Help with Outside Garage Lighting

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Afrowookie

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Hi all,

I need some help or advice on how to troubleshoot my outside garage lighting that lights up my driveway. There are two lights on either side of the garage door, bot have not been working since I bought the house 3 years ago but I could've sworn that when viewing the house for purchase I remembered them being on. These lights are not dusk to dawn lights and no sensors on them. I just need to find out why my switch is not turning them on. Yes I changed the light bulbs.

Inside my house next to my front door, I have 3 switches, all work and does something except for one which I am guessing is for those garage lights. It originally had a Leviton timer switch on it which no matter how I programmed it and what I did to the switch the lights still never came on. I thought the timer switch was defective and wired in a brand new traditional wall switch and still nothing.

How do I know this is the garage switch? The breaker on the panel is even labelled for that breaker as (Front door light, porch light and garage light).

So where do I go from here? Will a wire tracer work in this case? Can I plug something into the light socket on one end and on the other end into the suspected switch and tell if there is even voltage in the lines and maybe if there's a break/open somewhere?

Also, I noticed that on the outside of the garage there are two conduits, one bigger for main wiring of the garage and one smaller, probably only big enough for one maybe two wires, which I am assuming if for the outside garage lights from the house.

Please any help would be appreciated.
 

nealtw

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Pull the light fixture closest to the front door and check the connections. If there is only one set of wires in there check the other fixture.
 

bud16415

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Have you done any home electrical before? Do you have a multi-meter or a current tester?

Welcome to the forum.
 

Kabris

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Check the connections at the switch box. All digital timers require a neutral. Did you tie the neutral back in when you installed the toggle switch? Strange that the lights weren't working with timer, but those timers will fail from time to time.
 

nealtw

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A friend went nuts trying to figure out something like this for light posts at the end of the driveway.
It turn out the switch he was playing with was for an outlet up in the soffet for Xmas lights The switch he eventually found was at the man door from the garage to the house.
 

Kabris

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A non contact voltage detector is your best bet for troubleshooting something like this. Take the faceplate off the switch bank, turn the switch off and on, and see if you have voltage on your switch leg (output), and that your switch is working properly. Then remove a bulb from your garage light, turn the switch on and touch your detector to the base of the socket (make sure you're dry!) A voltage detector is relatively cheap (around $15) and great for troubleshooting.
 

Afrowookie

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Thanks for all the replies.

I will try to answer all the questions.

1) I know a little or enough about electrical to injure or kill myself. Lol In other words I know the basics and don't have a lot of experience with it, only wiring light fixtures, receptacles and switches and the sort. Not wire tracing.

2) I do have a digital multimeter and a voltage tester.

3) Both conduits enter the garage on the same side between the garage and house and about 1-2 feet apart. I'm not sure what you mean by termination, (inexperience). I'm pretty sure the big conduit goes in the fuse panel for the garage and as for the smaller one, must be for the two lights at the front of garage.

4) I am pretty sure I tied the Neutral back into the switch. Did I do it properly? I don't know. lol. I will have to check it again. Also for all I know the old timer switch could have still been working fine.

5) All switches and receptacles has a function as normal with or without a switch. It is only this one switch that appears to do nothing and only one set of lights (front garage) that has no way to turn on. So put two and two together leads me to believe that those lights are tied into that switch.

I was thinking about getting the Sperry Wire Tracer for this problem, would this help in this case or do I even need it?
 

Afrowookie

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Yes I already did that.

The garage has a 3 breaker panel for Garage heater, Lights and one for Receptacles. There are only 2 switches in the garage. One for the Lights inside the garage and one for the Rear of the garage for the flood lights.

Everything here is working as advertised except for the lights at the front of garage.
 

nealtw

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Yes I already did that.

The garage has a 3 breaker panel for Garage heater, Lights and one for Receptacles. There are only 2 switches in the garage. One for the Lights inside the garage and one for the Rear of the garage for the flood lights.

Everything here is working as advertised except for the lights at the front of garage.

Most times power is at the switch first and then goes to the lights.
What you described was a switch leg with a white and black so the power is at the light first, in the garage?
 

Kabris

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Most times power is at the switch first and then goes to the lights.

What you described was a switch leg with a white and black so the power is at the light first, in the garage?


Makes me think power is at switch if he had a timer there, since most of them need a neutral.
 

nealtw

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Makes me think power is at switch if he had a timer there, since most of them need a neutral.

It is a gang switch box so there is a neutral there from another source??

But with the timer there would have been 3 wires and he said he hooked up two, so checking his wiring at the switch might be a good idea.
 
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beachguy005

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You have to check a couple of things. Check if there is even voltage at the switch going to garage from the house. Check with it in the off and on positions. You should also check the wiring at the fixtures. The light fixtures will be wired with switched power coming from the house into one fixture, and feeding from it to the other fixture. If there is a loose or open connection at the fixture a new timer or switch won't help.
 

Snoonyb

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You have to check a couple of things. Check if there is even voltage at the switch going to garage from the house. Check with it in the off and on positions. You should also check the wiring at the fixtures. The light fixtures will be wired with switched power coming from the house into one fixture, and feeding from it to the other fixture. If there is a loose or open connection at the fixture a new timer or switch won't help.

Or, the conduit may terminate in a "J" box, behind one of the fixtures, or separate "J" box and the fixtures wired from that.
 

Afrowookie

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Hi haven't confirmed the 3 way circuit yet. Plus I'm not exactly sure what I am looking for. Is there an example of what a 3 way circuit is supposed to look like?
 

nealtw

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A three way circuit would be just another switch somewhere that would operate the same lights.
The hint would have been a red wire in the first switch box.
A timer switch would have had three wires , you said you hooked up two wires, what did you do with the third and what colour was it.
 

Snoonyb

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Actually, the timer has three wires, a black, a red and a white.

The single pole switch would only use 2 points of connection, so the 3rd wire from the timer that was originally tied to the neutral bundle in the switch box would not be necessary.

The OP needs to find the hot pair and make sure he has a hot connection to the new switch.
 

nealtw

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Actually, the timer has three wires, a black, a red and a white.

The single pole switch would only use 2 points of connection, so the 3rd wire from the timer that was originally tied to the neutral bundle in the switch box would not be necessary.

The OP needs to find the hot pair and make sure he has a hot connection to the new switch.

Or no red wire and just a pigtail or jumper from power that has been lost.
As a single switch with power in that box the switch should have two blacks and white would go to the cluster of whites in the back of the box.
 
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