Faulty Light

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Old 03-31-20, 06:07 PM
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Faulty Light

So i have a dual light switch in my hallway. The one light it controls works perfectly fine. The other light doesn't turn on at all. I used a non-contact ac voltage detector and it shows power at the non-working switch and the non-working lights. I hooked up a circuit tracer, but it doesn't register on any of the breakers in my only box.

Could there be a short in the wiring causing this? If it's too involved I'll just end up calling an electrician.
 
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Old 03-31-20, 06:32 PM
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Could there be a short in the wiring causing this?
A short would trip the breaker or blow the fuse in the panel where the circuit comes from.

When you say a "duel switch" does that mean you can turn the lights on and off at two locations? OR does that mean you have a box with two switches and one switch controls one light and one switch controls the other light?
 
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Old 03-31-20, 08:01 PM
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If you voltage detector is sensing the voltage go on and off as you flip the switch, look for an open neutral or bad bulb.
 
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Old 04-01-20, 03:34 AM
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If what you have, is two switches controls one light, you have a three way circuit or switch. One of the switches is wired wrong or defective. Replace. The red wire or traveler is attached to the hot side of switch. Look up 3 way switch diagram on Google.
 
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Old 04-01-20, 04:32 AM
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If your situation came about with no electrical work being done, the problem is a defective bulb or the wire connection of the switch and/or lamp base of the non working light. Use a working bulb to replace the possible defective bulb. After opening the breaker that supplies the 2 lights, remove the switch and lamp base from their boxed and make sure the screws holding the wires are tight. If the wires are being held in by stabs, move the wires to the screws.
 
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Old 04-01-20, 04:40 AM
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I assume that you have already replaced the bulb with a known good bulb.
The operative words here are "know good"
Had a friend spend hours trouble shooting a supposed bad fixture/wiring only to find out his replacement bulb was also bad.

A non contact detector is sort of useless here.
They are way too sensitive.
So if there is a volt or so of ghost voltage then they will show that there is power when in reality there is not.

Since you have a signal tracer, do you have a multimeter? That is what you should be using.
First check the power at the light socket.
Sometimes the center connector can weaken and then not make contact with the bulb.
But you need to know if the socket is live before bending it down a bit.
Use a wood dowel or what ever but be gentle because they can snap off easily.

Also as others have said more concise info is needed.


 
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Old 04-01-20, 10:27 AM
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Clarification

First thing I checked was the light bulbs only because I've been in a similar situation before.

So, I attached a drawing to explain better what I mean, sorry for the confusion. Neither of the switches located on the first floor or second floor turn the second floor light on. However, the appropriate switch on both floors does turn the first floor light on. Not sure if they have anything to do with each other though.
 
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Old 04-01-20, 10:35 AM
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If the bulb is known good; I'd dig into the lamp fixture. Then, using a 15Watt incandescent test bulb, apply across the screws or pigtails at the fixture; trying both switch positions. Actually, there are 4 different possibilities with quant 2, two position switches. If no joy, i'd connect my test lamp from HOT to ground, instead of hot to neutral. This would detect if the neutral is open. if still no joy, you will have to then trace the HOT switch issue. Note that a single defective 3 way switch COULD cause the system to fail. This test would occur at the switch location(s).
 
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Old 04-01-20, 10:52 AM
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However, the appropriate switch on both floors does turn the first floor light on.
You have 3 three way switch for the first floor. So you can eliminate that set of switches and light. They work as they are suppose to.
So what does the other switches suppose to control? I'm betting the second floor light is also a 3 way and the other set of switches are either faulty or bad wiring between the two.
 
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Old 04-01-20, 11:12 AM
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Before you call an electrician, turn off the power. Remove cover plate on the switches. Using a meter be sure there is no power to the two suspected switches. Remove them and look for loose wires or detached wires. Burn marks, etc....
Again using a VOM meter you should be able to check the continuity of each switch. If either is bad, replace. If they check out as OK, then check that you're getting current to the hot, red and black wires. You'll need to turn on the power for this. BE CAREFUL. If you're not comfortable then don't do it.
 

Last edited by Norm201; 04-01-20 at 01:36 PM.
  #11  
Old 04-01-20, 12:19 PM
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each light on each floor has a switch on each floor. So there are two switches that control the top light and two switches that control the bottom light.
 
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Old 04-01-20, 02:24 PM
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You never answered if this is new work or the problem is with an existing circuit. Your diagram is confusing at best. What is it that your are trying to show?
 
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Old 04-01-20, 03:09 PM
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I think it's safe to say it's existing work that has failed over a period of time. But correct me if I'm wrong.
If it was new work, and one three way circuit works, then it's unlikely that the second three way circuit was done wrong. Possible but unlikely. That'a why I think if the switches are defective or not should be the first determination.
One thing the OP could answer is if both sets of switches were working correctly at one time?
 
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Old 04-01-20, 04:28 PM
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The problem has existed since we bought the house. Sorry, I didn't see if that was asked.

Both the upstairs and the downstairs switches that control the downstairs light work perfectly fine. However, neither of the two switches work for the upstairs light.
 
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Old 04-01-20, 04:41 PM
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Yea, I had a similar problem when I bought my house. The previous owner thought he was a handy man. I had to correct so many things. Kitchen light had a three way and one switch didn't work right.
 
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Old 04-01-20, 05:39 PM
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However, neither of the two switches work for the upstairs light.
I suspect there is an issue with the light or the 3 way switches are not wired correctly. You will need an electrical meter to troubleshoot, or an electrician.
 
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