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Electrician Question - light switch wiring

956 Views 26 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  film495
posting this because I kind of feel like I'm being punked and this doesn't make sense to me. There was a bay window where this sliding door is installed. I marked up the pic to show where there are two new exterior lights installed, but for some reason they said they could not get electrical in the wall for the switch, but they ran electrical to power the light on that same section of the wall.

The wiring for the switch that was put in, just goes directly up through the basement floor into the wall vertically to the switch. Why couldn't this have been done on the other side? You can see the open framing there.

I'm not an electrician, but I feel like I'm being punked and now have a light switch on the wall opposite how the door opens. Granted, the contractor who put the door in seems to be playing games with me and has been difficult, so - I don't know who approved, not me, cutting a hole in my drywall and putting the switch there, and the story I got about why it was put there, was - there was plumbing in the wall, but - there's not plubming in the wall there I could figure out for any reason. The contractor wanted to install the door offset to the left of the room, and have it open from the left side, but I guess I had difficulty explaining I just want a normal basic door installed in a normal standard way, and me that means, in the center of the room, and a door that opens from the interior with the right hand, is 99% more common or standard than one that opens the other way. Anyway, he seemed overly angry about my deciding against him on this, so - now I feel like somehow, the switch being there is a joke being played on me, or the contractor told the electrician to put the switch there and they are covering there bases when I objected.

I got back to the electrician and sent the same photo and asked for a better explanation. Just doens't make sense to me, seems like this should have been rather easy, but again, I'm not an electrician, I'm a dumb home owner.

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below the door is a full basement, where my washer and dryer are. it is not finished and is open framing. the electrician ran a new circuit for the switch and two exterior lights, and exterior outlet. above the sliding door is living space, well closets off the 2nd floor master bedroom.

the wiring for the switch that was put there, runs directly vertical from a hole drilled from the basement directly up to the switch. so, when I look at the photo, I have to ask the question why a hole was not just made on the other side, and just run directly up through the new framing on the side of the door.

I sent the electrician the same photo and question was posed again today in email, saying because I'm going to want to fix this, and knowing exactly what the issue was will help me plan for that.
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He should have put the switch where you wanted, working from the basement.
However, I think my remote control is a better alternative now - just because it would keep you, your wife or kid away from the door if they had reason to turn on the outside lights at night. You could operate them from your phone from another room.

Install it yourself in a few minutes, and you're done.
It is a good idea, but I don't do anything with apps or remote anything unless I absolutely have to. I just want a normal switch installed correctly, and not 8 feet away on the other side of the door.
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It's possible that there is plumbing up there. Sometimes a breather or drain line will take a jog over right before the top plate. Since he ran one of the new lights on that side, I have to say that it was something like that or it wouldn't make sense. A 3" drain pipe will hog out that space and make it really difficult to fish a line through especially if it turns any.

I usually try to show a customer what the problem is so they can visualize the problem so the solution is easier them to accept, but then I also try to give them alternative choices for placement too.

I would see if they can point out where the pipe is interfering.
I sent the electrician the same photo, and asked the same questions I posted here. Maybe there is the sink vent piping, the room to the right behind that wall is a bathroom, above that bathroom a 2nd story bathroom, and on the roof is the vent, that piping gets from the first story to the roof somehow. Still doesn't answer the question why they couldn't just run wiring up into the open framing to a switch and back down, seem like that would have been the easiest part.

Guess I'll see what they say. I'll also likely have a chance to ask more questions about code etc. as part of the inspection process associated with the permit. Town had me pull a building permit, and an electrical permit.

Oh, it took me 4 months to get an electrician in my house. Around here contractors, electricians, plumbers, all have more work than they know what to do with.
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response from the electrician is the framing was not done when the switch was put in, and next to the open framing he found plumbing and went with plan B. I poked around, and in the wall between that room and the adjacent room, the septic vent comes up into the wall between the two rooms from the basement, it must run to the exterior wall and go up through the framing where he was going to install the switch and ran into the plumbing. kind of concerned then that he may have poked a hole in the pipe that is the exterior septic vent, no idea how I would ever test something like that.

at least what he is saying makes sense. I'm not thrilled about it necessarily, but it did take about 4 months to get an electrician in the house to do the work, so - really as long as it is done and I know why it was done that way. If I ever care to move the switch over to the other side of the door, he confirmed it could be done, so - it would just be a matter of how much it really matters to me, and since I'm doing a lot of work on the house this year, and trying to stay tight to a budget, it is good.

The invoice is dated due by June 15th, so - I guess I have a little more time to stew on it, but they came in on budget and I really had the electrician do a bunch of work over two full days, so - I think I'm going to count myself lucky I got an electrician in my house at all and the work is completed. Maybe I'll spend a little time trying to figure out how I would even know if they put a hole in that vent pipe. That would be an issue I think.
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he said it could have been done in the open framing directly to the right of the door, but the contractor who installed the door, did not have the framing ready when the electrician was here, so - since the contractor scheduled the electrician, I can add that to the list of question marks for the contractor, but at least I got a reasonable answer to how and why it ended up the way it was done that makes sense. electriicans in this area are months and months out, so - just getting one is nearly impossible, so - is what it is.
Whatever- he could have still installed it on the right side on the existing stud, before the framing was in. What's the difference? My guess is the power came up on the left side so easiest to put the switch there vs- power on the left side, wire going to the rt side for the sw, and up to the lights. Power coming up the rt side from the basement woulda made more sense. I would never do something that i couldnt live with myself (if i was the electrician). Who the hell wants to go left, turn on the light, then go right and open the door?
exactly. it is annoying and odd, but as long as I have some reason that kind of makes sense, not sure I want to make a big deal out of it with the electrician. the contractor scheduled the electrician and according to the electrician the framing was not ready, so - maybe I'll take it up with the contractor as responsible for covering the cost of moving the switch to the correct location. I already have a few issues to take up with the contractor, so what's one more?
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I can help you with that . you do what is known as a peppermint test. this takes two people . one person stays indoors with all windows and doors shut. person # 2 climbs to the roof with a bucket of hot water and a bottle of peppermint oil . you pour the oil into the water and down the roof vent , if there are any leaks in the drain, waste or vent system the person indoors will smell the peppermint . the person who did the pouring must stay outdoors for a while after the pour to prevent dragging the peppermint odor indoors with him.
very cool. Only issue for me is I'm not going up a ladder two stories, but maybe I can talk someone else into it. Another thought, is I could put a sensor in, like a gas leak detector sensitive to methane? Might be an easier option, need to do some research.
Electrician here, unless there's a hose spigot right outside that door to picture right, he's bsing you on the plumbing being there. It's probably an advent of the carpenter and electrician not agreeing about which side the door should have opened from. It could take me all of about thirty minutes to install a cut in box and rerun the power wires to the other side of the door, blank off the other box
I think it is the septic vent that runs up to the roof from the basement.
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