Switched Outlet Confusion

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Old 08-26-18, 10:50 AM
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Switched Outlet Confusion

New to the forum - thanks to those who give time to help others.

I've wired switched outlets in new construction but am stumped on how to make a change to some wiring I've encountered in my house, wired in the 80s.

Problem - I have two outlets controlled by a single switch ... both upper & lower receptacles are switched; this is what I want to change. Have had no problems with the outlets, I just want the lower outlet switched, the upper continually hot.

Looks like the switch is the end of the wire run; there's a neutral wire (coded black) to the top terminal, and black to the bottom terminal. Ground wire is clipped off, NOT grounded to box (that I can take care of!) But right away this doesn't jive with my experience or basic circuit maps... the white wire coded for hot - shouldn't that go to the bottom switch terminal?

At the outlet itself I'm stumped. There's neutral & hot wires coming in and going out, just as regular receptacles wired in sequence. None of the neutral white wires are coded as hot, nothing is pigtailed (no wire nuts). So I'm not even understanding how this is a switched outlet, let alone how to solve my problem. Removing the brass tab is easy enough, but I was assuming I'd simply pigtail a hotwire to the top brass terminal and connect to a white wire coded for hot.

My guess is that somewhere further back in the circuit there's another receptacle that's switched, and the one I'm fiddling with is simply wired in sequence. Is that likely/possible?

Thanks!

Would appreciate advice or links that will help me understand the way ahead.
 
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Old 08-26-18, 11:06 AM
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the white wire coded for hot - shouldn't that go to the bottom switch terminal
There is no requirement of which wire goes where on a switch. However standard practice is to connect the hot wire on top and the switch leg on the bottom screw. The white wire in not a neutral anymore, it is a hot conductor as it has been re-identified.

Go to the next receptacle in the line that is not switched. I suspect that is where you will find your switch loop.

In order to do what you want you will need another wire in the boxes that will be switched. You need a hot, switch leg, and a neutral to each box.
 
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Old 08-26-18, 11:25 AM
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T Ironhand - thanks very much for the thorough reply.

If I understand you correctly it sounds like I would need to run wire from a receptacle on this circuit with the switch loop to the outlet I'm trying to reconfigure.

But I'm doubtful as to whether I can run the wiring without a lot of drywall demo. I may just have to live with the status quo. Thanks again.
 
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Old 08-26-18, 11:57 AM
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My guess is that somewhere further back in the circuit there's another receptacle that's switched, and the one I'm fiddling with is simply wired in sequence. Is that likely/possible?
This is the most likeliest scenario.

You need to locate the receptacle where the switch loop comes in. The problem is you are only going to have two wire cables between the receptacles. That means they will be all switched or all on. Not half off and on. You will be looking at opening the wall for cable replacement.
 
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Old 08-26-18, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by PJmax View Post
This is the most likeliest scenario.

You need to locate the receptacle where the switch loop comes in. The problem is you are only going to have two wire cables between the receptacles. That means they will be all switched or all on. Not half off and on. You will be looking at opening the wall for cable replacement.
PJmax - yep, thanks very much. I'll continue troubleshooting this tomorrow. Much appreciated. I don't expect opening the wall will be worth the effort.
 
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