Replacing switched 110v duplex outlet

Old 08-28-04, 12:05 PM
Dave P
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Replacing switched 110v duplex outlet


I need help in correctly installing and connecting a switched 110v duplex outlet.

The outlet box has 1 single black wire and one single gold wire. There is also continuous black and white wires with enough insulation removed to fit around one screw. There are two single white wires in the box. There are no ground wires in the box.

The switch has a gold wire and a black wire.

I replaced the outlet 2-3 years ago and while both outlets worked, the switch didn't. Somehow, I didn't hook the wires up correctly.

I need help know which wires to connect to the gold and silver screws so that I can get the switch to work in controlling one of the outlets.

Any suggestions from wiring experts?

Thank you,

Dave P.
Old 08-28-04, 01:01 PM
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When you replace the receptacle a few years ago, you made a common mistake. You forgot to break out the tab. Perhaps you didn't even realize that the receptacle had a removable tab.

This wiring is designed for a half-switched receptacle, where one half of the duplex receptacle is switched and one half is continuously hot. The instructions I provide will make it that way again, even though it has not been that way since you replaced the receptacle a few years ago.

Break out the tab between the two brass-colored screws. Use a pair of pliers to bend it back and forth a few times until it breaks out. There is a similar tab on the silver-screw side, but leave that one alone.

Cut the black and white continuous wires where they are stripped. Use a wire nut to connect all white wires to each other and to a pigtail to one of the silver screws. Use another wire nut to connect all the black wires to each other and to a pigtail to one of the brass screws. Connect the gold screw to the other brass screw. Run a green jumper from the green grounding screw to the metal box.

Note that this isn't a 100% sure thing. Because of a complete lack of information about how it was originally connected, I am forced to assume that all the white wires in the box are from the same circuit, but that might not be true. It won't affect whether or not it works, but it will affect how code-compliant and how safe it is. If you know something about how it was originally connected, now's the time to say so.
Old 08-28-04, 04:11 PM
Homer Simpson
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The secrets of the switched receptical revealed!


There are 2 scenarios to this perplexing problem.

1. The electrician may have run the power (Line) into the switch box.
If you have 2 cables (bunches of wires in a sheath), one cable with a
black wire, white wire, and a bare copper wire and another cable with a
black wire, red wire, white wire and a bare copper wire, this is probably the
case (power into the switch box).

2. The electrician may have run the power into the receptical box. I am
going to assume that this is the case for you.

The switch box has one cable with a black wire, white wire, and a bare copper
ground wire in it. (I assume that the receptical is switched from only one location). The black wire is connected to one of the brass colored screws on the switch. The white wire with black tape on it or painted black is connected to the other brass colored screw on the switch. This cable runs
from the switch box to the receptical box that you want to control with the

You never use a bare copper colored ground wire to carry current.
So, If you have a gold wire and it is bare (no insulation) and copper colored, connected to the switch screw, it is a mistake. The white wire color coded black, with paint or tape, should be connected to the other switch screw.

When power goes through a wire, the wire must be a certain color, any color but white or green or green with yellow stripes. So, when an electrician
runs power through a white wire, he is suppose to paint that wire, black or
red or yellow or blue, etc. Sometimes it is just a piece of colored tape. But
so many electricians fail to do this important step. So you can never assume
that a white wire is really a white wire (grounded conductor).

Now, the power cable comes into the outlet box (black, white and bare copper wires). The black wire in the power cable is connected to the black wire coming from the cable that goes to the switch screw in the switch box. There is also a pigtail that connects to the black power wire. The other end of this pigtail connect to one of the brass colored screws on the receptical.

Read John Nelson's reply about cutting the tie that connect the 2 brass screws together electrically. They must not be connected together electrically.

This is the tricky part. Remember that not all white wires can be considered
a real white wire, it may be a black wire disguised as a white wire because it
wasn't color coded black. So if you bundle all the white wires together in the
outlet box, you might connect a hot (white) wire directly to the white wires
and when you flip the switch, you get a direct short. So...

The white (color coded black) wire coming from the switch cable is connected
to the other brass colored screw on the receptical.

The power (Line) black wire may also continue on to another receptical to power something downstream. So...
in the wirenut you would have the (power) black wire, the pigtail black wire going to the recpt screw, the switch black wire going to the switch, and the black wire that continues on to other boxes.

Now to complete the hookup, all the real white wire are connected together
with a pigtail white wire to either silver colored screw on the other side of the
recpt. All the bare copper ground wires are connected together with a bare
copper pigtail connected to the green screw on the receptical.

Basically, the power coming in goes to 1/2 of the receptical and also goes
up to the switch, thru the switch, and back down to the other 1/2 of the

Draw it out on a piece of paper it helps. Say goodbye, Homer. Goodbye

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