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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a lightswitch in a small bedroom that I am in the process of converting into a nursery that is causing me a lot of headache.

The door to enter the room is right near the closet door which leave only 4.3 inches of "wall" between the entry door and the closet door molding.

The issue is that essentially there is no "hollow" wall to run wire and/or install a switch as the builders simply put a bunch of 2x4 and a piece of plywood altogether to frame the doors. I have attached some pictures of the cutout.

Whoever installed the switch that is presently there currently has a situation of box overfill (by today's standard anyway and assuming my calculations are correct). Essentially they cut a square hole in the 2x4s 3x2x1.5 and put a 1.5 inch deep device box in there. Based on NEC 314.16(A), this has a capacity of 3 14 gauge conductors. Being a switch box, it presently has a switch loop running to it which means 2 conductors for the loop, 2 for the switch, 1 for the ground, and 1 for the device clamp in the box for a total of 6 conductors and a significant overfill.

As we are replacing the light in this room with a fan/light combination, the ideal situation would be to be able to install a new switch and fan controller. The issue is that I have no idea if behind the hole if there is a hole where I would be able to run new NM cable to pull through the drill hole. Additionally, with the need for a neutral at the box, I would need to pull 2 14/2 NM cables meaning I would need a larger hole. I am unsure if I can drill a larger hole through these studs and whether I can cut out the 2x4s even wider to put in a 4 x 1.5 square box in the hole. If so, I would be allowed 10 conductors which would mean that I should just make it box fill wise. 4 for the devices, 4 conductors, 1 ground, and 1 insulated ground (believe these are on the fan controller) for a total of 10. The clamp would be external to the box.

At the very least, I would like to replace the 14/2 that is currently running to the switch box because the cable is burnt up at the light fixture box (picture attached). The house wiring is old and I have been spending considerable time rewiring and running new circuits because the old wiring created situations of easy overload because multiple rooms were all on the same 15A circuit for both receptacles and lighting. If you put on the TV, and some lights and then used a vacuum, it was surely overloaded. I am unsure why the breakers never tripped, but they didn't, so I could be over paranoid, but something caused the cable to burn (this is the second burnt cable I have found on this particular circuit).

Even just replacing the 14/2 is an issue with the current wall situation as I do not know how to get a single gang box in there that is code compliant regarding fill. I do not think I can notch deeper because non-loading studs are not supposed to be notched more than 60% (if I recall correctly), so I am thinking the 4x1.5 box is the best way to go. With that solution, the issue is drilling back to what hopefully is a hollow to run the cable in. That drill hole is essentially PARALLEL to the studs and is therefore basically completely drilling the stud out. I have loosely considered using surface raceway and a surface box, however, I am trying to avoid that at all cost.

Anyway, I am rambling at this point as my head is filled with 8 million thoughts, ideas, and problems, so I am hoping for some constructive feedback from some experts as to what they would do in this situation.
 

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I'm guessing there is a partition wall on the other side between those two doors? Which is the reason for those stacked studs? The framer got lazy and didn't want to build a California corner. In this case that 60% rule wouldn't apply because those studs don't even have to be there. The only framing you need for wall channels are a few blocks. Unless you are mistaken and it's a load bearing wall?

If you think you can make it work, try notching the hole deeper. But it looks like that cut out for the switch might be a little large? So you have some drywall patching to do anyway. If that's the case then instead of tinkering with it, I would rip the drywall out and those studs out and start over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the response.

you are correct, there is a partition on the other side where the studs are. The wall is definitely not load bearing. The load bearing wall is the wall to the left of the doors that runs down the entire length of the house right down the middle.

My initial plan was just to cut out a larger hole to accommodate a 4 square box as described in my initial post, so I was not overly careful about ripping the small old box out. It was only after doing so that I realized how difficult the fishing of the new wires might be. If it is like I assumed and you appear to be confirming that I can notch away at those studs as much as I want, I think I am going to cut out the 4x4 square to the same depth, drill a larger hole into what I hope is an eventual hollow and get out the greenlee's and attempt to push the 2 new cables through. In doing so, no patching will be needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Will a remote control satisfy the NEC requirement for a switch to control the light near the entry of a room?

Given that a remote is mobile and not fixed, I was under the impression that it would not.
 

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I've not run into an issue with a wall mounted remote and inspectors.

As long as you leave the existing wiring, you could always go back to what you have now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
OK, so I added a piece of code text that doesn't exist, but 210.70(A)(1) does indicate "At least one wall switch-controlled lighting outlet shall be installed in every habitable room and bathroom. ". Does a remote control unit qualify as a "wall switch" or will I still need to put a switch on a different wall somewhere in the room?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
No it does not, however, I am concerned that since a remote control is not "fixed" in place, hardwired or not, it would not qualify as the wall switch because it could easily be removed from the room and could be lost as well.

So my issue isn't so much the hardwiring as it is the fixing of the switch in place.

But, if everyone is saying that it is something that passes inspection consistently, I don't have too much of an issue with it.
 

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dcapone said:
No it does not, however, I am concerned that since a remote control is not "fixed" in place, hardwired or not, it would not qualify as the wall switch because it could easily be removed from the room and could be lost as well.

So my issue isn't so much the hardwiring as it is the fixing of the switch in place.

But, if everyone is saying that it is something that passes inspection consistently, I don't have too much of an issue with it.
Ask your electrical inspector? Electrical has a lot of area specific codes around the country, I don't think anyone here knows every one of them in every town.
 

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My concern would be the cooked wires, in the picture with the staple. Doesn't that raise a flag to anyone? Anyone?
 

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Most of the switch locations, and their specifics are dictated by local amendments around here.

Usually within 6' of the latch side of the door.
 

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No it does not, however, I am concerned that since a remote control is not "fixed" in place, hardwired or not, it would not qualify as the wall switch because it could easily be removed from the room and could be lost as well.

So my issue isn't so much the hardwiring as it is the fixing of the switch in place.

But, if everyone is saying that it is something that passes inspection consistently, I don't have too much of an issue with it.
Lutron pico, screws to the wall and a decora plate snaps on it, you would never know it's not wired in a box unless you took it apart. I have one beside my bed.
 

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Open the door to the stop and put the new switch in the wall just past the edge of the door. The "burns" on the cable looks superficial to me. Maybe not even burns possibly asphalt from the back of the insulation vapor barrier. Not sure, I would need to physically see it to rule out burns. IMO if it was caused by the conductors the sheath would have burned open and possibly the conductors would be shorted. Also, there would not be a space between the burns.
 

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I don't know if this helps - is the feed coming from the attic or can you make good wiring in the attic ?

Come down from the attic in the closet - drill from the inside corner of the closet right into the box space - mount a box there.

Cover the wire in the closet with a 3/4" board.

or abandon it and relocate a box just beyond the BR door stop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
So, I ended up just getting out the pull line and the fish sticks and the fish didn't turn out to be as bad as it looks like it was going to be. They basically drilled that hole all the way through the studs into the hollow of the wall partition behind the switch area so with some pull line and finesse pulling a pair of NMs cables through wasn't too bad. I ended up notching all the 2x4s to fit a 4 x 1.5 inch square box in there and was able to install the pair of switches. The cover plate was a little tricky as it was wider than the gap, so I had to notch out the back of the molding to get it in there. I cracked the cover plate as I was too lazy to remove the molding while I was still fitting everything, but that is easily replaceable in a couple days when I have the crow bar out to do demo work in other areas of the house.

I attached some pictures of the connections and the "finished" look (quoted because I still have the cracked plate on there). Everything there should be completely code compliant unless I am overlooking something. Feedback of any issues would be appreciated.
 

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