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
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
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
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
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.
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.
The short explanation of the 24volts you measured is this: The 24V reading
is meaningless. It neither confirms nor refutes the presence of power.
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.
On Sun, 3 Aug 2008 16:45:04 -0700 (PDT), Steve
Consider that you might not want a switch for that outlet. You can
always bypass it, and use a blank wall plate.
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).
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