• I removed a light switch/dimmer from the wall because the light was flickering
  • The wires in the wall were live and exposed
  • The wires in the wall accidentally touched each other, causing the circuit breaker to trip
  • After hooking the dimmer back up, it doesn't work at all
  • All other wires/outlets in the room still have power - including the fan which was connected to 2 of the same wires

Are the wires that touched now "dead" because they were short circuited?

What would it take to fix it so that the light switch has power again (for now I don't care if it flickers, I just want it to power on, period)?

Note: I will most likely call an electrician but I was hoping to get an idea of how big of a job this will be. e.g. will it require him to replace the entire wiring in the wall?

  • 1
    does the thing you switched still work with a different switch?
    – dandavis
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 12:17
  • @andrewtweber Any updates? Would be good to learn how this turned out for you. Good luck
    – cr0
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 17:07
  • 1
    @cr0 thanks for your concern :) I cut the tips off the wires and stripped them and now it’s working again. So either soot/dust or maybe they just weren’t tight enough
    – ferret
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 5:10

3 Answers 3


It might just be that when the wires shorted together and the breaker tripped, there is now some soot/debris on the conductors so they aren't making good contact to the switch terminals now. Clean the wire with some emery cloth / wire brush (WITH THE BREAKER OFF!) and try it again.

It's POSSIBLE that in making that short, you fried a wire deep in the wall, in which case it becomes a bigger job for an electrician.

  • Thanks! The wires did have a little black soot so I cut the tips off and stripped more and then rewired it and it’s working again
    – ferret
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 5:11

It is a very small job suited for DIY., If you don't have one a non contact voltage detector is a must and a volt meter is a good idea. first verify no breakers have tripped sometimes the wiring can be bizzare. If the breaker did not trip it probably fried the light switch. There should be power at the light switch verify with the meter or non contact tester, if power is there turn off the breaker and verify power is off, now replace the switch wire for wire, if it is a standard 2 wire switch just move the wires over in this case black/white don't later but if it has a bare copper wiry that goes on the green screw on the new switch. If there are 3 insulated current carying conductors we will need to figure out the common usually the black screw or 2 screws will be silver or brass in color and the other is the common the 2 that are the same color are travelers make sure to move wire from common to common and then the travelers over (sometimes they are labeled) turn the breaker back on and verify you fixed it. Edit, I missed the fact that the switch was out of circuit. With a short circuit at this point one of the points that feeds this box had a weak splice or connection that is daisy chained. It can be a hot or a neutral many times I find a back stab (push in connection that has failed) in a few cases a broken wire or loose wire. I would check all the outlets and switch locations looking for discolored or melted insulation, if you find either you are getting close. I focus on back stabs because many times this is where I find the problem, any melted or discolored insulation shows the high resistance point and even if secure (won't come out) this can be the root cause. Hope this edit helps.

  • Thanks but I don't understand how the light switch would be fried? It was completely removed and disconnected, and the wires from the wall were the ones that touched. But it sounds like a non contact voltage detector is a good starting point, I'll get that first
    – ferret
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 23:00
  • 1
    I thought the switch touched the wire, it may have taken out a splice up stream.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 0:06
  • 1
    I can see how that was unclear, sorry. Edited to make it more clear
    – ferret
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 1:01

I just had a similar thing when I shorted a light out during home renovations and painting. It wasn't the circuit breaker that broke, it was the GFCI switch that needed to be reset.

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