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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I changed my doorbell transformer today, which was in the basement ceiling. Shut down power and uncapped the black and white wires in the junction box next to where the old transformer lives.

There were about four thick twisted wires under the black cap. I had to unwind them all to get loose the old transformer black wire. It was difficult to get the wires back under the cap but I used a linesman plier to straighten then and then retwist them as per YouTube videos. Then I wrapped the thinner black wire from the new transformer around the thick twisted wires and capped the whole thing, tight.

After everything was twisted up and the doorbell wires were screwed into the front of the transformer, I turned the power back on in the electrical box. I tested the doorbell and it worked. I tested the the lights in the den which are on the same circuit and the worked. However, the lights over the basement strairs -- which were also on the circuit and are physically *in between* the junction box and the den lights -- do not come on.

So I turned everyone off and had another look at the junction box. I undid and redid the caps. Looked around to triple check that I didn't leave any wires loose. Turned the power back on and tried the lights again, but same symptom.

Then I openned the caps and removed the new transformer black and white wires, in case this new thing was somehow affecting the lights over the stairs. Didn't help.

1. Is there anything that onvious that jumps out at you in this?

2. In general, would writes to the den lights and basement stairs lights originate separately from the junction box? Or would they be sort of daisy chained? If the former, then this seems to point to a problems with one of the black wires twisted together, yes?
 

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retired framer
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I changed my doorbell transformer today, which was in the basement ceiling. Shut down power and uncapped the black and white wires in the junction box next to where the old transformer lives.

There were about four thick twisted wires under the black cap. I had to unwind them all to get loose the old transformer black wire. It was difficult to get the wires back under the cap but I used a linesman plier to straighten then and then retwist them as per YouTube videos. Then I wrapped the thinner black wire from the new transformer around the thick twisted wires and capped the whole thing, tight.

After everything was twisted up and the doorbell wires were screwed into the front of the transformer, I turned the power back on in the electrical box. I tested the doorbell and it worked. I tested the the lights in the den which are on the same circuit and the worked. However, the lights over the basement strairs -- which were also on the circuit and are physically *in between* the junction box and the den lights -- do not come on.

So I turned everyone off and had another look at the junction box. I undid and redid the caps. Looked around to triple check that I didn't leave any wires loose. Turned the power back on and tried the lights again, but same symptom.

Then I openned the caps and removed the new transformer black and white wires, in case this new thing was somehow affecting the lights over the stairs. Didn't help.

1. Is there anything that onvious that jumps out at you in this?

2. In general, would writes to the den lights and basement stairs lights originate separately from the junction box? Or would they be sort of daisy chained? If the former, then this seems to point to a problems with one of the black wires twisted together, yes?
Did you double check the white wire connections.
 

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If all the lights worked before you disconnected the old transformer, and you didn't touch anything else in some other junction box, then the problem is almost certainly with the connections you worked on. From the symptoms, it sounds like one of the wires that goes to the stair lights is not making a good connection, either in the bundle of black wires or the bundle of white wires.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thank you RAL238 and NealTW. The white wires look very well twined to my amateur eyes. I re-twined the black wires and even stripped a bit to get a newer surface and trimmed to even things up. No luck. I undid and re-did the wires four times.

Now, here is an interesting new fact that I didn't notice originally: using my Klein Tools Non-Contact Voltage Tester I was able to confirm that electricity leaves the junction box though all the black conduits showned in the photo attached. I also have access to one of the pot light over the basement stairs and entrance and I can confirm that there is electricity in the white write heading into it.

What does this mean? Assuming that the light switch that controls this light is in the off position, is this normal?
 

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retired framer
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Think about the white as returning un used power and they are all tied together so something being used somewhere else will leave some power to the white.
In a switch loop the white is used as a black.
Are you sure these lights are on the same circuit, are you sure that another breaker never got turned off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I didn't mention this before because I wasn't sure if it was relevant. But your message suggests it might be.

There were four black wires tied together and three white wires tied together. However, there are also two additional white wires tied together separately in the junction box. The person who did this put a black cap on these two separate white wires. (Don't know if this is a meaningful custom or if it suggests something to you.)
 

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retired framer
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I didn't mention this before because I wasn't sure if it was relevant. But your message suggests it might be.

There were four black wires tied together and three white wires tied together. However, there are also two additional white wires tied together separately in the junction box. The person who did this put a black cap on these two separate white wires. (Don't know if this is a meaningful custom or if it suggests something to you.)

When whites are used as black they should have a wrap of black tape on them. You left those two wires as is? if it worked before it should be fine.
You might check and make sure they have a good connection.
 

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retired framer
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I didn't mention this before because I wasn't sure if it was relevant. But your message suggests it might be.

There were four black wires tied together and three white wires tied together. However, there are also two additional white wires tied together separately in the junction box. The person who did this put a black cap on these two separate white wires. (Don't know if this is a meaningful custom or if it suggests something to you.)
You have power coming in and 3 wire going out, find the live one and hook up one wire at a time and find which one is not working. Three different areas are supplied from here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You have power coming in and 3 wire going out, find the live one and hook up one wire at a time and find which one is not working. Three different areas are supplied from here.
Will try this. Does it matter if I leave the white wires as is? In other words, I don't have to isolate the accompanying white white when I isolate the black one? (I'm a newbie.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hey Nealtw. I actually have four black wires plus the live wire. I confirmed where wire1 and wire2 go. Wire3 is a mystery and didn't turn on any lights. Wire4 didn't turn on any lights either, however, when it was connected, it send power to the wire above the potlight (as previously mentioned) but didn't allow those basement lights to turn on.

I think I may need to pay for electrician as I am stumped. I don't understand what changed in the way everything was connected before I started undoing things to install the transformer. I know the logical conclusion is that the black wires were properly twisted with each other before and now they must not be. But I think I twisted them correctly... :(
 

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retired framer
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Hey Nealtw. I actually have four black wires plus the live wire. I confirmed where wire1 and wire2 go. Wire3 is a mystery and didn't turn on any lights. Wire4 didn't turn on any lights either, however, when it was connected, it send power to the wire above the potlight (as previously mentioned) but didn't allow those basement lights to turn on.

I think I may need to pay for electrician as I am stumped. I don't understand what changed in the way everything was connected before I started undoing things to install the transformer. I know the logical conclusion is that the black wires were properly twisted with each other before and now they must not be. But I think I twisted them correctly... :(
If the light is getting power then it is a white with a problem.
Did you check for outlets? Outside and anything upstairs.
If you can narrow it down to the one problem wire in the first box I would expect a broken wire. Usually you can loosen the clamp and pull more into the box. then you might be able to feel a limp wire with out stripping it.
 
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