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Old 08-23-2010, 01:09 AM   #1
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Light switches not working in bedrooms


Hello. My parents recently bought a condo, and my roommates and I are renting it. There's one annoyance I'd like to fix: none of the light switches in the bedrooms are working. I tested this by plugging a lamp into the tops and bottoms of all the outlets, and it always stayed on. It looks like all of the outlets/switches are new, so I'm wondering if someone replaced them all but messed something up in the process. Unfortunately, I know very little about this kind of job, so I was hoping to get some advice.

Firstly, I'd like to know that with a bit of research and time, this job is doable by someone that doesn't know much--if not, I suppose we'll have to call an electrician. But if so:

Since they don't work in all three bedrooms, is wiring between bedrooms somehow connected such that one problem can affect all of the switches, or is this a problem in each of the three rooms? What are the possible causes, and where should I begin? Also, what tools, if any, are necessary for this job?

Thanks.

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Last edited by MasterNES; 08-23-2010 at 01:12 AM.
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Old 08-23-2010, 01:22 AM   #2
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Light switches not working in bedrooms


Do the ceiling lights work ?

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Old 08-23-2010, 01:29 AM   #3
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Light switches not working in bedrooms


Thanks for the quick response. There are no ceiling lights in any of the bedrooms.
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Old 08-23-2010, 01:34 AM   #4
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Light switches not working in bedrooms


Is there more than one light switch in each room?
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Old 08-23-2010, 01:40 AM   #5
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Light switches not working in bedrooms


No. Each room has one.
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Old 08-23-2010, 01:42 AM   #6
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Light switches not working in bedrooms


When you had the light plugged in you did turn the switch on and off right?
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Old 08-23-2010, 01:45 AM   #7
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Light switches not working in bedrooms


Yep, that wouldn't have been a very effective test otherwise
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Old 08-23-2010, 01:49 AM   #8
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Light switches not working in bedrooms


Sounds like they forgot to cut the tang on the outlets wired for the light switch... Buddy up with one of the guys in the electronics class and invite him over for a look and a beer... (Beer only after he fixes it!)
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Old 08-23-2010, 01:56 AM   #9
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Light switches not working in bedrooms


With you stating that you have little or no experience with this matter I'm going to hold back on telling you how to check and fix the problem, I would feel responsible for your injuries and or death...
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Old 08-23-2010, 02:06 AM   #10
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Light switches not working in bedrooms


Thanks for the concern. After reading about this tab that must be pulled off, I believe you're right.

I have replaced receptacles before, so I would be comfortable shutting off the circuit breaker switch to my room, taking off this tab, and putting it back. The problem would be determining which outlet is actually connected to the light switch... I suppose I'd have to buy some device to plug the black/white wires into directly to monitor the power when turning the switch on/off, or is there an easier way? Or am I way off here?

Thanks!
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Old 08-23-2010, 02:19 AM   #11
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Light switches not working in bedrooms


Look for where the old bed use to be, carpet marks, floor scratches, the outlets on either side of the bed make the most sense to me, but it could be where the dresser was too...

Let us know how this comes out ok...

PS: outlets are cheaper than tools...
PSS: You can go to wal-mart right know get one outlet cut the tang and replace the outlets with the cut one, one at a time till you find the right ones...

Last edited by RDGreen; 08-23-2010 at 02:28 AM.
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Old 08-23-2010, 02:27 AM   #12
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Light switches not working in bedrooms


Hmm...interesting point. I could just buy one more outlet, cut the tabs on that one outlet, and switch it between the current outlets in my room until I find the right one. I can then take the replaced outlet, cut the tabs on that one, then rinse and repeat for the remaining two rooms.

So I take it that cutting these tabs on outlets that aren't wired to the switch will have no bad effect?
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Old 08-23-2010, 02:40 AM   #13
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Light switches not working in bedrooms


Quote:
Originally Posted by RDGreen View Post
PSS: You can go to wal-mart right know get one outlet cut the tang and replace the outlets with the cut one, one at a time till you find the right ones...
So what happens if you cut the tang on an outlet not connected to a switch?
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Old 08-23-2010, 02:45 AM   #14
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Light switches not working in bedrooms


Only cut the ones that are wired to the switch... Once a tang is cut the upper and lower are separated... Depending on how the room is wired you could kill everything down line from an outlet that has the tang cut and not wired for a switch...

ONLY CUT THE ONES THAT ARE FOR THE SWITCH!!!
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Old 08-23-2010, 02:52 AM   #15
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Light switches not working in bedrooms


Quote:
Originally Posted by RDGreen View Post
Only cut the ones that are wired to the switch... Once a tang is cut the upper and lower are separated... Depending on how the room is wired you could kill everything down line from an outlet that has the tang cut and not wired for a switch...

ONLY CUT THE ONES THAT ARE FOR THE SWITCH!!!
But I don't currently know which ones are for the switch...so it's okay to swap out an outlet with the tang cut just for testing--even if it's not the right one--correct?

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