Useless Switches!

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Old 08-08-08, 07:31 PM
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Useless Switches!

I have several light switches in my home that seem to do nothing at all. How can I find what they are supposed to be doing/used for? (Example: the switch as I enter my dining room should turn on the light/ceiling fan, but it does nothing. Another double switch by the front door turns the outside light on, but the other switch does nothing.) Help!
 
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Old 08-08-08, 08:06 PM
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I suspect these are switch receptacles.

Does the ceiling fan work at all? Do any of your lights NOT work?
 
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Old 08-08-08, 08:19 PM
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Yes, the fan and light work, but I have to go and pull the little chain for each function. I'm not sure why the switch is even there. I have a few other switches throughout the house that do nothing too. I thought they were for an outlet, to turn on lamps, but it's not the case.
 
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Old 08-08-08, 09:41 PM
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Do not rule out the switched receptacles yet. Often times only 1/2 is switched and the other is hot. You may have only tested the constant hot part. Check both the top and bottom of each receptacle.

As for the dining fan it is possible that it is not correctly wired.
 
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Old 08-09-08, 02:37 PM
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When a ceiling is prewired for a ceiling fan, two switches are often installed, one for the fan motor and one for the fan lights. However, sometimes people install fans without lights, rendering one of the switches useless. Also, many fans come with a remote control, which also renders the second switch useless. And finally, some fans come with special fan controls which also don't need the second switch.

But pcboss's explanation is also very common. Switches often control one half of a receptalce. If you don't use that particular half of that particular receptacle, then you may not notice.

Also, switches near doors often control something outside, perhaps something you don't even use.

Or you might have a switch for a garbage disposal, but no disposal installed. Or the switch was prewired to control something else that was never installed or subsequently removed.

And don't forget that episode of Friends where Phoebe thought she could control the TV by blinking.
 
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Old 08-10-08, 01:35 AM
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I agree with the ceiling fan explanation. I just thought I would tackle the front door. Often I will have a x-mas outlet switched from there as well as post lights. Basically it probably is a switch for something on the outside.
 
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Old 08-11-08, 07:59 AM
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Thanks for input guys. I will pass this info on to my husband and see what we can figure out!
 
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