I have electricity coming into outlet box from two sources, one is coming via light switch and another one is coming from another outlet.

So I want the top of the twin outlet to be controlled by the switch and bottom of the outlet to be always on electricity.

The two power sources are actually on one breaker on the board, don't know if that info matters.

I read somewhere that I need to remove the break in pin of my outlet because the power to outlet is coming from two sources so each half of the outlet can receive power separately.

The thing is that I don't know how to remove or the break the connecting pin. Here is how my outlet looks like:

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After long introduction let me repeat the question(s) :

1. How to remove or break the connecting pin on this outlet?

2. Am I doing something wrong at the moment, and I should be doing something else? (Like leaving the pin in place or something else)

1 Answer 1


You are on the right track. As it comes from the store, the upper and lower sections of standard double outlets are connected by the small tab connecting the brass plates under the screws on either side.

To separate those sections so that one half is constantly on and the other half is switched, break the tab on the hot side of the outlet. This is usually the side with brass screws. The other, neutral side usually has silver screws. You can be sure on modern outlets because the side with the larger slot is the neutral. In your first picture, the neutral is on the right.

Break the tab on the hot side by grasping it with the tip of a needle-nose pliers and flexing front to back until it snaps off. Do not break off the tab on the neutral side (that would be removed only if the two halves were going to be fed by different breakers; not your case).

You should have two hot wires, one always on and one switched. They may both be black or one black and one red, or even one white, but with a black marking. Attach the always on wire to the brass screw next to the half you want always on. The other should be attached to the brass screw next to the half you want switched.

The neutral (white) wire is attached to either screw on the silver side. The remaining tab carries that connection to both halves.

  • spot on, you are correct. I should only remove the tab for the hot side of the outlet. The reason why it wasn't working for me was because I broke tabs on both sides, and this outlet happens to be in the middle of the circuit too so it caused other outlets not to work too. Thanks, such a vital piece of information! Jul 1, 2015 at 15:36

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