Switch doesn't switch correctly.
July 30, 2012 9:00 AM Subscribe
Please help me understand this bizarre home electrical-wiring problem, and how to fix it. I've got a mid-50s house. I wanted to put an outlet into the second bathroom, which has none, and it looked like the easiest way to do that would be to replace a wall switch with a combination switch/outlet (specifically, this one
posted by adamrice to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
This is not a GFCI outlet, but there is a GFCI outlet on the same circuit, which is sufficient (right?).
The instructions for the combo device show a few ways to wire it up, depending on the wiring going to it. The only way that made sense for me to wire it up was to make the outlet switched with the light. This required me to create a jumper (which I did, out of a conductor scavenged from some romex) between two connectors on the unit, and break off a built-in jumper. I triple-checked that I had everything hooked up correctly according to the instructions.
Like most older houses, this one has some weird electrical stuff going on. Most of the wiring in the house was updated a few years ago, but apparently not the leg to the light switch. And for some reason, there are two neutral wires and one hot wire connecting to the light (but only one each at the switch).
Since the wiring for the light switch does not include a ground wire, I grounded the switch to the adjacent fan switch, which is grounded (it has a ground wire, at any rate).
Anyhow, here's what happened when I got everything hooked up: Turning on the light did not result in the light turning on. When I plugged in my work light to the outlet and turned that on with the light switch on, the work light did not come on, but the ceiling light did. Weird. I felt like I was in a Marx Brothers sketch for a moment.