Outlet Energized, Switch Off

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Old 05-29-12, 04:02 PM
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Outlet Energized, Switch Off

I have a mid run duplex outlet top outlet switched in a bed room. However, with the switch off the outlet appears to still be energized as evidenced by lamps that light albeit dimly. I would guess 50% brightness or less. When switch is in on position lamp is full bright. Checking with a multimeter shows full voltage at either switch position. Multi meter does not have an AC amp setting so cannot check that.

1. I pulled outlet and checked wiring - all seems correct -

A. hot side wiring is separated at the outlet, two black leads, copper screw connector broken/discontinuous

B. a wire nut that contains two blacks into the box, 1 white into the box and a black pigtail to the bottom of the outlet.

C. black lead into the box and then to top side outlet

D. two white into the box and then to neutral side of outlet. Copper screw connector is continuous.

2. I changed duplex outlet, boxed Leviton, not cheaper bulk Leviton. No change.

3. I removed switch from circuit, leaving leads DISCONTINOUS and outlet is still energized, low amps dim bulb state.

Am I missing something obvious? Rewiring through walls is not practical so is best solution to cut out switch (remove and cap false neutral from wire nut and black from top side outlet, second pigtail from wire nut to top side outlet.)

This condition goes back to original wiring. House is 13 years old. So I am assuming this partially energized condition is a low fire risk situation but am I wrong and have been dodging a bullet. As of now room is in breaker OFF status.
 
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Old 05-29-12, 04:57 PM
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The white at the switch is not a neutral. It is a constant hot to the switch. The black at the switch is returning the switched power to the receptacle.

Can you post a pic of the receptacle showing both sides and the connections?
 
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Old 05-30-12, 01:27 PM
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Outlet Energized, Switch Off

OK, here are photos.

Since power is getting to outlet with switch off I also checked continuity as follows:

1. Switch off, white hot to switch to black out to outlet - no circuit
2. Switch on, white hot to switch to black out to outlet - good circuit
3. Black hot in to box to black switched to outlet - no circuit
4. Black hot out from box to black switched to outlet - no circuit

So how the outlet is being energized when switch is off must involve another circuit/source, right?

Would really like to have this be a switched outlet, but am considering just disconnecting the switch circuit at outlet and switch, capping the wires and making the outlet fulltime hot by running a pigtail (as the outlet bridge is broken.) Any thoughts/recommendations?
 
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Old 05-30-12, 01:51 PM
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When checking for voltage you cannot check between two hots. You need to check between a hot and ground (the bare) or hot to neutrals.

The white capped with the black is part of your switch loop feeding power to the switch. the black in the same cable is your switched hot.

Have you tried a lamp in the top receptacle to see if it is working correctly? The wiring looks correct.
 
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Old 05-30-12, 02:23 PM
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Outlet Energized, Switch Off

To recap information already posted -

1. Switched outlet is HOT even when switch is in OFF position

A. If lamp is plugged in bulb lights, but is dim, estimated at 50% or less of normalbrightness.

B. When switch is in ON position bulb lights at normal full brightness.

2. Voltage has been checked with a multimeter. Red and black probes were inserted in the outlet. Voltage appears to be the same with switch off or on, +/- 120V (needle in display sweeps 1/2 way when switch on meter is set to 250 vac)

3. Switching circuit appears to be OK in that circuit is only continuous when switch is in ON position.

At this stage I am going to remove the switched circuit from the outlet and make it non-switched. The source of the electricity to the outlet when the switch is OFF must be behind the walls or above the ceiling which makes me uneasy but the only economic solution is to isolate it.
 
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