Are you sure it doesn't control half of one of the duplex receptacles in that
room? It might also have gone to the fan in a fan/light combo that is now just
a light. Is it near a basement or attic access? How about an outside outlet? I
had a "mystery switch" that controlled a landscape light outlet in the yard.
That took a while to figure out. ;-)
Yep. If it's an older (50+) home, it could go just about
anywhere, be broken, or some combination of the above.
Oh, joy! <g>
If the home is more "middle age" (20-50) or newer, I would lean
towards the 'half-of-duplex-for-table-lamps' as more probable,
and it it's < 20 I would think it could have been put in for
"future use", which builders didn't really do until recently.
If so, and it is anywhere like Greg said, you may want to look
for a blank cover plate on an outside wall where you might place
a light fixture or outlet.
The real Tom Pendergast [ So if you meet me, have some courtesy,
aka I-zheet M'drurz [ have some sympathy, and some taste.
Greg spilled my beer when they jumped on the table and proclaimed in
I have one similar to your story. There's a light switch in a closet here,
that is live, and it works. The light is a pullstring light. I checked
every outlet in the house to see if the previous owner had it wired
somewhere for some insane reason, then gave up when I couldn't find it.
2 years later, I'm working in the attic above this closet when I see wiring
come out of the 'floor', go up a support stud to two wire nuts, and stop.
To this day, I have no idea what he was planning to use it for. The bare
ends are perfectly straight, as if they were cut, stripped, then wire
nutted and left. (I boxed them just to be safe. :) )
A switched light in the attic..is there a ceiling trapdoor in the closet for
..or maybe there 'was' going to be one.
OR, run the circuit across the attic and out to a box w/ duplex outlet in
the soffit/eaves area
Gives you a dry outside place to plug in your "roof" Christmas lights and
No cold wet trips outside in Winter to turn off/unplug the Xmas lights.
We have 2 such circuits Ho Ho Ho!
I installed ceiling track lights in my dining room when my wife was
giving art classes. Above the ceiling was an attic, so it was easy to
run the wiring to a newly installed switch on the DR wall connected to
an outlet on the adjacent LR wall. When my wife gave up the classes, I
removed the track lights but retained the switch, which then did
nothing. Subsequently, I installed a motion detector light on the rear
of my house (for the dog) and used the DR switch to control the outside
Split receptacles, oh yea, I wired a couple of those in my house. You wind up
having a receptacle to use for a lamp with out having to put another one side
by side for a lamp. I use one of them for electrical repair projects when I
want to stand back a ways to test what ever I hope I fixed. They are not so
handy when you can't remember why the vacuum that was running just a minute ago
now doesn't run. I also have a switch that does nothing for a garbage disposal
I'm going to put in, someday, when I get around to it, when I think of it, and
they are sale, maybe I find a new one at a garage sale...
"Mr. Whippy" wrote:
I had one of these too. It used to control a ceiling fan or light in
the kitchen. This is now controlled with just one switch, however the
power was going through this switch - noticed the fan didn't work when
these wires were disconnected (a long story).
On Sun, 24 Oct 2004 05:19:36 GMT, "Mr. Whippy"
Some new houses have extra circuits, and perhaps
switches too, for plans the owner never got around
to implementing. In my house these are (1) outdoor
lights (extra switch at the front door) and (2) unbuilt
extra bathroom (circuits only, no switches.)
You might want to look carefully at the ceiling in any room that
doesn't have a ceiling fixture. I found small round plaster repairs
in the ceilings of two rooms in my house. The previous owners
apparently didn't like ceiling fixtures.
I took a chance that the one in my MBR might still be active and
chopped away the plaster. I installed a cheap "temporary" fixture
that I had bought in case it worked. That was, of course, a couple of
years ago. The difference between temporary and permanent is a subtle
one in my house.
Even if I didn't need a fixture, it's just as well that I opened up
the ceiling box. If memory serves there was no cover on the box, just
a wad of newspaper stuffed into it to serve as a backing for the
plaster. The wires inside were just taped off and the tape was in
I had one of these, too. At some point, I had a worker up in the attic who
mentioned that the attic fan wasn't running, though it was 90F+ out (and
thus, oh, 3,000F or so in the attic). I got an electrician out, who went
up, tromped around, then came down and quickly found the switch, said
"You're not gonna like this..." and turned the fan on. (Being a "sensible"
sort, I'd left the "useless" switch off...)
(Actually, he was there to do something else as well, so it didn't cost me
much; better than the time I spent $43 to learn how to reset a GFI
breaker -- it never occurred to me that the "half-tripped" position meant to
turn it OFF and then ON; I kept trying to turn it on, decided it was
physically busted, called the electrician...)
Remember the Steven Wright joke:
"In my house there's this light switch that doesn't do anything. Every
so often I would flick it on and off just to check. Yesterday, I got a
call from a woman in Germany. She said, 'Cut it out.'"
It probably controlls a switched outlet. Plug in a lamp to each outlet
nearby and flip the switch until you find out which one it is. I could also
be an emergency gas boiler shutoff switch.
Hope this helps,
In my house there's this light switch that doesn't do anything. Every so
I would flick it on and off just to check. Yesterday, I got a call from a
woman in Madagascar. She said, "Cut it out." -- Steven Wright
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