Dying Circuit?

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  #1  
Old 02-04-20, 03:34 PM
R
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Dying Circuit?

Dear Internet:

In my mudroom, I have an overhead fluorescent light that just stopped working a few years back. Now, the other light in the room (whose switch is on the opposite side of the house, natch) seems to be out. It's track lighting that's plugged into an outlet that's mounted on the ceiling.

I would *presume* they're on the same circuit. Not certain how to check - since, you know, they seem to be dead. (I've tapped them with circuit chirper...)

I will def work the steps in the Sticky on top of this forum.

What else should I look for? Do? Do circuits just die? Slowly?

Clearly, I don't know a lot about old house wiring.

(This is an enclosed room now, I *believe*, back in the day, this was the outdoor porch, and has since been walled and ceilinged over. The switch for the dead fluorescent light is "inside" the house, and the switch for the track lighting is on one of the walls I think was installed much later).

Thanks
 
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Old 02-04-20, 03:38 PM
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Is it completely dead or does the light come on dimly some of the time?

Have you meaasurd the voltage (hot to neutral) of the circuit, both with and without the lgiht turned on?The voltage should not change much from about 120. Next you would check the voltage starting at the panel breaker for that circuit, and working your way along the circuit measuring at other lights and receptacles along the way.

Do you have to poke the circuit chirper into a receptacle, or does it chirp when you tap it on the wall where you think a wire is inside? Tapping the wall ahd hearing the chirp could give hints where the circuit has gone dead.
 
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Old 02-04-20, 05:32 PM
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Thanks. I'm away but will be home this weekend.

It's dead.

Have not measured voltage... Been a long time since I've played with a multitester, see if I remember how!

I get nothing off the chirper. What I have *not* done is gone back to the switch and see if it gives me any reading there.


 
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Old 02-07-20, 11:58 AM
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OK, just to double check some things before I get to work this weekend, basically because I'm pretty dumb.
  1. Circuits/wiring just don't "go bad". If lights aren't working, it's most likely a problem with the switch, or even more likely, the contacts somewhere along the line.
  2. I should check each and every connection point for power.I said I checked the circuit with one of those chirpers... You asked if I "measured" the voltage. What would be the best tool for the job? Stick with my chirper, or dig out my multitester? Or is there something else?
I do hope (1) is true - I don't want to get into a rewiring project!

Thanks!
 
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Old 02-07-20, 01:15 PM
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Hi, can we assume you have replaced the lamps with known good ones? Yes best tool would be a multimeter.
Geo
 
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Old 02-07-20, 02:10 PM
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You don't just go randomly checking stuff. The circuit starts at the panel and continues from there. If you have a bad receptacle or light I would go looking at parts of the circuit closer to the panel not further away. The problem could even be inside the panel.
 
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Old 02-07-20, 11:32 PM
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Bought a new multimeter, will dig in in the morning. (Never said I was going "randomly" - just that I'm starting at the light and working toward the panel, as I don't know what breaker it's even on.)

And, yeah, they are new bulbs.

Will report back. Thanks!
 
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Old 02-08-20, 06:40 AM
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Maybe too late now, but my favorite testing tool is a simple neon tester:
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Commerci...900R/202520892

Digital multimeters can give odd results sometimes due to 'phantom voltage'. You can of course still use them, but you typically have to ignore any reading thats' not 120v or 0v. (if you get 70v, it's probably zero).
 
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Old 02-08-20, 11:24 AM
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Yeah I've got something similar, too. You can say I needed a new multi Tester, anyway, as the battery compartment on my old Radio Shack (c. late 80s) was completely rotten. On the other hand, you can say I didn't need a new multi Tester, since the one I had is used so infrequently that it's completely rotten...

 
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Old 02-08-20, 03:51 PM
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The track lighting issue is a different circuit, so I'm treating it as a different issue.

On the other issue:
There are three switches in the box - one to the kitchen lights, one to the mudroom fluorescent, one to a porch light.

Using the chirper, all are getting power.

The kitchen lights have a basic single-pole switch with screw-on connectors, with a red and a black wire. When I hold the neon tester lead to each, I get a reading of 120.

The suspect fluorescent lights have a switch with push-in connectors (I know, I know). However, it has a red, a white, and black wire. The red and white in the top two positions, the black in the lower right "Common Terminal" position.

The black wire chirps, and neither the red or the white chirp. That's expected, right?

How do I check voltage? No matter which combo of two wires I touch with the neon tester, I get nothing. I presume you want me to check voltage, even though it's hot... Right?

I know this is a basic question, this is where power becomes black magic to me.

Thanks

 

Last edited by rjbinney; 02-08-20 at 06:10 PM. Reason: mistyped
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Old 02-08-20, 04:05 PM
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Forgot to add details on the third switch, the porch light. Single-pole, screw-in connector.

It has two black wires. In the off position, bottom wire chirps, top one does not. In the On position, both chirp. That makes sense to me.

When I hit it with the neon tester, I get a "120" light when the switch is OFF, and nothing when the switch is on. That does not make sense to me.
 
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Old 02-08-20, 05:38 PM
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BTW - on that three-way switch on the flourescents, there is no other switch unaccounted for in the entire house.
 
 

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