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Help! Every outlet is run off the swtich - Need to change this

Help! Every outlet is run off the swtich - Need to change this

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  #1  
Old 02-23-13, 08:00 PM
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Red face Help! Every outlet is run off the swtich - Need to change this

Hello, we just recently purchased and moved into an older home where there were some wall outlets that were not working. What I have found is that all of the outlets in the bedroom and in the office work off of the wall switch (each room has a separate switch that works all outlets in the respective rooms).

This is a problem. Neither room has an over head light and the rooms are a good size. I want to plug a lamp into the outlet which is controlled by the wall switch, but unfortunately ALL of the outlets (4 in one room 5 in the other) power on and off with the switch (out goes the alarm clock, phone charger, etc.).

All of the outlets are the older two-prong outlets. When I open the covers, there is a bare copper ground wire inside. I was looking to replace the two-prong with grounded 3-prong to be able to plug in some electronics in addition to fixing this issue. In addition to the ground wire, there are 2 white wires on the one side and 2 black wires (hot I assume) on the other side. I haven't opened the wall switch yet, but I'm thinking I will find more of the same.

Is there a way to undo this if they are all on the same circuit? Is there a way to maybe have some of them hot and some work off the switch? The office is the real problem as I need to keep certain electronics on all the time. I have read some of the threads on here that talk about keeping the upper part of the outelt switched and the bottom part always hot (not sure if that's how you say it).

I would truly appreciate any help.
 
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  #2  
Old 02-23-13, 08:47 PM
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It is odd that you have a ground in the box but only two prong receptacles. You should verify that this wire is properly grounded by using a test light or meter. Check between hot and the "ground" wire and see if you get a light (on the test light) or 120 volts on your meter.

As for the switching issue, it will be a maybe. It will depend what wires you have in the switch box.
 
  #3  
Old 02-24-13, 12:41 AM
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That's a pretty bizarre way to wire receptacles.

You will have to pull out each device to map it's connections.
With the switch turned off you'll need to determine where the hot feed is.

You're going to need a voltage checker, like an analog volt meter, to make measurements. I would get that before removing all the devices.
 
  #4  
Old 02-24-13, 12:31 PM
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I'll need to get a better meter. I only have the kind that pretty much tells you if the line is hot or not.

With the breaker off to the office, I opened up the switch itself and it appears to be old as well.

There are 2 white wires, wire-nutted together, and then 2 black wires going into the back of the switch (pushed in to a small hole and then screwed from the top and bottom). In looking at the wire, I see the copper that is coming out of the white romex and it's just pulled back and twisted around the plastic of the romex. Not sure if this was a home owner special or not.

I also find with this breaker off, the outlet on the outside wall of the office (the one sharing the common wall) also gets turned off by the breaker and is apparantly not controlled by the switch because it's the wall in the living room the TV is plugged into.

I'll have to do some more tracing.
 
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Old 02-24-13, 12:51 PM
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If you see two white wires wire nutted together and two black wires on the switch.....then the hot feed is at the switch. To confirm that - you can turn the breaker on and the switch off. You should measure power at the switch but not at the receptacles.

Yes.....you'll have to address proper grounding as you check thru the circuits.
 
  #6  
Old 02-24-13, 01:12 PM
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Yes, with the breaker back on and the switch off, all of the outlets in the office are off, but there is power at the switch.

There is also power outside the office in that 1 living room outlet (that shares the wall).

So the more that I think about this. If all of the outlets in the office are controlled by the switch and getting their power feed from there, then I'm guessing there isn't really a quick fix to update the outlets, minus getting rid of the switch or running a new wire?
 

Last edited by nightlifemp; 02-24-13 at 01:35 PM.
  #7  
Old 02-24-13, 01:30 PM
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Is there a way to wire the new outlets so that at least part of them would stay hot even with the switch turned off?
Not as is, but if you add a cable you can. You would either run a new cable from the switch to one of the existing receptacles, or install a new receptacle where you would want to control a lamp. An easy place for a new receptacle would be in the same stud space as the switch.

Another option is to install a ceiling light off the switch in each room. IDK if this is something you would be interested in doing. To do it you would need access to above the rooms, such as an attic.
 
  #8  
Old 02-24-13, 02:06 PM
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Would this logic work? I took out/apart the outlet in the living room that backs the office. I can see the one set of wires continuing over and up, to feed the switch, and I see the first recepitcal in the office right behind it.

Is it possible to tie into that first office receptical connection? Leave the living room outlet feeding to the switch, and then the switch to the first outlet, but connect the living room receptical not only to the switch, but to the other outlets in the office (instead of the circuit continuing on from outlet to outlet, have it continue on from the living room outlet?

Does that make sense...
 
  #9  
Old 02-25-13, 07:04 PM
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I believe I understand your plan, and yes, that should work.

You will need to either disconnect the wires going between the switch controlled receptacle and the newly fed receptacle. Or split wire the switched receptacle by breaking the tab between the two hot screws, so the only the top, or bottom receptacle of the duplex is switched.
 
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