Replacing a wall switch that supplies power to a wall outlet

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Steve: This business of reading 'funny' voltages happens all the time on this group and others. Even the cheapest of the digital, hardware or big store meters are sensitive enough to pick up stray induced voltages which can occur when dead or unconnected wires run near live ones. The reading is usually meaningless! Much better to get a regular 120 volt lamp in a socket, 25 or 40 watts will do. Test it first to make sure it is working. Then connect one wire to the black wire to the switch and one wire to the metal ground of the switch box. If it lights you have a live wire from the fuse/breaker panel that far. If not you have break somewhere between the 'fuse/circuit breaker' panel and that point. Find out why ....... maybe the wiring goes through other outlets before the switch. Maybe one of those is faulty; or is there a GFI outlet upstream of the switch that has tripped? Preferably get someon to help you; and make sure that extension cord is not getting even warm to the touch. If so replace or switch it off immediately. The thin wires in some of those are sometimes several gauges smaller than the regular wall wiring to the outlet! When you have done that reply or post to the news group for next step of testing. BTW you don't have bad circuit breaker feeding that circuit do you? Also BTW those wall switches controlling an outlet were sometimes installed to control bedside or table lamps; as in some hotel rooms. Sometime they only controlled half the duplex outlet; the other half was on all the time for a bedside TV, radio, electric powered phone etc.
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On Sun, 3 Aug 2008 16:45:04 -0700 (PDT), Steve

I sort of doubt you have any low voltage, but the other posts should have helped you figure out whether you do or not.
Regardless, if you want, you can start with this post first.
Regardless of how many volts you are reading, nothing you wrote in your post indicates you actually tested the switch.
First, where did you connect each wire of the meter?
One probe should be touching the metal box that the switch is in. That is almost certainly grounded, and you want one probe to be touching the ground. If actually testing still leaves doubts, post back.
Since the switch is out of the wall, you should have a good view of both screws to which wires are attached.
Your second probe should be touching first one screw and later the other, With one of the two screws, and the metal box for the other probe, you should show 110 to 120 volts AC. If you don't show that, flip the switch. and see if you get 110. If now you do, the switch is working.
If you show 110 to begin with, flip the switch aanyhow. If now you DON"T show 110, the switch is working. If you still show 110, you have the probe on the "hot" contact of the switch, the one connected to the wire that comes from the fusebox.
So now move the probe to the other screw. If the first screw was always hot, this screw should be hot only when the switch is in one of its two positions. If the first screw was hot in only one position, then this screw should be hot all the time. If one screw is hot all the time, and the other screw is never hot, the switch is bad. Any other situation and you don't know whether the swtich is bad or not.
I learned to go over this in detail last week by working with a friend who has a Ph.D. in math and has an important job with a defense contractor. But he still had not occasion to learn this basic stuff.
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Steve wrote:

In addition to what others have said, the outlet may be the culprit. Often outlets are wired with "stab-in" connections. Stab-in connectors are notorious for making poor contact. If the outlet experiences a high load - such as an air conditioner - the connection may fail and the outlet goes dead, usually, though not always, quite dramatically.
In addition to your other diagnostics, replace the outlet. When you do, make sure the wires are attached to the outlet with screw-down connections, not the "stab-in" method.
P.S. The short explanation of the 24volts you measured is this: The 24V reading is meaningless. It neither confirms nor refutes the presence of power.
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I'd say the short explanation is this. If you read 24 volts at wall switch and think that's normal, then you should call an electrician because there is an obvious lack of basic fundamentals, which puts the safety of you and others in the house in jeopardy.
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On Sun, 3 Aug 2008 16:45:04 -0700 (PDT), Steve
[snip]

Consider that you might not want a switch for that outlet. You can always bypass it, and use a blank wall plate.
[snip]
BTW, Also, you might consider posting somewhere other than Google. A lot of people have blocked googlegroups because of spam. There are free news servers like aioe.org (no registration/login required, although no binaries groups).
--
Mark Lloyd
http://notstupid.laughingsquid.com
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