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Rick
Rick, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 467
Experience:  10 yrs as a electrician. Have my own company.
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I have 6 light highhat circuit. The bulbs were flickering and

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I have 6 light highhat circuit. The bulbs were flickering and went out when the switch was turned on. I took the switch out and had 120v at the inlet side of the switch to neutral with the switch off. When I turned the switch on it was 20v to neutral. When I removed all the bulbs and turned the switch on, it showed 120v from hot to neutral. And I had 120v at each fixture with the bulbs out. When I put one bulb in, in any of the fixtures, the volt reading at the switch went down to about 30v. How am I supposed to isolate where the problem is. Or, what is the problem? Could it be a bad neutral? It is hard to see as the highhats are in a sheetrock ceiling.

Sparky :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm here to answer any of your electrical questions.

Customer:

ok thank

Customer:

you

Sparky :

Yes it sounds like a loose neutral, and I would first isolate the circuit this way you know everywhere it goes,

Customer:

The circuit is isolated. The problem is its in a sheetrock ceiling. Where should I begin?

Sparky :

Start at the panel. A lot of times the neutral gets lose inside of the panel. It will be the pair of the black that is connected to the breaker.

Customer:

The other lights and electrical items on this circuit are working so I don't believe it is at the panel

Sparky :

Or you could work backwards from the switch. The problem will more than likely be inside of a junction box, but you have already proved that it is before the switch, because the voltage drops when you put a load on it.

Sparky :

It could be at the place right before the switch. where things are currently working. It could be one wire where there are a few wires put together, but only one is being effected.

Sparky :

When the voltage goes down in the light switch, does the voltage go down on the rest of the circuit as well?

Customer:

So based on the fact that when a load is put on and the voltage drops, that means it is most likely NOT an issue in the highhat circuit itself, but something before the switch?

Sparky :

That's correct. and if the voltage goes down on the entire circuit, when the voltage goes down, then it could even just be a failing breaker.

Customer:

Two rooms are lit by one circuit. One room is perfectly fine. The other is where the high hat circuit is and that is the room that went out. The computer and phone which are in the same room as the high hats have no issue

Customer:

only the highhats went out

Customer:

The switch tested fine

Sparky :

What kind of switch is it? Dimmer, or regular on off?

Customer:

regular on off

Sparky :

What kind of light fixtures are they? Fluorescent, incandescent, LED?

Customer:

fluorescent bulbs

Customer:

screw in kind

Customer:

i just tested with an incandescent bulb and the same thing happened

Sparky :

When you test at the switch, with the light switch in the on position and you test from neutral to hot, what reading do you get? With the bulbs in.

Customer:

like 30v

Customer:

when the lights were out it was 120v

Sparky :

Then the problem is like Is said before the switch.

Customer:

it could be somewhere between the breaker and up to the switch you believe?

Sparky :

Leave the switch in the on position, and start testing from the switch going towards the panel until you get 120 volts between the hot and neutral. The problem will either be there, or at the first one not working properly.

Customer:

i do get 120V without the bulbs in. Do you mean do that test with the bulbs in?

Sparky :

I said with the bulbs in

Customer:

ok got it

Sparky :

Thank you.

Customer:

if i need additional assistance after this test, do i start from scratch again with a new electrician?

Sparky :

No you just log back in to your account and respond just like you are doing now. I will get an email and respond as soon as i have a chance. Please rate.

Customer:

ok, thanks.

Sparky :

No problem.

Rick and 2 other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you

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