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Old 06-08-2010, 08:03 PM   #1
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Lights were working, now are not


Hello.
I have a home built in 1993 that I bought last year. It was bank-owned, so there are plenty of little things to be done, but nothing too major so far.

Here's today's problem:
Master bathroom. Single 15-amp breaker controls 2 light fixtures, separate exhaust vent, and 2 sets of outlets (one GFCI).

Suddenly the other day, I flipped the switch for vanity lights (a 4-bulb fixture), and nothing happened. Switch shares box with GFCI. That outlet gets juice (tested with some contraption girlfriend uses on her hair).
I was on my way out and decided to look into the problem when I returned home. Hours later, I went in and flipped the switch and viola - lights work.
The next morning, I went to take a shower, and they no longer worked. That was yesterday. They have not worked since.

I shut of the breaker and looked around the switch, but I couldn't find anything that stood out (but I know nothing of electrical matters).
Here's all I can think to do:
*Check connection at switch.
*Check connection at light fixture.
*Replace switch.

Anything about this situation seem obvious to a pro? Something I should look at more closely? More info I should try to provide?
I'll try to post a photo that might be useful (or not).

Any help is much appreciated!
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Old 06-08-2010, 08:18 PM   #2
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Lights were working, now are not


Here's another photo that may be more helpful.
Too me, the whole thing looks like a mess.
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Old 06-08-2010, 09:27 PM   #3
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Lights were working, now are not


Undo the push in connections to the switches and receptacles (including the switch in the picture) one at a time and connect the wires to the screw terminals.

Don't screw the switches etc. all the way back into their boxes yet. If you did not find the problem,. you might want to jiggle the wire nuts. For now I am not suggesting that you undo and redo each wire nut but it would be okay to twist each another eighth of a turn to check for looseness and twist a little more if there is noticeable looseness..

You can buy a tone sensor that will help trace the circuit wires through the house so you can work first on the circuit that not working.

Take down the light fixture. Check for loose connections.

Try to keep to a minimum the flexing and bending of wires. Solid wires can only take so much bending and bending back before they crack in two.
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Old 06-08-2010, 09:39 PM   #4
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Lights were working, now are not


What kind of light fixture? If fluorescent it could be a fixture issue.
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Old 06-08-2010, 09:47 PM   #5
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Lights were working, now are not


Quote:
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What kind of light fixture? If fluorescent it could be a fixture issue.
Standard 4-bulb, type A fixture.
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Old 06-08-2010, 10:01 PM   #6
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Lights were working, now are not


Try a new switch. Theyre like 1.50 at big box stores.
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Old 06-12-2010, 04:41 PM   #7
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Lights were working, now are not


Bought new switch (cheapest at big box stores here is about $3). That wasn't the problem.
I took the fixture down and double-checked all the connections. One of the wire nuts behind the fixture was somewhat loose so I removed it and then tightened it. Unless the light stops working again, that was the problem because it now works.

Just to be certain that everything is wired correctly:
There was no ground wire going to the switch before. The grounds in the box go to the GFCI instead. Is this correct?
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Old 06-12-2010, 04:46 PM   #8
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Lights were working, now are not


Switches were not commonly grounded, but now the code has changed. Switches are now required to be grounded.
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Old 06-12-2010, 05:59 PM   #9
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Lights were working, now are not


So... should I take one of the grounds from the GFCI and connect it to the switch instead, or do I need another ground wire?
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Old 06-12-2010, 06:14 PM   #10
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Lights were working, now are not


You could extend a ground that is already there or add grounding pigtails for the GFI and switch and connect to the existing ground.

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