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fait 10-03-2012 10:12 AM

Changing a single pole light switch
This shouldn't be a hard task, but it's turning into one.

I'm attempting to change out a single-pole light switch. The switch controls the top outlet of a wall receptical.
This shouldn't be hard (black wires to each pole, ground to green - done.) But...

This is what I found when I pulled the switch out of the box:

The ground wire is connected to the green screw - I get that, but I don't understand the rest of it.
There is one red wire on the top pole, one black wire punched into the lower pole (it has some white paint on it, but the wire is indeed black), and the other black wire is screwed into the same pole.

I capped off the red wire and attempted to install this thing as directed with one black wire per pole & green connected to ground. The switch no longer works. Something was correct before and I can't figure out what it is.

Anyone have any ideas? (And for anyone who does, thanks in advance!)

sublime2 10-03-2012 10:34 AM

The switch doesn't work now cause the red is the hot to the switch.
Wire the new switch exactly like the one in your pic.
If the red was on the old switch why would you disregard it for the new switch?

Jim Port 10-03-2012 10:36 AM

The red is the switch controlled hot. The blacks are power in and power out. They were using the switch as a splice point on the blacks.

Dave632 10-03-2012 10:47 AM

I bet the outgoing hot (black) provides constant (unswitched) power to your lower outlet.

fait 10-03-2012 10:47 AM

Thanks, Jim_Port. I'm far from a pro, so the concept of a splice point never would have occurred to me.

That being said, is it safe to connect both black wires on the same screw? In theory, it makes sense, but in practice, I didn't think that two wires are ever supposed to be connected that way.

Jim Port 10-03-2012 11:05 AM

Only one wire per screw head. You can add a short pigtail and splice it to the two blacks The pigtail connects to the switch.

fait 10-03-2012 11:56 AM

That worked. Thanks, Jim_Port.

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