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Coytee

Electrical Gremlins....

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Setup:  Have an outdoor flood that's been unattached.  (we took fixture down to *****/stain the house and when it came time to put it up.....the scaffolding was still there however, I had recently broken my arm so I was unable to lift it high enough to fix).

 

Oh yeah....  this would be 2 1/2 stories high.

 

Scaffolding is now gone BUT, had the long ladder out so thought I'd put the fixture back up.  

 

Yeah, stupid me...  thought the lights were out when I took the wire nuts off (I put a nut on each wire to cover it) and when I took them off, I touched them and BZZZZZZT got a nano-second of a spark.  Small but enough to say "hey stupid....  I've got teeth"

 

Oops.

 

Got down the ladder, turned switch off.  Proceeded to put fixture up.  It's a terminal location so I only have the black/white & ground to contend with.  It is also on a 3-way switch and when you hit the switch, THREE different fixtures come in, illuminating the perimeter of the house.

 

Fixture has been dead since.

 

Breakers are good.  All the OTHER lights on the same switches work....but I now, get ZERO power to this light.  I've gone to both other fixtures to check wires (with power off) and everything is intact.  They turn on with the switch but this one is dead.

 

I took it back down, took (new) bulbs out of it and tested them in a working light.....bulbs are good.

Took my DVM to check for continuitity of the wires, all checked out fine.

The wires that sparked earlier are now dead and from what I recall being upstream of them, all that stuff works.

 

I'm scratching my head.

 

I do however have an outdoor outlet (GFCI) that needs replaced......surely they wouldn't link the outlet in with the lights??

 

(going to swap outlet out next to see if fixing it, fixes this)

 

Any thoughts??

 

 

 

 

 

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42 minutes ago, Coytee said:

surely they wouldn't link the outlet in with the lights??

Absolutely possible! I bet this is what has happened.

 

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45 minutes ago, Coytee said:

Setup:  Have an outdoor flood that's been unattached.  (we took fixture down to *****/stain the house and when it came time to put it up.....the scaffolding was still there however, I had recently broken my arm so I was unable to lift it high enough to fix).

 

Oh yeah....  this would be 2 1/2 stories high.

 

Scaffolding is now gone BUT, had the long ladder out so thought I'd put the fixture back up.  

 

Yeah, stupid me...  thought the lights were out when I took the wire nuts off (I put a nut on each wire to cover it) and when I took them off, I touched them and BZZZZZZT got a nano-second of a spark.  Small but enough to say "hey stupid....  I've got teeth"

 

Oops.

 

Got down the ladder, turned switch off.  Proceeded to put fixture up.  It's a terminal location so I only have the black/white & ground to contend with.  It is also on a 3-way switch and when you hit the switch, THREE different fixtures come in, illuminating the perimeter of the house.

 

Fixture has been dead since.

 

Breakers are good.  All the OTHER lights on the same switches work....but I now, get ZERO power to this light.  I've gone to both other fixtures to check wires (with power off) and everything is intact.  They turn on with the switch but this one is dead.

 

I took it back down, took (new) bulbs out of it and tested them in a working light.....bulbs are good.

Took my DVM to check for continuitity of the wires, all checked out fine.

The wires that sparked earlier are now dead and from what I recall being upstream of them, all that stuff works.

 

I'm scratching my head.

 

I do however have an outdoor outlet (GFCI) that needs replaced......surely they wouldn't link the outlet in with the lights??

 

(going to swap outlet out next to see if fixing it, fixes this)

 

Any thoughts??

 

 

 

 

 

 

One answer is they paralleled your broken light with one of the other three way lights so your dead wires did not break the three way circuit they just broke your broken light. One of your other lights that are working has some extra wires on it. And yes, there may be a ground fault involved but there should not be with only one of the three lights.

JJK

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So, I've taken the other flood lights out & checked the wires, they're all ok.

 

I pulled the nearby (also dead) outlet out...  replaced it with a new GFCI (it's outdoors)

 

The outlet is never (ever) used but the wife tells me it's been dead for months.  New outlet, it's STILL dead.

 

I would have thought they would have pulled the wire from the nearest outlet inside the house (about six inches away) but they didn't.

 

Told the wife we need to get her brother (electrician) out here.  I think he's got some pinging tools to help ascertain what wires are on the same circuit.

 

I'm getting totally baffled.

 

One outlet, "end of the line" and is dead.

One outdoor floodlight, "end of the line" and is also dead BUT, gave a spark earlier.  So working backwards where would it have failed...  breakers are ok.  All the nearby GFCI outlets are ok.

 

This was added onto the house (added a couple rooms and at same time, added these outdoor lights) so I know the existing wires should be ok as they went through the logs.  This has to be related/connected with the addition wires.

