Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

Do you have any light switches in your home that you've walked past for years, and suddenly realized you had no idea what it was supposed to do?

Asked by Dutchess_III (42853points) July 18th, 2010

I’ve lived here since 99. In the kitchen I have a plate over one counter with two switches. The one turns the kitchen light off an on. I suddenly realized today that I had no idea what the other switch was supposed to do! I flipped it, and nothing happened.

Have you ever had something like that happen, where something becomes so familiar that you cease to even notice it or think about it until one day you realize you didn’t even know what it was for?

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26 Answers

mrentropy's avatar

Oh, so it was you who did it.

But, yeah, I’ve done that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Took me a sec @mrentropy but LOL! Yeah. Did I blow sumpthin up over there? Sorry!

mrentropy's avatar

When you flipped that switch a person, who you don’t know at all, died. Now you have to wait for the guy to show up to give you lots of money before he moves on to the next person, who you don’t know at all, who will flip a switch which they don’t know what it does.

rebbel's avatar

Yeah, i have had that, in my kitchen too.
There was this white apparatus that i didn’t pay attention to for years, actually since 2001.
Then, last year September, my girlfriend from Greece came to stay with me for some months and she saw the thing too and started to use it.
Turned out it was a stove.

Seaofclouds's avatar

We have a few switches here that seem to do nothing. I’ve only been here for 6 months so far though, so I might figure it out sometime.

Dutchess_III's avatar

SHIT @mrentropy!!!
@rebbel LOL!!
@Seaofclouds DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING!!!

mrentropy's avatar

I was living in a house that had been a model home. One day, all the lights went out. We thought the power had a problem, but the stove and fridge and everything still had power.

Turns out, after an episode of panicking about faulty wiring, that the builders had left in the switches that controlled all the lights and someone had flipped them by mistake.

Dutchess_III's avatar

We have a switch that’s upside down. It controls the attic fan. Flipping it down turns it on. Flipping up turns it off. Well, my daughter and her two boys were staying with us during one winter. The fireplace was burning. My daughter told her son, who was then 12, to be sure to turn off all the lights as they were leaving. He did. To the best of his knowledge then left the house immediately after that. Fortunately my husband had a reason to stop by the house and about an hour later. Walked in, thought the place was on fire. Couldn’t see his hand in front of his eyes the smoke was so thick.

I tried teasing my grandson about it once, but it seriously upset him to have made such a mistake. I just said it was an accident, and an easy one to make at that, and it was OK. I’ve never mentioned it again.

@mrentropy THAT light switch damn near kilt my husband!

mrentropy's avatar

I’m not a fan of upside-down switches.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@Dutchess_III But now I’m more intrigued to try to find out what happens when I flick those switches. :-)

Austinlad's avatar

There’s a wall switch in the bedroom of my fairly new house that does absolutely nothing. It’s right next to another switch that turns on the overhead light, but it doesn’t do anything—and it’s not connected to any of the wall plugs in that room. I flip it from time to time when i mean to flip the working switch, and I fantasize that somewhere in the neighborhood a light, TV or computer is inexplicably shutting off.

Fly's avatar

In our living room there is a set of four switches. Only one of them controls anything to our knowledge (a recessed light). There is a place to install a fan or another light in the ceiling, so we assume one must control that, but there are still two mystery switches. There is a similar situation in my dad’s room- three switches but only one appears to control anything (his ceiling fan).

We also have an upside down switch at my mom’s house that controls the outside light. It has never been rewired (that we know of) and only has one switch, so we have no clue how it ended up that way.

At my dad’s house, we also have several light switches controlling just one light light source for two different lights. We have four switches controlling our foyer chandelier and three controlling a hallway light upstairs, so some can be in the “on” position while others are off, which can get really confusing.

ipso's avatar

I kind of had a similar experience. I’ve had the same bank pin number for 30 years. One day I had to type it into a bank webpage and could not – for the life of me – recall it. The computer keyboard number pad is upside down. I must have spent a full pregnant minute staring at the screen, groping, unable to figure it out. Eventually I realized the phone keypad had the correct orientation, but even with that it was impossible to recall the number until I made the actual physically motions with my hand.

Talk about “muscle memory”.

