How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Kevin Your Own Question
Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3724
Experience:  30 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License
Type Your Electrical Question Here...
Kevin is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

A ceiling light out. I went to change the bulb. When

This answer was rated:

A ceiling light burnt out. I went to change the bulb. When I put in a new bulb, there was a flash, the bulb went out AND SO DID lights in two other rooms.

I opened the ceiling fixture; there are no signs of a short or burns.

I expected to find a circuit breaker had been tripped, but when I went to the basement none were off.

And thanks to the LOUSY circuit labeling when this house was built, I have no idea which circuit breaker I should be looking at --- but I wonder if the circuit breaker itself was damaged?

I bought a Klein Tools circuit breaker identifier, but there's no power to the fixture, so it doesn't help.

So I've got two problems. Anything I can try? Thanks - name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question. My goal is to exceed your expectations on Just Answer!


1) Did you check all of the wire splices at the fan ceiling box for a faulty or loose connection? No power in the other rooms either indicates a tripped breaker or a loose wiring connection. Possible that the 2 other rooms are fed off of the same circuit as the ceiling fan?


2) Did you completely turn OFF all breakers in the panel and then turn them back to the ON position? Does the main electrical panel have any Arc Fault breakers or GFCI breakers that the fan and/or other rooms are connected too? Also check your regular GFCI receptacles for any tripping. Doubt that the other rooms or the fan are connected via a GFCI, but anything is possible.


3) Do you have a 2-prong AC voltage tester (contact type) or an AC voltmeter to measure the voltages on each breaker? By checking the voltages on all single pole 15 and 20 amp breakers, this will isolate if you have a breaker problem or a loose wiring connection in either in the ceiling fan box or the other rooms. If you can measure 120 volts at each of the 15 or 20 amp breakers and all is good, then the problem is a loose connection possibly in the ceiling fan box or the other 2 rooms that are without power. Even a loose receptacle or wall switch wiring connection/splices can cause this problem.


4) What is the wiring scheme in your house? Romex cables or conduit?


5) Was there any recent electrical performed anywhere in the house with the exception of swapping out the light bulb?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

(1) - Obviously the lights in the other two rooms are on the same circuit.

(2) - There are no arcfault breakers - there may be one GFCI breaker for the bathroom (which is one of the lights that went out) -- it has a yellow tab on top -- HOW do I reset it?

(3) and (5) I do not have a voltage tester. No other electrical work has been done. I just wanted to change a burnt out light bulb but I got these other problems.

(4) - Romex -- house was built in 1986.



1) Thank you for the replies Henry


2) A GFCI circuit breaker will have a test and a reset button on it. Hit the reset button and see if that works.


3) As I suggested in my initial reply, I would try to reset all of the 15 and 20 amp single pole breakers by completely turning them OFF and then back ON.


4) You may also have a wall receptacle that has a loose wiring connection that is causing the problem. Refer to the procedure shown below and try it in all 3 rooms.


Wiggle Procedure

You have a circuit with dead outlets and maybe some dead lights on it or you're experiencing flickering on a circuit. You will need a 2 wire voltage tester to check the outlet. A Multimeter or a Volt/Con are suggested. I prefer the Volt/Con because there are no settings to make, it does continuity and is audible. Success begins with knowing what you're looking for.


1] No voltage reading between the hot and the neutral or ground indicates an open hot.


2] No reading between the hot and the neutral but 120V between the hot and ground and 120V between the neutral and ground indicates an open neutral.


3] No continuity between the neutral and ground - Check for tripped GFCI device first


4] If all the branch circuit breaker are on you have a bad connection on the hot or neutral wires. The usual cause is a bad connection, either a termination on a device or connection in a wire nut.


Over the years I've found the easiest way to locate the opening needing examination and correction is to wiggle the devices.


5] The first step in this exercise is to get a lamp to act as an alert. Make sure the lamp works and in the on position. You may also use something like a vacuum cleaner or blow dryer, for an audible alert. Don't use anything electronic, like a radio.


6] Plug it into a dead outlet.


7] Now with a cube tester or any plug you will need to go to all the dead outlets and any live outlets in the area, insert the plug and wiggle the device side to side slightly. Watch the test lamp or listen for the other alerts as you wiggle the devices.


If the loose or bad connection is present the wiggle action may make it contact briefly and the lamp or the other things will alert you . Having found the suspected outlet all that is left is to correct the bad connection.


If the device is a push back wired device, this probably is the cause of the circuit failure. All wires must be terminated under the screws. Also you should never put more than one wire under a screw.


This troubleshooting procedure works in most cases and won't have you open boxes un-necessarily.


Keep in mind that the problem is in one of two places in the circuit, either in the first dead outlet or the



5) If resetting the GFCI breaker and the other breakers and the wiggle procedure does not work, then you will need a 2 prong AC voltage tester to confirm that the breakers are functioning correctly by measuring 120 volts at each of the 15 or 20 amp single pole breakers. Since the breakers are the source of your power, this needs to be confirmed they are working in order to isolate the problem. If the breakers are all good, then you have a faulty wiring connection splice either at the ceiling fan box or possibly in one of the other rooms.




Hope this helps.........If you have any additional questions, let me know and I'll be glad to answer them for you.


Otherwise, don't forget to rate me before you log Off.

The next time you have an electrical question, you can also request for me at:



Kevin and 2 other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you

Henry............Thank you for the excellent service rating..............much appreciated!


If you have any other questions, just let me know.


Take care and have a great evening............Thanks again..............Kevin!