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Old 01-28-2011, 07:33 PM   #1
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Is it my outlet or my light switch?


Hey all, first time here. 25 year old first time home owner, with no electrical knowledge... I'm pretty crafty with most things, more of a tech guy, but I'm learning a lot of DIY stuff since I got married and bought my home.

Anyhow, we believed our garbage disposal was broken since it would only turn on occasionally... it is an outlet type, not a hardwire type. So we bought a new garbage disposal and installed it, only to find it did the same thing. I then tested the outlet under the sink for any problems by hooking the disposal up to another outlet with an extension cord, and it works fine (Yeah, shoulda tested that first, I know). I'm fine with the new disposal cause its like 3 times more powerful, so I wanna keep it anyway.

Getting to the point... now I'm not sure if the issue is the wall switch for the disposal or the actual outlet. I have zero electrical knowledge, is there an easy way to tell?

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Old 01-28-2011, 07:56 PM   #2
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Is it my outlet or my light switch?


Easy is a relative term. Will require disassembly of the switch and/or the receptacle and testing each device, perhaps with a meter. There is a good possibility it is a loosely connected conductor.

Zero electrical experience could be troublesome or dangerous. Do you know which circuit breaker in your panel serves that circuit? Make certain to disconnect the power at the panel before opening up any switches or receptacles. Once you are certain which circuit is the correct one, and it is disconnected, then a number of folks here can walk you through a troubleshooting exercise.


Last edited by jlmran; 01-28-2011 at 08:02 PM.
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Old 01-28-2011, 08:22 PM   #3
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Is it my outlet or my light switch?


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Easy is a relative term. Will require disassembly of the switch and/or the receptacle and testing each device, perhaps with a meter. There is a good possibility it is a loosely connected conductor.

Zero electrical experience could be troublesome or dangerous. Do you know which circuit breaker in your panel serves that circuit? Make certain to disconnect the power at the panel before opening up any switches or receptacles. Once you are certain which circuit is the correct one, and it is disconnected, then a number of folks here can walk you through a troubleshooting exercise.
Yeah, it is clearly labeled in the panel. I'm pretty good at researching and figuring things out, but had no clue where to even begin on this one. I can probably do some research online and see how difficult this is and if it is beyond me.

Thanks!
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Old 01-28-2011, 08:27 PM   #4
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Is it my outlet or my light switch?


A loose connection could be at either the switch or the outlet, no way to predict which. (Or the loose connection could be somewhere else.)

You could use a voltmeter to help narrow down on the location of a problem before actually removing a switch or receptacle from its box.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 01-28-2011 at 08:30 PM.
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Old 01-29-2011, 12:55 AM   #5
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Is it my outlet or my light switch?


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Yeah, it is clearly labeled in the panel.
Can't tell you the number of times that has zapped me. ALWAYS verify that the circuit is off by testing. Labeling is not a good way to tell. When we electricians label panels and something is left, we guess, circuits may have moved or been modified, or it just maybe accurate- you just never can tell.
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Old 01-29-2011, 07:29 AM   #6
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Is it my outlet or my light switch?


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Originally Posted by brodtaylor

Yeah, it is clearly labeled in the panel. I'm pretty good at researching and figuring things out, but had no clue where to even begin on this one. I can probably do some research online and see how difficult this is and if it is beyond me.

Thanks!
Do you own or have access to a voltmeter?
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Old 01-29-2011, 07:32 AM   #7
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Is it my outlet or my light switch?


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Do you own or have access to a voltmeter?
I could borrow one, but I could probably use one anyway, so I'll purchase one.
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Old 01-29-2011, 07:43 AM   #8
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Is it my outlet or my light switch?


Voltmeter can be used to measure voltage and verify continuity. With the power off you can validate the screw tightness at the device's conductor connections.

Looking for loose connections is a very logical place to begin.

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