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Old 03-03-2009, 08:31 AM   #1
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two switches that stopped working


In my living room there is a bank of 3 switches (left, middle, right). The middle and right switches suddenly do not work and I am hoping to figure out how to troubleshoot this. In the picture are 9 wires I have numbered.
Using a multimeter produces this:
Wires 1 and 2 are 120V. All other wires are 0V. This is true even if you remove the wires from the switches.
The left switch is one of 4 toggle switches (other 3 not pictured) that turn on the ceiling lights. The middle switch controls the ceiling fan. The rights switch controls a fireplace light. None of the switches control an outlet.
Every other switch in the house works, and when I turn off the circuit breaker for the living room all voltages go to 0v.
"10" above shows where wires 9 and 5 are joined together with two other wires, that go up into the attic. I think this wire is supposed to be 120V (?)
The right switch has only two wires - wire 9 is producing a shadow on the wall that looks like a wire but isn't.
Any and all advice appreciated!
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Old 03-03-2009, 08:42 AM   #2
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two switches that stopped working


Cross reply from another forum:

The problem is not in that box. The problem is the feed coming in to #10 in your image.
You need to find that discontinued feed (in the attic?) and check why it is out.

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Old 03-03-2009, 08:50 AM   #3
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two switches that stopped working


I would check to see that you have voltage between the bundle of white wires in the wire nut and the bundle of black wires in the wire nut (marked with "10"). You should have 120volts there and if you don't it's probably a problem in an upstream outlet box or switch box causing the power not to continue onto this box. The only reason why the first switch works is its a 4 way switch that gets its own power from another box and the power continues on to another box; it should have no connections to anything else in this box other than the ground wire.

Check out the white and black wires for power, and DO NOT disconnect ALL the wires and expect us to help you re-wire it! If you for some reason feel the need to pull everything apart, draw up a diagram detailing how the wires are connected BEFORE you disconnect anything!

Also, I'd re-wire those switches to use the screws instead of the back stab on the switches. If you don't have power at the white and black wire nuts, then the backstabbed switches likely isn't the problem, but it is just better to use the screws over the back stab.

As always BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL when working with a live circuit. I'd suggest turning the power off first, move the wire nuts to where you can probe them with your meter and then turn the power back on to check for voltage.
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Old 03-03-2009, 01:56 PM   #4
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two switches that stopped working


There is no power where the 4 wires meet, so I went into the attic to see where they led.Two go through the attic and to another part of the living room, controlling the fireplace light plus a fireplace outlet, both of which have no power, and the trail ends there. Of the other two attic wires, they seem to lead to many other places in the house but I cannot find another light or outlet that is not working, so I am not sure what to do next.
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Old 03-03-2009, 04:15 PM   #5
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two switches that stopped working


Check all the receptacles on that circuit, working or not. I bet it's a bad backstab connection in the back of a receptacle.
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Old 03-03-2009, 04:30 PM   #6
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two switches that stopped working


I took apart several outlet and switch boxes and on the 9th one, one of the wires had come loose. All set now. Thanks a lot
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Old 03-03-2009, 06:44 PM   #7
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two switches that stopped working


Back stab connections are a very common cause of this problem. Move all the wires to the screw terminals.

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