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Old 02-20-2012, 01:12 AM   #1
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Troubleshooting a light fixture


I have an overhead light that will no longer work. I tried new bulbs -- that didn't work.

So, I removed the single pole dimmer switch cover plate and used my my voltage tester to check the wires (with the circuit breaker still on). Here's what seems weird to me...

When the switch was turned to the off position, one of the two wires read as hot. Okay, that seems normal enough. But then when I turned the switch on, neither of the wires were hot. That doesn't seem to make any sense even if the power went to the light first and then to the switch.

Does this situation give you any hint as to what may be wrong with the light switch/wiring/circuit?

Thanks in advance!

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Old 02-20-2012, 02:56 AM   #2
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Troubleshooting a light fixture


The first question is, what did you do before this light stopped working?

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Old 02-20-2012, 09:10 AM   #3
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Troubleshooting a light fixture


Hi Greg -- Nothing out the ordinary was done. Just used the light switch to turn the light on and off. No electrical work has been done recently. But the house was built in 1933 so I'm figuring that some of this wiring may just be wearing out?
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Old 02-20-2012, 09:47 AM   #4
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Troubleshooting a light fixture


If it is the original wiring to the home, next question is, is it Knob & Tube, BX, or has it been updated to Romex. If the fixture stopped working, and the switch is good, light bulb & fixture is good, next thing to check is other items on the same circuit to see if they are not working. If you have checked also the breaker or fuse, next thing is connection points along the line.

Only way to verify that the wiring has worn out beyond its lifespan, or sheathing has degenerated, is with a MegOhm meter.
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Old 02-20-2012, 09:50 AM   #5
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Troubleshooting a light fixture


How did you measure the voltage? How many wires in the box?
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Old 02-20-2012, 10:05 AM   #6
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Troubleshooting a light fixture


Obviously, you didn't measure the votage properly.

Test one lead to one wire and the other lead to ground. Do this for both wires in both switch positions. One wire will always be hot, and one will be switched.

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