Switched outlet help requested


Old 02-07-05, 02:54 PM
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Question Switched outlet help requested

Background: My New House Construction is Finished, I am replacing outlets (Residential Grade back-stab) w/ a better constructed comercial quality. Each room has a swichted outlet duplex, with the "tabs" broken to only switch the top of the duplex.

Issue: In my den, the outlets are wired off one another (i.e. two black in the back-stab connects, two whites the same). I get to the half-switched outlet, the outlet has two 14/2 (black, white, ground) and one 14/3 (black, white, red, ground) entering the plastic wall box. The grounds are all pig-tailed together and grounded correctly. The switched half of the duplex has the red stabbed on the hot side (which came flying out), and white of the 14/3 in the neutral stab hole (which also came flying out). This is where it gets interesting...On the bottom, instead of having the 3 blacks pig-tailed, he had one stabbed and two on the hot screw. Now the connector is broken off on the hot side to seperate the duplex. On the neutral bottom he has the two whites attached, one stabbed, one on the screw. But the connector is not broken off between the top and bottom of the duplex.

My action: I took and pigtailed the lower three blacks and ran one wire to the new hot side lower screw with the tab broken off and the red to the upper screw. I pig-tailed the two bottom whites and ran that to the bottom screw, and the 14/3 white I screwed to the top terminal.

Final Test: The outlet works, however when I put my plug in tester (the type with red light / Yellow light / yellow light) into the outlet, after I turn the outlet on and then off I get the last two yellow lights a very faint glow (lifted neutral, for eg.) Very faint, even hard to read in the dark.

Question: Why wasn't the neutral connector broken like the hot side duplex connector, is this the reason for the low level warning lights on my tested?

Wall switch: Looks like the wall switch is pig-tailed with another run, perhaps that is why the duplex neutral was not broken.

Question: Should I do anything to correct this situation? Is this faint tester something I can live with?

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Last edited by Beeek; 02-07-05 at 06:04 PM.
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Old 02-07-05, 06:21 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
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You should have made the tabs on the new receptacles match the tabs on the old receptacles.

Did you break the tab on the neutral side? If so, buy a new receptacle and start over, since the old one wasn't broken.

Since the black and red wire from the same cable go to separate halves of the receptacle, you know that the entire receptacle is on a single circuit (assuming appropriate wiring from the switch), which means that the neutrals must all be wired together.

Yes, the broken neutral tab is the reason your lights are faintly lit.
Old 02-07-05, 07:29 PM
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Bob thanks, I did match the tabs with the first. Neutral was left in tact (on the hacked up original and the replacement). It appears like a residual voltage. Once I throw the breaker to re-engize the circuit, the test indicator stays dark. As soon as I flip the wall switch it lights up two yellows (correct), and when I cut the wall switch the two yellows are dimly lit and flicker on and off a tad bit. If I broke the neutral tab, I would have lost, or miswired the other room attached to this circuit, which I redid the outlet for tonight and they work fine. Just that residual dim tester after shutting the wall switch down.

Voltage between hot and neutral is ~45ish, same as another switched outlet in the next room, but I can't make the next rooms switched outlet flicker with the tester.

Since it appears the wiring is correct, I'm going to replace the switch tonight, just in case. Otherwise I have some comercial grade framed switches comming in soon, the residential back-stabs I have in the house now pull out w/ little force, and I have already had one connection fail the first week.


Last edited by Beeek; 02-08-05 at 08:16 AM.
Old 02-08-05, 08:01 PM
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Ain't the switch, ajoining room wired the same way, does not flicker when the switch is off and tester is in the plug.

I rewired the outlet in question (stripped, wire nutted, etc), no luck.

With the first room I noticed the lights flicker when I am near it and touch it, however when I ground myself with the center plate mounting screw the flickering goes away. Static?

With me being able to reproduce it and make it go away, perhaps it isn't anything.

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