I have a new apartment and currently have a weird setup. One of my light switches controls both an entire outlet and a light fixture. There's currently three red wires and one black wire, two reds go to one side of the switch, a red + black go to the other side of the switch. The switch is also a dimmer switch.

I'd like to wire the outlet so it's always on & the switch would only control the light.

How would you suggest I go about doing that? I was able to connect two of the red wires together and get the outlet hot, but then I couldn't get the light switch to work.

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    Pictures always help. – JACK Aug 10 '19 at 20:20
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    Can you post photos of the inside of the box please? – ThreePhaseEel Aug 10 '19 at 21:34

I am assuming you are located in the states, if so, the black wire is the "hot wire". The "hot" wire is the wire that is connected to your breaker box and has power on at all times (unless you've disengaged the breaker). The red wires are secondary live wires (should also be treated as hot) meant for interconnecting different electrical items (like a light fixture and an outlet).

Since only two items are controlled by the switch I would assume that the red/black side of the switch is simply to connect the black wire to that red wire which takes power to somewhere else.

In order to figure out which of the remaining two wires powers the light fixture I would:

  • Turn the breaker off
  • Connect the side with the red/black wires to the switch
  • Connect one of the two remaining red wires to the other side of the switch
  • Turn the breaker on
  • Check if the switch is controlling the light fixture or the outlet
  • Turn the breaker off
  • Repeat process to confirm that the other wire is the outlet/light fixture

From that point you you can just wire:

  • The red wire from the outlet to the red/black wire side
  • The single red wire to the other side of the switch
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