I have removed and verified the wiring and tab removal on all receptacles with no problems found. Somewhere the red hot (switched) conductor and the black hot (un-switched) conductor must be bonded.

This condition exists in two separate rooms with a third room (on the same circuit as the problem two) functioning properly. Both terminals on the switches test hot to ground regardless of switch position.

I can't think of other places to look.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • 1
    Welcome! Is this a condition you've uncovered in a new-to-you home, or has it arisen only after some kind of work was performed? What kind of hot-to-ground test are you using (non-contact voltage tester, multimeter, test lamp, ...)?
    – Greg Hill
    Mar 21, 2021 at 17:04
  • Daughter's home. Apparently always been this way. Previous owner may have made minor changes. Used multimeter to check voltage to ground in switchbox. Based on wiring (red to 1/2 outlet and black to other half, they should work. Mar 25, 2021 at 20:30

2 Answers 2


Two things come to mind:

  1. Make sure the switches are actually working by disconnecting the load wire and testing for voltage passing through or resistance between the terminals.
  2. Verify that the red wire believed to be the switched hot at the outlet actually goes to the switch. Could do this by identifying which outlet is the first in the series, disconnect the red wire from that outlet, then confirm that toggling the switch causes the voltage on the wire to toggle.

After checking these you'll know whether the switch works properly and whether it controls the wire going to the first outlet in the series. This will help you isolate the problem to the switch itself (contacts welded closed), the space between the switch and first outlet (switch doesn't actually control those outlets, for example), or something in or beyond the series of outlets (the switched-hot is possibly backfed from same or another circuit somewhere).


By far the most common reason for this is that one or more outlets were replaced without the tabs between the halves of the outlet being broken, at which point there's hot from the unswitched side connected to the switched side (only takes one such connection per switched section to invalidate the switch.)

  • And finding it means finding every outlet controlled by the switch and checking them all
    – FreeMan
    Aug 23, 2021 at 18:13

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