Outside light wiring issue

Old 02-04-21, 10:54 PM
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Outside light wiring issue

We recently bought a house and the front porch light doesn't work. Tried multiple bulbs and no luck. Since its a new fixture I wanted to take it off and check to make sure it was actually wired in (house was a flip) does anyone know how to tell what breaker to flip. The breaker box is labeled somewhat vague. Also

is there any way to tell the power is actually off.
Old 02-05-21, 04:37 AM
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If you're certain which switch operates the light fixture, as long as the switch is off there should not be power to the fixture. This depends on how it was wired though, so some caution is still called for. You could pick up a cheap "non-contact voltage tester" to detect whether power (technically voltage) is present at the fixture box. I'd also check the switch box as well to ensure you have voltage at the switch.

My guess is you have a bad fixture or a loose/disconnected wire inside the fixture box. Second guess is a bad switch.
Old 02-05-21, 09:57 AM
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Unfortunately, most panels are marked just as well as yours is. There are some 'breaker finder' tools that can help, but in most cases, the best way is to go room-by-room with a light or radio, and a partner and figure out which circuit controls which. Of course, that doesn't help you now, when you can't tell for sure.

If you're concerned that the switch may not turn off the power, you can be safe and turn off every breaker. It'll require resetting a few clocks, but won't be any worse than a brief power outage.
Old 02-05-21, 11:08 AM
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turn off every breaker
Any breakers that obviously do not apply can be left on (dryer, dishwasher, well pump, etc. and any larger than 20 amp.).

Get a multimeter to check the bare wires for voltage after you turn off the breaker or switch and carefully remove the wire nuts. A non-contact tester is not a good way to confirm that voltage is NOT present.
Old 02-05-21, 11:33 AM
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Good comments. Also check if you have a photo eye on your light fixture that turns the light on at night and off during the day. They can fail to the off setting.
Any outlets in your house not working?
I think I would remove the screws holding the fixture and see if there is a wire in the back. You mention the house is a flip so the light may have been put on for decoration.
Old 02-05-21, 05:00 PM
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Thanks everyone, there is a duplex switch right by the door that does nothing so im assuming thats it. All the outlets near by work. The hallway switch is also on the duplex and that works. I will probably just turn the main off to be safe.

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