutral for the socket and outlet. That's obviously messed up. They used ground as neutral, so there is no real ground. The garage door outlet has both it's neutral and ground going to the same wire.

They should have used 14-3 or 2 runs of 14-2. I'm going to fix it. Would it be best for me run a single 14-3 or 2 separate 14-2 sections of Romex. Also, current code calls for GFCI everywhere in the garage. Can I put a GFCI outlets in the ceiling for both the garage door outlet and the switched outlet that I will use for my shop lights or does the GFCI have to be low enough to accessible without a ladder?


2 Answers 2


As far as the GFCI code doesn't specify the location. There used to be an exception for outlets over 6.5' but I think that is gone now. I would add a new wire so you don't have the safety concern. If the walls are closed you may have to fish the wires through the walls because the old wires should be stapled to the studs and pulling the new wire with the old won't work with the staples holding them in place.


A couple things regarding the GFCI is they are required to be in accessible locations in order to be reset/tested and from what I recall from code having to get on a ladder (to reach your ceiling) is not considered 'accessible'. Since you are going to be running cable between the switch on the wall and the other outlets you could expand it to a double gang box and put in a dead front GFCI outlet then from the load side wire in the outlet in the ceiling. Giving you the GFCI protection for the ceiling outlet and still meeting the accessibility requirement.

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