Installed dimmer, now other lights out


Old 05-20-15, 05:39 PM
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: USA
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Installed dimmer, now other lights out

Hi guys. I decided to install a dimmers in my kitchen and living room. The one in the kitchen initially went just fine, put it in like the instructions said, it worked perfectly. Then I went to install one in my living room, and this is where the problems started...

I wired the 3 way dimmer into an electric box in the living room, which is a 2 gang box with a single pole switch next to it which controls a fan. The light itself that I hooked the dimmer to is on the fan, but controlled by separate switch. Anyways, I put in the dimmer, but when I tried to actually push it in the box, I could not because physically box is too full of wires. I went through and cut a bunch of the wires shorter to make more room, and reconnected all of them same as before. I turned the power on to test, and sure enough, everything was working, dimmer in living room worked, kitchen lights, everything fine. Then comes the weird part...

I pushed the dimmer into the box, and then the lights in the kitchen turned off, and also the light in living room. This was from me physically pushing dimmer into box, so of course, my first thought is , I must have loosened a connection in there, but since then, I've gone back and checked every connection in there and they are all tight, but lights wont come back on now. I went through my house and looked for a tripped GFI, and found none, I also checked the circuit breakers of course. I have also noticed that the lights in the foyer dont work now either.

Any ideas?
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Old 05-20-15, 05:43 PM
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Join Date: May 2015
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one more thing

one more thing I forgot to mention, since this happened, I went back in and removed both dimmers and just re-installed the old switches. This resulted in the light in the living room coming back on, but the light in the kitchen and the foyer still will not turn on.
Old 05-20-15, 08:18 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Sometimes by pressing too hard you actually snap a wire that had been previously bent.
You will need to go to the foyer or kitchen switch to find out if you lost the hot or the neutral.

Shortening the wires inside an electrical box is not habit to get into. Short wires make it hard for future connections.
Old 05-22-15, 04:06 PM
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checked foyer and kitchen

Thanks PJmax. I checked into those, haven't got the lights on yet, but here is what I found:

I tested the voltages in the kitchen box and the hot wires to that are fine, all 120 V when I touch hot and ground, but still the switch wont turn the lights on there.

Foyer box: when I test the voltages there only 2V when I touch hot and ground, this goes for all the hot wires in that box, whether I test the pigtailed ones or the ones attached to the switches, just 2 V. Incidentally, I noticed that that box has a ground wire pigtailed to 3 white wires. probably not the problem, but first time I have seen that.

I really don't know what to make of these findings...let me know if anyone has some ideas.
Old 05-22-15, 04:26 PM
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I've gone back and checked every connection in there and they are all tight
Since the dimmer worked before stuffing it into box, there must be a loose or bad connection.

Remove each wire nut and inspect wires. Look for any wires that were pulled up too far into nut, causing the insulation to be pulled up into connection area.

Also look for any wires that may be broken.
Old 05-23-15, 11:43 PM
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Join Date: May 2015
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some ideas

ok, so Ive been reading alot about wiring and trying to come up with some basic ideas. Here is what I am thinking so far, part of my circuit clearly works, but not all of it, and the circuit breaker doesn't trip. If the circuit breaker doesnt trip, then its not a short circuit, so I must have lost a neutral? and if the lights work on part of the circuit, then the loose neutral must be downstream from that?

What do you guys think? are these assumptions a correct starting point?
Old 05-24-15, 05:37 AM
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I would agree that somewhere there is an open connection or broken wire. The over filled box would be the first place I'd look. Go through it and check all the connections and leave the switches out in the air connected but not shoved back into the box and see if your other lights work.

Also double check the wiring for the dimmer while you have it pulled out of the box and can see the wiring. There are several ways you can wire a three way circuit so it can be confusing what wire does what but I'd really examine the neutral as you suspect.

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