No power to switch and outlet after replacement attempt

finn21July 1, 2011


I have a stacked light switch that controls a back porch light and some landscape lights. They are on different circuits. I wanted to find a new switch that would allow me to dim the back porch light on occasion. Thought I found a Lutron switch that would allow me to do this, but it only had three locations for wires, while I had four (two black, two white) to find homes for. I asked an electrician and he thought I could use one black wire to power both switches and then cap the other. (Perhaps he didn't understand my situation - I'm not sure.) I came home and tried that and my first attempt caused both circuit breakers to trip. I wasn't confident trying much more so I disconnected the new switch and went back to the old switch, wiring it just like it had been.

Now, my outlet (GFCI) for the landscape lights isn't working. I tested the GFCI, which had not tripped, but it will not reset. I tried a replacement GFCI and it also will not reset. Thus, I'm guessing the outlet isn't getting power. The porch light works fine. A second outlet on the landscape light circuit works fine as well. I pulled the outlet box for the stacked light switch and everything looks good back there. So, I can't figure out what went wrong. Any ideas out there?

Thanks so much,


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Look for another GFCI on that same circuit.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 2:05PM
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Where? The other GFCI outlet on that circuit works fine. (One that doesn't run through the switch.)

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 2:25PM
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Your last message implies that part of the circuit that isn't working runs through a switch. Perhaps the switch has been destroyed or improperly wired?

Do you have a meter or a tester to check the voltage across the switch?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 9:12PM
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okay so your basic switch layout is going to involve two black and two white wires. you join the white wires and the black (hot) wires attach to the switch. what the switch does is break the flow of current going through the hot wires.

i am a little troubled by terms like "...power the switches" because switches aren't really powered, they are what break current.

i am unclear on where you are getting these wires from. please provide a new description of what you're working with.

this stuff isn't hard, but it does take some background to know what does what and also appreciation that you could kill yourself.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 10:05AM
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stacked light switch
They are on different circuits.
while I had four (two black, two white)

All I can think of is that you have two switch loops, the white should be painted black if this is so.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 1:07PM
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