Help - Entire circuit of recessed lights went out.

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Old 02-19-06, 08:17 PM
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Help - Entire circuit of recessed lights went out.

One room has 4 recessed lights and 1 on/off dimmer switch. I turned the lights on the other night and I beleive that one bulb blew and the circuit went out, simultaneously.

Q. Is it a problem with the fixture, or perhaps the dimmer switch? Was there a surge which blew out the light bulb, or some other cause for failure?

What can I do. How can I diagnose and fix the problem?

The dimmer switch is in a box that has 3 sets of wires capped as follows:

1) 1 black capped with a black leading to the dimmer switch
2) 1 black exiting the dimmer switch capped with 3 other wires, red, black, and one apprently old wrapped in fabric mesh.
3) 2 whites and a black capped.

Some of these wires are thick solid copper, tough to bend.

Thanks.
 
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Old 02-19-06, 08:37 PM
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Sometime, when a bulb blows, it creates a brief but high current that opens up a weak connection on the circuit. Often these week connections are backstabs of a white wire into a receptacle (the receptacle could still be working just fine). Or it might have burnt out the dimmer switch.

First, find out everything that is on this circuit. It's just a matter of turning off the circuit breaker (I sure hope you know which one it is, because if you didn't know before, it's hard to figure it out now that you have this failure). See what is now dead.

Then I'd eliminate the dimmer switch. Open up the switch box, test all the wires with a tester (to make sure you turned off the right breaker), and then connect the two wires that are connected to the dimmer to each other. Turn the breaker back on and see if the lights come on.

If not, turn the breaker back off and check everything else on the circuit. Be especially suspicious of white wires poked into holes in receptacles. Move any such wires to the adjacent screws. Don't limit your work to just boxes that you're having trouble with. Do every box on the circuit.
 
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Old 02-21-06, 10:59 AM
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Thanks. I'll check it out today and let you know how it went. I hope it's the dimmer switch, otherwise, it's up to the attic I go.
 
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Old 02-21-06, 12:35 PM
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One question

If it isn't the switch, why did all the recessed lights go out? If one fixture goes bad, does that cut the circuit?
 
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Old 02-21-06, 01:52 PM
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The failure of a fixture cannot cut the whole string of them, but you can have a failure of a connection at a fixture which can. But checking the switch is easier, so it's better to start there before moving on the the more complicated stuff.
 
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Old 02-21-06, 04:34 PM
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I tested the switch. It's good. And the juice is flowing into the switch. It must be around the fixture in which the blew.
 
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Old 02-21-06, 06:57 PM
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The problem is not necessarily at the fixture that blew. It is probably at the fixture fixture closest to the switch. You need to lower the can from the ceiling to get access to the junction box. The can can be removed without drywall damage by removing some screws inside the can.

It would be useful to know how you tested the switch, and how you tested for "juice". It is easy to misinterpret the results of a voltmeter. The problem might still be at the switch, or maybe even before it.
 
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Old 02-21-06, 07:27 PM
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I tested the wires in the switch receptacle in the wall with an analog multimeter and
obtained a 120 v reading. I then connected the dimmer switch black to black and turned it on and tested the switch by touching the black needle on the multimeter to lead from the switch and touching the multimeter red to the wire that received the switch output and got a similar voltage reading.
I looked at the junction box which is also the closest fixture to the switch and it seemed okay.

???

I bought a new switch and I might just connect this and see what happens.
 
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Old 02-22-06, 11:02 PM
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New switch connected, still no lights. You mentioned that the first junction box
as the likely source of trouble. What should I look for in it?
 
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Old 02-23-06, 09:50 AM
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A bad connection. Maybe a wire nut that wasn't put on very well. Pull on each wire in each wire nut and make sure that none of them come out.
 
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Old 02-24-06, 03:33 PM
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It was Barzini all along

I mean it was the dimmer switch all along.

Job done,

Thanks
 
 

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