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Old 08-03-2008, 02:09 PM   #1
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Lights stay on


Hi,

I'm not sure how this can be but my lights stay on even when the light switch is off. I haven't done any new wiring this just started happening about a month ago. When I turn off the breaker for the lights then the lights go off but the switch doesn't seem to matter. I even tried disconnecting the switch in case something was faulty with the switch but the lights stay on.



Any ideas?


Thanks
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Old 08-03-2008, 04:00 PM   #2
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Lights stay on


If the AC source is at the light, I'd look there for two wires touching that shouldn't. Else, I'd look at the switch box for the same thing.

If you disconnect the two wires to the switch and measure a non-zero voltage across those wires, please post this info.
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Old 08-03-2008, 04:12 PM   #3
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Lights stay on


Check if the wires are shorted inside the switch or in the place they go to (a box or maybe behind the lamp or another switch or socket)
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Old 08-03-2008, 04:40 PM   #4
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Lights stay on


Are these lights plugged into a switched receptacle? If so, were any receptacles recently replaced? How about one of those adapters that plugs into both halves of a receptacle and makes it a 4 or 6?

If not, I'd look at what was posted above.

Rob
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Old 08-03-2008, 04:53 PM   #5
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When the switch for the suspect circuit is in the off position I measure 118 V across the switch. When the switch is in the on position I measure 6.5 V across the switch.

Then I checked a light switch that is working normally and what I see there is that when the switch is in the off position I get 118 V and when it is in the on position I get 0 V.

So now I need to look for the AC source right?
If two wires are touching shouldn't I be getting a blown breaker or something?
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Old 08-03-2008, 05:15 PM   #6
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Its been my experience, that when a device will not turn off, that its usually a defective switch.
Rarely, do wires become shorted!
Turn off the feed breaker at the electrical panel and remove the switch from the box. Remove one of the wires from the switch and check the switch function with an ohm-meter.
Before reconnecting the switch wire, make sure the switch and wire are clear of a short circuit, turn on the breaker and check to see if the device is turned on.
If not this proves that the switch is defective.
Turn off the breaker again and install a new switch!
You said that you did disconnect the switch in your post.
Your problem could happen if the wires leading to the switch are damaged for some reason. Such as lightening damage or perhaps being chewed by a rodent. This would be unusual and its more likely that the connectors in the light box have fallen off.
At the switch box, if there are 4 conductors in the box [2 white-joined and two blacks connected to the switch] it would point to bad switch.
If there are only two conductors [black and white connected to the switch] this points to either cable damage or some problem in the light box1

Last edited by Wildie; 08-03-2008 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 08-03-2008, 05:28 PM   #7
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Lights stay on


6.5 V across a closed switch sure means bad switch
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Old 08-03-2008, 06:39 PM   #8
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Lights stay on


I'm not comfortable when you say on and off positions, and is this a 3 way switch where on and off is sometimes perceived as up and down??
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Old 08-03-2008, 07:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ash View Post
6.5 V across a closed switch sure means bad switch
And a hot one; 6.5v with ~1 amp current through it is ~7 watts. Does it smell funny?
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Old 08-03-2008, 07:34 PM   #10
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I've uploaded a picture of what I'm dealing with. #1 and #2 are the AC source. When I connect a Voltmeter to #1 and # 2 I get 118 V. Here's where things look funny to me. When I Connect a voltmeter to #2 (yes 2 that is not a typo) and then to ground I get 118 V.

When I connect to #1 and Ground I get no voltage. When I connect to #2 and #4 I get 118 V also when the two wires are touched together then the light that is the problem comes on.

Now this looks to me like someone made the #2 wire the hot wire even though it is white. Does that sound right to anyone else?

Thanks,

William
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Old 08-03-2008, 07:50 PM   #11
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The switch in the on position means that the switch contacts are touching, completing the circuit. It's not a 3-way switch.
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Old 08-03-2008, 07:52 PM   #12
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Also I did try a known working switch and the problem still existed. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with that white wire having charge.
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Old 08-03-2008, 08:20 PM   #13
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Lights stay on


Your white is the constant hot of a switch loop coming from the light fixture where power is feeding the circuit. This is one case where white is allowed to be a hot wire but it should be marked at the termination to the switch with black marker to identify it as hot. The black is the switched hot back to the light fixture. By touching the white to the black you are bypassing the switch and making the light come on.
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Old 08-03-2008, 08:23 PM   #14
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This is what you have going on...
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Old 08-03-2008, 09:22 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wsixsmith View Post
I've uploaded a picture of what I'm dealing with. #1 and #2 are the AC source. When I connect a Voltmeter to #1 and # 2 I get 118 V. Here's where things look funny to me. When I Connect a voltmeter to #2 (yes 2 that is not a typo) and then to ground I get 118 V.

When I connect to #1 and Ground I get no voltage. When I connect to #2 and #4 I get 118 V also when the two wires are touched together then the light that is the problem comes on.

Now this looks to me like someone made the #2 wire the hot wire even though it is white. Does that sound right to anyone else?

Thanks,

William
A three-way situation. Changes the name of the game a bit.
Lets get clear on the use of the white conductor. White is usually considered to have a ground or neutral potential, in most cases.
The exception is if its used for 3 way switching.
If a 3 conductor cable with a white, black and red conductor were to be used, the white in some applications could used for power.
In your case it appears that you do not have a red conductor, so perhaps it was wired using 2, two conductor cables instead.
This is not usual, but is legal. Maybe the electrician ran out of 3 conductor cable, so substituted a pair of two conductor cable.
In this case, the power lead would be bridged to all the switches. including the identified terminal of the 3 way switch.
The white neutral lead would be connected to the white of the cable connected to the left switch, the white of the cable connected to the middle switch and to one of the other white wires.
This where it gets tricky. The question is? Which one!
You will have to figure out which of the two cables will be used as switch legs.
This will entail opening up the other 3 way switch location and examining how it was connected. It could be that they used a black from each cable or the black and white of one cable.
Another fly in the ointment, would be if the switch legs were run via fixture box. This would require a somewhat different method.
I would suggest that you would draw all this out on a piece of paper or confusion will reign.
i Googled 3 way switch and found this site [ http://www.thecircuitdetective.com/3and4wyinfo.htm ] perhaps this will help you with your problem.

Last edited by Wildie; 08-03-2008 at 09:25 PM.
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