Dead switch in master bedroom, please help...

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  #1  
Old 09-18-12, 06:16 PM
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Question Dead switch in master bedroom, please help...

I recently moved into my home (built in 1975) and did a lot of painting. At the same time, I removed all the old outlets and installed new tamper resistant equivalents. But, I forgot to make note of which outlet had the tab broken off for the switch! Now I have a dead switch in the room.

I went up to the attic and checked out how it is wired. The switch box by the entry door has two switches. One switch goes to the closet light and one switch goes to the closest outlet (outlet 1) that is also bridged to the outlet opposite the entry door (outlet 2). It seems complicated to visualize so I made a diagram...

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Red box = outlets
Orange box = switch box
Light blue and dark blue = wiring (from attic)

Since the line from the switch connects these two outlets, I figured one of these two HAS to be the switch controlled outlet. The other 3 outlets' wiring goes down-ward into the floor, so I think they are not connected to the switch.

Round one: I installed a new outlet with the tab removed at outlet #1 and a new outlet with the tab intact at outlet #2. Switch did not work.

Round two: I installed a new outlet with the tab intact at outlet #1 and a new outlet with the tab removed at outlet #2. Switch still does not work.


Does this mean that one of the other three outlets is controlled by the switch even though their wiring from the attic doesn't connect to the switch box? I have not checked any of the tabs on those outlets yet.

There is also a light installed in the middle of the room on the ceiling, but it is wired to the attic light and not controlled by any of the switches. So, that can be ruled out as a source of the problem.
 
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Old 09-18-12, 06:59 PM
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Tell us the wiring at the switch. Number of 2-conductor and, if any, 3-conductor cables, and how they are connected. Do the same for the receptacle that should be switched. Was it half switched and half always on? If you can't remember which receptacle give us the wiring at each of the possible receptacles.

How sure are you there was a switched receptacle?
 
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Old 09-18-12, 08:10 PM
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I have to move furniture tonight so I can pull out all the outlets. I'll post photos of the switches and all outlets tomorrow. Thanks for your quick reply.
 
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Old 09-18-12, 09:43 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

I'll post photos of the switches and all outlets tomorrow.
Photos will help us see what you're seeing. The descriptions Ray asked for will help us, and you, understand how the system was originally designed and installed, and what you need to do to restore that function.
 

Last edited by Nashkat1; 09-19-12 at 09:13 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 09-19-12, 08:35 AM
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Typically a half switched receptacle would have both a black and a rd connected to the brass side of the receptacle. You may be able to see the colors without removing the devices.
 
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Old 09-19-12, 04:39 PM
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I started taking photos of the outlets, but found the spaghetti was hard to make out so I made diagrams of each. See below...

I couldn't find an outlet with a black and a red wire to the top poles. Please let me know if I can include anything else that would be helpful.

Thanks again everyone!

Please note that in the photos:
R = Red
O = Orange
W = White
Y = Yellow
I used black for the white wiring in the diagrams..

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Old 09-19-12, 05:45 PM
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Does the switch really have three screws plus a green ground screw? Is there a brass screw with no wire connected to it? Is the switch marked on/off?

Yellow is not a cable color. Do you have conduit?

Explanation: Your diagram shows incorrectly wired 3-way switches.
 
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Old 09-19-12, 05:59 PM
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The OP is is Illinois so I suspect conduit land around Chicago.

The one switch is shown as a 3 way and only needs to be a single pole.

The yellow seems to follow a switched hot convention.
 
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Old 09-19-12, 09:38 PM
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Here are photos of the two switches. The switch with an orange wire going to it is for the closet light that is working. The other switch is the dead one. There are two brass screws on the top with one black screw on the side. The green ground screw is attached to the mounting bracket. They do not have on/off written on the lever.

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Are these the wrong type of switch installed?

I do have conduit on all of this wiring. I double checked and my wire coloring is correct as I have diagrammed. There is no black wiring throughout this entire room. I live in Will County, Illinois for reference on coding.
 
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Old 09-20-12, 12:17 PM
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The switch with an orange wire going to it is for the closet light that is working. The other switch is the dead one. There are two brass screws on the top with one black screw on the side. The green ground screw is attached to the mounting bracket. They do not have on/off written on the lever. Are these the wrong type of switch installed?
Those are both 3-way switches. Since there are only two wires attached to each, they were installed to be used as single-location switches. There's nothing "wrong" about that, it was just a waste of money. You can keep them or replace them, as you choose.

The red wire that's attached to the common terminal on both switches is the "hot" wire. Both switches should be hot, since that were is connected to the dead switch before going to the one that's still working. The orange and yellow wires are the feeds for the loads.

Since the orange feeds the closet, you need to go to each receptacle that has a yellow wire attached to one of the brass terminals and a red wire attached to the other, and remove the small metal bridge that connects the two brass terminals. After you turn the power back on, you should find that each of those duplex receptacles now has one receptacle that's always on and one that's controlled by the switch.

The reason that switch doesn't appear to be working now is that, when you switch it off, the receptacles it is wired to control still have power from the red wire connected to the other receptacle (or other half, if you prefer to think of it that way.

BTW, the switched receptacle should be the upper one; the lower one should always be on.

Mod Note: there is no code requirement for this arrangement. It is left up to the installer.
 
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Old 09-21-12, 09:11 AM
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Thanks for such a thorough explanation.

I double-checked the outlets in the room. And all of them have a yellow and a red wire at the two brass screws. Does this mean that I have the remove ALL of the bridge tabs?
 
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Old 09-21-12, 10:11 AM
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If you want the option of having all the receptacles partially controlled by the switch you would need to break the tab. You could also just remove the switch controlled hot from the receptacle and have an always on receptacle.
 
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Old 09-21-12, 12:34 PM
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I'm not sure I followed that completely.

I would like only outlet #4 to be controlled by the switch. Is that possible? Which tabs would I have to break for that to work?

Lastly, if I can't have only #4 to be controlled, I might just remove the switch from the loop as you suggested. To do that I remove the hot wire. But, where do I attach the yellow wire? Can I just cap that?
 
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Old 09-21-12, 12:46 PM
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If the yellow is the switched hot, break the tab at #4. Remove the yellow and cap together at all other locations.

The tab on the brass side is the one to remove.
 
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Old 09-26-12, 12:31 AM
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As suggested, I tied and capped off all the yellow wires to the other outlets and left the outlet #4 on w/ a broken tab and it works. Thanks so much for the help everyone! I'll definitely be around on the forum more often.
 
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Old 09-26-12, 12:36 AM
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Thanks for letting us know how it went. Good luck on your next adventure.
 
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