Light fixture in bathroom is out


Old 11-02-02, 07:37 AM
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Light fixture in bathroom is out

I am looking for help. My light fixture in the guest bathroom went out last night. I have tripped the breaker and reset the GFI switch as well as checked the bulbs. I also checked the switch to make sure the wires were still connected. Any ideas what my next steps should be?

Thank You,
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Old 11-02-02, 07:59 AM
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Warning: If all of the steps described below are not completely comfortable and within your skills, call a pro. The first rule of electrical work is not to kill yourself. The second rule is not to create a condition that will burn your house down or electrocute a member of your family. I have no idea what your skill level is, so it's up to you to do that evaluation.

There are a number of approaches. Most involve progressive elimination. You want to see how far the voltage gets. You can work backwards from the light, or forwards from the panel, depending on what is easier. It's usually better to work backwards, starting with the non-working fixture itself.

First, make a list of all lights, switches, and receptacles that are on this circuit. Turn off the circuit breaker and see what doesn't have power any more.

Before going any farther, make sure that there isn't another GFCI on this circuit that needs resetting. In a bathroom, you should always spend a lot of time being 100% sure that the problem isn't a GFCI before doing anything else, since it so often is a GFCI problem.

Then turn off all switches and unplug everything from this circuit. Take out a light, switch, or receptacle one at a time. Use your voltmeter to check for voltage. Treat any reading less than 120 volts as if it was zero (check out "phantom voltage" on your favorite search engine). Check for loose connections. Move all backstabbed wires to the adjacent screws. Check all wire nuts for tight -- pull on each wire to see if you can pull it out.

This process may involve a lot of trips back and forth to the panel to turn the breaker on and off. You will need the breaker on to make voltage readings, but you will need the breaker off if you are going to touch anything.

If your powers of observation are not excellent, this process may make things worse. Make sure you carefully see how everything is connected before disconnecting anything -- take notes or pictures if necessary. If you replace anything, don't throw away the old part until everything is working again. Don't rewire stuff just because you think it may be wrong -- that's a recipe for screwing this up so badly that only a pro can sort it out.

Good luck.
Old 11-02-02, 08:15 AM
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Thanks for the advice. My comfort level is low with this project becuase I have little to no expertise in electrical problems. I will let you know how things went.

Thanks again
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