 

 

 

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Sounds like your 3-way switch is not wired correctly or, properly speaking, the 3 lights that are supposedly connected in parallel with the 3 way switch are correctly wired. (it makes no sense to design that as a series circuit so if one light failed, they all would fail)

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I called it a day yesterday....  been eyeballing the switches.

 

What I don't get is when I first did it, I didn't realize the lights were on (oops) and touched the wires.  They HAD power until then.  

 

Now, it is dead but the others work.

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1 hour ago, Coytee said:

I called it a day yesterday....  been eyeballing the switches.

 

What I don't get is when I first did it, I didn't realize the lights were on (oops) and touched the wires.  They HAD power until then.  

 

Now, it is dead but the others work.

All it takes is ONE "Not Plugged In" error and it's all OFF!

And with computerized cutoffs/disconnect, it all gets a LOT WORSE! 😞 Tracing and remedying the circuit problem becomes VERY HARD and is usually in the Computer!

Bypass all computers and high tech and see if you can get 'juice' that way! :-)

John Kuthe...

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15 hours ago, Coytee said:

I pulled the nearby (also dead) outlet out...  replaced it with a new GFCI (it's outdoors)

Are you sure that you got the line and load wires in the correct location on the plug?

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Yep....  

 

I've not looked at any of the switches yet.  What I don't get is....why do all other lights work and this one (now) doesn't....but did when I first crossed the wire.

 

I checked all breakers.  I FLIPPED all breakers off/on when I had the house power off....  I've hit all the local GFCI resets just in case they used power from an outlet for the lights (I wouldn't put anything past the guy that did our addition after I saw some of the stunts he tried to pull).

 

I know it will be obvious once I find (what is probably) the loose connection.....  it's just way too much fun trying to find it!!

 

 

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Your entertainment is what it is all about!

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18 minutes ago, oldtimer said:

Your entertainment is what it is all about!

 

=== no doubt. Nothing quite as entertaining like playing with “blue fire” — especially on a tall, metal ladder —💡🧯🚧🔥🧐

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No matter what position the 3 way switches are in the new GFCI outlet has no power on the line input side?

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A hot wire goes to the first 3-way switch, then two traveler wires leave the first switch and go directly to the second 3-way switch. leaving the second switch is the switched hot which goes to the light fixtures. The neutral and ground does not have to pass thru the switch but it may be in the same bundle of wiring.

 

If you touched a hot and the neutral wire together it is usually a decent sized spark and the circuit breaker/fuse should have opened.

 

Is this wiring in romex or individual wires in conduit?

 

The two traveler wires should be marked in some fashion especially if it is romex as the same wire colors are used.

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1 hour ago, Davis said:

Is this wiring in romex or individual wires in conduit?

 

He IS out in the country in Tennessee, so there's no telling. Like I should talk... I live in Georgia. 🙄

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Sorry, I have to think of this in car terms.  Normally when something doesn't work you've lost either 12v or ground.  In your case you've lost either hot or common.  Have you isolated which wire you've lost?

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I just wish I could have seen his face the first time he touched it and it was hot. :huh:

 

Sorry can't help it.

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4 hours ago, Davis said:

A hot wire goes to the first 3-way switch, then two traveler wires leave the first switch and go directly to the second 3-way switch. leaving the second switch is the switched hot which goes to the light fixtures. The neutral and ground does not have to pass thru the switch but it may be in the same bundle of wiring.

 

If you touched a hot and the neutral wire together it is usually a decent sized spark and the circuit breaker/fuse should have opened.

 

Is this wiring in romex or individual wires in conduit?

 

The two traveler wires should be marked in some fashion especially if it is romex as the same wire colors are used.

This is (as I recall) 14-2 WG romex.  They DID touch, it did spark but, not huge (it was a short touch  and not a strong contact....was still enough to get my attention)

 

Checked fuses, all working  properly.  Besides, if it blew the fuse, then the entire light string should be out, no?

 

Probably this weekend, I'll dig into the switches to see what that shows.  Then, I'll try to get my brother in law here (electrician).  I just hate dumping that on him.  Wife won't let me call someone else

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1 hour ago, dtel said:

I just wish I could have seen his face the first time he touched it and it was hot. :huh:

 

Sorry can't help it.

 

Handsome as ever.....  (sorry, can't help it) :P

5 hours ago, oldtimer said:

Your entertainment is what it is all about!

 

I am willing to hang on a ladder, 2 stories up, dealing with naked electricity to keep you entertained.  Heck, just moving the ladder is entertaining.  It's a 24' fiberglass and is a pain to carry.

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Are you sure that there are no other breakers?  If 2 wires touch even for a split second they'll pop a breaker.   If I understand that you never saw a popped breaker it makes me think that there is one somewhere else like a secondary panel.

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