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Question relating to electrical light dimmer switch

Posted by laurie_2008 (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 3, 11 at 10:18

I replaced an on/off light switch using a "dimmer light switch" in a guest bedroom on the second floor of a townhouse. After the replacement of the "dimmer switch" the lights above the showers in the guest bath and the master bath won�t turn on anymore. The guest bath and master bath DO NOT share a common wall with each other or with the replaced "dimmer switch". In fact the guest bath is across a hall way and the master bath is even further away. The dimmer switch works as advertised and all other lights and outlets work fine in both baths. Could both shower light problems be related to the dimmer switch installation?

The dwelling is a 5 year old town house in Southern California. Before installing the dimmer switch I attempted to make sense of the poor labeling in the circuit breaker box so I could turn off only the specific circuit breaker to the wall plate I was working on. The wall plate contains three switches in a guest bedroom. The dimmer switch replaced one of three switches behind a wall plate that contains the three original on/off switches (1) light switch controlling four ceiling spot lights, (2) ceiling fan, (3) wall outlet. Unable to isolate the specific circuit breaker that controls this guest bedroom wall plate, I decided to play it safe and turn off all breakers and the master before performing the dimmer installation. I removed three wires from the original on/off switch and successfully installed the dimmer using the same three wires with the green copper wire installed to the green ground connection of the new dimmer switch. I securely attached all three wires but I had to "press" the dimmer switch into the small available space behind the wall plate since the new switch was thicker than the original on/off switch.

I�ve tried turning the individual beakers on and off and testing the shower lights to no avail. Could the dimmer switch replacement in an entirely different room without a common wall cause two shower lights to fail?
Any suggestions?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Question relating to electrical light dimmer switch

Lighting fixtures in the shower are often required to be GFCI protected. Look for a GFCI breaker (it will have a test button) and turn it off and on again or a GFCI receptacle (it doesn't need to be in the same bathroom) with a reset button on it.

After checking that, yes it's quite possible you can screw up something installing a switch that makes other outlets on the same fixture not work. Single light switches don't usually have "three" wires on them unless you count the ground. Sounds like maybe someone wired a through connection using the switch terminals?


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RE: Question relating to electrical light dimmer switch

ronnatalie - Thank you for responding!

I'll look for a GFCI breaker in each of the baths and push the test button in hopes of resetting it. Previously I located only one breaker with a reset button (labeled "BED") in the breaker box located in the master bedroom and I reset it a few times but it didn't resolve the shower light problem. Shouldn't the GFCI reset be located in the bathrooms near the shower light on/off switch?

When I referred to three wires to the dimmer switch I included the ground wire in the count. There were two wires plus the green copper ground wire for a total of three.

In the breaker box, the sloppily labeled printing using a wide tip magic marker is difficult to read and several acronems exist. Some I understand but others are hard to interpret or even read such as:

"R. PLUGS"

"F.A.U."

"G.D.S.P."

"E ELE"

"M. BATH GFI"

"J.W.A.I.W." ???

"TV - HUB"

"CAR"

P.S. This electrical situation exists in my daughter's home. It might be a couple days until I can get back there to work on this.


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RE: Question relating to electrical light dimmer switch

The one marked BED with the reset button is probably an ArcFault. At 5 years ago, you're property is most likely in the one where only the bedroom outlets were required to have them.

There most definitely needs to be an GFCI somewhere serving the bathroom. The bathroom circuit rules say you either have to have one circuit dedicated to the a single bathroom (lights, receptacles) or you can share the receptacle circuit among several bathrooms provide that nothing else is on them (lights, etc...).

Sounds like M Bath GFI would be the one for the master bath.

I should point out that you are most likely breaking the law by doing this work.


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RE: Question relating to electrical light dimmer switch

"I should point out that you are most likely breaking the law by doing this work. "

Townhouses are not normally treated like apartment buildings.

If the OP is the actual owner they can work in their own residence in most states.


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RE: Question relating to electrical light dimmer switch

He's not the owner, it's the poster's daughter's house.
The exemption for homeowners doing DIY work often excludes townhouses, condos and other multiunit structures.


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RE: Question relating to electrical light dimmer switch

"He's not the owner, it's the poster's daughter's house.
The exemption for homeowners doing DIY work often excludes townhouses, condos and other multiunit structures.

Wow\..

His daughters house.

That would be a real reach.

Townhouses are normally single family houses and NOT treated the same as multi-family.


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RE: Question relating to electrical light dimmer switch

The main point involved is that insurance companies are always looking for some other responsible party who is not insured by them to share their burdens. One way around this is for anyone "helping out" to let the insured party complete the final hookup steps after familiarizing themselves with the project.
The other point is that voltage proximity detectors and simple analogue volt-ohm meters for 120v wiring work are dirt cheap and no one should get into such projects before they have a working knowledge of both. Then write down the voltages present when the work starts to be able to confirm later that there are no mistakes when done.


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