Troubleshooting automatic light and fan switches not working

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Old 09-29-18, 10:36 AM
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Troubleshooting automatic light and fan switches not working

Recently moved into a new place. Our master bathroom has 3 automatic switches. Two are PIR motion switches. One for a heat lamp, the other for a light in the shower.

The 3rd switch is a humidity sensing switch for a ceiling fan.

And none of them work.

I suppose it could be that they all just happen to be bad, but seems unlikely.

The motion switch for the shower light and humidity sensing switch for the ceiling fan are on the same double-gang box, and the motion sensor for the heat lamp is on a totally separate wall.

Any guesses on what the issue could be? Or suggestions for troubleshooting steps?

Without much electrical know-how my only guess is some issue with the neutral circuit. But I'm not sure how to test that. The neutrals don't produce a beep from my voltage pen, but then I'm not sure if they're supposed to.

Any other ideas?

I installed a motion sensing Lutron switch in another bathroom that works great and didn't require a neutral, so not sure when a neutral is required and if installing new switches in the master bathroom that don't require a neutral would be an option here (especially if there is an issue with the neutral that I'm not able to fix myself).

Thanks in advance for any help or advice here!
 
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Old 09-29-18, 11:26 AM
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Look around for gfci outlet someplace. Look in other bathrooms behind furniture. etc, Reset breaker (shut all the way off and on again) Don't just look at breaker as some will not show popped. If still not working will need to pull out last working switch on first non working switch and check wiring. If ant wires back stabbed move wires to screws.
 
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Old 10-01-18, 06:10 PM
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I would also recommend getting a real inexpensive analog meter to test things. A non-contact voltage tester is not a good troubleshooting tool.
 
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Old 10-08-18, 09:47 PM
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Hi thanks for the tips. I do have a decent digital multi-meter. I just figured the non-contact voltage tester beeping on other wires but not the neutral might be an indicator of some sort of issue.
Seems there's plenty of info on testing neutral wires with a multimeter online, so will read up on some of that and report back here if I learn anything interesting.
 
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Old 10-09-18, 06:59 PM
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non-contact voltage tester beeping on other wires but not the neutral might be an indicator
A non-contact tester will not beep on a neutral wire unless there is a load on the circuit because there is no voltage on it.
 
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Old 10-14-18, 12:04 PM
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Is there an easy way to test whether the neutral is functional with a multi-meter? I thought it might be more straightforward but after some Googling haven't really found a clear answer.
Thanks!
 
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Old 10-14-18, 12:16 PM
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I haven't seen any actual wiring mentioned. I'd go directly to the switches. You said you have a non contact tester. Where you getting a hot tic at any of the switches/controls ?
 
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Old 10-14-18, 05:50 PM
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easy way to test whether the neutral is functional with a multi-meter
You can do a continuity/ohm test between neutral and ground. You should get continuity or close to zero ohms.
 
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Old 10-15-18, 06:48 AM
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Get the data sheets for the 3 PIRs and determine which terminals connect to a input voltage and/or neutral/common. Veriify input voltage using voltmeter. If no voltage, contimue to look for source, If you measure voltage, do the following. Check if PIR contains the output switch that turns 120/240 vac ON/OFF to the load. The PIR will have 2 terminals for this function. One terminal is for 120/240 input and the other is for the 120/240 vac controlled output to load. You can use a voltmeter to verify load input and output voltages. Voltmeter needs a connection to neutral/ground to measure vac. The load output voltage will only be present when the PIR senses monitored condition which has a range between ON and OFF..
 
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Old 10-15-18, 09:58 AM
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Sorry I just realized Iím a bit of an idiot and didnít specify in my original post that the switches work when manually pushing them to turn the lights and fan on/off. Itís just the auto switching functionality that doesnít work on any of them.

Does this change any recommended troubleshooting steps?

Thanks again!
 
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Old 10-16-18, 12:01 AM
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If the sensors don't work as they are supposed to..... then they are probably defective.
Many sensor type switches are not water rated for a damp bathroom.
 
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Old 11-20-18, 10:43 AM
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As an update @pjmax was completely correct that it seems there was no deeper issue.
I replaced the humidity switch with a new one, and low and behold, it works.
I'll try the light sensors next.
Thanks again for all the help here!
 
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