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Old 12-17-2014, 10:58 AM   #1
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Troubleshooting split recepticle with switch


New on the DIY forum, but have seen lots of great useful info.

I have just installed a circuit with 3 duplex receptacles (3rd one split) with switch to control the bottom of the 3rd switch. I am using a simple circuit tester that plugs into each receptacle - it is a clear tester with orange light when a live circuit is recognized.

Problem is that when I test 3 of the last 4 receptacles on the circuit, the tester shows only a very weak orange light. When I turn the switch on, those 3 receptacles show no light, and the switched receptacle has a normal bright glow. I don't know what the weak light means, and there is not enough power to energize a simple light on the 3 with weak signal. The circuit breaker never trips. I am using Levitron TR receptacles in the first 2 boxes (not the 3rd with the split), but not sure that would be a contributing concern.

The first duplex receptacle in the circuit tests fine top and bottom. The second outlet box feeds from the first, good live receptacle, and that second box feeds the 3rd with a 14/3 cable and the switch with 14/2 cable.

In the second box, I've marette'd the live black to the 14/3 black, 14/2 black, and (1) 2nd box receptacle brass terminal. I've margette'd the 14/2 white to the 14/3 red. The "live" white and 14/3 white are connected to the 2nd box receptacle silver terminals. In the 3rd box, I've removed the tab from the brass side, the red goes to the bottom brass, the black to the top brass and the white to the silver. Silver side is not split.

Long explanation, so hope you can understand. Any thoughts on why I'm not getting power to the last 3 receptacles?

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Old 12-17-2014, 11:08 AM   #2
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Troubleshooting split recepticle with switch


Sorry, update - second sentence should end "with switch to control the bottom of the 3rd receptacle".

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Old 12-18-2014, 01:21 PM   #3
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Troubleshooting split recepticle with switch


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Old 12-18-2014, 03:27 PM   #4
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Troubleshooting split recepticle with switch


I think you have a receptacle one feeding receptacle 2 with 14/2, #2 feeding #3 with 14/3. #2 also feeding switch with 14/2.

What happens when you plug something in? It sounds like it should work. You have a code violation of how you wired the switch loop white but it should still work.
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Old 12-18-2014, 04:24 PM   #5
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Troubleshooting split recepticle with switch


It's going to be hard to do any trouble shooting with your basic tester !
You should get a multi meter !
But most likely you have a bad/dirty/loose connection.
Possibly even a broken wire
Recheck every connection.
Can you borrow a meter from a friend ?
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Old 12-18-2014, 08:52 PM   #6
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Troubleshooting split recepticle with switch


I had a hard time envisioning your circuit (even tried a dwg but gave up) but it is possible you might have created a series circuit among some of your duplexes. I agree a multimeter showing actual values would be beneficial.
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Old 12-18-2014, 11:21 PM   #7
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Troubleshooting split recepticle with switch


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Old 12-18-2014, 11:22 PM   #8
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Troubleshooting split recepticle with switch


I read your post as you tying your switch loop energized white to the 14/3 neutral white on the second box receptacle.

Sounds wrong.

Remark your switch loop white with black tape as well.

Edit- joed posts a useful graphic as I posted

Last edited by clw1963; 12-18-2014 at 11:25 PM.
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Old 12-19-2014, 09:56 AM   #9
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Troubleshooting split recepticle with switch


Thanks all. This was all my mistake - now works. I had labeled the switch and live cables (both 14/2) wrong in 2nd box. I got a multi tester and found only about about 14.5v on what I thought was the live fed from box 1, then found the 120v feed. I'm usually more diligent, so I'm a bit embarrassed. Joed, thanks for the diagram. I corrected the switch cable colours.

Final 1 question - does it matter which receptacle (on split receptacle) is wired to the switch - top or bottom? Is there a code requirement? I thought bottom should be switched as it would seldom be unplugged, making the top easier to get to for casual access.
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Old 12-19-2014, 10:30 AM   #10
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Troubleshooting split recepticle with switch


It does not matter which half is switched. The whole thing can be switched if you want.
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Old 12-19-2014, 02:15 PM   #11
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Troubleshooting split recepticle with switch


Thanks all.

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