Imagine you’re moving into a new house, or you just want to refurbish your old electricals. You replaced outlet now switch doesn’t work anymore. This can be a very annoying problem!
However, the solution depends on what your switch used to do before. If it is a completely separate switch, you most likely have a wire from the old outlet that went to the switch. If the switch controls the outlet, you’ll need some DIY hacks that we’ll discuss briefly below.
But do not worry because your problem is quite easy to fix, and you can fix it with some basic tools and a little electrical engineering knowledge. So, let’s hack our way into your problem!
Understanding Your Problem Better
Before you try fixing your problem, you should first understand what you’re facing. This will make it very easy for you to solve the issue.
So, you replaced the old outlet on your wall, and now a switch doesn’t work. Now, you’ll need to figure out what the purpose of this switch is.
Did the switch control the outlet itself? Or was it a separate switch that controlled maybe the light or another appliance? Depending on this, your solution will vary.
However, both solutions require some basic tools. As you have already installed the outlet, you should have all the tools necessary. Still, let’s list all the tools you need just for the sake of it!
You’ll need some basic tools like:
- A Philips Screwdriver
- A Flathead Screwdriver
- A Needlenose Plier
- A voltage meter
Troubleshooting A Switch Controlling The Outlet
If the malfunctioning switch controlled the outlet itself, meaning when the switch was turned on, the outlet provided power to whatever was connected. This issue is very easy to solve.
- First, cut the power to the receptacle and remove it.
- Now, on the brass side of the receptacle, you should see two black wires.
- One of these wires is always hot, meaning it always provides power, and the other is supposed to be connected to the switch.
- However, there is a metal tab between the two brass screws that the wires are connected to.
- If the metal tab is still in place, both the brass screws are always on power disregarding the switch position.
- So you’ll need to remove this small metal tab to disconnect the two screws.
- Take the needlenose plier and pry out the tab from the outlet.
- If you don’t have a needlenose plier, you can use any plier you can grab the tab with; remember, the tab is not that large. Also, only remove from the brass side, not the silver/neutral side.
- After successfully disconnecting the metal connector tab, you can just reinstall the receptacle, and your switch problem should be fixed.
However, remember that this solution is for appliances connected directly to the outlet, and the switch must control the outlet. If the switch is not directly connected to the outlet, follow the solution below.
Troubleshooting A Switch That Isn’t Connected To The Outlet
This issue is a bit more complicated. Here, you have a switch that isn’t effectively connected to the outlet but suddenly stops working when you install a new outlet.
Inside the outlet compartment, there should be four wires.
- A live black wire
- A white neutral wire
- A red wire that indicates a switch
- The copper ground wire
The problem you’re facing is that the outlet and the light switch are on the same circuit. You bypassed the switch by connecting the live wire from the outlet to the appliance.
To Troubleshoot This:
- Remove the malfunctioning switch from the switchboard and replace the switch with a spare switch. Just to check if the switch itself is broken.
- If the new switch also doesn’t work, just disconnect the wires from the switch. Try turning on the power safely and check if the appliance or light turns on without the switch.
- Suppose the appliance turns on without power from the switch lines. That means the switch wire is totally bypassed, and the appliance gets its power directly from other wires you somehow connected while replacing the outlets.
If this is the case, you’ll need to check the nearest outlet with your voltage tester. Check if all the wires are connected properly. Also, ensure that all the wires inside the outlet compartment are connected.
If this doesn’t fix your specific issue, you’ll need to call a professional electrician and get help from them. The issue is probably a wrong wiring issue. In houses built around the 1920s, appliance switches and outlets were usually on the same circuit.
So, you’ll need to get a house wiring diagram and get your wiring fixed by an electrician.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why am I not getting the power to my switch?
First, you’ll need to ensure that the switch’s circuit breaker is turned on. If the circuit breaker is turned on, you should diagnose a bad switch by checking the continuity, or you may have faulty wiring at the connection.
Is it dangerous to wire a switch wrong?
Yes. If an appliance switch is wired poorly, it can be very dangerous. If you connect the life and the neutral wire to the switch, it will short circuit. Also, you need to place the switch on the live wire and not the neutral.
What can cause a switch to fail?
A switch can fail because of a damaged switch or bad wire connections. So, the wires connected to the switch or the circuit spliced in the electrical box have come loose.
Do I break the outlet tab of the neutral side?
No. You should only break the tab on the brass or live side when creating switched outlets. The neutral tab must stay as it is. Without the neutral or silver side tab, the neutral line will not be complete, and you may lose power to some switches or other outlets.
Working on electrical wiring is pretty easy once you understand the basic principles. However, when facing an issue like this, you need to be careful that you don’t connect any wires by accident.
Always double-check if you replaced outlet now switch doesn’t work and the power is cut out or not when working on electricals. We recommend you contact a professional electrician if you’re unsure you can do this yourself!
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