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Old 01-01-2012, 09:16 PM   #1
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mystery electrical switch


Hi,

New to this forum. I have a house that is build in approximately the early seventies. I have a switch in my living room that seams to do absolutely nothing. I made a few holes in the wall to follow it as I happened to be running wire for some new pot lights to a switch in the same spot. Running into the box is 3 phase 12 gauge aluminium wire and running out of the box is a 2 phase aluminium which runs up the wall, across the ceiling and down the exterior wall. I haven't made any holes in the exterior wall but the way the wire points into the exterior wall from the ceiling it is definitely going down the exterior wall. The only electrical components that could be where wire now runs down the wall is an exterior outlet and light switch for the exterior.

The wires where the mysterious switch is are joined as such:

- 2 whites are joined together
- 2 blacks are joined together with an additional black wire running back to the switch
- 1 red is connected the switch also

Plugged a light into the exterior outlet and turned the exterior light on, switched the mysterious switch to both positions to see if it had an effect on the exterior components. No effect. Anyone have an idea what this switch may be for?

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Old 01-01-2012, 09:20 PM   #2
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I would guess it controls your neighbor's garage door.

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Old 01-01-2012, 09:23 PM   #3
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#1 not very likly you have three phase wiring of any kind in any home in the US.
It may have 3 wires but not three phase.
My guess is it goes to an outlet in the house that's on a split circut. One side would always have power the otherside only when the switch is on.
Most often it's in the living room so you can turn on a table or pole lamp on as you go in the room.

Last edited by joecaption; 01-01-2012 at 10:56 PM.
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Old 01-01-2012, 09:23 PM   #4
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would you please turn my light back on.
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Old 01-01-2012, 09:51 PM   #5
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would you please turn my light back on.
Now that was funny,i dont care who you are!
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Old 01-01-2012, 09:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
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would you please turn my light back on.
Reminds me of the episode on The Big Bang Theory, were the guys rig their apartment up, so people can control it through the Internet.
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Old 01-01-2012, 11:01 PM   #7
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I'm going to side with the OP and see if he can tell us were the 12/3 wire goes.
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Old 01-01-2012, 11:29 PM   #8
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My bet:

The 12/2 is the power in, the 12/3 is the power out. It controls a switched or half-switched receptacle somewhere in the room.

Just a guess.
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Old 01-01-2012, 11:46 PM   #9
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mystery electrical switch


It seems it was intended to control a half-switched receptacle. Either that or a fan, but you probably would have figured it out if that were the case. If you can't find a half-switched receptacle, then I bet I know why: If someone replaced a half-switched receptacle with a new one and didn't break the tab off the side, then none of the half-switched receptacles on that run will be switched anymore... and you'll be confused about the mystery switch. The easy way to test this is to use a meter to measure the voltage on the red wire. If it's hot all the time regardless of the switch position, then this is what happened. You can start pulling receptacles looking for one that is wired with both red and black, but still has the tab between them.
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Old 01-02-2012, 12:13 AM   #10
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mpoulton, I could not see a house built in the seventies having 12/3 for lighting, maybe a switched outlet, and as you stated, someone Fubar'd.
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Old 01-02-2012, 05:04 AM   #11
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mpoulton, I could not see a house built in the seventies having 12/3 for lighting, maybe a switched outlet, and as you stated, someone Fubar'd.
If it'saluminum wire as posted, 12 gauge aluminum wire would be required for a15 amp circuit.
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Old 01-02-2012, 06:20 AM   #12
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Either it is for a switched wall outlet, or a future switch for an outside post light.

Look for a blanked-off junction box in your basement or crawl space to see if your wire terminates there ...
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Old 01-02-2012, 06:41 AM   #13
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take the 115V black hot inside the switch and ground it to trip the breaker and see what goes off see what trips back in the CB panel and the labeling
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Old 01-02-2012, 06:57 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by biggles View Post
take the 115V black hot inside the switch and ground it to trip the breaker and see what goes off see what trips back in the CB panel and the labeling
Personally I would put a meter on it and have someone turn off the breakers to see which breaker controls it.
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:44 AM   #15
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Quote:
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take the 115V black hot inside the switch and ground it to trip the breaker and see what goes off see what trips back in the CB panel and the labeling
Not a good idea

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