Help with ceiling lights

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Old 11-28-13, 10:24 AM
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Help with ceiling lights

Hello! First time poster here, so let me apologize in advance if my post or my english (I`m italian, moved to the US some years ago) will not be super clear. The problem we have is that there are 4 ceiling lights that stopped to work and I have no idea of what could be wrong or how to fix it. There are three 3 way switches that control those light and none of them turn the lights on. I have checked the bulbs and they all works fine on different fixtures. Incidentally the last few days that those lights were working, we were noticing all around the house lights flickering (not necessarily with appliances on) ; now that the ceiling lights are not working, no more flickering! Is it possible that the two phenomena are related? Thanks to everybody who will be willing to help!
 

Last edited by pcboss; 11-29-13 at 11:42 AM.
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Old 11-28-13, 10:30 AM
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Welcome to the forums! Do you have access to the wiring of the ceiling light? Are they recessed lights? Let's start with the switches. With the power turned off at the breaker, pull the switches and make sure the wiring is intact. If any wires are inserted into the stab backs, remove them to the adjacent screws. Let us know what happens, along with the other information and we'll proceed to plan B.
 
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Old 11-28-13, 10:44 AM
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Very important. When you are working with 3-way switches the first thing yo must do is mark the wire connected to the common terminal of the switch. The common terminal will be the odd colored screw, usually black or dark gray. There may also be a green screw but that you can ignore. It is ground.
 
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Old 11-29-13, 08:22 AM
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It sounds like a loose connection has failed and is now open. The flickering was indicative of this condition. I would check the connections at the switches first since they are the easiest to check.
 
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Old 11-29-13, 10:07 AM
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There are three 3 way switches that control those light and none of them turn the lights on.
If there are three switches that control one set of lights, they aren't all 3-way switches. Two of them will be 3-way switches and one of them will be a 4-way switch.

This is true of the 3-way switches:
Originally Posted by ray2047
Very important. When you are working with 3-way switches the first thing you must do is mark the wire connected to the common terminal of the switch. The common terminal will be the odd colored screw, usually black or dark gray.
The other two terminals, usually bright brass, have the two traveler wires, which connect to the other switch(es) terminated to them.

A 4-way switch has four current-carrying terminals. Two are usually black or dark gray and the other two are usually bright brass. The traveler wires from each of the 3-way switches are all connected to the 4-way switch. At that switch, you should see two 3-conductor cables entering the switch box, with two of the conductors in each cable terminated to the switch and the other two conductors spliced together. Just note where each wire is connected before you remove it so you can put it back there. The foolproof way to do that is to only loosen one wire at a time.

Check all the terminations. Move any that are pushed into back-stab holes to the matching screw terminal. Remove any wire nuts and check that the splice is clean and tight. Replace any wire nuts that look suspect with new ones that have a coiled steel spring inside to make the threads.
 
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Old 12-07-13, 10:27 AM
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Hi Guys, sorry if it took me so long but I finally check the light switches. As far as I understood one is a 3 way and two of them are four ways. I did not do basically nothing more than open and take a look for now. I`m attaching pictures to show you what I saw ; to me they look OK (but I may be wrong hence the pictures). Do you guys think I should still rewire them with the screws? Also, I bought a multimeter, do you guys think may be helpful to understand what is going on?
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Old 12-07-13, 10:53 AM
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They used the backstabs instead of the screws to connect the wires. Backstabs can be unreliable. Move all wires to the screws and see if that helps. (No way to tell if bad by just looking)

As far as I understood one is a 3 way and two of them are four ways.
Was that a typo? There should be two 3-way switches. Any other switches would be 4-ways.
 
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