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nelluk 10-28-2012 09:14 AM

Removing lightswitch control half of outlet duplex
Alright I have a regular wall light switch, an overhead light, and two wall outlets, each with two plugs within the outlet.

The light switch controls the overhead light as well as one plug within each of the two outlets.

So if something is plugged into the top plug of either outlet, it will lose power if the light switch is turned off.

I'd like to restore the typical functionality to the outlets so that they operate regardless of the switch position.

I feel like this should be within my abilities although the only electrical work I've done is to replace the aforementioned overhead light fixture. Will this require changes in the lightswitch box, the outlet boxes, or both? Anything I should look for?

Thanks in advance!

oh'mike 10-28-2012 09:28 AM

There are two ways to change those outlets to constant on----both simple enough--do you have a simple two wire tester?

nelluk 10-28-2012 09:33 AM

I have a cheap analog multi-meter. Thanks for the reply.

oh'mike 10-28-2012 09:59 AM

Here goes----

option one-----pull out the switched outlets-----there will be two power wires -one on each gold screw----
using your tester--find the switched wire----remove it from the outlet and cap it with a wire nut---

the tab that normally connects the two gold screws has been snapped off---so--either add a short jumper wire from the live screw to the one you removed the switch wire from----or install a new outlet that still has the connecting tab.

Option two----pull out the switch-----if you are lucky--the power (switch leg) for the ceiling and the wall start in that box---

If the switch has a power on one terminal---and two switch legs attached to the other terminal---

Figure out which switch leg goes to the wall---and move it to the power terminal on the switch---and the outlet will be 'hard wired' for constant power---

oh'mike 10-28-2012 10:03 AM

It is possible--although uncommon---that the ceiling light switch leg runs to one of the outlets----if you run into something confusing----come on back---let us know if this post helped you---

oh'mike 10-28-2012 10:15 AM

Option one is the best choice-----big trouble could occur in the future if someone ,in the future, were to change the outlet without snapping off the tab between the gold screws.

If the switch leg is on a different phase than the outlet power--a 220 dead short will accure ---making for a bad day---

hammerlane 10-28-2012 10:27 AM

1 Attachment(s)
As you refer to "two wall outlets, each with two plugs within the outlet" they are duplex receptacles

your current setup may look like this: you never mentioned if the two duple receptacles are within the same box or if they are each at different locations. The diagram below assumes they are within the same box.

I did not draw in ground wires for ease of drawing

hammerlane 10-28-2012 10:28 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Here is Mikes solution #1 in diagram form by installing new duplex receptacles(so that the tabs are intact)

hammerlane 10-28-2012 10:33 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Here is Mikes solution #2 in diagram form by moving the switched hot at the switch to constant hot

nelluk 10-28-2012 12:10 PM

Thank you Mike and Hammerlane. Very helpful.

The duplex boxes are at two different locations.

I won't be able to tackle this for another week or so but in the meantime I want to do some reading so I can be more conversant on the terminology and maybe understand what I will see on the inside of a duplex receptacle. Any recommended reading sources?

oh'mike 10-28-2012 02:22 PM

Your tester and Hammerlanes drawing are better than any book----remember----wire colors can not be trusted---always check what's going on with the tester first---then just go for it----take pictures as you work so you can undo something if your work goes wrong----and remember this site----have fun---Mike----

AllanJ 10-28-2012 08:10 PM

1. Remove the hot wire from the half of the receptacle that is switch controlled. Tape that wire end and curl it up inside the box.
2. Remove the other hot wire. Cut two 4 inch pieces (pigtails) of wire of the same color and wire nut them to this hot wire.
3. Connect the other ends of the pigtails to the two vacated hot side screw terminals of the receptacle.

This slightly more complicated procedure is needed because each screw can hold only one wire.

nelluk 11-13-2012 09:22 AM

I went and bought some red and white THHN write and a roll of electrical tape and a bag of wire nuts and opened up the light switch box yesterday, but quickly retreated.

I took a bunch of pictures and made a gallery of the inside of the box here

My main problem was lack of confidence and constrained space. I was hoping that the various connections would be easy to pull out and work with, but it looks like it will take some work getting them out from behind the far back panel, and with my large hands I might run into some trouble that I can't undo easily. I am also not well versed in how to use my little analog multimeter. Maybe I should get one of those simple no-touch live-wire testers? Are those recommended?

Any further suggestions on this job based on what the interior of the switch looks like? I figured that going at it from this end made more sense than rewiring each of the receptacles, since I now know there are at least 3 and possible 4 that are affected.

nelluk 11-16-2012 09:07 AM


rjniles 11-16-2012 09:35 AM

Reinstall the switch and don't change anything. That is a 3 way switch so there is another switch also controlling the light and receptacle.

Use Mike's option # 1 as it will work regardless of the wiring scheme. Pull the receptacle out and and disconnect the wire that goes to the brass screw on the switched side. Cap that with a wire nut and tuck back into the box. Install a new receptacle using the 2 insulated wires remaining on the old receptacle. Also reconnect the bare ground wire. Turn off the power at the breaker before you do any of this.

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