So mother in law wants white outlets/switches/plates. (she has old almond colored ones) So I get to two outlets in her bedroom....one red, one white and one black in. Take out the old outlet, put new outlet in with same wire set up. Get to the switch....one red on top and one black on the bottom. I can see in the box that a neutral is butterflyed with the black and red. Put in new switch with the same wire set up. Turn on the breaker and the outlets work, there is power. They don't shut off with the switch however. Basically the switch does nothing.

I'm guessing the wiring in the switch is wrong somehow, but don't know how since I did everything exactly how it was set up originally. Any guesses?

  • "a neutral is butterflyed with the black and red" What does "butterflied" mean? That's a term I've never heard of. A picture might help explain...
    – FreeMan
    Jul 5, 2022 at 14:02

1 Answer 1


The most likely issue here is that the original outlet was setup to be half switched and half always powered. To facilitate this mode of operation the two outlet sections need to be isolated from one another. This is done by removing a small breakaway jumper on the outlet that bridges the connection between outlets.

It is a good guess that you did not notice this on the old outlet and so did not remove it on the new white outlet. Check to see if this is the case and correct accordingly.

Here is a closeup picture of the side of a quality Lutron outlet that shows the tab that connects the two sides of the device. This can be removed using a pair of needle nosed pliers and twisting the tab back and forth till it breaks off. (Note that there are tabs on both the hot and neutral sides of the outlet. The choice of which to remove depends on how things are wired but usually the one just the hot side is removed when the hot is switched and it is on the same circuit as the non-switched part of the outlet).

enter image description here

(Picture taken by my smart phone)

  • 3
    It is surprising how many miss the jumper then because it is not working correctly call a electrician, Michael is dead on as it sounds the wires were properly swapped from 1 device to the other.+
    – Ed Beal
    Jul 4, 2022 at 16:19
  • Gotta be kidding me. When I'm over I'll check this out Thanks
    – Scott
    Jul 5, 2022 at 0:08

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