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Old 05-17-2010, 05:52 PM   #1
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Porch light works/ doesn't work


Hello,

I'm having trouble with my porch light, it had been working fine for years but back in November it stopped coming on.

I replaced the bulbs- no difference.

The light switch was replaced- no difference.

The light came back on a few weeks ago, but suddenly stopped working as of Friday night.

Basically- it comes on and works great for a few weeks, then goes out completely for a few weeks.

I'm totally sure it's not a bulb problem, or a problem with the switch.

What do you think the problem might be, and is it dangerous?

Thanks in advance for any help.

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Old 05-17-2010, 06:38 PM   #2
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Porch light works/ doesn't work


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Originally Posted by BigSurMoon View Post
What do you think the problem might be. . .?
If the problem is an improperly installed wirenut a 4w 120v incand. bulb may work where heavier lamps won't.


Last edited by Yoyizit; 05-17-2010 at 06:46 PM.
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Old 05-17-2010, 07:18 PM   #3
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Porch light works/ doesn't work


I would start looking for a loose splice or connection in the circuit. It may be in the box with the switch or the box the switch is feed from. Loose connection can lead to heat and potential fires with a high enough current draw.

I am sure that you want something brighter than a 4 watt bulb. Also installing a lower wattage bulb does nothing to fix the problem.
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Old 05-17-2010, 07:21 PM   #4
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Porch light works/ doesn't work


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Also installing a lower wattage bulb does nothing to fix the problem.
It's for troubleshooting. It's like using a voltmeter that doesn't respond to phantom voltages.

When the OP gets a regular bulb working he can put on a 10A/120v load and, with a voltmeter on this load he can check circuit integrity all the way back to the panel without going back to the panel.

I should start paying you to proofread my replies. Right now you're doing it for free.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 05-17-2010 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 05-17-2010, 08:48 PM   #5
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Porch light works/ doesn't work


LOL I remember going on a very similar call to this when I was an apprentice. We had recently hired this licensed guy who was BS that I was running the job when the regular foreman was out. We had rotating schedules, I worked 4 tens and so did he. I had Fridays off and he had Mondays off, and they pulled him for service a lot. I ended up working with this new guy and we got pulled off a job to do a nearby resi service call. One light worked sometimes and one was really dim. I said "Hmmm it sounds like a loose neutral." He agreed and went into the living room and started taking apart receptacles.
I asked the homeowner some questions before I started tearing into anything. Like "This light looks new, did you recently replace it?"
Them: "Yes, yes we did."
Me: "Was there a problem before you replaced it?"
Them: "No, now that you mention it there wasn't."
I take apart light and fixed loose connection while the other guy put a couple receptacles back together.


So, have you replaced any lights recently, or should I say around the time that the problem started?
Have you noticed whether or not the devices have been backstabbed in your house?
Do any nearby lights work funny (like only come on if the switch for a different light is off)?
Do any lights get noticeably brighter/dimmer when different switches are flipped?

I just realized I sounded like Wilson.



I don't think so Tim.
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:27 AM   #6
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Porch light works/ doesn't work


On the first day the light wouldn't come on, the only thing that I think of that might have affected the light is that I unplugged an air conditioner that was on the same breaker. The air conditioner wasn't running at the time, and I hadn't had any problems with it previously. The outlet that the air conditioner was plugged into was very loose, and had been for a while.

Trying to troubleshoot the problem- the light switch has been replaced (twice) the outlet has been replaced (twice).

As far as having the porch light come on when other switches are on/off I can't seem to find anything, and I don't notice any dimming of any lights.

The porch light won't work for months and then magically will work. The last time it started working again- it stayed working for at least a month or longer.

Also, all of the connections going into the breaker box were checked/tightened, and a new breaker was installed on that particular circuit but made no difference.

I'm not sure what backstabbed means.

How would I go about checking for a loose splice or connection in the box?

Do they sell 4 w bulbs at the hardware store? Will it fit the socket?

I appreciate everyone's help, thanks a lot.
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Old 05-19-2010, 12:06 PM   #7
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Porch light works/ doesn't work


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I just realized I sounded like Wilson.
I don't think so Tim.
and

'
"Tim Taylor" spells out "mortality" when rearranged, and that "Jill Taylor" is "Jolly Trail" when rearranged.
'
And there is a fairly naughty pic of Jill on the 'Net, along with just about any actress since the Year One.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 05-19-2010 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 05-19-2010, 02:27 PM   #8
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Porch light works/ doesn't work


Backstabbing is a means to terminate a wire on a device and it is held there by spring tension. The wires are inserted in a hole in the back of the device. Many feel that the screws make a more reliable connection than the backstabs.

To check for a loose splice you would turn the power off and look inside the boxes for a loose wire nut or connection on a device.
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Old 05-19-2010, 06:37 PM   #9
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Porch light works/ doesn't work


First thing I would check is the integrity of the lamp socket, especially an exterior one. Sometimes the tab at the bottom of socket needs to raised slightly. This of course should only be done when the power for the fixture is off!

r

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