Hoping for some help here. My parents recently moved into a new place (older house though) and there is one quirk about it I can't seem to figure out. In one room, the ceiling light is controlled by a switch and works fine until something is plugged into an outlet on one of the walls. Once something is plugged in the outlet, the ceiling light stays on permanently and the light switch now controls the power going to the outlet. This happens for two outlets, both on the same wall. I looked in the ceiling light and there are two 14/2 wires entering the box. One white wire is marked with black tape and crossed with a black wire. I had a quick inspection of the outlets and nothing obvious (didn't see anything loose, etc). Any thoughts on what is going on here.

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    Can you post photos of the insides of all boxes involved? – ThreePhaseEel Nov 12 '18 at 5:09
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    Hi and Welcome. Use an incandescent lamp for device A. When this device A is plugged into the outlet, does the ceiling light get dim and bright as the switch is turned on and off? Does device A turn on and off opposite to the ceiling light? – mike65535 Nov 12 '18 at 13:46
  • Is the wall switch a standard mechanical single pole switch or is it a dimmer? Is the light in the ceiling fixture an LED, a fluorescent or an incandescent? Does the switch control the hot slot in the wall receptacles whether there is any ordinary load plugged in or not? Can you check the hot with a plug-in circuit tester or a non-contact voltage tester? – Jim Stewart Nov 12 '18 at 14:55
  • What cables are in the switch box? Do want the receptacles to be be always on, not switched? – Jim Stewart Nov 12 '18 at 16:30
  • A picture of what is in the light fixture box and what is in the switch box would really help, but failing that answer some questions. Are there two 14/2 + gnd cables entering the fixture box, that is, two cables each with a black wire and a white wire so two blacks and two whites (plus grounds)? How many cables are there in the switch box and are they all 14/2 or is there also a 14/3 (B, W, R + gnd)? – Jim Stewart Nov 12 '18 at 17:44

Sounds like poster is not coming back... Short answer is

Look in the receptacles

Usually, receptacles that control lamps are split. This is done by breaking off a tab of metal that resides between the two brass screws on the hot side of the receptacle.

It happens all the time where a novice decides "I'm going to replace all my receptacles for some reason" (color change, weak old receptacles that don't hold, GFCI, you name it.) Because they are a novice, they have no idea how the "tabs" work, and don't even realize "tabs" are a thing. They end up defeating the switched light, have no idea why that happened, don't even know where to start, so they shrug, decide "fix it later" or live with it, and switch the lamps on and off at the lamp.

Or, they do something weirder like break off the neutral tab by mistake.

Regardless, something like that has gone wrong. Look for abnormal wiring in each of the receptacle boxes. Shoot us a photo, and edit your question to add them.

  • +1 for "don't even realize "tabs" are a thing". I was considering that the outlet in question was somehow wired across the switch rather than in series with it. We may never know. :-( – mike65535 Nov 13 '18 at 13:04

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