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Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3670
Experience:  30 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License
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My kitchen area lights went out last night. All outlets work

Customer Question

Hi. My kitchen area lights went out last night. All outlets work and all GFCI outlets are functioning. Reset the breaker. All lights on that breaker are not working (nook, kitchen, garage and outside lights).
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome to Just Answer. My name is ***** ***** I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question.

1) Does the circuit contain any wall receptacles or only lighting fixtures? If receptacles, are these also dead?

2) Do you have either a 2 wire lead AC voltage tester (a contact type) or a multi-meter available to take some voltage measurements?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for the response.1- only lighting.2- I have a two wire voltage tester. Tested both switches (there is one in the kitchen and one in the LR). Both lit up.
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for the replies.

1) So you tested the switch hot wire feed and the switched loop wire to a ground and the tester shows 120 volts, correct?

2) Do any of the wall switch boxes contain a group of white neutral wires that are spliced together?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call. Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

I am not able to make a phone call at this time.

Reply back to me and let me know if you still want to chat here or I can opt out of the question and another expert can possibly assist you..

Thanks..............Kevin:)

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
1- the voltage tester I have just lights up if there is current. I am getting ready to run to shine Depot for something else. Is there a better tester to get?2- not that I can see. I did shine my light in there and there did not appear to be any spliced wires.Note1. How we got here - I flipped the LR switch to walk into the kitchen. No pops, flashes, etc.Note2. I did change the ballast two weeks ago and did splice wires for that light.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am ok with a phone call. I may have hit something by mistake.
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

If you have a 2 wire lead AC voltage tester, you can confirm if there is a problem with the branch circuit neutral wire. A multi-meter can also be used.

If the tester can measure 120 volts on a switch hot and a switch output wire, then this issue must be limited to a neutral problem, often caused by a loose termination or a faulty splice. If the wall switches have 120 in and 120 out, then the problem is a neutral termination.

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) You can also confirm for 120 volts of the switched loop at any light fixture, by measuring from the light hot to the equipment ground, If you measure 120 volts when the switch is ON at the light box to ground and 0 volts at the light box when the switch is OFF, then this confirms a neutral problem. Therefore, not a hot wire or a switched loop or a switch issue. Process of isolation and elimination:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) If you have a 3 prong extension cord available and a known working 3 prong grounded receptacle on another house circuit, you can also use the neutral from the extension cord and compare it to the light fixture box, by temporarily disconnecting the existing white neutral from the light fixture and also measure for ON/OFF voltage at the light fixture box, switched loop wire. The 3 prong extension cord neutral can also be temporarily jumped directly to the light fixture white neutral while by-passing the light fixture circuit white neutral. If the light and wall switch works, then this confirms a problem upstream on the original branch circuit neutral. You would also require around 1 foot of preferably 12 AWG solid copper white wire to act as a jumper from the cord neutral plug and splice it onto the light fixture white neutral.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. I'm not an electrician, but can follow directions. :). I will try that.Why would there be current coming to the switches, but the switch wouldn't turn the light on? I checked all of the switches affected (6 total) and all have current coming to them. Excuse the dunb question, but does that mean the breaker is functioning correctly of power is going to the switch?
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) Only hot wires are switched and never a neutral wire. However, the neutral wire is the return wire on any 120 volt circuit.

Therefore, the following items need to take place for a switched lighting circuit to work: If one or more of the folliowing is not present, the lights will not work.

A) Switch must be operationable/functional

B) Switch must have 120 volts feeding into it and 120 volts extending out of the switch (switched loop) to the light fixture.

C) Circuit must have a complete and properly spliced neutral conductor originating from the main electrical panel out to the light fixture.

2) If you can successfully measure 120 volts in and out of a single pole wall switch, then this confirms that the circuit breaker is functioning correctly since it is providing 120 volts to the switch. 120 volts measured at the light fixture switched loop wire also confirms that the switch is working. If this is all correct, the only remaining problem is a neutral issue.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

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

Thanks...............Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

Shown in the diagram below is a basic single pole light switching circuit.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you.This is what we have. At the light switch - there are three wires (one white, two gray). All three show current.At the light, there are three wires (black, grey, and red). Black and grey show current while the red does not. The red is the wire running from the ballast to the light fixture.
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) How many screws on the wall switch? 2 brass and 1 green

or

2 brass, 1 black and 1 green screws?

2) P.S.......whoever wired the switch, wired it incorrectly. A switched loop wire cannot be white or gray or green, must be some other color such as black or red.

3) You originally mentioned that you have numerous lights not working on the same circuit. Locate a single pole switch that measures voltage but the light is not working.

4) I doubt if you are measuring current unless you have a clamp-on amp meter at the switch. If you are using a 2 wire lead AC voltage tester, you are measuring voltage and NOT current. Voltage & current are 2 different things and takes 2 different types of testing equipment or functions to measure voltage and current.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
1-2 brass, 1 black, 1 green2- sorry, misspoke on the switch. It is red and two gray. The gray may be green, but if it is green it is a dark green.3-none are working on that circuit. Includes kitchen, dining room area, garage, and outside lights. All other lights in the house are working and all outlets are working.4- sorry. There is voltage coming to the switches.
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) That is a 3-way switch then and not a single pole. You can turn the light on or off from two separate 3-way switches. Once again, a gray wire is only used as a neutral and never used as a hot or a switched loop or as a traveler wire. Incorrect wire colors of gray were installed on this switch. Code violation:)

2) I recommend to locate a single pole switch instead of a 3-way. Then locate the corresponding light fixture for the single pole switch and use the extension cord as a comparison. 3-Way switches are a bit more difficult to troubleshoot as compared to a basic single pole switch.

4) Doesn't matter the switch types in place, without being able to confirm switched loop voltages directly at the light fixture, we are both wasting time. Get out a ladder and drop one of the easier dead light fixtures and get a meter or a 2 wire tester and start testing at the fixture box. Unfortunately, there is no easier way around it.

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

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

Thanks..............Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

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

Thanks.................Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

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

Thanks.................Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

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

Thanks...............Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

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

Thanks...............Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

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

Thanks..............Kevin:)