Hi all new to the Diy boards. If there's any more info I can post, I'm happy to.

I just purchased a house and have been replacing some outlets. A few of the existing ones had two red wires into the top outlet, two black wires into the bottom with a white neutral coming out of each. The tabs on the hot side are broken. Based on some googling, this seems to mean they are half-switched.

I wired my new outlets exactly the same, including the broken tab. The outlets all work fine but don't seem to be attached to the switch. There are two switches that don't appear to do anything. These outlets could be attached to either, both, or neither. I am unable to tell. I did not think to confirm before starting that the switches worked. However my wiring is identical so I doubt they did.

Did I do something wrong in the wiring? I appreciate any advice you can give.

  • Can you verify with a voltage tester that the wires going in are live? Also, I take it the hot side of the outlet works, just not the switched side? Feb 4, 2017 at 1:05
  • @ThreePhaseEel I'm sure at least one of the wires are live because the outlets are hot. I guess I'm not sure if each individual wire is live. All I have at the moment is a contact less voltage detector. I'm headed to the hardware store and could get a more complex tool if necessary. For your second question, I'm not sure what you mean. Both outlets in the receptacle are live regardless of the state of the switches. (sorry, still very much a beginner) Feb 4, 2017 at 1:15
  • It's possible that the original installation was a half-switched outlet, like you previously stated. However, over time maybe someone decided they no longer wanted that, so they could have jumpered the hot side and the switched side together in a different location. Perhaps in the switch box. That may be why it seems the switches don't do anything. That would make both sides of the outlet hot all the time.
    – Mike
    Feb 4, 2017 at 1:26
  • @Mike That would make sense. Is there a way for me to verify that? Feb 4, 2017 at 1:27
  • 1
    It's also possible that there is one single outlet somewhere in the circuit without a broken tab.
    – Tyson
    Feb 4, 2017 at 1:33

1 Answer 1


If a single outlet tab is left intact on series of 1/2 switched outlets, it will prevent the switched outlets from working correctly. (The switched half outlets will also be always on also.)

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