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Old 06-11-2010, 11:54 AM   #1
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No power at one switch


Hello all,

I have an odd problem. Today my wife went to switch on the hallway light and it didn't work. I did the usual and checked the bulbs etc. I discovered that there is no power at the switch. This is an old house with a fuse box and it's very poorly labeled (most have no label). All fuses look good. There is no fuse marked "Hall Light". Everything else electrical in the house is working properly. I can only assume that the hall light wiring must be shared with something as I doubt it's wired indipendantly by itself to the fuse box. My biggest concern is that a wire-nut may have come loose somewhere, is this likely? Does anyone have any suggestions as to what else it could be. We're on a fixed income so hiring an electrician at this point just isn't something we can afford. Thanks, Dan

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Old 06-11-2010, 12:02 PM   #2
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No power at one switch


Is it a single switch or a 3-way? Sometimes a 3-way can get positioned half way and the circuit won't work.

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Old 06-11-2010, 12:14 PM   #3
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No power at one switch


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Is it a single switch or a 3-way? Sometimes a 3-way can get positioned half way and the circuit won't work.
It's a single switch with onr white and one black wire. Wires have no power.
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Old 06-11-2010, 12:35 PM   #4
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No power at one switch


In the switch box, are there other wires or just the two on the switch. If just the two, then it is a switch leg and the ceiling box will have the power source for this light circuit. You may want to peek inside the lamp ceiling box.
Also, if this is a switch leg there will me no neutral so how did you determine there was no power to the switch?

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Old 06-11-2010, 01:03 PM   #5
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No power at one switch


Open the fixture and look for a loose conenction. There will be a white wire conencted to one or more black wires. Check there.
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Old 06-11-2010, 01:19 PM   #6
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No power at one switch


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In the switch box, are there other wires or just the two on the switch. If just the two, then it is a switch leg and the ceiling box will have the power source for this light circuit. You may want to peek inside the lamp ceiling box.
Also, if this is a switch leg there will me no neutral so how did you determine there was no power to the switch?
There are only two wires, one white and one black at the switch, nothing else. I used one of those AC voltadge detectors from Sears.
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Old 06-11-2010, 01:27 PM   #7
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Open the fixture and look for a loose conenction. There will be a white wire conencted to one or more black wires. Check there.
Removed both the light fixture and light switch. The switch has one black and one white wire. The fixture has been removed, it has two white wires taped together with one pigtail wire from there to the fixture, the other wires are two black and one white taped together with one black pigtail from that bundle to the fixture. The AC voltage detector I'm using does not pick up any voltage at any of the wires.
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Old 06-11-2010, 04:29 PM   #8
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No power at one switch


Well folks, I sure do appreciate all your help. And now that I feel like a moron I guess I should tell you what it was.

Remember I said everything else electrical was working......well

A few minutes ago my sister-in-law came to me and said "Danny, the light in my closet isn't working", my reply was ..... I didn't know this house had closet lights.

Been living here for almost 4 years and never looked up in the closets for lights. It never occured to me that our closets have lights, all of our closets are small (no walk-ins). all of the other houses we've owned had lights only in walk in closets, but then again, none were as old as this house.....LOL

So I went down to the basement again to study the fuse panel, and there I could make out some faint writing that looked like it said Hall. So I removed the 20 amp fuse and checked in with a meter and it read good, but since I had a new fuse in a box I thought I'd put in a new one anyway. Well, that was it. Even though the old fuse looked good and read OK with a meter, somehow it just decided to quit.
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Old 06-11-2010, 04:38 PM   #9
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No power at one switch


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Originally Posted by dano7331 View Post
Removed both the light fixture and light switch. The switch has one black and one white wire. The fixture has been removed, it has two white wires taped together with one pigtail wire from there to the fixture, the other wires are two black and one white taped together with one black pigtail from that bundle to the fixture. The AC voltage detector I'm using does not pick up any voltage at any of the wires.
This is the power leg to the switch
Quote:
two black and one white taped together
This is switched power coming back from the switch.
Quote:
one black pigtail from that bundle to the fixture
Is the AC detector one of those little neon lights with two leads? If so, you should see light from the two whites and pigtail to the two blacks with one white bundle.
This wiring is taped? That's scary.

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Old 06-12-2010, 09:36 AM   #10
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No power at one switch


My house has soldered and taped connections.

The tape is probably 1/4 thick and is fused together so its like a big rubber blob.

The house was built in 1947 so maybe it was ok then. I've been replacing them with a wirenut as I find these type of connections.

My house also has small closets with lights (and no doors). No idea what benefit the lights gave.
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Old 06-12-2010, 09:47 AM   #11
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No power at one switch


If the closets are that small I would take the fixtures out to avoid stuff being stored coming in contact with the hot bulb.
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Old 06-12-2010, 10:27 AM   #12
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No power at one switch


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If the closets are that small I would take the fixtures out to avoid stuff being stored coming in contact with the hot bulb.
Or replace them with fluorescent fixtures (at the very least, use compact fluorescent bulbs).
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Old 06-12-2010, 04:05 PM   #13
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No power at one switch


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Originally Posted by dano7331 View Post

So I removed the 20 amp fuse...
Be aware that most lighting circuits of your era house were wired with 14 gauge wire which in only rated for 15a. Probably, over time, someone upsized the fuse due to tripping. If that is the case using a 20a fuse on a #14 wire is both a code violation and, more importantly, a safety hazard. I would recommend you verify the wire size and use an appropriately sized fused for the circuit.
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Old 06-12-2010, 05:43 PM   #14
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No power at one switch


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Even though the old fuse looked good and read OK with a meter, somehow it just decided to quit.
50-50 you put the old fuse back in and now it somehow works. If so I'd say it was tarnish on the fuse center contact.

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