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I live in Texas in the United States.

I have a 2-gang plate--one gang is occupied by a switched duplex outlet (not half-switched half-hot, but entirely switched) and the other gang by an outdated nightlight+switch unit manufactured by Eagle Electrical. This switch controls both a ceiling light and the duplex outlet aforementioned.

I would like to convert the duplex outlet to be entirely non-switched and hot; in other words, I don't want the switch to control either of the outlets anymore. (The switch would only control the ceiling light.)

Below is a drawing of the configuration I found when I looked behind the 2-gang plate. Everything was encased in an outlet box and I did not take out, nor look behind, the outlet box.

The wiring

It's a bit complicated. At the top I've drawn three flaps (these are the flaps at the back of the outlet box) and coming out of each flap is a black/white/copper trio of wires. Throughout, B stands for black wiring (which I've also drawn with black marker), W for white, C for copper, R for red. There is one shaded cable coming out of the switch (the switch is in the lower-right of the drawing)---this shaded cable was brown.

Also, yes, the duplex outlet is upside down. I'm told this is common for switched outlets.

Main Question. How can I reconfigure this so that the duplex outlets are hot, and no longer controlled by the switch? I am not a professional electrician, so any guidance on what coloring I should use on any new wires I need to connect would also be very welcomed information.

Side questions:

  1. Is it possible that there is another device, and not just the outlets and the ceiling light, that is somehow controlled by this switch? (I couldn't otherwise figure out the need for the three black wires into the three flaps.)

  2. Is the drawing enough information to safely rewire to achieve my goal? Or do I need to test something, or understand what's behind the flaps, to proceed?

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I am a huge fan of using colored tape to re-color wires according to their actual function.

Here, with black=always-hot and red=switched-hot.

enter image description here

What to do next should be fairly straightforward.

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Terminology a bit messed up, but in the end I think this is fairly normal.

Let's call the three cables coming at top A, B, C.

  • A and B - one of these is incoming power, one is power going out to another place - more lights in another room, more receptacles, etc. They are technically quite different, but for practical purposes they are treated the same here.
  • C - This is going to the light controlled by the switch.

You have, normally, 4 types of wires:

  • Black (or other colors not white or green or bare copper) = Hot or Switched Hot
  • White = Neutral
  • Green or bare copper = ground.

All grounds always go together - and they are. That is the wire nut on the right side of the diagram.

All neutrals go together, provided everything is part of one circuit (which is the case here) - they are. That is the wire nut with 3 whites and 1 black (we'll get to the 1 black later).

All hots go together. That is the wire nut on the left. It has black wires going to cables A & B (incoming power and outgoing power) and to the switch.

The tricky part is the switched hots. The switch has a red wire, which I assume is the usual switched hot. It also has the brown wire, which is a bit odd. I assume it is to power the night light - more on that later.

For the specific problem you are trying to solve - make the receptacle not switched, all you have to do is remove the switched hot black wire - the wire going from the receptacle to the wire nut with the red wire - from that wire nut and instead connect it to the wire nut that has the existing hots, on the left side of your diagram. That's it. One catch is that you may need to replace the wire nuts - reuse is not always the best idea. Using wire nuts is not hard, but you do need to make sure they are really tight and that no bare wire is exposed (except for the wire nut holding the ground wires, of course).

Now the two interesting parts:

  • Black wire from receptacle to the neutrals. This is wrong. It should be a white wire. However, if you don't have any spare appropriately sized white wire, leave it alone. But if you do have some (or a piece of 12/2 Romex that you can take apart), this wire should be replaced with a white wire.
  • Brown wire connected to the switch. This is an oddball. Without more information, I would leave it as is. If you want to replace the switch/night light with a simple switch then you will get rid of the brown wire and just use the other wires. If you want to replace the switch/night light with a fancy switch (timer, dimmer, motion sensor, smart switch, etc.) then ask another question here as there are some complicating factors.
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  • Thank you very much! This is super-helpful. After I "unswitch" the receptacle, should I try to make it "rightside up?" The wiring is really tight back there (some of the wires are really stiff and won't move) so I'm not 100% confident I can do that, but as far as I can tell, making it rightside up would be the proper thing to do, is that right? I will try to go buy the smallest amount of wing nuts and white wire I can find at Lowe's (I suppose along with a cutter and stripper) and will report back! Thank you again. – SwitchConfusion Nov 18 '20 at 13:22
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    a) For the wire nuts, I recommend getting a multi-pack of different sizes like lowes.com/pd/… so that you have the right size for each use - the package will list how many of each size wire can fit in each color; b) unless you are 100% certain, get #12 wire - larger is harder to work with, smaller (#14 - the numbers go backwards) is OK for 15A but not 20A, so #12 is best to have on hand and not have to worry about which type of circuit you have. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Nov 18 '20 at 14:49

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