1 switch now controls entire circuit... oops


Old 09-22-04, 12:51 PM
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1 switch now controls entire circuit... oops

I recently replaced all of the outlets and light switches in my living room. Before doing so, half of one outlet was controlled by a light switch (as it should be). I replaced the switch and everything was fine. But when I replaced the outlets I did something wrong, because now everything along the entire wall (4 outlets and a switch for the patio light) is controlled by one switch. How can I identlfy and fix the problem and get back to just one outlet being controlled by the switch?
Thank You!
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Old 09-22-04, 01:20 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Please provide details of both the switch and the receptacle wiring. In each box, identify how many cables come into the box, how many wires are in each cable and what colors they are, and how everything is connected. For simplicity, please do not mention the grounding wires.
Old 09-22-04, 07:55 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Bella Vista, AR
Posts: 57
How I understand it, you used to have only one outlet that was on a switch, well actually only half of it. Now all of your outlets are on a switch. I would assume all of your outlets are pigtailed together, meaning each outlet is connected to the other one looping around the room rather than each outlet going to a junction box, which you didn't say you had to go in. Anyways, if you go to the outlet that used to be switched and pull it back out of the wall, I bet you there were two "hot" wires in that box, one went to the switch, the other went to the junction box and was constantly hot. There may be two black wires or a black and a red wire or even something else, however those are the common colors. Note, if the outlets are hooked up wierd, you could even have 3 black wires, but I am assuming this was done by somebody who knows what they are doing. Now, if what I am saying is correct, you will need to identify the wire which is constantly hot, and which one is controlled by the switch. Be careful, you will probably need to do this when it is on and with a voltmeter. Once you have identified the wire that is switched, go ahead and put some electrical tape around it so you know what one is switched. No, if you look at the hot side of the receptacle, there should be two brass screws, between the two screws will be a brass tab that goes vertical on the receptacle. It will have a slot it in where a flat screwdriver can go through it. This tab needs to be broken with a screwdriver, pliers or whatever you can find to break it off. It must be completely removed to that no current can pass between the two screws. Now identify which half of the receptacle you want to be switched and put the switched wire back on the respective screw, put the other wire on the other brass screw. Now put the outlet back into the wall and see if it works. Hopefully it will... and if you didn't tamper with any of the connections in the back of the recept box when you added new receptacles, it should work exactly like it did before.

I hope this helps, if you have any other questions of have a question about what I wrote, please post back.

Best of luck, let us know how it turned out.

Old 09-24-04, 10:37 AM
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Thank you so much for the advice! I haven't yet had a chance to open everything up again, but I will this weekend. I did break off the tab when I installed the new outlet (before doing so the switch wouldn't control the outlet at all, so I looked online for instrusctions). Tomorrow I will try to figure out which wire is constantly hot, and which is controlled by the switch. If I can't get it right, I will open up everything and post details of which wires are going where. Again, thank you very much! I will let you know how it turns out.

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