How To – Extending A Garage Light Circuit To Add A Garage Door Opener

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    This is a pretty specific HowTo that I hope will help some home owners that are faced with adding an outlet for their Garage Door Opener when a feed from the nearest closest outlet is obstructed.

    I came across this problem when a neighbor asked to borrow a pair of needle nosed pliers because he was having another neighbor add two outlets in his garage and they couldn’t get the twist on the wire tight with the pair they had.

    Well first off that was kind of a clue that if they didn’t know enough to use linesman’s pliers instead of needle nosed pliers to twist a bunch of wires they needed me to at least take a look… I needed a laugh anyway so I walked down the street to his garage to take a look.

    What I found was 2 guys that knew enough to get themselves in trouble but had also been drinking. In the end unfortunately the home owner did not take my advice and the unemployed plumber who he had doing the work brought into question my abilities… yea well at least I wasn’t drinking and screwing things up…

    I provided the home owner a diagram of the circuit that he should have installed and told him the work that was performed was not acceptable. In my state a home owner can perform electrical work in their home it just requires a permit that can actually be filed after the work is done and an inspection… there was no way that the work that was done was going to pass inspection so I actually went back to the home owner twice telling him he needed to get a licensed electrician to fix the damage and install the outlets he needed.

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    The fact is the guy who was so proud he was a journeyman plumber even showing me his card then telling me he is now unemployed could have probably got the job done with a few basic tools if he took a moment of thought to the layout the circuit he was cutting into and put down the beer until he was done working.

    It seems that the circuit feeding the garage lights was fed from the basement and the garage lights were last on the circuit.

    This means that a hot wire from the basement is feeding the switch and then a wire up into the garage attic fed the two 100watt bulbs.

    When he added the line to the new outlet in the ceiling of the garage to feed the garage door opener he cut into the light circuit AFTER the switch. This meant if the garage lights were not on the garage door would not operate. It also meant that you could turn the garage door off at the light switch.

    What he should have done was attached a wire to the back of the light switch on the bottom side where the hot line was coming in and then ran that up to the outlet.

    The outlet would always be on and the lights would work independently from the garage door opener.

    The madness in this whole process was that the plumber owned a $75 set of Greenlee fiberglass fish rods for fishing wire through walls and it was leaning against the wall in the garage. Yes boys and girls DO NOT DRINK AND WIRE CIRCUITS.. I don’t know but it was almost like the guy was testing me or something… I mean gee you got tools only an electrician buys and I hand you a circuit diagram and you still do it wrong then look at me as if I am a jerk for questioning your vast knowledge?

    Well anyway after telling the home owner to get an electrician because I was not going to do the work for him I thought I would write this howto for you guys so maybe you might learn more then a little bit about basic wiring. Sometimes … you just can’t help people and drunks are probably the worst of all… They know everything.. you know nothing .. so just walk away and don’t argue

    As I was walking away the plumber was installing pull string cords and light recepticals on the ceiling of the garage… YES because the lights always had to be on and if you turned off the switch the garage door opener would not work… and the home owner was negotiating how much beer he was going to pay the guy for the job… THIS IS 100% TRUE… so take it to heart and if this happens to you walk away or say your wife needs you.

    For the rest of us who are in that not so great situation where you need to attach an outlet circuit onto a lighting circuit the diagram below should help. If not then put down the beer and get a professional.

    You should understand how to make connections to a switch and outlet and how to feed wire through a wall applying the proper number of tiedown staples in the correct locations.

    Basically what you need to do is attach the outlet feed wires to the back of the garage light switch to estabilish a passthrough circuit. This will allow the electricity from the circuit before the switch to pass directly through to the outlet for the garage door opener.

    If you need to add another light then you would connect a wire to the first light to continue the switched circuit. If you needed to add another outlet you would connect the wires to the garage door outlet to continue the always on circuit.

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    Remember always follow code for your area and ask a professional to help if you  can not do the job yourself.

    And remember Friends don’t let Friends wire drunk.

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