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Old 12-11-2009, 08:38 AM   #1
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Help me ID these switches...


Below are pictured some old switches in a home built around 1955.

It is a four (4) switch block with three (3) switches and one indicator light. The switches are for these devices in the bathroom:
  • Light
  • Vent
  • Heater
  • A Light

The light turns on when the heater is on.

The heater does not activate or turn the light on unless the vent is turned on.

Here is a left side shot:


Here is a right side shot:



Somewhere in this contraption, there is a lose wire or a worn out terminal.

Sometimes when the heater is turned on, the heater fails to start (even with the vent on).

Sometimes while the heater is on, it will turn back off (almost like a thermal overload protection, but I bet it is just a bad connection somewhere).

So, what do you think? Replace with newer switches or fix what is there?

I don't know what kind of switches these are or where to find them if I were to replace them, so I'd probably have to replace them with something very different (i.e. a lot of work) unless someone can help me locate replacement parts. A person known as "480sparky" on the Electrician Talk forum was kind enough to suggest they might be some sort of "old Pass & Seymour Despard devices" before the jerks over there decided to ban my account because of this post. Anyway...

My initial thought is to just pull the whole thing apart (this coming weekend) and see if any wiring looks obviously bad that I can just replace. If the wiring looks fine, then the switches are at fault - but I'd like to get some info ahead of time on where to find them.

Thanks,
~Joe
Avoid Sears Home Improvement

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Old 12-11-2009, 09:36 AM   #2
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Help me ID these switches...


You should be able to replace those with a duplex switch and a pilot light switch.

A duplex switch. - A pilot light switch.




It does sound like you might have issues other than the switches.

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Last edited by joed; 12-11-2009 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 12-11-2009, 09:46 AM   #3
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Help me ID these switches...


Hi JoeD,

The problem with those standard style switches is that they won't fit in the existing opening without having to resort to a more involved job of refitting everything.

If you look close at the images, you will see that each of the switches is an individual block. The standard style are not direct bolt in items.

It would not be difficult to pull out all of the wires and replace everything, but I'd be spending 2-4 hours making the conversion.

Maybe that's just what I have to do, though.
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Old 12-11-2009, 09:58 AM   #4
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Help me ID these switches...


I have seen them before at one of our local "Big Box" stores, Menards... so they are still out there.

http://www.acehardwareoutlet.com/(42...hValue=despard

Last edited by TJ_in_IL; 12-11-2009 at 10:29 AM. Reason: addition
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Old 12-11-2009, 10:21 AM   #5
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Help me ID these switches...


Quote:
Originally Posted by jp2code View Post
Hi JoeD,

The problem with those standard style switches is that they won't fit in the existing opening without having to resort to a more involved job of refitting everything.

If you look close at the images, you will see that each of the switches is an individual block. The standard style are not direct bolt in items.

It would not be difficult to pull out all of the wires and replace everything, but I'd be spending 2-4 hours making the conversion.

Maybe that's just what I have to do, though.
Yes, thats what you have to do, to fix the issue. Boxes built in 1955 should be no different as far as the switches fitting in them. My house was built around the same time as yours and all the metal boxes are the same size as the ones you buy today. Granted, they could be shallower or deeper, but the measurement from the bottom screw to the top screw will be the same. That means new switches can be installed in the original box. The yokes on switches and receptacles have not changed in my life time or yours.

Do yourself a favor and make sure you mark each wire as you remove them from their terminals. If you don't, you will either be back here asking how, or paying someone to reconnect them.
The switches shown above will fit right into your box.
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Old 12-11-2009, 11:33 AM   #6
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Help me ID these switches...


Great Info!

Last question, for those still listening: Is there an easy way to test these old switches to see which one might be faulty?

Since the problem is intermittent, I'm guessing I'd have a tough time locating the one switch that is bad.

I'm hoping once I get it all pulled apart, I'll just see a wire that is lose.

We'll see!

Thanks,
~Joe
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Old 12-11-2009, 12:46 PM   #7
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Help me ID these switches...


The switches themselves are individual blocks but they mount into a metal bracket that should be the same size as the replacement switches. Pull the two assys out and replace with the new units. You need to pull them out anyway to look for the problem or to change the existing switches with a new ones. You don't just pull one switch out on those units.
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Old 12-11-2009, 12:55 PM   #8
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Unless it is architecturally critical to retain the original cover plate, I would convert to a new duplex switch and pilot light switch with a new double outlet cover plate.

New Despard devices are available if you want to retain the current cover plate.
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:18 PM   #9
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Help me ID these switches...


Trying to apply a little logic to your problem leads me to believe your switches are okay and the problem is in the heater. Since (evidently) the vent and heater switch are in series (vent switch controls power to heater switch) if either were bad then seems both the heater AND vent would fail to work if it were either switch. when the heater fails to work does the light above the heater switch go out? If not then I don't believe it can be the switches. Of course, I may be all wet
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:29 PM   #10
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Help me ID these switches...


Hi Mike,

I like your thinking!

The vent stays on (and can work independently in the case of a stinky bathroom) when the heater stops.

Also, when the heater stops, the light goes out.

Does this help with the debugging at all?
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Old 12-11-2009, 02:15 PM   #11
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Help me ID these switches...


well, if the light goes out when the heater cuts off when it should be on then I guess I am all wet and the problem must be in the switch.

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