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Steve G.
Steve G., Electrical Engineer
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 16864
Experience:  27 years in Electrical Engineering, designing electrical plans and specifications.
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Recessed lights in media room suddenly went out after flipping

Customer Question

Recessed lights in media room suddenly went out after flipping the switch.

-no breakers or GFC's tripped.
-outlet below switch has no voltage(used voltage tester)
-all other outlets in the media room work
-Removed switch and outlet plates. No loose connections.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.

Hello there and welcome to Just Answer. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be assisting you today. I am an engineer with over 30 years of electrical and electronic training, repair and installation experience. I will try and answer your question accurately and precisely so that we can get you on your way.

Now..you say this is a media room. Is this in a commercial building of some kind?

Any chance that the lights are part of a controlled lighting system/dimming system etc?

Please let me know so that we can continue.

Regards

Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

It's more like a TV room in the basement of a residence. There are 7 lights on two switches under one plate.


 


It's not part of a controlled lighting system/dimming system.

Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.

Ok, so do you have a multimeter so that we can check some voltages?

If so, remove the plate and let me know.

Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I'm not sure what it's called. It's one of those devices that you hold close to an outlet. If there is power, the red light goes on.

Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.

Ok, we can try. Go ahead and remove the plate.

Now, are none of the 7 lights working (from the 2 switches)?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I removed the plate to the switches and the outlet below it.(that's not working)


 


Yes, none of the 7 lights are working.

Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.
Ok, use your probe. Is there any 120V in the switch box? If so, where?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

No voltage at all.

Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.

Ok. So that's a start.

Do you know which breaker feeds these switches?

If so, can you turn it off and back on again please.

Then check the box again for voltage.

Please let me know so that we can continue.

Regards

Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Yes, it's labeled "sub panel". I turned it off and on and still no power to the switch or outlet below.

Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.

The breaker is labeled Sub Panel?

So is there a sub panel somewhere with some additional breakers in it maybe?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

That's what I'm wondering. I just bought the house so I'm not sure.

Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.

Well, if the breaker is labeled Sub Panel, you have another panel in that basement.

Can you follow the wiring from that breaker maybe?

Could it be a sub panel for a home theater? Is it in a closet somewhere?

I would put money on a breaker in that panel being tripped.

Please let me know so that we can continue.

Regards

Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I'm checking with the former owner to see if he knows where the sub panel may be. I can't find it.

Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.

No way of following the wire from the main panel's breaker labeled 'sub panel'?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I found the sub panel and the tripped breaker.


 


I tried switching it on, but nothing. There's a red-ish orange tab showing inside the breaker, even after switching it to the on position.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Still no voltage at the switch or outlet after flipping the breaker on. (still showing red-orange tag)

Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.

If you are seeing the red tab, the breaker is immediately tripping. It will not stay in the 'On' position.

You have a short on that circuit that will have to be tracked down.

Would you want me to help you? This is where you are going to need a real multimeter. Home Depot sells one for $25.

Please let me know so that we can continue.

Regards

Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I think we're getting beyond my comfort zone. Guess I'll call an electrician.

Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.

Yes, that is probably wise.

If you need to bounce his findings off me for a second opinion, I will be here.

Until then, please consider rating my service using the smiley faces or stars that appear right here on this page It is the only way I am compensated by this site. It works like an eBay or Amazon rating so please consider clicking on one of the better choices :)

It does not close our discussion. We can continue if needed.

I thank you in advance.

Regards

Steve

Steve G., Electrical Engineer
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 16864
Experience: 27 years in Electrical Engineering, designing electrical plans and specifications.
Steve G. and other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Okay, I have more info.


 


I turned the switches off. Then I was able to reset the breaker AND the outlet had power.


 


I then flipped the breaker off, took out all of the light bulbs, turned on the switches, and the breaker would NOT reset.


 


Bad switch, right?


 


 

Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.

No. I would surmise that the wiring or one of the fixtures has a short. This would be the wiring downstream of the switches i.e. between the switches and the fixtures.

You really need a meter. With it we could track down the problem.

Home Depot has some cheap ones - $20-$30.

Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

My dad is coming over tomorrow morning with his meter. I'll follow up after that.

Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.

Ok. What you want to do is turn off the breaker. Turn on the switches and then measure resistance between the hot and ground. If you get a low reading, you have a short.

I can advise you from there.

Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks, will do.

Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.

Excellent. I'll be here.

Reply when ready.

Thanks

Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Just wanted to let you know that we found the problem. There are two switches. One goes to 6 recessed lights and the other to a central hanging light. The central light had a short at the fixture. It appeared that some copper was exposed and touching metal. So I taped it and that did the trick. Thanks for your help.

Expert:  Steve G. replied 1 year ago.

Good news indeed.

Well done!

Regards

Steve

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