Another switched outlet problem...

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  #1  
Old 01-28-07, 01:03 PM
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Another switched outlet problem...

I've recently replaced the switches and outlets in our house - for aesthetic reasons only - they all worked perfectly. I was very careful to keep the wires correctly positioned, and everything works.

However, since I've done this, one outlet that was half-switched no longer obeys the switch - the bottom half of the outlet that was switched is now always powered.

I searched this board, and found that I needed to remove the tab between the brass screws to get the switch working. So I did that, but the switch still had no effect. I then tried removing the tab between the silver screws - but this stopped the bottom plug from receiving any power whatsoever.

So I replaced the outlet with a brand new one, removing only the tab between the brass screws. Still no luck - the switch position is ignored.

Unfortunately, I tossed the old outlets, so I can't compare the new with the old.

Here's the wiring I have at the outlet:
Top left quikconnect- white
Bottom left quikconnect - white
Top right quikconnect - black
Top right brass screw - black
Bottom right quickconnect - red
Bottom right brass screw - red
Green ground screw - bare

At the switch:
Top quikconnect - black
Top brass screw - red
Bottom brass screw - black
Green ground screw - bare

Note: There are three other outlets in the same room that are on the same circuit, but they have never been affected by the switch.

If you need more info, I will be happy to provide it.

Thanks,

Mike
 
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  #2  
Old 01-28-07, 02:09 PM
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Do you have any other receptacles in the room with the red wire attached? If you do then you need the tab removed on those as well. There is a very slight chance the switch is bad.
 
  #3  
Old 01-28-07, 02:18 PM
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Before you do anything else I suggest that you go back to the store and buy the book "Wiring Simplified." You, apparently know very little about home wiring. You should not have attacked this job without first fully understanding what you were getting into. Electricity can and does kill people. it also starts fires which destroy houses. Electrical fires are usually caused by homeowners who do not have a clue what they are doing.

The proper way to do this job (for a newbie) is to replace one device at a time. Turn the power off, replace the device, turn the power on then check everything on the circuit. That means every light and every receptacle. You want to know immediately when you make a mistake, so that you know where the mistake is located and so that you can re-install the old deevice if you screwed up.

The terms left, right, top and bottom mean nothing. Are you looking at the back or at the front? Which end is up? Use the terms hot or brass connection and neutral or silver connection. Do not use ambiguous terms.

Do not use the quick connects. You went through all the trouble of doing this work, you should have used the screw terminals. Using the back stabs may have saved time now, but their tendency to fail means lost time later on. While back stabs are legal to use, using them is foolish. I recommend you redo ALL your work, not using any back stabs.

In your case because of the wiring you will need to pigtail, as it is only legal to place one wire under a screw. Better yet, you should have spent a little more money and bought better quality back wire receptacles and switches. Buying the cheap bulk devices is penny wise and pound foolish. Back wire receptacles allow for two connections per screw terminal and are easier than having to wrap wires around the screw terminals. They are also better quality overall.

The reason that removing the tab on the brass terminal side of the receptacle had no effect is because the red wire also appears at the other receptacles. In order for us to sort this out we need to know the wiring at ALL receptacles on this circuit.

Go buy the book, then do your homework, and report back to us.
 
  #4  
Old 01-28-07, 04:47 PM
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For one thing, I agree that you have too many wires attached to the device. I use pigtails for every device I wire. That being said, your fix should be easy. First, always verify that the power is off at the outlet. Once you're sure, take all colored <black or red> wires off of the device, and cap off all but one of them. Take that wire and connect it to whichever terminal you want to be switched <i.e., top or bottom, however the device was set up before>. Re-install the device, and check to see if the switch now controls it. If not, repeat with a different wire until you find the switched wire. No other wires should be connected to the same terminal, as this will only make the terminal hot all the time. Pigtail all other red/black wires together and use a jumper wire off of the pigtail to feed the other terminal. My only question here is why you'd have red wires in the box at all, unless one of them is actually the switched conductor. That would make sense, but still wouldn't explain the other red wire. Good luck.
 
  #5  
Old 01-28-07, 05:14 PM
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I'll add another moan at quikconnect/backwiring. It's legal, it's there, but it's a shabby bonding nonetheless. Did you combine back and side wiring the receptacles for lack of space?

If the old fixtures were this way, you may have little slack for tailing around screws. I will change to deeper boxes just to accommodate the extra nuts and wire from extending short ends, so it's done right and saves future electricians a bother. Keep in mind all your work must someday be reworkable. Please don't think the job done if you can just get it working somehow. Do it right.

Anyway, while you're fresh on this, try to diagram everything as it was.
 
  #6  
Old 01-28-07, 06:24 PM
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A few things:

1) When I replaced the various switches and outlets, I used the exact same connections as were already there, which were done 10+ years ago by the developer that built the house. I *didn't* decide out-of-the-blue: "hey, I'll use the quick connects because they look really easy!" I exactly reproduced the existing connections.

2) Describing the outlet connections - I assumed the outlet was facing the reader, grounding slot underneath the neutral/hot slots. For the switch, facing the reader, screws on the right. Seemed logical.

It sounds like the other new receptacles on the circuit need their tabs removed. I'll post more details next weekend - assuming I've finished the homework Racraft assigned me.
 
  #7  
Old 01-28-07, 06:34 PM
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Brown.....don't remove the tabs on any other receptacles. The switched wire is somewhere in the receptacle box in question. If you start breaking other tabs off, you're just going to lose your hot somewhere along the line, and you'll have receptacles that don't work.
 
  #8  
Old 01-28-07, 07:18 PM
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If you can remember exactly which receptacles were half-switched, then you can remove the brass-screw-side tabs on those receptacles and those receptales only. One too few or one too many will yield poor results. You must do each and every one of the half-switched receptacles, and not a single one more.
 
  #9  
Old 01-28-07, 07:27 PM
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Thanks, folks. I'll restrain my tab-removing impulses and do it only on the appropriate receptacles.

Mike
 
  #10  
Old 01-28-07, 07:41 PM
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Mike.....did you try landing one wire at a time to see if it was the switched wire? I posted the troubleshooting procedure for this a few replies back, should be pretty simple. Try it!
 
  #11  
Old 02-03-07, 12:13 PM
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FYI - I removed the tab from the other outlets in the room that had the switched wiring, and it's working!

Thanks for the help, folks!

Best regards,

Mike
 
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