Same with the light switches in the various bathrooms in my house. Not a one is in the same configuration, but I always switch the right one for the light (and not the heater or fan). Looking at them I could not tell you which one is which, but when I reach into the various rooms (without looking) I always flip the right one. Kind of eerie. When I exit it’s just the odd one.. out.

My grandmother said once that her doctor told her not remembering where things go in the kitchen is not a significant sign, but picking up a utensil and not remembering what it is used for is apparently a significant sign of encroaching senility.

If you’ve never used the switch, no problem.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Seaofclouds BUT YOU MIGHT KILL MY DOG!! I’m going to go flip that switch, Sea. Tell me if you get shocked…...........................did you get shocked?

@ipso I was going through a divorce in 1990–1991. It was a horrible, horrible stressful time. I was driving home from shopping with my preschool kids, down a city residential road that I’d traveled hundreds of time to get back to the house we’d lived in for 10 years. Pulled up to a stop sign…and suddenly had NO idea where I was or where to go from there. It was weird, scary, because I knew I should know. I imagine it’s what Alz. patients experience, but I was only 30 years old.

After sitting at that stop sign for several seconds, not knowing what to do I just cleared my mind completely of all thought and let my body take over. I turned left, not really knowing why, but not questioning it. Several seconds later every thing came back, and yes, I was headed in the right direction. Stress can do awful things, you know?

LuckyGuy's avatar

No. But we do have a series of light switches that we can’t figure out how they are wired. They are set up so that we can turn the garage light on and off from 3 separate locations: inside the house, from the plate at the back door, and the plate on the front garage door. Another switch in one of the plates operates the spotlights. However the spotlights operation depends upon the sequence of the other 3 swirches.

I labeled that switch plate “Off” and “Maybe”.

SuperMouse's avatar

Yes! There was one in a condo where I lived for almost ten years. We tested and tested and tried and searched and looked and never, ever figured out what that light switch did!

rebbel's avatar

This is starting to look much like the lone sock and lone shoe phenomenon
Spooky.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@Dutchess_III Nope, no shock here, maybe someone else got it. :-)

chyna's avatar

I have one in my dining room that is a dimmer switch that does not go to anything. I even called the previous owners and they said they could never figure it out either.

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

Yeah, my house is about a hundred and twenty years old and there an outlet near our front door. I used to enjoy switching it on and off all the time. Then one night I was switching it on and off and the phone rang. It was some guy in Arizona saying, Stop that!”

Sorry, just kidding.

But seriously folks, the switch is still there and still wired up to something, but we have no idea what it was ever used for. We also have three different switches that all work the same light in our kitchen.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Gradzooks, yeah, this house was made back near the 30s or 40s and there are about 3 switches (some in odd areas) that no one knows what they do or what they use to do. The present owners (since I am renting) call it the Winchester Mystery House because of all the strangeness about the place, vents that have nothing to vent, stove that don’t vent nowhere, etc. Somewhere on some plans buried under Mr. Burns cellar the explaination of those switches are known.

knitfroggy's avatar

Our TV room is at the back of the house. It’s an addition to the original house. Beside the sliding glass door is a light switch that I wondered about for several years. One day last summer I was outside and I was looking at the back of the house. I noticed what probably used to be a porch light on the original part of the house. The only way to change that light would be to get a ladder and climb all the way onto the roof. We’ve lived here for 6 years. I really doubt we are going to haul the ladder out anytime soon, but it would be nice to have a light in the back yard.

Cruiser's avatar

I have zone lighting in my kitchen and never used most of them as it was too much trouble to flick them all on and off. Now that I am trying to sell my house, for the first time in 7 years I have to turn them all on for the showings!! PITA!

Aster's avatar

We have lived here since February and there are still switches that I’ve ignored. I don’t have any idea what they’re for. we have a timer on the laundry room wall. I jjust ignored it until one day I decided to email the previous owner. She said “my husband takes the dog out each evening onto the driveway (on the back of the house) and he kept forgetting to turn the lights off. So he put a timer on the light (s). I wonder how much work that involved? It seems like a big job.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Aster I don’t think it’s a big job if you know what you’re doing.

lazydaisy's avatar

I have several. It’s a mystery.

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