2 light fixtures and 1 light switch & only 1 light stays on

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Old 04-29-13, 09:43 PM
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2 light fixtures and 1 light switch & only 1 light stays on

Title says it. Our home was flooded up 2ft and all sheetrock 4 ft up was removed. During the reconstruction a great deal of dust (drywall) was all over. I am wondering if the dust is keeping the fixtures from grounding and thus only allowing 1 of them to work.

At first the light on the right was flickering (both with flourescent bulbs) and the one on the left was staying full on. I redid the light socket in the "right side" fixture with a new one and fastened the fixture back to the wall and with this new lamp socket in there it still did the same thing.

Then we were thinking it must be the switch, so we replaced the switch. Didn't change anything. I checked voltage at the source wires on "right side" light fixture and when the old or new switch is on the voltage is indeed 123 - 126volts. I didn't measure voltage at the light fixture on left side because the right side is connected to it, though I don't know which of them is first in the circuit. I figured the one on left was first in the circuit, but later on the light on right stayed on full time and then the one on left started flickering too. When either bulb flickered I measured 30volts passing through the connection point of the light fixture's white and black wires.

Thinking it was the bulbs we tried new ones from the store. The only thing left now is to check the wiring in the left light fixture, but today I'm told that was done and the same results are happening.

What could be causing this? Before the construction in the house, these lights worked fine, but were removed so they wouldn't break or get dirty and in turn the light fixture gang boxes got really dirty... so is that all it is.. just dirty gang boxes? I have of course made sure the wiring connection points are clean and new etc... but I'm not sure about the fixture housing grounding .... and/or if that would even stop the lights from staying bright "full on" given this is only a two wire circuit.

Also, there is a nearby electrical outlet for the vanity, and I am not sure, but speculate that the lighting shares power off its connection point, though that outlet works just fine.

Well, thanks ahead of time.
 
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Old 04-29-13, 09:59 PM
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I am wondering if the dust is keeping the fixtures from grounding and thus only allowing 1 of them to work.
Grounding is for safety not function. Lights were working in homes for a hundred years before they were grounded.

You need to pull any wire nuts and look for corrosion then replace with new wire nuts. If any of the wires to the switches or receptacles were back stabbed* they need to be moved to the screw

* Backstabbed refers to inserting the wires in the holes in the back of the device where only a lightweight spring makes contact.
 
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Old 04-30-13, 07:17 AM
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Question

So thats it, basically move the wires to the screws on the light switch?? Thats the only place the wires are "back stabbed".

The connections are bent over and twisted onto each other at the fixtures because the lighting wires are stranded and the source power wires are solids. They seem very tight to me and we've moved them and plucked them while the lights are on and this caused no difference in effect.
 
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Old 04-30-13, 08:15 AM
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They seem very tight to me and we've moved them and plucked them while the lights are on
You can't guess. You have to look. That is done by removing the wire nuts. It is difficult to see corrosion inside wire nuts and wire nuts that come with some fixtures lack the internal spring so it is best to just replace them. Evey connection has to be dissymbled and inspected starting at where the power comes in. There are no shortcuts.
 
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Old 04-30-13, 09:11 AM
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There are no wire nuts. I didn't use them because I was afraid the stranded wire would come apart when screwed together against the solid source power wire. The solids are bent over the stranded and tightly electrical taped. Should I switch it to wire nuts then?

We've already remade all connections. Only thing we're wondering now is if its the wiring in the walls eaten by mice or something. I dunno what else to check.
 
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Old 04-30-13, 10:38 AM
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Should I switch it to wire nuts then?
Definitely. That is an inferior way of making a splice. It may be your problem. Twist the stranded wire together, wrap around the solid wire clockwise then twist on the wire nut, again clockwise. No tape is needed. Do nit use any wire nuts that came with the fixture unless you are sure they have a spring wrapped in side. Best to use new brand name wire nuts.

Only thing we're wondering now is if its the wiring in the walls eaten by mice or something
Make the connections correctly first. If no luck you can consider damage done when new Sheetrock was installed.
 
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Old 04-30-13, 04:53 PM
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All splices need to be made and/or protected with wire nuts. No tape should be used.

Twist the stranded wire together, wrap around the solid wire clockwise then twist on the wire nut, again clockwise.
When I'm splicing a stranded conductor to a solid one, I've come to prefer stripping and trimming each of the conductors so that they will fit nicely under the appropriate wire nut, smoothing out the stranded conductor into a narrow brush, laying the two wires together so that the ends of the insulation are even, and twisting the wire nut onto that.

Whichever way you do it, tug on the stranded conductor after you've got the wire nut on to make sure your splice is tight.

The appropriate wire nut for one stranded fixture wire to one solid house wire should be either a small orange wire nut or a medium small yellow one.

The first fixture will have two cables. The second one will only have one.
 
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Old 06-06-13, 08:39 PM
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This was fixed and lead to the breaker box and the breaker and "dust" on the fixtures.
 
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Old 06-06-13, 09:27 PM
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So is everything working now?
 
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