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Cossack 07-08-2012 09:59 PM

I had lights, and now I don't
In a house I just purchased one wall of the kitchen is on a 20 amp circuit I just flipped. This caused overhead lights, a GFCI, several outlets, and the doorbell to come on. I tested the items with the GFCI, and they all went off and on accordingly. I turned off the overhead lights with a wall switch and now the lights will not come back on. The GFCI and the other outlets all work fine, but the lights stopped. I unscrewed the bulb and touched the light socket with a wand and it registers that there is power. The bulbs are not burnt since they work in other sockets. Why did I have lights and now I donít even though there is power going to the light sockets?

andrew79 07-08-2012 10:31 PM

Well what did you do in detail? Any changes made to the kitchen electrical? Why was the breaker off in the first place? Need more info

Also never trust a wand

Cossack 07-09-2012 05:23 PM

I flipped the switch at the electrical panel and saw that the overhead lights, outlets (including one GFCI), and the doorbell were now on when they werenít before I flipped the switch. I had already tested the outlets before the switch and got nothing. I pressed the test button on the GFCI and the lights and outlets went down. I reset and they came back on. I turned the lights off with a wall mounted switch and they went down. When I turned the switch back on later none of the lights would come back on. There are about four lights. The outlets still work fine per the wand. When I tested the outlets with a meter it registers around 114 to 115.

I am not sure how to test the light socket with my meter, so I guess I need to learn about that, but the wand beeps indicating there is power. I switched out the bulbs for ones that worked elsewhere, but they will not light in that area. Is it possible they are just not getting enough power to turn on? Why? They all worked initially. How do I test the light bulb sockets with a meter?

Thank you for your patient reply.

CopperClad 07-09-2012 05:27 PM

When was the home built?

Cossack 07-09-2012 05:39 PM

50s I think. This is all new wiring with romex. The entire kitchen appears new.

dmxtothemax 07-09-2012 05:45 PM

Tw possibles so far !
1- Your wiggy is giving a false reading ( phantom voltage)

2 - There is power at the centre contact of the lamp socket,
BUT the is NO neutral return path !

To test which one is true you need a better tester
such as a test lamp or an anologue type ac volt meter.

CopperClad 07-09-2012 05:53 PM

Well I'm sorry someone built something new and didn't bring it to code in the process.. I would assume a DIY job then? Any professional electrician wouldn't have put the lights on the same circuit as the receptacles. I would start pulling covers off and start inspecting a possible hacks work. I'm no electrician though, hopefully the real electricians on here can help you figure it out. good luck.

andrew79 07-09-2012 06:01 PM

i'm going to assume the gfci is a counter top one in the kitchen due to the 20A circuit, which can be on with other counter top plugs in the right configuration but cannot be tied into anything else in the kitchen. I agree that this was not done correctly, you may have some issues. You can check with your local municipality to see if any permits were pulled for the reno.

Cossack 07-09-2012 07:59 PM

I think if permits were pulled they would never have let him keep the lights on the same circuit as the outlets. It is one of my rental properties so I have to take it as is. I have a volt meter. When I test outlets I just put one jack in each slot. How do I test the light socket to see if I have enough voltage coming in? Would the GFCI AND a light switch all on the same circuit have anything to do with this? As I said, when I first flipped the switch at the electric panel it all worked fine. It all went south when I turned off the lights with the wall switch.

I already tried turning the electric panel switch on and off again, but the lights still do not work.

andrew79 07-09-2012 09:17 PM

the thing is that so much was done wrong just on the surface that your lights issue could be any number of things, could be a shoddy connection, a problem with the gfci. You literally have to trace out everything step by step and see where the power stops.

two ways to check voltage at a light, the way i would recomend for a DIY is to turn off the power and pull the fixture down, turn the power back on and check for voltage on the incomming wires. For the experienced you can put one lead on the threads of the light socket and the other on the small tab at the bottom, but if you cause a short between the tab and the threads you'll make boom boom.

best guess from what you've said so far is that you have a problem at the switch, turn off the power and check all the connections there.

k_buz 07-09-2012 09:54 PM


Any professional electrician wouldn't have put the lights on the same circuit as the receptacles.
Could you tell me why? It is done all the time and completely legal. I would say that lights and outlets on the same circuit is standard.


I think if permits were pulled they would never have let him keep the lights on the same circuit as the outlets
You think wrong.

CopperClad 07-09-2012 10:38 PM

I'm sorry. To my knowledge the small appliance branch circuit in kitchens aren't allowed to be shared with anything else... And if it is legal please let me know now so I stop ripping wires out of my parents living room ..:(

andrew79 07-09-2012 10:41 PM

That's correct to the best of my knowledge. I'm no expert on the nec though.

k_buz 07-09-2012 10:42 PM

You are correct, the kitchen lights cannot be on the small appliance circuit. When I read the OP, it honestly doesn't make much sense...then I saw your response and it just said receptacles and lights. My bad.

CopperClad 07-09-2012 10:46 PM

I'll keep ripping wires out then :thumbsup: Which sounds like what the OP needs to do as well :thumbsup:

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