strange switch feed wire issue

treefrog10March 2, 2010

A tenant reported that a light was out in their apartment. I removed the switch and used a home-made test light to check for power to the switch. There wasnÂt any. I then went to the basement to track down the feed wire that was leading up into the bedroom. I found it and followed it to the junction box. I tested the feed wire to the junction box to make sure it had power and then reconnected the line. I then went back up to the switch and found that my test light lit up twice, but not again. I also noticed little sparks as I used the test light and rubbed the wires along the exposed switch wires. The circuit breaker does not trip.

I used the test light in another location after I checked the switch (to make sure the test light still worked). I thought that the exposed portion of the switch feed wires were corroded? so I scraped them and I was still unable to get the test light to light up. I did see the tiny sparks occasionally again though.

Any ideas?

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mike_kaiser_gw

When you used your test light did you go hot to neutral or hot to ground?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 10:06AM
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treefrog10

As I always do, I hooked up the white to the white and the black to the black. So would that be neutral to neutral and hot to hot? The test light is a closet light bulb and I have used it a number of times.

Thanks for the reply...I am assuming this may be a ground issue??

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 10:14AM
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Billl

Is the switch part of as switchloop?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 10:42AM
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treefrog10

The bedroom contains two outlets that work even when I disconnected the supposed switch feed wire from the junction box. This isn't surprising because most outlet and switch circuits are separate. I also checked the adjacent room switchs (lights) when I have disconnected the supposedly wire that goes to the problem switch. All those lights still work, so I think this switch wire is dedicated for the problem switch.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 12:20PM
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normel

Check the light bulb?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 12:33PM
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treefrog10

If there is, seemingly, intermittent power going to the switch, then wouldn't the light bulb not matter? My test light IS the light bulb. Don't forget, I have disconnected the switch and I'm checking the wires feeding the switch.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 12:44PM
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Billl

"A tenant reported that a light was out in their apartment."

You need an electrician. You should not be attempting this work yourself.

Just for mystery's sake:

How many wires are in the switch box? 3 or 6? If 3, that white is not a neutral but leg of a switchloop. To use your test light to see if power is getting that far, you would connect 1 end to the black and the other to ground. If that lights up, then the problem is likely at the light fixture.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 4:37PM
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mike_kaiser_gw

Treefrog,

If your test light works hot to ground but not hot to neutral, that would indicate a problem with the neutral somewhere. If neither work, it would indicate a problem with the hot.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 5:18PM
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groundrod

Take normel's advice and change the bulb in the fixture. You probably have a switch loop, and with a bad bulb in the fixture it will not light your test bulb.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 9:48PM
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