Help: Repeatedly blown light switch

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  #1  
Old 06-19-03, 06:51 PM
md_sullivan
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Help: Repeatedly blown light switch

I just had a light switch go bad. When I replaced it with an equivalent model (120V / 15A), it worked, but only for about 2 seconds before the light went out again. Though I have not circuit tested this particular light yet (I have to go buy a circuit tester tomorrow), it appears to be associated with a 20 amp circuit breaker. Is this the reason my 15amp switch got "fried"? But then why did the old one work for 5 years? One suggestion I have heard is that maybe my circuit breaker has gone bad?
Please advise as to my next step.
1) buy a 20amp wall switch?
2) test/replace the circuit breaker (is that difficult?)
3) other
I'd love to avoid calling an electrician for what seems like something I could diagnose and fix fairly easily. My current knowledge base of home wiring is pretty rudimentary, but I'm a quick study.
Thanks for any advice.
-Sully
 
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  #2  
Old 06-19-03, 07:46 PM
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Are you sure you're putting the switch in properly? If you have screws on switch put a hook in the wire and put the hook under the screw the same way the screw turns. Put electrical tape over the terminals/ If you have stranded wire do the same thing, only twist the wires together to the right before putting under screw. You also can put the two wires together before getting another switch, and put them under a wirenut and if your breaker blows write again.
 
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Old 06-19-03, 07:50 PM
md_sullivan
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It is not my circuit breaker that is blowing.
It seems that the wall switch itself stops working.
It worked for a few seconds after I changed it, but that is all.
I have hooked up the switch correctly per advice from my helpful True Value man. Plus the connections match that of the switch I removed.
Any other suggestions?
-Sully
 
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Old 06-19-03, 08:44 PM
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Is this just a simple <$1 dumb-as-dirt light switch? Or is there something special about this switch (dimmer, illuminated, motion sensing, 3-way, etc.).
 
  #5  
Old 06-19-03, 09:22 PM
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Just a sugguestion I had an apprentice install switches for me and they only lasted a day or two. The problem was that he had tightened the terminal screws too tight and broke the switch housing causing the switches to loose continuity. Is it possible this may have happened here ? Pull the switch out and pull on the wires (with the breaker off) and see if the switch comes apart.
 
  #6  
Old 06-20-03, 08:23 AM
md_sullivan
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It's a regular $5 on/off garden variety light switch.
-Sully
 
  #7  
Old 06-20-03, 10:49 AM
md_sullivan
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O.k. With the circuit tester, I've found that my switch is on a 15amp circuit breaker. When I voltage test a new switch in the OFF position, it registers fine, with 120V coming thru the live wire. However, in the ON position, it does not register as though any power is flowing through the switch.
This has happened with two switches now.
Any more help?
-Mike
 
  #8  
Old 06-20-03, 11:58 AM
md_sullivan
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O.K. The problem is fixed.
Good story, too....

So I go out and buy a circuit tester and find that power seems to be coming into the switch fine, but that it is not getting up to the light fixture.
So my first thought is, oh crap, that means there is some break in the wire between the wall and the ceiling and I'm gonna have to call an electrician.
Then I start thinking about some of the stuff I've learned over the past 48 hours about home wiring.
The previous switch was a "three way" switch. I thought that was a little unnecessary, as there was only one wall control to this light....right?
Then I think to myself, "hey, there are a couple of switches in the garage that I have never touched in the 2 years I've lived here. I wonder what they do?"
I go out there, flip one of them, and -*BAM*- I've got power to that light again.
I'm a moron.
Thanks for everyone's time and help.
At least I learned something.
-Sully
 
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