Why Doesn’t This Light Switch Work? Mystery Solved!

plug-mystery-2_thumb.jpgIn our 35 years of marriage, don’t you think Larry would have shared this pearl of wisdom before now? Mind you, he didn’t actually SOLVE the mystery of “why can’t I figure out which outlet is operated by this light switch?  I plug into EVERY @#$% ONE!”  But he told me something of tremendous value once I solved the mystery.

We moved homes {once again}. Escrow, painters, floor refinishing, blah blah blah and then packing, moving, emptying the storage. Remember just nine months ago we did this? That’s because we sold our house, decluttered, packed a ton of stuff into storage and moved into a sweet condo in Playa Vista to set our sights on buying once the right thing popped up. Which it did. And now we are here.

Here, with a mystery.  Every room has one wall switch that {and even our neighbor who has lived here 8 years couldn’t figure out} operates some outlet somewhere. I plug, and I plug, and I plug.

Don’t tell me you know this.

So then I thought:  plug into the BOTTOM ones.  Around and around the room until I found the outlet that worked.  WHEW!!

And as I proudly proclaimed my discovery, Larry said EVER so matter-of-factly, “Electricians put those outlets in up-side down so you know they’re operated by a switch.”

ARE YOU @#$%^&-ING KIDDING ME?  I thought that was just a stupid mistake you see here and there in a house.

plug mystery 2

So look for the upside-down wall outlet.  Plug into the bottom one. Turn on the switch. You’re welcome.  No thanks to Larry, BTW.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Worth The Whisk December 22, 2015 at 4:26 pm

I have to say, Rena, that having owned homes and a commercial building since 1977, this was the first time I heard of this, but it seems to be the case in this house.

2 Rena December 22, 2015 at 3:48 pm

Good tip, but… While this information could prove to be useful in a different rental, I found that it does not help in my current home.

The master bedroom has a light switch, and just like you, I plugged and plugged all around the room. Only to find that none of the sockets work with the switch. After reading your site, I ran into the room to see if any of the sockets were upside down. None of them were.

I then entered the second bedroom (where I was actually able to find the socket that worked with the switch in the room) and found that the outlet which connected to the switch is not upside either.

Guess this is not necessarily the standard practice of all electricians.

Thanks for the tip though!

3 Worth The Whisk January 20, 2015 at 11:34 am

That’s a real conundrum. Only thing I can think to do is plug a lamp into every outlet and test, test, test. Sorry!

4 Corryn A. January 20, 2015 at 9:42 am

What happens if your outlets are horizontal, not vertical? And I replaced both the outlet and switch and now I can’t get the switch to operate the outlet again.

5 sippitysup August 10, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Oops. I can’t tell you how many times I have corrected an upside down outlet. GREG

6 Karen Guerra August 8, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Patti, I can’t wait to hear more about your new place.

7 Judith Klinger August 8, 2013 at 9:55 am

UH..can Larry come back to Montone and work on our switch mysteries?? We literally have baskets of adapters on every floor. But, I do love the upside down tip….excelllent!!

8 Char August 7, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Things make a lot more sense around my house now. Good info, thanks!

9 Dorothy at ShockinglyDelicious August 7, 2013 at 8:14 pm

You have GOT to be kidding me! I never knew that!
What a convoluted man thing.

10 Carol B August 7, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Well I’ll be dipped! Thanks for the info! Who knew!

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