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Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3671
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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Bathroom has two switches, fan is working and voltmeter

Customer Question

Bathroom has two switches, fan is working and voltmeter reads 120 on the fan receptacle, but the light flickered and reads 74 volts on the light receptacle. What do I do?
JA: I'll do all I can to help. How long have you been dealing with this?
Customer: I did the number readings today, but the light has been flickering for months
JA: Do you plan on doing the work yourself?
Customer: Yes
JA: Anything else we should know to help you best?
Customer: No
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Kevin replied 11 months ago.

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

1) You have a loose wire termination or a faulty wire splice that is causing a voltage drop. Double check the terminations and/or splices.

2) If the switch is back-stab wired, re-terminate the wires to the side screw terminals.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Hi Kevin and thank you very much.1)How do I find the loose wire termination or faulty wire splice? Are those the wires attached to the fixture?2)The switch has side screw terminals.
Expert:  Kevin replied 11 months ago.

1) You will need to either drop the fixture and/or back the switches out from the wall box and perform a visual inspection at each termination or splice.

2) Before inspecting the wires, make sure you 1st kill power to the branch circuit breaker.

Expert:  Kevin replied 11 months ago.

1) Yes, the switched loop wire is spliced to the fixture along with the white neutral wire.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I think the problem is the splice wire from the fan receptacle to the light receptacle. The fan reads 120 but when I take off the light receptacle the wires coming to the light receptacle read 74 so the problem must be the red splice between them, right? So I just have to replace that 4 inch wire?
Expert:  Kevin replied 11 months ago.

That is very possible.

Shouldn't have to replace any wires, just re-do the splice and make sure the wires are twisted around each other and secured with a plastic wire nut.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I will do that but looking at it before I do it looks like a good splice, the wires are clean and no corrosion and they are twisted together nicely
Expert:  Kevin replied 11 months ago.

Yes, I understand. Often the fixture wires will be the stranded type and may even be a smaller wire size than the house wires. Splicing stranded to a solid wire can easily come loose and not make a good connection. I recommend to re-do the splice. Cut off some additional wire insulation from the fixture to make sure you have a sufficient amount of stranded wire splicing onto the solid house wire.

Expert:  Kevin replied 11 months ago.

1) Flickering lights indicate a faulty hot wire connection.

2) Dimming lights indicate a faulty neutral wire connection.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
The lights were flickering when I started this project.I redid the splice, cut off some insulation and twisted them back together with a wire nut on the end. All the wires are solid and not stranded. Now I'm getting 70 volts on the light receptacle when I turn the breaker back on. I did a continuity test on both the receptacle and the red wire connecting the two receptacles and they both came out just above zero.
Expert:  Kevin replied 11 months ago.

Since the wire splices are good, it is possible that either the receptacle is faulty or the plug-in to the receptacle has come loose. You can try to pry (open) the plug-in blades a little bit so they make better contact with the receptacle.

Another option is to temporarily by-pass the wall switch. If a single pole switch, temporarily splice the 2 switch wires together and see if the flickering stops.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I think the receptacles are fine, they both have continuity and I switched receptacles and the light receptacle works for the fan. They are screw on type, not plug in.They are both single pole switches - does that mean put the solo yellow coated wire on the bottom of the fan side and double them up?
Expert:  Kevin replied 11 months ago.

If the switches are single pole, there will be 2 wire terminations. Perhaps a faulty light switch? Kill power at the breaker and remove the 2 wires at the light switch. Splice the 2 wires together and this will bypass the switch and the light will remain the ON position. See if the flickering stops once the switch has been by-passed.

Expert:  Kevin replied 11 months 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.