I am the new(ish) owner of a home where the top switch of a double light switch must be on for the bottom to work. This is problematic because they are for outdoor floodlights and we need one to always be on but not the others... and that one is of course the one "dependent" on the other switch controlled light.

the switch that controls both lights (or the one that must be on for the other to work) is the top switch. Please help!

See picture, black wire goes down to bottom switch on other side. enter image description here

  • Think we will need pictures of how the lights are hooked up.
    – crip659
    Oct 11, 2021 at 22:32
  • A picture of the other side of the switch would be helpful, too
    – FreeMan
    Oct 11, 2021 at 23:28
  • No need. Pretty clear it is "black wire" (as stated in the text) to a common connection - nothing else fits the current functioning of the switches. Oct 11, 2021 at 23:36

1 Answer 1


What I suspect is:

  • white = hot
  • black = switched hot 1
  • red = switched hot 2
  • right side wired "common"

That fits current (pun intended) behavior.

Swap black and white to fix the problem.

  • 1
    Yeah, that's what I get too. Oct 12, 2021 at 0:37
  • 1
    Thanks so much! Ill try that now. I think it used to be a single switch because there are only 3 wires and a ground instead of 4. Does this sound right?
    – Ashlyn A
    Oct 12, 2021 at 14:43
  • Not necessarily. New switches normally require neutral in (almost) every switch box. However, older homes often have switches without neutral. If there is no neutral then they can be (not counting ground) 2-wire = hot & switched hot or 3-wire = hot & 2 switched hots (like I believe you have here). If this used to be a single switch and had the 3-wire + ground cable at that time then it is a different story altogether. Oct 12, 2021 at 15:19
  • 1
    Thanks everyone! That was the fix! Really appreciate it
    – Ashlyn A
    Oct 12, 2021 at 19:36

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