I replaced a dimmer switch bc it was buzzing at the switch. I got the new dimmer switch to work but I no longer have power to my outlets and other light switches in the same circuit.

Some background the new dimmer switch was installed with recessed lighting. Before their was a ceiling fan with a fan only no light kit. It was operating off of one switch in a two gang box since no light was hooked up the other switch was inactive

I have two unmarked white wires that show power that I have since marked. I think they are switch loop enter image description hereenter image description here

  • 1
    Can you post pictures of how it was before disconnecting everything?
    – JACK
    Sep 12, 2021 at 13:47
  • Half the problem - I had a handyman put in the recessed lighting when I heard the dimmer buzzing I got a new one with more wattage. I didn’t pay attention when taking apart and I took off the other switch to put a blank insert. I know better now but too late for this one Sep 12, 2021 at 13:57
  • Is there no box at the ceiling ? Guessing at this point could cause a lot of problems, sure there could be a switch leg but there needs to be a conductor to close the circuit, i would want to test the conductors with a volt meter to verify what is hot and what is not. A mis-wire with push in connectors can cause problems in other locations.
    – Ed Beal
    Sep 12, 2021 at 17:28
  • Just because they show power doesn't mean they aren't neutrals. "showing power on white" is only an indication if the circuit is totally compete and works properly. If you are measuring those white wires with the circuit in a broken or disassembled state, it's normal to see real neutral wires have a hot indication. Marking white wires merely because they show a hot indication mid-crisis is actually adding mis-information to the picture. We need to know what if any white wires were marked before. Sep 12, 2021 at 21:27
  • 1
    At this point you need to get a licensed electrician in, because your current lack of knowledge can lead to accidentally doing something dangerous. Sep 13, 2021 at 16:22

1 Answer 1


Sorry, you're beyond the "point of no return".

It's time to bring in a professional.

I've been helping people through electrical problems for years. But sometimes there reaches a point where just too much hands-on LIVE testing and troubleshooting will be needed to even understand what we're looking at... and the person doing that testing needs to have the knowledge to do that both safely and effectively.

So you need that person. The only way to become that person is spend a couple weeks of evenings with your nose in good books about electrical.

Post-mortem: where did this go wrong?

The first is the word "extra". Electricians are cheap. There are no "extra" wires in junction boxes*. Every wire in there already has a job to do. Commonly people will see 4 wires spliced together with a wire nut, and the instructions say they need to attach to that, so they'll attach to 1 of the wires and leave the other 3 dangle. As you now know, that breaks other stuff.

The other common mistake is expecting there to be some sort of "color coding" inside boxes. There really isn't - the only colors are the stock colors that cables are sold in: black-white, or black-white-red. If neutral is present in a cable, it'll be white, but other than that, nothing at all can be relied on.

In fact, the ONLY configuration data is how the last electrician left it. A novice hastily taking things apart inadvertently destroys that information. The only way to reconstruct it is by the experienced testing and troubleshooting I mentioned at the top.

So yeah, this is "call a pro".

* except for the NEC 2011 requirement to bring neutrals to switches that don't need them, to support future smart switches.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.