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jagrunner2602 05-01-2007 06:05 PM

Hall lights don't work.
To all,

My 15 amp breaker for the Kitchen, TV room, Bathroom and Hall lights popped and realized I had to replace the breaker. I replaced the breaker and all went back to normal except the hall lights that have one 4 way and two 3way switches. One of the 3 way switch is on top of the stairs.

I thought maybe one of the switches were bad but they all tested OK.The only way I can see power coming down to the boxes if I touched the black wire and ground wire. No power any other way. I canít under stand why the hall lights are not going on. ??? I think it might be a bad ground at the panal.

Don't know what happen here. I'm wondering if the squirrel that got in the attic caused the damage.

Any help would be appreciated.

thank you,


jwhite 05-01-2007 08:20 PM

check the bulb

jagrunner2602 05-02-2007 07:38 AM


Originally Posted by jwhite (Post 43054)
check the bulb

That was the first thing I checked All the bulbs were checked. I went beyond the norm to try and troubleshoot this issue. Do have some experience with electrical hookup but this issues stumps me.

I guess I'll have to have an electrictican look at this unless anyone out there has any other suggestion.

thank you,


KUIPORNG 05-02-2007 08:29 AM

The only thing you did before/after working/not working is "change breakers at the panel"... so I would think when you did that... things got screw up...

If you know how to change breakers and did that... other test should be easy for you... as changing breakers although simple is a people always scare to do things.... I am surprise you didn't go to test the vottage on various hot wires in the switch to see if things are ok....

anyhow... just strange if you can change breakers but not being able to do other stuff...

HouseHelper 05-02-2007 09:22 AM

Why did you need to replace the breaker? What troubleshooting steps did you undertake to determine it was "bad"? It is more likely there is a wiring problem with the hall light circuit that caused the breaker to trip, then became an open circuit allowing a new breaker to work.

Check for wiring problems at each switch and at the light. If all is well there, check in the attic, especially if you have had squirrels there. They like to chew the insulation off the cables and can cause wires to short.

jagrunner2602 05-02-2007 09:54 AM


The breaker wouldn't reset. Once I changed it, everything went on other then the hall lights. I never checked the wires on the light end but did check on the switch end where the only wires that showed power when I touched the black and the ground wire. I looked in the attic but didnít do a thorough check. Also, I didnít use a multimeter. I donít have one yet.


KUIPORNG 05-02-2007 10:02 AM

you don't need a multi meter , but you need a voltage testers.... a hot working at the switch location is more than enough as it indicates you have supply to the lightning devices... now you really need to test various position on various places to see how far the hot can reach, may be at the terminals of the switch to start... when the swich in on/off positions...

jagrunner2602 05-02-2007 10:29 AM

OK. Should I still do this at the switches even though the switches tested OK? Iím guessing you want to see how much voltage is coming out of what wires if any? Iím kind of relieved that you believe that there is power to the lights. Iím hoping itís not a chewed wire. So, by checking the voltage that would give me a process of elimination to the problem wires? Iíll have to pickup a voltage reader.

Thanks for taking the time to help.

hbsparky 05-02-2007 11:42 AM

sounds to me like you melted some wires. Directly shorting wires to ground will melt wires. The reason that the old breaker wouldn't reset is because there was a fault that wasn't cleared, it was doing it's job. When you shorted out the line, it probably melted some wires, clearing the fault, which is why the breaker now stays on. Shorting a hot to ground is VERY dangerous, as it sends power down a conductor that it isn't suppose to be on and could burn up other things in the house if you keep doing it

KUIPORNG 05-02-2007 02:32 PM

don't think to bad at this stage
Melting wire is a very sersious situation.. I hope and think you shouldn't think for the worst at this time...

but You need to buy a tester from HD, best is those with sound/light to indicate a live wire, of course, if it could tells the voltage as well would be good too... but don't need the University Multi-meter type device, that is over kill and difficult to use...

anyhow... go to the switch, found if you can find a live wire... if you do... power to the switch is good... if there is no live wire to the switch... you have a more difficult situation...

assume you have live wire to the switch... then you need to find out if this live wire can be transferred to the device by switching on/off to the light switch... may be your device is broken/burned then you need to find the wire connection to the lighting device and test the voltage there....

make sure you turn off/on the breaker to perform these tests appropriately...

I think a device/switch is burnt easier than a wire... if it is a wire... you have a bigger issue which requires rewiring of some sort...

jproffer 05-02-2007 04:46 PM


anyhow... go to the switch, found if you can find a live wire... if you do... power to the switch is good
Unless you have a nuetral to check it against, you could check every switch in the house, never find the "voltage" that KUI****G speaks of, and not have a problem with a switch.

jagrunner2602 05-02-2007 05:31 PM

All the wall switches are OK. I need to go to HD and get the tester and I guess I'll take it from there.

Next step if I can't get this figured out is to hire a certified Electrician.

thanks to all that helped here.


sootybuttercup 05-02-2007 06:29 PM

Search for a diagram of how a 4-way and two 3-way switches work...then find the 3-way where the feed from the panel (or wherever) come to. You should measure 120v on the odd colored screw on that 3-way switch. If you have power there, then you should also see that voltage on one of the other screws on the switch. Changing the switch position should move the voltage to the other screw. If that works out...check your diagram...and move on. If you do have a ground wire in the boxes, you don't need a neutral for this test....check from the hot to should give the same result if the wires themselves are intact. Good luck...and be careful.

send_it_all 05-02-2007 11:08 PM

If these are newer style slide-dimmers, the short that caused the breaker to trip may have damaged them. I know you said the switches are ok...just a thought.

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