outlets, switches & lotsa wires


Old 09-13-00, 11:17 AM
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A wall separating the foyer and living room has back-to-back outlets sharing the same incoming wiring. A single switch on the living room side of the same wall used to control one socket in each of the outlets on both sides of the wall.

My well-meaning brother-in-law replaced all of the 24-year old grimy outlets and switches in my place. Both outlets in the foyer and L/R work -- but they're no longer controlled by the switch.

I unscrewed the covers & outlets/switches to see what was there, and this is the current configuration of wires:

L/R outlet: 2 blacks on the left pole; 2 whites on the right pole; 2 grounds wired together on the green.

Foyer outlet: 1 black on the left; 1 red on the left; 1 white on the right; 4th pole has nothing; 1 ground on the green. (No other wires in the box.)

L/R switch: 1 red on the right; 1 black on the right; 1 ground on the green -- THEN, stuffed in the box are 2 blacks wired together and capped; 2 whites wired together and capped.

Brother-in-law does not remember what he did, so how do I reconnect these wires so that the switch controls at least the L/R top (or bottom) outlet again.....? Do I need a special switch? 3-way? special outlet?
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Old 09-13-00, 11:24 AM
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There is a brass break-off tab separating the upper and lower "sockets" on a single gang duplex receptacle. If you look closely on the side of the receptacle between the wiring screws you'll see it. This gets snapped off to form separatly controlled outlets. If brother-in-law replaced wires exactly how he found them and was unaware of this tab, by snapping it off you should get the previous control back. Cut the power first, of course. Hope that helps.

Old 09-13-00, 02:56 PM
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One additional caution.
There is not wrong way to install an outlet relative to position, but the norm is with the ground opening down. If this is how your receptacle looks then you have reverse polarity. If the ground opening is on top, then your wiring is correct.
Old 09-13-00, 05:10 PM
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A clarification to the polarity: the NEMA standard is with the grounding slot on top.
The major issue is that the hot wires (BK. & RD.) need to be connected to the brass colored screws and the nuetral wire(s) connected to the silver screws. Using the quickwire method of simply pushing the wires into the back is a fire hazard-use the screws. Only remove the tab on the ungrounded side (brass) in this situation-living room only. Another standard practice is to connect the switched wire to the bottom outlet on a duplex receptacle since normally a lamp will be pluged into it that does not get unplugged commonly. The red wire should be the switched wire.

I hope these details help get your situation fixed properly!

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