Trying to fix/understand outdoor sense light wiring


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Old 10-16-17, 07:29 AM
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Trying to fix/understand outdoor sense light wiring

Hello,

First time poster here and new homeowner.
We have a sense light out near our sidewalk that would turn on when the sun started going down in the evenings.
It suddenly stopped lighting up, so I removed the bulb but it still doesn't work.

My one worry is that I might have messed up the wiring that travels from the wooden post where the light sits, down through this metal pipe that continues about 15ft to the house and then disappears.

I am going to attach four pictures.
1. The light post
2. The end of the post with the wires sticking out
3. The pipe underground where the wires travel from the post to the house
4. What I believe to be the same wires at the house

So, my questions are: where would I begin to troubleshoot this? When I try to 'pull' the lightpost up and over to check on the cables (I did this on pic #2)the wires are so taut that I cannot lay the post down on its side.

If this is a wiring issue, do I start with the wires on the post or those near the house?

Thanks so much in advance for any advice!
 
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Old 10-16-17, 10:36 AM
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Are you getting power at the fixture? If not I would start working back toward the house checking for power along the way. Where it stops is probably the problem.
 
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Old 10-16-17, 12:04 PM
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Pilot Dane,

Thanks for the response.

Is there some way I check if there is power at the fixture? I don't think there is.

Is there some way I can check the power on the way to the house?

Sorry, I made a small error with the picture order.

Basically, the wires go underground in pic #4 and then don't reappear again until pic #3 (should be pick #4).

Thank you.
 
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Old 10-16-17, 03:17 PM
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If working on electrical a analog multi meter is a very handy tool. They can be bought for less than $10 and the analog type can be easier to use and read than digital ones. There are also test probes that will light up or buzz when touched to energized wires.




I would avoid "no contact" testers. They look like a fat plastic pen and will light up and beep when the tip is placed next to a hot AC wire. They can be very handy if you know how to use them but they can have a lot of false readings.

 
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Old 10-18-17, 07:51 PM
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Hi,

So, I didn't buy the one that you recommended, but I had a no-contact tester and checked for power.

I got positive power all through the wires: just underneath the bulb, right before the wires go underground through the pipe, and then at the house.

Is there somewhere else I should check? Should I unscrew the bulb and check for power there?

This might be a stupid question, but do the wires 'end' in pic # 3 above?
 
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Old 10-18-17, 10:57 PM
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The photocell may have gone bad. Check the black wire going into the sensor. If you have power there place a piece of black tape over the sensor and check the socket for power.
 
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Old 10-18-17, 11:58 PM
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A non-contact tester is useless for troubleshooting. at this level. As you found, all wire will read hot even if only one is inducing the power into the others.

Unless there has been excavation, or there is a faulty connection in one of the boxes, it's almost sure to be the sensor. They don't last forever.
 
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Old 10-19-17, 12:24 AM
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Give the toy to your kid to play with and get an analog multimeter. We can't help until we have accurate testing.

However if the photocell (sensor) has two wires you can test by disconnecting the house wires to the photocell and connecting the house wires together with a wirenut.
 
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Old 10-19-17, 04:05 PM
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Thanks for the replies.

I went out to check the wiring to the photo sensor and brought the non-contact tester (yes, I did) and there was no power at all this time . . . . Now I get the unreliability part.

I'll get the analog multimeter tester.
 
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Old 10-19-17, 05:51 PM
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Also try the test I described. That may tell you the problem.
 
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Old 11-18-17, 06:45 AM
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I purchased the analog multimeter. I have a question about where I should be testing it but first there was a strange occurrence. Since yesterday, the light is now flashing like a strobe light at sundown. It was literally not working for 2 years (although perhaps the light bulb was out) and now just started flashing. The only thing that makes sense to me is that rain may have caused it since there was a lot of rain this week.

Does this flashing speak to anything?

I imagine I should go ahead and test anyway, so my question is where exactly should I use the multimeter? All the demos I've looked at have it being inserted into some fixture. Can I simply 'touch' it to the wires?
 
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Old 11-18-17, 08:37 AM
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The tips of the probes will need to touch the bare conductors. You will need to measure between hot to ground and hot to neutral. Post back your results.
 
 

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