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Old 03-29-2012, 05:31 AM   #1
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Light works intermittently--what should I be looking for?


We have a shared bathroom with 2 can lights--one over the sink area and one over the bathtub/shower.

They are likely original to the house (1963).

The one over the bathroom doesn't turn on immediately. At first we joked the electrons were moving slowly because of the cold, since there was a delay after flipping the switch.

Now you have to leave the switch on, and it will turn itself on after a random amount of time.

What should I be looking for when I try to troubleshoot?

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Old 03-29-2012, 06:21 AM   #2
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Light works intermittently--what should I be looking for?


Defective thermostat in the can-----there is a little thermostat that prevents over heating when to large of a bulb is used----that would be the first thing I'd check--

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Old 03-29-2012, 06:54 AM   #3
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Light works intermittently--what should I be looking for?


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Defective thermostat in the can-----there is a little thermostat that prevents over heating when to large of a bulb is used----that would be the first thing I'd check--
I don't think can of that age had thermal overloads but I could be wrong.

Are both cans controlled by the same switch?

Older CFL's may take a quick second to start up. I have also seen the old mercury switches do what you are describing. If, when you turn the switch on, does the movement of the switch feel smooth or is there a "snap" once you pass the middle position of the switch? If it feels smooth to you, I would go ahead and change the switch out and start from there.
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Old 03-29-2012, 12:28 PM   #4
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Light works intermittently--what should I be looking for?


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I don't think can of that age had thermal overloads but I could be wrong.

Are both cans controlled by the same switch?

Older CFL's may take a quick second to start up. I have also seen the old mercury switches do what you are describing. If, when you turn the switch on, does the movement of the switch feel smooth or is there a "snap" once you pass the middle position of the switch? If it feels smooth to you, I would go ahead and change the switch out and start from there.
Individual switches for each light that are new--I had the wall apart and replaced the switches since they had used some older Euro rocker switch that had exposed points.

Will check to see if it might be the thermal switch--sadly I just tossed a couple of cans from the other bathroom that I might have been able to salvage from.
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Old 03-29-2012, 12:39 PM   #5
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Light works intermittently--what should I be looking for?


You could try to try the problematic fixture on the switch for the good fixture just to rule out a bad switch, but if you just replaced the switches, that's PROBABLY not the problem.

Sitting from here, if it isn't a thermal overload, and you just replaced the switches, I would check the connection on the switches. If you backstabbed the connections to the switches, I could see that causing the problem.

Other than that, or something else that was already suggested, some other loose connection somewhere.

All else fails, you might have to call an electrician that can actually see the problem.
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Old 03-30-2012, 09:27 AM   #6
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Light works intermittently--what should I be looking for?


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Originally Posted by k_buz View Post
You could try to try the problematic fixture on the switch for the good fixture just to rule out a bad switch, but if you just replaced the switches, that's PROBABLY not the problem.

Sitting from here, if it isn't a thermal overload, and you just replaced the switches, I would check the connection on the switches. If you backstabbed the connections to the switches, I could see that causing the problem.

Other than that, or something else that was already suggested, some other loose connection somewhere.

All else fails, you might have to call an electrician that can actually see the problem.
Will test at switch to be sure, but no back-stabbing here. Dad taught me that it was the debbil's method...

I really, really hope that it is not in the wall behind the new shower...
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Old 03-30-2012, 12:10 PM   #7
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Light works intermittently--what should I be looking for?


If these are the original lights, check for wear/corroding of the center tab of the light socket. Cleaning with a pencil eraser and gently lifting up to make better contact might work. Be sure to do this with the POWER OFF and be careful when lifting the tab... if it's old, it may break off.
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Old 03-30-2012, 01:34 PM   #8
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Light works intermittently--what should I be looking for?


Did the fixtures operate properly before the switches were changed?
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Old 04-27-2012, 03:09 PM   #9
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Light works intermittently--what should I be looking for?


I's embarrassed--this turned out to be stupid and a simple fix. The socket in the can had corroded (maybe moisture from 40 years of showers) and when I put in a new bulb, the combination of more heat (?) from the halogen, or just by accident, the solder point on existing bulb and the socket contact were destroyed over the time of intermittent contact... So putting in another new bulb didn't work, and I didn't get a good look at either the contact or the end of the bulb I was taking out.

Spliced in a new (salvage) socket from another light I took out, and all's right with the world.

Thanks to all who responded...

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