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Old 06-30-2011, 12:33 AM   #1
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Switched plug issue


Our new home has a switched receptacle that does not seem to be functioning properly. It looks like a standard duplex receptacle.

- When the switch is off the bottom receptacle works, the top does not.
- When the switch is on the bottom receptacle stops working, the top starts working.

Usually I thought the unswitched portion typically stayed live? I pulled the receptacle out to see how it's wired and there is a single 14/3 running into the box. The black and white goto the bottom receptacle and the red goes to the top receptacle neutral side. What's wrong here?

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Old 06-30-2011, 01:04 AM   #2
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Switched plug issue


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Originally Posted by n0c7 View Post
Our new home has a switched receptacle that does not seem to be functioning properly. It looks like a standard duplex receptacle.

- When the switch is off the bottom receptacle works, the top does not.
- When the switch is on the bottom receptacle stops working, the top starts working.

Usually I thought the unswitched portion typically stayed live? I pulled the receptacle out to see how it's wired and there is a single 14/3 running into the box. The black and white goto the bottom receptacle and the red goes to the top receptacle neutral side. What's wrong here?
First up, that red wire must be hooked up on the hot side. Look at the tabs between the sockets and make sure the neutral tab is intact and that the hot side tab is removed. If this is a MWBC split 240V circuit then all bets are off. Let us know what you found.

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Old 06-30-2011, 01:13 AM   #3
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Switched plug issue


I'll check for the tab. It's a 120V circuit. In the meantime - Is the receptacle supposed to work the way I think it is?
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Old 06-30-2011, 01:24 AM   #4
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Switched plug issue


A normal switched receptacle would work the way you expect. The behavior you're describing is strange. I know how to make a receptacle do what you describe, using a 3-way switch. That's probably not what's going on here, but you never know... Have you looked at the wiring at the switch?
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Old 06-30-2011, 01:26 AM   #5
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Switched plug issue


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I'll check for the tab. It's a 120V circuit. In the meantime - Is the receptacle supposed to work the way I think it is?
Yes, half hots will have one socket that is switch controlled. Usually a switched half hot in the past was series wired for all the room receptacles except for one that had a two wire bk-wht switch leg. The 2011 Nec has a new interpretation of same circuit-same cable that may be what caused the 3 wire cable to be installed...incorrectly at that.
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Old 07-08-2011, 10:57 PM   #6
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Switched plug issue


Got shipped on the road all week and just got back. Going to look at it this weekend and post a picture for you guys.
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Old 07-18-2011, 11:22 PM   #7
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Switched plug issue


Hopefully I still have your attention. Finally some pictures:

The tab is broken on the hot side, neutral side tab is still there. Like I said before - when the switch is in the off position the bottom receptacle with the white and black is live and the top receptacle with the red is off. When the switch is in the on position the top receptacle goes on and the bottom goes off.





Been trying to wrap my head around what they did here. Looks like the hot feed is stolen from the receptacle on the left.

Any ideas how to make this work properly?
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Old 07-19-2011, 04:07 AM   #8
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Switched plug issue


I can't tell for sure in the last picture, but it looks like there may be a total of three wires connected to that switch. Is there another black connected to the other side? If so, that explains it. You have a 3-way switch there, and it's wired exactly as you describe - it selects which half of the receptacle power goes to. You need to connect the two black wires together, and pigtail them to the screw on the far side of the switch.
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Old 07-19-2011, 04:34 AM   #9
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Switched plug issue


I'm terrible with switch functionality. But might I suggest moving those wires out of the backstabs and onto the screws?
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Old 07-19-2011, 06:11 AM   #10
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Switched plug issue


Connect the two black wires to the dark screw (common terminal) of the switch.

If two wires want to go under the same screw, adding a pigtail is preferable to using a nearby backstab (push in connection) hole for one of the wires.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 07-19-2011 at 06:14 AM.
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Old 07-19-2011, 11:39 AM   #11
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Switched plug issue


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I can't tell for sure in the last picture, but it looks like there may be a total of three wires connected to that switch. Is there another black connected to the other side? If so, that explains it. You have a 3-way switch there, and it's wired exactly as you describe - it selects which half of the receptacle power goes to. You need to connect the two black wires together, and pigtail them to the screw on the far side of the switch.
Yes, three wires. Two black into the two bottom stabs, one red into the top stab.

Last edited by n0c7; 07-19-2011 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 07-19-2011, 11:40 AM   #12
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Switched plug issue


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I'm terrible with switch functionality. But might I suggest moving those wires out of the backstabs and onto the screws?
This is a brand new house and this is what contractors do these days to save time. I don't disagree with using the screws over the backstabs.
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Old 07-19-2011, 11:57 AM   #13
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Switched plug issue


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Connect the two black wires to the dark screw (common terminal) of the switch.

If two wires want to go under the same screw, adding a pigtail is preferable to using a nearby backstab (push in connection) hole for one of the wires.
So by doing this I'm leaving one of the screws empty. Why even bother using a 3-way switch? Should I change the switch out to a single pole?
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Old 07-19-2011, 12:07 PM   #14
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Switched plug issue


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Originally Posted by n0c7 View Post
Yes, three wires. Two black into the two bottom stabs, one red into the top stab. If I pigtail the two hots together do I need to reconnect the jumper at the receptacle on the hot side then?
No, the tab on the hot side needs to be off if you want half the receptacle hot all the time.
As mentioned, just connect the two black wires to the common screw (black). You can change the switch if you want but this will work just fine.
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Old 07-19-2011, 12:11 PM   #15
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Switched plug issue


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No, the tab on the hot side needs to be off if you want half the receptacle hot all the time.
As mentioned, just connect the two black wires to the common screw (black). You can change the switch if you want but this will work just fine.
Ok. So if I leave the 3-way switch in place and rewire as mentioned, the now empty screw will become hot but unused when the switch is in the down(off) position?

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