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  1. #1
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    Dec 2008
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    Default wiring switch to outlet

    When my house was new there were switches in the living room that controlled two outlets. Several years ago I changed out all the switches and outlets so they would all be white. After doing so the switches no longer controlled the outlets. I would like to fix this, but I'm not even sure which switch controls which outlet. They were originally three way, but I would be happy to just have one control one outlet. Also one set of the switches controlled a ceiling light that is no longer installed.

    Here's what I have:

    Switch box 1:
    Switch 1A: one red wire, one black wire, one white wire, and ground wire.
    Switch 1B: one white wires, two red wires, and ground wire.

    Switch box 2:
    Switch 2A: one red wire, one black wire, one white wire, and ground wire.
    Switch 2B: one white wires, two red wires, and ground wire.

    Outlet 1 (which is directly under switch box 1): 3 black wires, 3 white wires, one red wire, and ground wire.

    Outlet 2 (which is directly under switch box 2): 3 black wires, 3 white wires, two red wires, and ground wire.

    Can someone please tell me which switch controls which outlet? Is there anyway to tell which is the traveler wire?

    Thanks so much,
    Linda

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    1,640

    Default Re: wiring switch to outlet

    Hopefully you wired the replacements exactly like the originals. By the description you gave, it's difficult to tell just how the wires run. We need to know the color of the screws each wire goes to, too.

    I'll assume you matched old and new, and the devices are wired exactly like they were before. It sounds to me like you failed to break off the jumper between the screws on the hot side (side with the narrow slot & brass colored screws) of each outlet. In each outlet, the red should go to one screw; the black to the other. By breaking the jumper, you should find that one half of the outlet stays live while the other half is switched. Do not break off the jumper on the neutral side (wide slot, silver screws, white wires).

    After turning off the power supply to this cirucit, break the aforementioned jumper off one of the outlets and see if this corrects the problem. Outlets are inexpensive, so if you really screw something up, for around a dollar you can get back to where you started.

    Where's the jumper, you ask? When you look at the screws on the outlet, you'll notice there is a plastic ridge between the screws. Toward the face of the outlet, there will be a small piece of brass that goes around this ridge and connects the plates the screws go into. This small piece of brass is the jumper that must be broken off. Using a pair of pliers (or a screwdriver if there's a slot), bend the jumper back and forth until it breaks off. You shouldn't even have to remove the wires from the screws, but take this opportunity to ensure that the connections are still tight.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    731

    Default Re: wiring switch to outlet

    Quote Originally Posted by artlover View Post
    When my house was new there were switches in the living room that controlled two outlets. Several years ago I changed out all the switches and outlets so they would all be white. After doing so the switches no longer controlled the outlets. I would like to fix this, but I'm not even sure which switch controls which outlet. They were originally three way, but I would be happy to just have one control one outlet. Also one set of the switches controlled a ceiling light that is no longer installed.

    Here's what I have:

    Switch box 1:
    Switch 1A: one red wire, one black wire, one white wire, and ground wire.
    Switch 1B: one white wires, two red wires, and ground wire.

    Switch box 2:
    Switch 2A: one red wire, one black wire, one white wire, and ground wire.
    Switch 2B: one white wires, two red wires, and ground wire.

    Outlet 1 (which is directly under switch box 1): 3 black wires, 3 white wires, one red wire, and ground wire.

    Outlet 2 (which is directly under switch box 2): 3 black wires, 3 white wires, two red wires, and ground wire.

    Can someone please tell me which switch controls which outlet? Is there anyway to tell which is the traveler wire?

    Thanks so much,
    Linda
    I am a more than a bit unclear on your description.Since you say you would be happy to control just one outlet, I am gleaning that in the past a switch loop controlled both outlets or rather both receptacles of each duplex receptacle location originally, so that there were no broken tabs on the original installation and that you are not only looking to correct your replacement wiring error but enhance your situation so that you will switch control only half (one receptacle of two or half or one side of each duplex receptacle will be switched, the other side will be always on) of each of the two formerly switch controlled (both sides) duplex receptacles.

    Do the former switch controlled receptacles function at all? do any of the receptacles in this room?

    If yes, and the former switch controlled receptacles are always on, and are not effected by any combination of switching positions of the two sets of 3-way switches, then

    It sounds to me that you wired your receptacles to be always on. breaking the tab may not change your situation because your receptacles will still be always on (power to the face) if you had wired them correctly both sides of the duplex receptacles would be turned on and off by the switches.

    To control only half (one receptacle of the two) yes you would need to break the yoke tab but you would still need to wire the duplex receptacles correctly.

    Did you use spring tabs (backstabbing) or the screw posts or a combination of both spring tabs and screw posts when you installed these devices? Are there more than one wire at any of the screw posts (shouldn't be).

