Track Lighting Confusion

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  #1  
Old 01-17-10, 10:17 AM
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Track Lighting Confusion

I am installing track lighting in my kitchen. I am replacing old track lighting that stopped working some time ago. The building wires test at 110v as do the connectors and the track itself once it is up on the ceiling. The problem is when I connect a fixture to the track it does not work. Plus, the track stops testing properly.

Here is the strange part. I took my fixtures and the track itself back into Home Depot and they all worked properly when hooked up to the display. What could possibly be the problem when its hooked up at my house? Could it be the dimmer switch itself?
 
  #2  
Old 01-17-10, 11:46 AM
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First yellow flag is 110v. Nominal voltage is 120v. How did you measure this? A non-contact tester? They are all but useless for this. A digital volt meter? They can give a false reading. If you used a test light, analog multimeter, or solenoid tester then your reading is probably correct and you lights should have worked.

Replace the dimmer switch with a regular switch and see what happens or just disconnect the switch and take the two wires that were connected to the switch and connect them together with a wire nut.
 
  #3  
Old 01-17-10, 01:14 PM
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loose tracks

check the live end of the track
most time you get flaky tracks
it's due to the live end not properly seating into to the track
sometimes when you slide in the live end, it can push the copper / steel tracks downward to the other end, enough so that you have no contact on one or more rail.

try this

turn of f thew switch
unscrew the cap off the live end exposing the 3 screw terminals
turn on the switch
with a soleinoid tester ( or even a digital tester ) carefulyl read from hot to nuetral, hot to ground
you get 120v either way
if you do you know it not thw wiring and high chance the live end is not making contact with the end of the track
turn off the power
remove the live end from the track
remove the end cap of the track
with a screw drive, tap the track carefully towards the live end side
now insert the live end and tight the securing screw
see how much the tracks have move if any away from the live end
sometimes you need an additional tap of the screw drive to seat the track in good contact with the live end
now rehang the track
and all should work

also note that the track head go on only one way
you note inside the track that the neutral and ground tracks are on the same side ( for those track head that use 3 tracks and 3 connecting pin ), most trackheads have a keyway preventing you from installing them backwards when you twist them on
 
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Old 01-18-10, 05:31 AM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
First yellow flag is 110v. Nominal voltage is 120v. How did you measure this? A non-contact tester? They are all but useless for this. A digital volt meter? They can give a false reading. If you used a test light, analog multimeter, or solenoid tester then your reading is probably correct and you lights should have worked.

Replace the dimmer switch with a regular switch and see what happens or just disconnect the switch and take the two wires that were connected to the switch and connect them together with a wire nut.

This is what I used to test:
4-Way Elect Tester; 1/Clam, 10 Clams/master - HET202 at The Home Depot

The only difference is that on mine, "110" is printed on the surface, and that is the part that lights up when I test it on the wires, connector, and the track. I am under the assumption that this falls into the category you defined as "the lights should have worked".

A note on the switch. The current dimmer switch does control the juice going to the building wires. When it is "on", it tests live. When I click the switch off, the test is negative. I'll still change it and see if it makes a difference, but I am thinking that the switch is working properly if the electricity is effectively being turned off and on (as proven by the test). That being said, I am not expert on dimmer switches, so I'm going to change it out anyway. I'll let you know what happens.

As I type this, I realize that all of my work relies on the validity of the voltage test that I am doing, so please stop me right now if I need to be doing it a different way (or using a more reliable tool).

Thanks for your input!
 
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Old 01-18-10, 05:36 AM
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Originally Posted by mikerios View Post
check the live end of the track
most time you get flaky tracks
it's due to the live end not properly seating into to the track
sometimes when you slide in the live end, it can push the copper / steel tracks downward to the other end, enough so that you have no contact on one or more rail.

try this

turn of f thew switch
unscrew the cap off the live end exposing the 3 screw terminals
turn on the switch
with a soleinoid tester ( or even a digital tester ) carefulyl read from hot to nuetral, hot to ground
you get 120v either way
if you do you know it not thw wiring and high chance the live end is not making contact with the end of the track
turn off the power
remove the live end from the track
remove the end cap of the track
with a screw drive, tap the track carefully towards the live end side
now insert the live end and tight the securing screw
see how much the tracks have move if any away from the live end
sometimes you need an additional tap of the screw drive to seat the track in good contact with the live end
now rehang the track
and all should work

also note that the track head go on only one way
you note inside the track that the neutral and ground tracks are on the same side ( for those track head that use 3 tracks and 3 connecting pin ), most trackheads have a keyway preventing you from installing them backwards when you twist them on

I did everything I could think of with the track and the connections, including a version of what you suggested above. I do not think that the track itself is the problem because it worked perfectly (and immediately) when I hooked it up to the display at HD. At this point, I believe that it has to be something with the electric in my house (despite the fact it seems to be testing properly).
 
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Old 01-18-10, 08:39 AM
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Your tester is good. It may not be the switch but sometimes troubleshooting is just a process of elimination. You skip something because you assume it can't be the problem then eventually find it is.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 01-18-10 at 09:36 AM.
  #7  
Old 01-18-10, 11:54 AM
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Great news, I replaced the dimmer switch and viola, it works! Frankly, I do not understand how the dimmer switch caused it to fail...my only guess is that the dimmer got stuck on "low" or "off" but the switch itself still functioned. That might explain why I was getting juice but the lights didn't turn on (or maybe they were on, but the dimmer was at 0%).

At any rate, thanks for your input!!!
 
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Old 07-15-10, 07:11 AM
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I'm glad I found this post, I was having the exact problem.

One day my track lighting stopped working and I couldn't figure out the problem - I changed the bulbs, then the fixtures, then the track and power - still nothing. Like the OP, I verified the track was receiving power yet with a volt meter.

Upon reading this thread, I went to Home Depot and grabbed a light switch for $1.5, wired it up and they went right on. I'll change it to a dimmer again later.
 
 

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