Do you have any phantom light switches in your house?

Light switches that do nothing. Sometimes, they might do something, but you’ll be danged if you know.

There’s a switch in our living room that for the first few months we lived here I couldn’t figure out what it did. Then one day, while we were watching TV, my son or daughter switched it off, and there went the TV. I ended up disconnecting it from the outlet, so now it just sits there-- a phantom.

There are several switches in my garage that I don’t know where they go, but the wiring is so messed up out there.

There is a triple switch in my front room. One controls the ceiling fixture. One does the porch light. I cannot figure out the third one for the life of me.

We have a phantom switch in the kitchen; I have no clue what it’s for.

In the apartment we lived in before we lived here, there was a phantom light fixture. There was no way to turn it on or off. It wasn’t a dummy, as there were wires that ran from the fixture into the wall; there just wasn’t a switch. Anywhere.

We have a triple switch in the kitchen, by the back door. One switch turns the light on over the sink. One switch overrides the automatic light in the breezeway AND overrides the garage opener. The third switch? No clue.

There’s a four switch panel by our front door - one turns on the lights in the entranceway, one turns on the light on the front porch, one turns on the light in the garage, and one does nothing… (I suspect that it was intended for a never installed lamppost in the front yard, since other houses in the neighborhood have those).

Sure, if you count the switches that didn’t control a light but the now-replaced swamp cooler.

Obligatory Steven Wright quote:

“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 Madagascar. She said, ‘Cut it out.’”

When I had my kitchen remodeled, I opted for upper cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling. This meant that the light fixture right above the cabinets is covered. It was controlled as part of a double switch - the other switch is for the garbage disposal. So now I have a phantom switch near the kitchen sink.

At some point I plan on doing a home automation system for the house. I’ll end up putting a Z-Wave switch or something similar in that spot, which will make it useful again.

We’ve done a lot of rewiring in this house, so we know what our switches do. However, when we live in Virginia, there was a switch in the hall from the garage that we never could figure out. I wonder if the folks who bought the place from us had any luck with that mystery?

No actual switches. We were here when the house was built. But there are circuit breakers we don’t know what they go to.

At my grandparents, I think we had one, but it turned out it went to a light that had been removed and filled in. At least, I think that happened–it’s a very weak memory.

This exactly. I thought it had something to do with either the outlet just inside the door, or the one outside that I use to plug in Christmas lights, but flipping it has no effect on either.

Yes. Double switch in my front room, just inside the door. Does absolutely nothing that I can tell. Neither switch - I’ve tried outlets, nope. I’ve tried the building’s foyer light, nope. No idea at all.

One just inside the patio door. You’d think it would be for the patio light, right? Nope, nothing seems to turn that light off.
*I think a previous owner of this condo did some odd rewiring and/or did a crappy job of installing some things, and once I get to getting those things fixed or replace those fixtures, one odd switch should be resolved.

Yes, but I know the reason. The three way switches that controlled the porch light and the basement entry light were located in the kitchen and in the basement. When I installed a timer for the porch light, I decided it was a waste of energy to have the basement light on as well, so cut it out of the circuit. Now that switch operates nada.

Yes, I have one that enables the installation of a kitchen sink disposal unit, but there is none installed.

Turns out the weird one in the kitchen hall actually operates an outlet in the crawlspace.

The house my parents used to live in had a switch like that. There used to be a garbage disposal in the kitchen sink that was controlled by that switch but Mom took the disposer out and never replaced it or did anything with the switch.

They also had a four way switch by the back door. One switch was for the kitchen overhead light, one was for the back porch light, and one was for the laundry room light. The fourth switch we had no idea what it did for several years. We finally figured out it controlled a light out in the detached garage. We didn’t even know the light fixture was there, it was kind of behind some shelves and it was never turned on. Dad took down the shelves and found the light fixture but couldn’t figure out how to turn it on. Mom remembered the “flarp switch*” and the light came on.


Yes, right when you walk into the living room there is a switch on the wall. It controls nothing in the room.

Nothing? Are you sure it doesn’t control a wall switch, intended for a table or floor lamp? Most residential living rooms I know of are wired that way.

We have a double switch in the back corner of our living room. It’s a strange place for a switch, since you have to walk through the room to get to it. No apparent purpose, doesn’t control any of the outlets, or anything else, as far as we can tell.

We have a switch near the kitchen sink that was probably intended for a disposal that either was never installed or was removed before we moved in.