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Opened light switch. Caused spark. Switch defunct. What have I done?

Opened light switch. Caused spark. Switch defunct. What have I done?

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  #1  
Old 06-21-14, 09:51 AM
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Opened light switch. Caused spark. Switch defunct. What have I done?

N.B. I am a dunce beyond redemption. Feel free to remind me, but your help would be better appreciated.

Two weeks ago, I slipped and pushed a bathroom light switch slightly into the wall.
Switch operated perfectly as before, but I unscrewed the switch panel to set it straight.

After opening the panel, I accidentally touched back cable set with yellow cap causing a spark (i.e. minor explosion with little smoke). Since, the switch ceased working. Upon opening the panel, I might have disconnected another wiring (perhaps the bottom black? There are also 1 red and 1 black wires securely attached to nails of unscrewed switch panel).

Also, the switch in the other bathroom (sharing the same wall, and likely the same electrical) also fails to respond.

What have I done, and is there a simple way to set this straight? In donít want to call an electrician and would be grateful for any advice.
 
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  #2  
Old 06-21-14, 10:46 AM
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Please give us pictures with the wires pulled out of the box but still connected so we can clearly see all the wires. What is the wiring at the light?
 
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Old 06-21-14, 11:42 AM
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I suspect the black wire was wrapped around the bottom screw and got burned off. The switch also appears to be broken so you will need to buy a new one. Luckily a decora switches are only a couple of bucks.
 
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Old 06-21-14, 11:56 AM
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You may have tripped the breaker or a GFI, but will need to reconnect the black wire before anything works the way it should.
 
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Old 06-21-14, 06:55 PM
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Thanks for all your advice. Actually, the switch itself is fine (just disassembled).

Also, two wires (top red and bottom black) are firmly connected to two screws on the switch. The disconnected wire is the *third* wire that is not connected anywhere. Is it supposed to be linked somewhere?

The first pic is misleading (as the first black wire connected to bottom screw doesn't show), but you can see this clearly in the second pic.

If you see the third photo, there is a slight burn mark right below the third wire. I only noticed that after the spark, so perhaps this caused / was the result of the explosion?

I don't have camera access right now but will re-photograph the wires soon.

Don't know if this is relevant -- but there are also a fan switch and an electrical outlet with black and red buttons next to the disassembled switch. The fan works perfectly, as do the outlet and black and red buttons (which still turn power on and off for other lights in the bathroom).
 
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Old 06-21-14, 07:26 PM
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You can not normally "disassemble" switches. I suggest you go buy another one.
 
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Old 06-22-14, 08:43 AM
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Perhaps so -- but the disassembled switch worked fine when I reassembled it. I was about to put it back in when I accidentally touched the rear yellow cap and caused a spark. That's when the switch stopped work -- as did the light switch in the other bathroom sharing the same wall. The wires with yellow cap continues to emit sparks when I touch them in certain ways.

So, the switch itself isn't the problem. The problem lies with either the wires capped by yellow cap, or with the third black wire (see second picture). The third black wire is not a part of yellow cap group.
 
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Old 06-22-14, 11:23 AM
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but the disassembled switch worked fine when I reassembled it.
No it doesn't, its broken. Switches don't come apart.

The wires with yellow cap continues to emit sparks when I touch them in certain ways.
So this hasn't been corrected, you have power going to a broken switch with burned wiring and continue to touch the hazard and allowing arcing to occur.

Turn off the breaker for this circuit and call an electrician.
 
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Old 06-22-14, 12:46 PM
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Replace the switch! Replace the yellow wirenut and make sure you have a tight connection sounds like the sparking is from a loose connection. Shut the power off first!
Geo
 
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