I replaced the outlets and switches in a room. One outlet now has constant power, the switch no longer turns the power on and off (to control a lamp for example) as it originally did.

For troubleshooting thus far I have reattached all connections just as they were on the previous outlet and switch.

The red and black wires are hot (left side of switch and outlet), on the right side of the outlet there is a white neutral? wire and a ground, on the right side of the switch there is simply a ground (FYI: the previous switch did not have a ground but the replacement switch had one, I don't think this would be the issue though).

Any ideas on what could be the issue for now having constant power to the outlet with no ability to control with the switch?

Here are images to assist: 1 and 2 (right and left of the switch, respectively) 3 and 4 (right and left of the outlet, respectively)

Switch right side

Switch left side

Outlet right side

Outlet left side

  • In your third picture (right side of the outlet), can I see copper showing through white insulation? Jun 23, 2015 at 22:32
  • @ZachMierzejewski - I think you're looking at the bare ground wire that is partially painted with white paint.
    – Johnny
    Jun 24, 2015 at 4:31
  • 1
    In the third picture, why are the red and black both connected to the outlet, without the tab on the receptacle being broken off? Do you have red, black and white wires in the box with the switch? Does line power go into the switch box, or the receptacle box? Power will connect to one terminal on the switch, and leave through the other. So if power comes from the receptacle box, you might need to disconnect the black from the receptacle, run it straight to the switch, then run power back to the receptacle on the red wire. Jun 24, 2015 at 6:27
  • @Johnny Yeah, now that I look again, I think you're right because all the other wires seem to have white paint on them too. Jun 24, 2015 at 17:47

2 Answers 2


See this little tab here?

Receptacle with tab in place

Turn the power to this box off at the circuit breaker, and verify it's off. Then grab the little tab with a pair of needle nose pliers, and bend it back and forth until it breaks off. Once you restore power, half of the receptacle will be controlled by the switch, while the other will be always on.

A couple other notes about your wiring

When wrapping wires around screw terminals, you always want to wrap them clockwise. To tighten the screw you'll turn it clockwise, if the wire is wrapped clockwise it will be "pulled in" by the tightening action. If the wire is wrapped anticlockwise, the wire could be "pushed out" by the tightening action.

Anticlockwise wrapped wire

You'll also want to try and avoid getting insulation under the screw terminals. The insulation can prevent you from tightening the screw enough, which can lead to a poor connection. A poor connection causes higher resistance, which increase heating, which leads to deterioration of the wiring, which leads to higher resistance, which leads to more heat, which leads to fire.

Insulation under screw terminal

  • So I broke the tab in the outlet of the one I think is controlled by my switch, but it’s still always on. Anything else needed other than breaking that tab off? Does it need the white wire?
    – bretonics
    Mar 11, 2023 at 23:49

To make one outlet switched and one outlet on all the time, you need to break off that little brass tab on the outlet in between the where the black and red wires are screwed in.

To make both outlets switched, you need to disconnect and cap the red wire that is screwed into the outlet and not break off that brass tab.

Don't mess with the tab on the neutral (white) side of the outlet.

Be sure and use a non-contact voltage tester before doing stuff like this because the outlet which is being used a junction box could contain more than one circuit.

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