Author Topic: Switching a light switch to the other side of my wall - can a noob do it?  (Read 1060 times)

Lis

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First off, I have next to nothing in the way of electrical experience. Proudly just learned how to switch out a light fixture. I can change a lightbulb. That's about it.

My kitchen light switch is outside of my kitchen, and it's annoying as hell. I don't know, am I strange for expecting a light switch to be in the room where the light is? After just about a year in my place, I'm still not used to it... I still swat at the empty wall and have to backtrack out of my kitchen to get the light on. There are no windows in/near the kitchen either (I live in a coop/apartment building... the kitchen is at the front of my unit, far away from the windows) and it's completely enclosed, so it gets pretty dark.

The wall on the inside of the kitchen, right opposite from the switch, isn't perfectly smooth, which leads me to believe that a previous owner had the switch in the kitchen and moved it himself/herself. Why, I have no idea. My question is - how difficult would it be for me to fix it myself? I'm thinking it would honestly be more difficult to fix the wall where the switch is currently.

Can somebody point me in the right direction? Technically, I'm not allowed to do "major work" in my apartment without informing my management company and hiring a certified professional, but I can't imagine this counts as "major work."

marielle

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I don't know, that kinda sounds like major work. I can't imagine any landlord or management company would want a tenant changing something like that. And isn't it illegal to do your own electrical work for safety reasons? I guess if no wires are cut it might be ok. But still no harm in asking them first, the harm would be if you did it but never asked because you assumed.

Lis

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I don't know, that kinda sounds like major work. I can't imagine any landlord or management company would want a tenant changing something like that. And isn't it illegal to do your own electrical work for safety reasons? I guess if no wires are cut it might be ok. But still no harm in asking them first, the harm would be if you did it but never asked because you assumed.

Maybe there's more work than I'm thinking. I assumed I could cut a hole in the wall on the other side, push the wires to the other side, and move the plate (and fix up the wall). Would wires need to be cut or any real electrical work need to be done?

The only reason I'm hesitant in asking - the guy who could give me permission also doubles as a handyman, but is one of those guys who seriously gives me the creeps. Not someone I particularly want in my apartment and to be alone with, and I'd rather avoid the whole situation altogether. I'm a young female living alone, I'd like to a) learn how to do things and prove that I can take care of my own stuff, and b) not be harassed/taken advantage of financially by a creep.

(I'm considering 'major work' on my kitchen in the next few years, where I would definitely be going with an outside approved contractor.)

Proud Foot

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I think something like this might be a little more cost effective and easier to do. 3 Way Switch Kit .  Just replace your current switch with the receiver and then place the wireless switch inside your kitchen.

Sibley

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Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but is the light switch and where you want it to be opposite sides of the same wall?

If so, wouldn't you basically be flipping the whole thing around and reattaching it? That doesn't sound like a huge deal to me necessarily, though my electrical knowledge about yours. But if you can change out a light fixture, this isn't all that different.

dcozad999

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I think something like this might be a little more cost effective and easier to do. 3 Way Switch Kit .  Just replace your current switch with the receiver and then place the wireless switch inside your kitchen.


Never seen this before.  Seems to be the perfect solution for the OP.


Spork

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If I am reading the original question right -- the current switch and the desired location are on opposite sides of the same wall.

This is super easy.  Get an old work box.  If you want to go the super-easy route, also get a blank switch cover.  Use the old work box as a template and cut an appropriate sized hole where you want it.  Run a bit of wire between the two boxes, move the switch, cover the old box with the blank.  Done.

If you are doing it like I suggest (and are leaving the old box in place, you don't want to cut in the new box *exactly* on the other side of the old one... If you do, the two boxes will collide.  You *can* cut it in to line up with the old box, knock out the old box and patch/paint the drywall (if you prefer).

(It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: Kill the circuit before messing with it.  Test it and make sure it is dead before you start grabbing wires.)
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Jon Bon

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I don't know, that kinda sounds like major work. I can't imagine any landlord or management company would want a tenant changing something like that. And isn't it illegal to do your own electrical work for safety reasons? I guess if no wires are cut it might be ok. But still no harm in asking them first, the harm would be if you did it but never asked because you assumed.

No, it is perfectly legitimate to do your own electrical work.

It sounds like it is a rental and I would not want my tenants touching that, but that is a different story.  Honestly if its as simple a situation as the OP stated their landlord should really take care of it.  It is not an unreasonable request.

sokoloff

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Can somebody point me in the right direction? Technically, I'm not allowed to do "major work" in my apartment without informing my management company and hiring a certified professional, but I can't imagine this counts as "major work."
This is not that big of a job and you've gotten some good advice below on the technical matters. From the landlord's perspective, rewiring any part of the house is undoubtedly "major work".

Rural

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It sounds to me like the OP owns the place. This is definitely not major. Do kill the breaker first and test with a meter, but the rest is simple.

ixtap

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Can somebody point me in the right direction? Technically, I'm not allowed to do "major work" in my apartment without informing my management company and hiring a certified professional, but I can't imagine this counts as "major work."
This is not that big of a job and you've gotten some good advice below on the technical matters. From the landlord's perspective, rewiring any part of the house is undoubtedly "major work".

This is definitely something that you should check in with the management company. If you don't and there is ever an electrical fire, you could be on the line.

Lis

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Thanks all!

I own a co-op, which is it's own weird monster - I technically don't own the property, just shares in a corporation. (Off topic recommendation - don't buy a co-op.) As far as major work goes, the management company has the right to approve (or not) renovations in my unit - so I probably wouldn't be able to knock down the wall between my bedroom and living room, though I've seen remodeled kitchens that have taken out a wall/closet (something I'd like to do in the near-ish future).

I think something like this might be a little more cost effective and easier to do. 3 Way Switch Kit .  Just replace your current switch with the receiver and then place the wireless switch inside your kitchen.

This looks perfect - thank you Proud Foot!!! If I do indeed remodel my kitchen, this wall in question would be taken down, so this is a great, easy temporary solution.

bender

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There are a couple of home automation options that could help as well and don't require permission.

First I nstall a smart switch in place of the existing switch. Alternatively install smart bulbs in the fixture controlled by the switch.  "Alexa, lights on" works, as well as many other natural speech variations. 

If you have a smart speaker like echo, you can now use voice to control the light.

Another fancier option with legacy control is to install a smart switch and a wall mounted battery operated toggle switch that acts as a Scene controller.  This has the benefit of looking and functing exactly like it would if you rewired it.  Drawback is cost as it requires a smart switch, battery op switch and a smart hub.

I know this is overkill, just presenting a different method.  I use this for a plug in lamp that's hard to reach.