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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    203

    Post Updating Kitchen Lighting

    Hi, anyone familiar with how houses were wired back in the 50ís? I am trying to update the kitchen dimmer light switches in the house. The house has old 1950's wiring (cloth) which is in good condition (see below).



    The problem Iím having is that the new switches are asking for connections that donít seem to be available. (see diagram below).




    The new switch needs 3 wires; Black (line) White (neutral) and Red (to the light/load). Iím guessing the black wire is like a input and the red wire is the output for the line.

    As you can see both wires in the switch socket are black. I did use a meter and found that one of the wires (the one with the white tape on the end) goes to the light.

    There are two wires at the light and they both look like the wires coming out at the switch. One goes to the switch but where does the other light wire go, or how can I trace it down?

    It almost looks like there is no neutral wire at the switch, could that be possible? I'm not sure how they did things back in the 50's... If so could I reuse the two existing wires (black and black with white tape on the end) and just run a 3rd (white neutral) wire to the fusebox? Any help in sorting this out would be appreciated
    Last edited by MyMilan; 04-07-2012 at 06:43 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    203

    Smile Re: Updating Kitchen Lighting

    ...almost forgot, this is a single gang switch.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    1,001

    Default Re: Updating Kitchen Lighting

    That looks like knob & tube. The large sheath of black woven insulation gives it away.
    In any case, you have an old-time switch wiring plan. The hot feed wire is in the ceiling box, you are just looking at a "switch leg". You can't connect your controller without running new wire. And if you _are_ dealing with K&T, you would be obliged to replace that feed with new cable as well.
    Casey
    Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    203

    Post Re: Updating Kitchen Lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by Sombreuil_mongrel View Post
    You can't connect your controller without running new wire.
    Thanks for trying to help Casey. I don't think this is knob & tube for two reasons; first they stopped using it in the 1930's and this house was built in the 50's. Second there are no ceramic knobs in the house which I think was a signature of knob & tube.

    How much new wire are we talking? Can I just run a white neutral wire between the fusebox and the switch, and reuse the old black (line) wire, or does everything have to be scrapped? I'm on a very tight budget because high funeral expenses from last month....

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    wisconsin
    Posts
    159

    Default Re: Updating Kitchen Lighting

    yeah that looks like the old cloth romex. Isnt there a differnt style dimmer you can buy? Is the switch lighted? Id just get a differnt switch than pull new wire in. unless you want to make a 10 minute job into a 6 hour job.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    203

    Smile Re: Updating Kitchen Lighting

    The switch is not lighted. This switch is a insteon switch so unfortunately it cannot be substituted for another switch....

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    251

    Default Re: Updating Kitchen Lighting

    I switched ot dimmers last fall on 3 light circuits. I have hte same cloth sheathed, rubber insulated wire as you. Yes, it's a early version of ROmex... and IMO is probably better since it uses rubber instead of paper for the primary insulation... and I think the clith too may be more durable than PVC.

    I beleive there are only 2 wires because the switch is only witching the hot/load, not hte neutral. THe neutral goes only to the light fixture. THe dimmer should still work just fine on 2 wires. It should have instructions for 2 wire connections. Eahc of mine only took 10 minutes or less to change over. I have no immediate plans on replacing the wire.
    1925 Two-Story Stucco Beaux Arts Neoclassical

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,620

    Default Re: Updating Kitchen Lighting

    As I see it you have two choices. 1- get a different dimmer that only requires the two wire switch leg or 2-replace the 2 conductor cable from the light box to the switch with a 3 conductor cable. And no you can not just run another white wire from the panel to the switch box, you could run 2 conductor Romex and cap the black wires but I would advise against it.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    203

    Smile Re: Updating Kitchen Lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by motoguy128 View Post
    I beleive there are only 2 wires because the switch is only witching the hot/load, not hte neutral. THe neutral goes only to the light fixture.
    Yes from what I see here that appears to be what is happening. It also explains what the other wire at the light is (the neutral).

    Quote Originally Posted by JLMCDANIEL View Post
    As I see it you have two choices. 1- get a different dimmer that only requires the two wire switch leg or 2-replace the 2 conductor cable from the light box to the switch with a 3 conductor cable.
    Option 1 is not possible, so I guess I'll have to rewire Is there maybe a third option, that being to tap into the white wire at the light - and bring it to the light switch?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,620

    Default Re: Updating Kitchen Lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by MyMilan View Post
    Option 1 is not possible, so I guess I'll have to rewire Is there maybe a third option, that being to tap into the white wire at the light - and bring it to the light switch?
    That would be choice 2 replace the 2 conductor wire with 3 conductor from the switch box to the light box.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

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