Ceiling Light Problem - No Switch

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Recently I moved into a century old rowhouse. I discovered that turning off the ceiling light in the small living room turned off almost every wall outlet in the room as well. Someone with an EE degree tried to fix it, but could not. He concluded it would require taking out some wall to find the problem area. I don't really want to do that.
I would like to leave the switch on at all times and replace the light fixture (which is cheap and unattractive anyway) with something I can turn off and on another way. I would prefer not to have a pull chain hanging in the middle of the room. What are my choices here? How can I turn such a light off and on remotely and leave the outlets hot? And where do I look for such products?
Thanks in advance, Phil
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On 04 Jan 2004, Phil Anderson wrote:

As God is my witness, this is not being typed with a sarcastic or malicious tone, but: THAT WAS YOU MISTAKE.
Call an ELECTRICIAN (or "Home Handyman").

It's very much likely that he was wrong. Absolute worst case you MIGHT need a new wire fished through the walls. An electrician knows how to do that without "taking out a wall".

You shouldn't have to do that to use your electrical outlets.

Unless you're tall enough to reach the new fixture, not many.

Your electrician (or "Home Handyman" who knows electrical) will find and fix the hack job probably done by some previous owner, and you won't need to. Before you call them, go to The Home Depot or Lowe's and buy your new light fixture, pay no attention to the "need" for an alternative way of turning it on and off, you won't have to. Have your electrician/home handyman replace the old one for you while they're fixing the hacked-up switch/outlets.
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this might be common in old houses it is the same way in my living room. there's no light on the ceiling and the outlets are there only to power lamps; turn on the switch and you turn on the lamps which are the only source of light.
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On 04 Jan 2004, j j wrote:

Oh yeah, I've seen that situation often. When there's no ceiling fixture, you can almost guarantee a wall switch will control at least one receptacle designed to have a lamp plugged into it. Only a slight disagreement, I don't think that was done in -real- old houses like this one, it didn't become popular until around the 50's, at least in homes built in this area.
But the possibilities boggle the mind! Maybe the top of EVERY receptacle in the room is wired to that switch, and the bottom plugs are always hot? Maybe the previous owner hacked in a ceiling fixture and didn't know enough to wire it to an unswitched black wire, or ???
I guess that's my point: Somebody who knows what they're doing (not necessarily an EE, in this case <g>) could take off a few cover plates and sniff around, assess the situation and get it straightened out. No busting out walls required!
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off
There are four outlets in the room, and the top and bottom of each is hot when the switch is on, and cold when the switch is off. I have removed and replaced the switch and every outlet, without changing the result. The EE does not claim to be expert on this, but he did fiddle with the wiring in the switch. Several attempts made things worse, none made things better. The wiring of the outlets was not unusual in any way that I could see.
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Try this link http://www.kandbelectronics.com/kb-electronics/rlm20.html It is a remotely controlled light socket where you can leave the switch on to keep your plugs energized and still be able to control the light switch....Hope that was of some help....Jim

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"Jim & Lil" <jim.morris-at-sk.sympatico.ca> wrote in message

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One should be able to split the hot so that power goes 1st to the outlets, then switched power to the light. It depends where the power comes into 1st, the switch, or the outlet. See if this is any help. http://www.homewiringandmore.com/switchoutlet/index.html
"Jim & Lil" <jim.morris-at-sk.sympatico.ca> wrote in message

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"Jim & Lil" <jim.morris-at-sk.sympatico.ca> wrote in message

http://www.kandbelectronics.com/kb-electronics/rlm20.html
leave the switch

light
This looks promising. If I put one or more of these into a ceiling fixture, the bulbs will stick out further than before, so I will have to take care that the "shade" still covers the bulbs. If I use a multi-bulb fixture, I assume I will need multiples of this device.
Am I correct that this http://www.kandbelectronics.com/kb-electronics/mc460.html is what I need to control one or more bulbs in a single fixture? One channel per device, right? Do I need anything else?
Thanks, Phil
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I was in a Lowes store yeasterday and they have all kinds of rf remote control devices for lights. Might be cheaper than having to get an X10 rig for controlling just one fixture, and one adaptor per bulb, but maybe not.
So if as you say, you don't want a pull chain hanging in the middle of the ceiling, how about a pull cord from that chain running across the ceiling through a few screweyes and hanging down against a wall alongside that ineffective switch? (Ducking....)
Phil Anderson wrote:

