front door lights not working

Discussion in 'Electrical and Wiring' started by DeanM, Jun 4, 2010.

  1. Jun 4, 2010 #1

    DeanM

    DeanM

    DeanM

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    HI

    For the past 6 months, my front door lights have not been working. I checked the fuse box and everything is on. All I can think of us is 2 things: 1. The gas lamp post in front of my yard broke off the ground and is now laying flat on the lawn (I don't know if this happened before or after the front lights stopped working). 2. There is a GFI outlet right near the front door and the reset button will not stay in. So this is malfunctioning. Which one of these could be causing the problem and is there any way I can solve this on my own?? Thanks
     
  2. Jun 4, 2010 #2

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    Maybe because there is actually leakage current to ground, but the default fix is to replace GFCI outlet.
    A leakage current check requires a milliammeter and a low current fuse.
     
  3. Jun 4, 2010 #3

    DeanM

    DeanM

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    Thanks so much for replying. So this has nothing to do with the gas lamp post? Should I replace the GFI first or do the leakage test?
     
  4. Jun 4, 2010 #4

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    I'd do the leakage test.

    If there's less than 5 mA leakage current in the ground lead but it's a 'false negative' indication there still may be leakage current returning by other pathways, but if it fails then for sure you have an insulation problem somewhere.

    Whatever mA scale you use, you should use an external fuse of one half or one fourth of that value, but no less than 5 mA.
    So on the 200 mA scale you should fuse at 100 mA or 50 mA.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2010
  5. Jun 4, 2010 #5

    kok328

    kok328

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    Disconnect the wires from the LOAD terminals on the GFI and then see if it will reset.
    If it does reset then you have current leakage which may or may not be the result of the gas lamp post. If it does not reset, replace the GFI. Everything doesn't have to be as complicated as it someone suggests. However, as you already may be aware, if the front door lights and/or the gas lamp post are not on the same circuit as the GFI, then you have a different problem(s). Let me know what you find and then the problem can be narrowed down from there.
     
  6. Jun 4, 2010 #6

    DeanM

    DeanM

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    Thanks for replying guys. I just removed the outlet. It had no cover on the outlet either. (Maybe it shorted from the rain?) There are no wires going into the load. There are 3 wires. 1 ground, 1 black and 1 white and they are connected into ground, line, and line respectively. It did not reset in any way so I am going to buy a new GFI outlet. But before I do that, I must say that there is no power on the wires. I don't even know which breaker is for this one. I tested the outlet with a voltage tester and there is no power in it. So even if I replace the GFI outlet, is there a chance for my front door lights to work?

    Also, will a gas lamp post have electricity? I was under the impression that it runs solely on gas. If it does use electricity, how do I check it? I bought the house recently and the gas lamp post never worked, so I don't know which is the switch for it. I just want to disconnect the electricity going into it and get over with it...
     
  7. Jun 4, 2010 #7

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    Maybe that's why the GFCI doesn't reset.

    The clues are leading you upstream.
     
  8. Jun 5, 2010 #8

    kok328

    kok328

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    I wouldn't replace the GFI just yet, they have to have power to reset them.
    I guess it depends on the type of gas lamp post you have that will determine if you have electricity going to it. A standing pilot unit won't have electrical but, a ignitor type will. Take a look at the base of the pole and see if you find and wires going up the inside of the pole. You definetly have a short somewhere that is killing the outlet and possibly the door lights.
     
  9. Jun 6, 2010 #9

    DeanM

    DeanM

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    Ok there are two switches inside the house near the entrance door. I discovered that one is for the GFI outlet and the other is for the front door lights.. I turned on one of the switch and tested the wires behind the GFI outlet. There is power on the wires. So since there is electricity, I switched the GFI outlet with a new one and now it is resetting properly and the outlet is working. But still there is no power to the front door lights. Maybe the switch for the front door lights is burnt out? How do I test for this?

    Anyhow, I checked the lamp post and it has a cylindrical shaped black wire running into it from underground. But I cannot find any gas line going into it. Furthermore, I found a similar wire going out of my main electric box outside and it is going underground. Could it be the wire for the lamp post? If so, how do I disconnect this? I do not intend to use an electric lamp post anymore. I am going to get a solar lamp post.
     
  10. Jun 6, 2010 #10

    kok328

    kok328

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    There are several ways to test the light switch. The most conclusive method would be to remove the wall plate and test for power from ground to each lug on the switch while the switch is turned on. If power exists on both lugs then the switch is working. From there you will have to test for power on the wires at the fixture itself.
    re: gas lamp wiring, this could be the same wire but, you have to be absolutely sure before you attempt any work on it's removal. Find an exposed surface at the lamp where you can test for power, turn off the breaker leading out of the main electrical box and test for power at the lamp again. If you want to permanetly disconnect power to the lamp post, disconnect the wire from the breaker inside the electrical panel.
     
  11. Jun 8, 2010 #11

    DeanM

    DeanM

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    This is what I did:

    I tested the wires going into the switch for the GFI outlet. It was live. First I tested black with black and red with white and there was electricity. Then for some reason I decided to test red with black and black with white. This tripped the breaker. I saw a brief spark and it burned the tester metal part...I thought I can touch either wires with the red and black on the tester. Why did this happen?

    My wife saw this and she wouldn't allow me to continue the test for the next switch which is for the lights. I gotta test it tonight after she sleeps.. But before I do, I need to know why this happened today. I should always touch the hot(black) wire with the black wire on the tester?

    I traced the wire from the main electric box outside and about 4 feet away, this wire has been cut and it has no voltage on it... What do I do now? On the post itself, the wire is not exposed. I could only see a bolt where the wire ends at the top of the lamp post.

    thanks
     
  12. Jun 8, 2010 #12

    kok328

    kok328

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    The leads on your voltmeter are black and red. Red is for the hot and black is for ground/neutral. It shouldn't matter which lead you use to test with when working with A/C current. However, on a DC circuit, it will read negative if you don't use the correct leads for the correct wire. Did you have your meter set to DC? Most likely, you bumped into something with your test leads to cause the short.
    Anyway, if the lamp post wires lead out and have no voltage, they must have been previously disconnected. Trace them back into the box to verify and/or perform a proper termination on them inside the panel.
     
  13. Jun 11, 2010 #13

    DeanM

    DeanM

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    I checked the wires leading into the light switch and there was no electricity. Then I shut off the breaker and removed the light fixtures. Then turned on the breaker and checked the wires in there and there is electricity. So I changed the bulbs on the light fixture and installed it back on and the light is on all the time now. I cannot switch it on and off with the switch. Should I replace the switch?

    Thanks so much.
     
  14. Jun 12, 2010 #14

    DeanM

    DeanM

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    I look at it deeply and found that one of the wires connected to the switch is touching the electrical metal box. When I move the electrical box I see blue sparks right at the contact point of the wire and the electrical box. It appears that when they are touching, the lights are always on. When they are not touching the switch is controlling the lights. Perhaps I should rewire the switch so that the wire is not touching anything but the terminal screws?

    Thanks
     
  15. Jun 12, 2010 #15

    kok328

    kok328

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    Perhaps.;)
     

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