The Mystery of the Middle Light Switch

Recently Jim framed in the new linen closet for the master bathroom – remember the tangle of wires hanging down from the ceiling?

Well, the tangle is no more! Hubs got the triple light switch relocated, and in the process, found a bit of a mystery…the right switch worked the hall light, the left switch worked the ceiling fan, and the middle switch – well, he couldn’t find ANYTHING that worked with the middle switch.

Hubby suspected that the switch controlled one of the plugs on an outlet, so he decided to check them all. With the switch in the off position, he took a little work light and plugged it into each outlet in the room – they all worked, which told him that the switch was NOT turning off the power to any of the plugs. Hmmmm…

Never one to give up, hubby started taking off the outlet plates to get a behind-the-scenes look at the plugs…and – TA-DA! He found a plug which, in addition to the usual black wire and white wire, had a red wire going to it. This wouldn’t have meant squat to me, but he knew that the red wire was coming from the light switch – it should have made one of the plugs turn on and off by the switch, but for some reason it was always on.

At this point I would have cried uncle and begun Googling “electricians Clearwater”…hubby did begin Googling, but he searched for “switched outlets” instead and turned up some enlightening information. Apparently outlets have a little brass tab that connects the top plug to the bottom plug…if you want one of the plugs to be a switched outlet, you have to break off this brass tab – that lets each plug have its power source independently of the other. Jim’s theory was that this brass tab had never been broken off.

Jim removed the plug from the wall to take a look and…

Voila! There was that pesky little brass tab which was causing the problem.

A pair of needle-nose pliers and a few waggles later, the brass tab was gone. Once Jim had the outlet back in the wall, we plugged in a light to test it and – whaddayaknow – the top plug worked with the light switch!! MacGyver would be proud.

BTW, please go by and vote in my Closet Door Poll – I’m gonna wake up one morning and Jim will tell me that he needs to know what style of door I want so that he can get them installed, so please help me out!


About donnahuebsch

I'm a wife, a mom to an unschooling teenager, an animal lover, an artsy craftsy kind of person, & a DIYer. We're embarking on our BIGGEST do-it-yourself project yet - renovating an entire house!
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4 Responses to The Mystery of the Middle Light Switch

  1. pat says:

    Closet door survey needed one more choice—–two separate bi-doors that open in. Make them louvered to keep the closet aired out and for general cuteness.

  2. Michele says:

    You know, that makes me wonder if we have the same problem with our mystery middle lightswitch in our master bedroom. It could well be almost set up for running hubby’s bedside table light – like the 1st switch runs mine & the third runs our fan!

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