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Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)

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remote
an X10

but
middle of

across the

I might, just might, even be willing to consider some sort of a pull chain arrangement, but the other part of the problem is all the fixtures of that sort I have seen either go on a ceiling fan, or else are garage ugly.
Will check and see what I can find at Lowe;s. Is X-10 a mail only kind of thing?
Phil
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Phil Anderson wrote:

It shouldn't take a brain surgeon to figure out how to drill a hole in the bezel or whatchacallit part of the lamp which mounts over the electrical box in the ceiling and put a pull switch in it.
Those switches are also available at Lowes or any decent hardware store.
Happy New Year,
Jeff

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If it's your house, you could run a switch-leg from the light-fixture to the entry-door, using surface-mount conduit. But it would make more sense, to me, anyway to find someone competent to make a map of how the place is wired, first. There's almost certainly a way to make it work properly. *MY* guess is that someone replacing the ceiling fixture swapped wires around in it, and if you can figure out which wires in the ceiling box go (respectively) to the switch, outlet, and power supply, you can fix it with a wire-nut.
Are the outlets fed from the light fixture, or the switch?
Oh, and the "person with an EE degree" should not be allowed to touch any of your home wiring, ever again.
Jeff Wisnia wrote:

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light-fixture
The outlets are on three different walls of the living room, with the wires inside the wall. Turning off the switch turns off all the outlets on that circuit breaker.
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On 05 Jan 2004, Goedjn wrote:

Exactly.

I can't see it from here ($1 a.hvac) of course, but my guess is that whoever did the hacked "add on" wired the outlets to the switched black wire rather than the source black wire, and it can be fixed in moments by somebody who
-knows- -what- -to- -look- -for- (*)

Exactly, #2. See (*) above. This person with the EE might be the smartest EE in the world, that doesn't mean he knows how to spot a mis-wired 120VAC circuit. It's not what they look at 50 weeks a year.
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[snip]
Guys, I really wasn't trying to oversell the fact he has an EE degree. He has several other degrees even less useful to the situation at hand. It was just an interesting aside.
One other thing... I don't think this case qualifies as a hacked add-on. The entire area was rewired, right down to installation of a circuit breaker box at the same time, about 10-15 years ago. Hacked by design, not hacked add-on.
That said, how do I distinguish the switched from the source black wire?
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On 06 Jan 2004, Phil Anderson wrote:

Use a simple neon "voltage tester" or a $10 Radio Shacq multimeter, set to high AC Volts, one probe to ground, The other probe used to check the 2 black wires attached to the switch. With switch in OFF position, one black wire vill have 120 VAC present, that's the source. The other will have 0 VAC present, that's the switched side. Actually it will probably show a few hundred mV if you use a multimeter, don't let that throw you.
If you picture all of the outles leading back to one black wire (it's likely they do) if that black wire was connected to the switched instead of the source, that would explain the problem.
Sorry if it seemed like I was knocking the EE, just trying to point out what a simple fix this could turn out to be.
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don't
Thanks for the reply. Just to be sure I am not missing anything: 1. By "neon" voltage testers are we referring to the simple devices where the bulb lights up when a current, any current, is detected? Guess it never occurred to me the bulb was neon. 2. Is the ceiling fixture a likely place to find the wires switched? I plan to replace it any event, so finding it there would be a real bonus.
Phil (not an EE, never played one on TV, either)
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On 07 Jan 2004, Phil Anderson wrote:

Yep, that's it. Haha, now you've got *me* thinking about it! Yes, they call them "Neon Testers" so I guess so. And just to be technically correct, they indicate a *voltage* present across 2 points. To get a measure of current flow *through* those two poits is a bit more involved.
2. Is the ceiling fixture a likely place to

Much more likely it's at the switch. Very easy for somebody to get confused over the two black switch wires and maybe connect to the wrong side of the swith.
Good luck, I think that's about my best theory on what's wrong. If that's not it, I'll be waiting to hear the results along with everybody else.

Me neither, just a tech in electronics with a "Hard Knocks" degree in Residential Electrical on the side.
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Personally, I opted for the pull chain option. It's cheap and easy.
Then I'd do away with the light switch and make it a perminent connection.
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