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purchased a house with 2 mystery switches - what do they control?

purchased a house with 2 mystery switches - what do they control?


Old 04-29-12, 07:09 AM
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purchased a house with 2 mystery switches - what do they control?

I just purchased a 50-year old house and there are two switches that i can not find what they go to. I have tried all the outlets and have replaced any burned light bulbs. I still can not find where these switches feed. Both switches still have current going to them.

One switch is in the middle of the hallway. The hallway light is accounted for with switches on either end of the hallway. The attic only has an access in a closet and there is no light up there.

The other switch is above the door (yes, above the door!) that leads to an enclosed porch (apparently added on after the original house was built). The porch leads to an outside deck that has an outside light. I can't find a switch to operate the outside light, but this above-door switch doesn't seem to go to it. My heat is gas forced air - so it is not an oil burner emergency switch.

Any suggestions on how to troubleshoot this?

(P.S. I've come to hate dealing with other peoples' electrical work!)
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Old 04-29-12, 07:26 AM
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Sounds like odd locations for switches. You may need to find someone with a Fox and Hound toner to trace the wiring.

Have you found anything that does not work?
Old 04-29-12, 07:54 AM
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The outside light on the deck doesn't work. This would seem to be the logical endpoint for the above-door switch. The light has a built-in motion sensor, so my thinking is the unit might be bad. My next step is to remove the fixture and see if there is current coming through. However, there is current coming to the switch.
Old 04-29-12, 08:09 AM
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A few quick thoughts/questions/suggestions:

The above door switch could be "kidproofing" something. (what, I don't know???)

I'm assuming that the outside light is "off". What happens when you put a known working bulb in it?? (on/off??) Of course, the outside light could be controlled by a motion/photo sensor and have nio switch

Do the switches work??- You indicated that they both have current going to them. Can you tell if they in fact do start/stop the flow of current? Determining this could help you determine which wire in the switch is from the panel/circuit, and which one is going to the undetermined light/ device/whatever the switch controls

Are there any non-lighting electrical devices in the attic: fans, HVAC device, etc.?

Is there any evidence of a doorway being closed in-(in the hall)? That mid-hallway switch could have been at an entrance to a room?? How about evidence of a "moved" light,etc.??

Are the switches "regular" on/off, or 3 way, or 4 way??

Good luck with your investigation, and keep us posted!

edit: when I started typing, this thread had only the first 2 posts- sorry for the repeat info!
Old 04-29-12, 08:13 AM
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Suggestions for the possible use of the hallway light...

Cutoff for a long gone attic vent fan.

Feeds an outlet somewhere outside for Christmas lights.

Even gas furnaces have cutouts....but normally near the access to the furnace (at least my last house did).
Old 04-29-12, 08:28 AM
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Did you check to see if the wires in the boxes are hot?
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