I have a single pole light switch with a hot red wire secured at the top and a hot black wire at the bottom. I then have a handful of outlets wired with the metal tab broken separating the hot red and black wires.

However, all of the top and bottom outlets are always hot. The switch isn't doing anything. I tried swapping the switch (on the off chance the receptacle wasn't working) with a different one in the house that is working, but that didn't work either.

What could be causing the switch to not terminate?

A few (mediocre) photos below:



Hot wires with broken tab:

outlet hots, broken tab

Neutral (top) with tab connected and ground:

outlet neutral

  • Can you post photos of how the switch and receptacle are wried? Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 2:48
  • @ThreePhaseEel I added photos. Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 3:54
  • 2
    Were those outlets always switched with that switch?
    – fixer1234
    Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 4:08
  • 1
    BTW, the outlet wiring looks incorrect. The pigtail should bend clockwise so that tightening the screw tends to pull the wire in and tighter. It looks like the pigtails are facing the wrong way. The switch wiring looks correct from that standpoint.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 4:16
  • If the single pole switch is correctly functioning and you turn it off, then only one of the wires connected to it should be hot. If both are hot (with the switch off), then you are feeding the receptacle from another hot wire. This may be another wire on the same circuit or a different circuit. Is the power to this circuit shut off by a single breaker? Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 11:56

2 Answers 2


You said the switched receptacles are chained all around the room, so each receptacle has a switched and unswitched socket, am I right?

One of the other receptacles still has its tab. That's all it takes.


Looking at your pictures, and reading your new comments. Here is what I see, you have a red and black wire attached to your switch and a red and black wire attached to both sides of you receptacle. Are the red and black wires the same wires? Because if they are then where is you hot or source wire?

If you have a voltmeter or a non contact indicator check to see which wires are hot. One attached to the switch and one attached to the hot side of the receptacle should both be constantly hot. The one attached to the switched side of the receptacle should be hot when the switch is turned on. You are right in saying it should be fairly straight forward. I have attached a sketch. enter image description here

Remember your taking reading from a live source so stay safe and good luck.

PS - If you don't have a voltmeter or a non contact indicator get borrow or buy one.

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