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To preface, I have little to no experience with electrical work and terminology, with the only thing I've done is replacing a broken ceiling light receptacle.

We have a really old house, and one of the outlets has 2 light switches (porch light and ceiling fan/light) and a 2 prong receptacle. The middle switch, (for ceiling fan/light) has been having issues for a few years where it would not turn on unless you flipped it multiple times, and recently it completely stopped working. The receptacle and the other light switch are unaffected. I used multimeter to verify that the wire going to that switch is still live, so the problem appears to be with the switch itself.

I'm trying to find a replacement for the whole assembly, but as you'd expect, it's been difficult to do so. Going by the patent number on the face plate, even that's at least 40 years old. Is there a replacement for this style switch on the market, or a method of using existing wiring with modern styles (like a 2 switches assembly and a single outlet assembly)? I'll try to answer any questions.

side view of switch

Front view of switch.  Brand is Sierra

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  • A fast search does not show anything similar. Double switches or a switch and an outlet. Do you need the outlet there? Using either of the above is not any harder, except for a bit of drywall work or not depending on the choice.
    – crip659
    Commented Mar 22 at 21:30
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    double switch, yes... switch and outlet, yes. Nothing with 2 switches and an outlet. It looks as if you will have to eliminate the outlet, or have an electrician add another box for the outlet.
    – RMDman
    Commented Mar 22 at 21:33
  • That's what I figured. The house is about 70 years old, and the outlet isn't that young either (I looked up the patent for the wall plate, and it looks like the company that made it went out of business in the 80s). Since replacement doesn't seem to be an option, we're probably gonna mummify the old outlet wire and put in a double switch for now.
    – Dustin
    Commented Mar 23 at 0:51

2 Answers 2

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You have an uncommon setup and are unlikely to find a similar double light switch and outlet combo to replace it with. It is possible there is simply a bad connection. Checking the wiring and correcting any bad connections would be my first step.

However given the age, you may need a new switch. My suggestion would be to install a double switch and forego the outlet. I would guess the outlet on your current switch lends power to one or both of the switches. So wiring the new switch should be straightforward (just copy the existing setup).

If you want an outlet nearby, you can run power down from the switch and install a separate receptacle.

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  • The existing set up of wiring cannot be copied. The current device will have a neutral for the outlet. A switch will not use a neutral unless it is a timer or some smart switch. The neutral, ( white) wire must be capped with a wirenut and pushed into the box.
    – RMDman
    Commented Mar 22 at 21:49
  • @RMDman Or extended to new outlet. I imagine this is power to switch instead of a switch loop, so neutral is passed though to the lights.
    – crip659
    Commented Mar 22 at 22:50
  • I had taken everything apart, compressed air the connections, and put it all back together, but it didn't solve the issue, so I'm gonna go with it's just that switch. Unless I can replace it individually without too much trouble, I'll probably just go with a double light switch setup. Thanks for your answer.
    – Dustin
    Commented Mar 23 at 0:55
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    @Dustin -- you have a Despard setup, not that rare although something only available thru specialty vendors these days. Commented Mar 23 at 1:17
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This is a Despard

What you're looking at is an early modular wiring device system in the US known as Despard. Replacement parts for this are generally only available at specialty vendors (such as Kyle Switch Plates -- no affiliations BTW).

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