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Tag: Adding a Second Wall Switch

An old electric wall switch removed from the electrical box, but still connected

Add Light Switch to One Existing

Dear Mr. Electrician:  How do I add a light switch to an existing one in my bedroom?  The existing wall switch controls an outlet.  I want to install a ceiling fan and have two wall switches to control the ceiling fan and also the light on the fan separately. Answer:  It is possible to change from one wall switch to two or more, however much of what you need to do will depend on the type of structure you are working in and what room.  Basically a three conductor cable with a ground wire needs to be installed from the ceiling fan location to the wall switch location. If you have an attic space above, this can be done sometimes without damaging the walls.  If you don't have attic access or there are obstacles in the wall or ceiling, you will need to cut holes in the wall and ceiling.  Another possibility is to use a surface mount raceway such as Wiremold.  An example of Wiremold can be seen on this post of mine. Below is an example of how I added a second switch to an existing one that controlled an outlet.  This is from a ceiling fan installation that I did a few years ago for some homeowners who bought a single family detached house that was originally built in the 1960's.  NOTE: Some text links go to applicable products on Amazon.com Changing From One Switch To Two When working in an occupied house it is necessary to keep the work area clean so that dust and debris does not travel throughout the house.  I always use drop cloths to protect floors and carpets.  I use a cardboard box to catch dust and debris as it falls from the wall and ceiling.  It also helps speed up the cleaning process at the end of the job. In the photo above are three 2 conductor cables in this switch box originally installed by the builder.  One cable is the power feed while another feeds the bathroom.  The third cable goes to the electrical receptacle outlet nearby which is controlled by the wall switch.  The wiring will change so that the outlet is on all of the time and two switches will be used to control a new ceiling fan and light. The existing wall switch electrical box was mounted to the wood wall stud using two 16 penny nails.  You can see the nails as they pass through the upper and lower parts of the box. Separate the wires and identify them so you can easily splice them back together.  Use colored electrical tape or labels.  In this particular switch the white wires were neutrals, the black wires were hot or LINE, and the red wire was the switch leg.  Because there already was a hot and neutral in this switch box, I only needed to install a three conductor cable with a bare ground wire up to the new ceiling fan location. Instead of cutting the nails inside of the box, I grabbed each one with my...