    You should note there would be three screw posts plus a ground on each of your 3-way switches. There should be four screw posts plus a ground on each of your duplex receptacles.

    Please identify your wiring at each of these locations as to which wires come from which conduit or cable, what each is presently attached to, at each location (including what wires have been attached to just other wires and if there are small wires coming from nut to a screw post (or a piece of wire that has been intermittantly stripped, wrapped around a screw post and then the stripped end is under a screw post of another device. It is also important that you make note of any white insulated wire which may have a black or colored marking either by paint, marker, or a piece of electrical tape on it.

    This site does allow direct uploading of web-sized and formatted photos - it might be easier for you to just take photos and post them.

    Determining where power from the panel is and onward power is also important to do this correctly. Just because things appear to "work" doesn't mean they are doing so safely.

    Since it sounds as though you did not do your replacement/substitution of the former devices with the new white devices correctly in the first place, I don't wish to assume any thing.

    Some links that you may find helpful (click on links or copy and paste in browser they may appear trunkated):

    http://www.selfhelpandmore.com/switc...half-switched/

    http://www.selfhelpandmore.com/switch-outlet/3-way/

    http://www.selfhelpandmore.com/switc...-at-switch.php

    http://www.selfhelpandmore.com/switc...cal-outlet.php

    It is also concerning that you mentioned that one of these two 3-way switch loops previously controlled a ceiling light, and that it (the ceiling light) has been removed but you made no mention as to how it was decommissioned or when in the timing - i.e. before you swapped switches and receptacles and all functioned as it did originally, during this replacement project, or afterwards, and that apparently both sets of these three-way switches are apparently still connected to wiring. Therefore you should provide information (wiring, connections or terminations) as to that former ceiling light location as well - what is in its place? A blank plate?
    Last edited by Blue RidgeParkway; 12-31-2008 at 11:37 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
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    Default Re: wiring switch to outlet

    Here's a picture showing the tab that Fencepost is talking about.

    However the wiring you describe sounds more like you have the switches wired into the outlet boxes rather the it being a split receptacle setup. Can you tell which cables go to the switches? Which wires is connected to the receptacles and which are just nutted together?

    The two wires on the switches that are opposite each other are the travelers while the wire on the single screw end is the load or power wire

    Hope the info is helpful.
    Jack
    Last edited by JLMCDANIEL; 12-31-2008 at 02:56 PM.
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    4

    Default Re: wiring switch to outlet

    Thanks to all of you for your helpful replies.

    I broke off the tabs as suggested by Fencepost and that solved the problem. The three way switches now control the plug.

    I want to read carefully the information posted by Blue Ridge after I've had my coffee. It seems I may have some more work to do on these switches.

    Thanks Again,

    Linda

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: wiring switch to outlet

    It is also concerning that you mentioned that one of these two 3-way switch loops previously controlled a ceiling light, and that it (the ceiling light) has been removed but you made no mention as to how it was decommissioned or when in the timing - i.e. before you swapped switches and receptacles and all functioned as it did originally, during this replacement project, or afterwards, and that apparently both sets of these three-way switches are apparently still connected to wiring. Therefore you should provide information (wiring, connections or terminations) as to that former ceiling light location as well - what is in its place? A blank plate?


    I removed the ceiling fixture and used wire nuts to seal off each of the wires. That area is now covered with a plate and ceiling plaster. I did nothing to the switches. Should I?

    Everything appears to be working correctly now. All the receptacles in the room work (they always did). Both receptacles I originally asked about are now controlled by one set of the three way switches.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    731

    Default Re: wiring switch to outlet

    Quote Originally Posted by artlover View Post
    It is also concerning that you mentioned that one of these two 3-way switch loops previously controlled a ceiling light, and that it (the ceiling light) has been removed but you made no mention as to how it was decommissioned or when in the timing - i.e. before you swapped switches and receptacles and all functioned as it did originally, during this replacement project, or afterwards, and that apparently both sets of these three-way switches are apparently still connected to wiring. Therefore you should provide information (wiring, connections or terminations) as to that former ceiling light location as well - what is in its place? A blank plate?


    I removed the ceiling fixture and used wire nuts to seal off each of the wires. That area is now covered with a plate and ceiling plaster. I did nothing to the switches. Should I?

    Everything appears to be working correctly now. All the receptacles in the room work (they always did). Both receptacles I originally asked about are now controlled by one set of the three way switches.
    Not good.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: wiring switch to outlet

    Not good? What do I do to fix it?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,821

    Default Re: wiring switch to outlet

    You should have access to all electrical boxes with power. If you want to cover it permanently you should disconnect the power to the box if the power is still connected you should install a blank cover plate.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

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