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We were trying to replace old switch plate covers at our new house when we came across one that is a type I've never seen before. It's a light switch cover that looks like an ordinary cover except for a small bulge above the switch that's maybe an inch across and half an inch tall. It's kind of an elongated pyramid shape. Removing the cover reveals two wires coming from the box (one from the top right, one from the bottom left) that appear to be soldered behind the lump. There appears to be a small piece of what looks like PCB board material, but doesn't show any features aside from the points where the two wires are attached.

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Does anybody have any idea what this is? I don't want to just yank the wires out (they are attached to screw terminals in the box) without knowing what they are supposed to do.

The house was build in the early 20th century, so the plate could be really old.

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    My guess is that it's an illuminated cover, which no longer works. Turn power off, disconnect the two wires to the cover, and replace with a regular cover. While you're at it, you might as well replace the switch. – Chris Cudmore Aug 7 '14 at 13:18
  • @ChrisCudmore: That sounds possible. It doesn't have any kind of clear window which would make that obvious, but I don't think all illuminated switches do. – Matt Burland Aug 7 '14 at 13:29
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    Some used to just glow behind the plastic. – Chris Cudmore Aug 7 '14 at 13:36
  • Searching for illuminated switch plate, I came across this on another site that sounds like it might be the same thing. Possibly mystery solved unless anybody else has another idea. – Matt Burland Aug 7 '14 at 13:44
  • @ChrisCudmore: Turns out, you were correct (if you want to write an answer, I'll accept it). I went back to the house last night and examined it again and found a label on the back that said something to the effect of "GUARANTEED RENEWAL SERVICE. Should light mechanism ever burn out...send it back along with 35 cents for a replacement". Needless to say, I'm not going to bother sending it back! If I'd noticed that before, I probably would have put 2 and 2 together. – Matt Burland Aug 8 '14 at 13:38
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Commment converted to answer.

My guess is that it's an illuminated cover, which no longer works. Turn power off, disconnect the two wires to the cover, and replace with a regular cover. While you're at it, you might as well replace the switch.

  • +1 for swapping out that fire hazard of a switch. If it has a slotted screw it's about time to make it go away. – Mazura Sep 17 '14 at 3:14

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