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Old 05-05-2012, 01:57 AM  
zepper
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Default Baffling light fixture problem

Hi guys,

I'm having a baffling electrical problem—can you help?

I recently upgraded our home's light switches from toggles to rockers. A few days later our front porch light flickered a bit when I turned it on. The switch connections looked fine, so I figured the (CFL) bulb might be getting ready to burn out.

The next day, the light didn't work. A new bulb didn't help. I thought it might be the new switch, but when I removed the light fixture and tested the leads, they had power.

I reconnected the fixture, making sure the wires were securely in their twist-on connectors. No light. I tested the new bulb in another fixture.

So it must be the fixture itself, I thought. But when I connected it to an outlet, it worked.

What could I possibly be overlooking?

I should mention that our house has aluminum wiring. I've been careful to apply anti-oxidant paste to all connections, and everything's worked fine till now—including this fixture, which I installed several years ago. Thanks for your suggestions!



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Old 05-05-2012, 01:43 PM  
Snoonyb
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1st) Using an inexpensive VOM from a hdw. store, with the fixture connected and the switch on, the bulb removed and the scale on the VOM set on the A/C in the range above 120, touch the red lead to the center tine of the socket and the black lead to the threads of the socket.
2) If you do not read about 120V, you have a deteriorating and intermittent fixture.
3) If you do read about 120V turn the switch off and with a needle-nose plier reach into the lamp socket and gently raise the center tine slightly and insert the bulb.

Or just go right to step three, without the VOM.



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Old 05-06-2012, 03:43 AM  
zepper
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Thanks, but as I mentioned, the fixture does work when I plug it directly into an outlet (via an extension with no female end).

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Old 05-06-2012, 04:24 PM  
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So, don't follow the suggestions, by a new fixture and when that one doesn't work either
maybe you'll have learned something.

CLUE; The correct use of a VOM to accomplish voltage tests.

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Old 05-06-2012, 10:39 PM  
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Short tempers today? Hmmm?

This is not like re-wiring the Space Shuttle . . .

If the fixture works, you must not be getting power from the switch. If you don't have a tester ("magic wand") for presence of current, you can get one at Gome Depot for around $10. It will tell you if you have current from the swicth to the fixture when it is turned ON. If you get no reading, you need to fix the switch connection or the switch itself.

I use my tester constantly on remodeling work. It should be in your tool kit if you are messing with switches and outlets.

Good luck.

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Old 05-07-2012, 06:59 AM  
AlwaysOneMoreProject
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zepper View Post
Hi guys,

I'm having a baffling electrical problem—can you help?

I recently upgraded our home's light switches from toggles to rockers. A few days later our front porch light flickered a bit when I turned it on. The switch connections looked fine, so I figured the (CFL) bulb might be getting ready to burn out.

The next day, the light didn't work. A new bulb didn't help. I thought it might be the new switch, but when I removed the light fixture and tested the leads, they had power.

I reconnected the fixture, making sure the wires were securely in their twist-on connectors. No light. I tested the new bulb in another fixture.

So it must be the fixture itself, I thought. But when I connected it to an outlet, it worked.

What could I possibly be overlooking?

I should mention that our house has aluminum wiring. I've been careful to apply anti-oxidant paste to all connections, and everything's worked fine till now—including this fixture, which I installed several years ago. Thanks for your suggestions!
When you tested for voltage, did you check between hot and neutral or between hot and ground?
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Old 05-13-2012, 11:47 PM  
zepper
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zepper
So it must be the fixture itself, I thought. But when I connected it to an outlet, it worked...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snoonyb
1st) Using an inexpensive VOM from a hdw. store, with the fixture connected and the switch on, the bulb removed and the scale on the VOM set on the A/C in the range above 120, touch the red lead to the center tine of the socket and the black lead to the threads of the socket.
2) If you do not read about 120V, you have a deteriorating and intermittent fixture.
3) If you do read about 120V turn the switch off and with a needle-nose plier reach into the lamp socket and gently raise the center tine slightly and insert the bulb.

Or just go right to step three, without the VOM.
Quote:
Originally Posted by zepper
Thanks, but as I mentioned, the fixture does work when I plug it directly into an outlet...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snoonyb
So, don't follow the suggestions, by a new fixture and when that one doesn't work either... maybe you'll have learned something...
Dude, the fixture is fine. I've tested it indoors several times now and the light always goes on immediately and stays on steady. It sounded like you were just telling me to buy a meter to do the same thing.

What's more, in both of the testing outcomes you described, you cited faults with the fixture. Then you concluded by (facetiously) saying I could skip the meter-testing, just buy a new fixture, and that it wouldn't work either—implying the fixture was not the problem. So it seems like you even contradicted yourself.

It's too bad that ridicule can't improve my ability to read your mind or your ability to write more clearly... Otherwise I might be able to understand you by now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zepper
[from my first post] I thought it might be the new switch, but when I removed the light fixture and tested the leads, they had power.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CallMeVilla
If the fixture works, you must not be getting power from the switch. If you don't have a tester ("magic wand") for presence of current, you can get one at [Home] Depot...
I may seem like a noob, but yes, I am indeed using a tester—not, for example, my fingers, or the cat. :?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysOneMoreProject
When you tested for voltage, did you check between hot and neutral or between hot and ground?
The fixture has just two leads (no ground), so there's no ground lead in the box. I have tested the positive power lead and the box's ground screw, though, and I get power there as well.

I've just been back out there tonight. I've tried another new switch (even though there's power at the box). I've re-re-re-tested the fixture on another outlet, and it works fine. Nothing's changed...

I've just called a friend who does electrical work and he can't figure it out either. I just thought you guru-types might have a clue. If you don't, please don't feel obligated to put me down, as my wife is already handling that task nicely.
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Old 05-14-2012, 12:13 AM  
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Which box has the live wire comming to it, just a guess but if the power comes to the light first, have you checked for power at the switch. AL. is brittle you may have broke a wire in one of the boxes. If power comes to the switch first, I have no clue.

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Old 05-15-2012, 05:08 PM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nealtw
Which box has the live wire comming to it, just a guess but if the power comes to the light first, have you checked for power at the switch. AL. is brittle you may have broke a wire in one of the boxes. If power comes to the switch first, I have no clue.
How can you tell which place the power comes to first? Wouldn't you have to be able to see through the wall? And if I'd broken a wire, there wouldn't be power at the fixture box, would there?

Sorry to be such an amateur about all this—there's probably some simple explanation I'm just missing.
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Old 05-15-2012, 05:35 PM  
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If the power goes to the light first there will be two sets of wires, 2 blacks nuted together one white to the light and the other white to the light. So power comes in on one wire goes to the switch and back to the light so you have black and white to the switch. If power is going to the switch first, you have two blacks to the switch and the whites are nuted together and the light has a black and a white connected to it. Keep in mind, Im just grabbing at straws too.



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