I tried to replace a dimmer switch with no neutral wire with a new one with no neutral wire. The green wire touched the main plate and shorted out. Now none of the two other switches in the 3 switch box work. Nor a switch across the room. The circuit breaker works because other electric switches in the breaker still work. I tried putting back the old switch. Looks like no power to the wires. I even used a test light...the two black wires don't seem to have any power. Could I have shorted out another switch in the box so that power is being interrupted?

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    Are there any GFCI outlets that might have tripped that feed these switches?
    – JACK
    Nov 27, 2022 at 23:02
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    Are you sure the other switches are on the same circuit breaker? Check all of your circuit breakers, one is probably tripped.
    – crip659
    Nov 27, 2022 at 23:04
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    The green wire should be grounded as should the cover plate. If these touching caused a short, something is wired very wrong! Call an electrician!
    – DoxyLover
    Nov 28, 2022 at 0:19
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    Whereabouts in the world are you? in the USA a green wire is supposed to be a ground wire, so if something goes bang when it touches the plate you have a fault somewhere. Nov 28, 2022 at 15:48
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    What is the "main plate"? Pictures would help. You can click "Edit" on your question and copy/paste or attach pictures. Make them well lit, in focus, and clearly showing the wires and the inside of the junction box. Describe which wire (in your pictures) touched which part. Describe how the old switch was connected and how you connected your new one. It is possible that aside from creating a temporary short, you also have made a wiring mistake.
    – jay613
    Nov 28, 2022 at 17:37

2 Answers 2


You need to turn the breaker for the circuit completely off then back on to reset the breaker to be closed. Do that after you are sure there are no loose wires to cause a short again. If the resetting of the breaker does not work, the circuit is probably protected by a GFI outlet that has opened. That GFI will have to be reset as well.

  • It's also possible here that the a) the GFCI opened because there's a fault in the lines or fixtures or devices downstream of the GFCI, and/or b) the GFCI has failed and must itself be replaced. Nov 28, 2022 at 18:48

Like RMDman said, if it's not the breaker, it might be a GFI/GFCI that could have tripped. I had the same issue a while ago and found a "dead front" GFCI in a closet I had to reset.

Bathroom lights went out, but breaker isn't tripped

Also, more recently, I replaced a couple of outlets (on the same outdoor circuit) that lost power after I worked on them. I had to get an electrician to find the issue, and they found a GFCI outlet that refused to reset. After replacing it, the circuit worked again.

As a side note, I didn't remember this outlet existing because it was behind some shelving in the garage. They had to trace the wiring with a tone generator to locate it. Also, it doesn't really make sense to me that an outdoor outlet was on the same circuit as an outlet in the garage, but I'm also not an electrician.

I'm not saying GFI/GFCI are bad or anything, just that they might be the culprit in more ways than one. Also, look everywhere for for these things. They might be in a weird or illogical place.

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    an outdoor outlet was on the same circuit as an outlet in the garage Actually, that makes perfect sense. A GFCI inside (even in a garage) is protected from wind, snow and rain, and will therefore likely last far longer than one placed outside. There is actually nothing wrong with putting an outside receptacle on the same circuit as a bedroom or living room receptacle (just can't share with kitchen or bathroom because those rooms require dedicated circuits), and a garage also makes sense because current code requires GFCI for the garage too. Nov 28, 2022 at 16:59
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    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact, this outdoor circuit was also shared by the water heater and water softener, which I didn't mention. And there's a separate circuit in the garage that has the garage door and sprinkler system on it, with no other outlets in the garage. Does that still make sense? I hope it does to you, because it doesn't to me. I'm not arguing with you, I just hope you can explain it. Maybe I should ask a separate question about that. Nov 28, 2022 at 17:12
  • GFCI at outlets seems weird, looking from the perspective of the area I live in. We usually have "GFCI breaker" in our breaker box. One per household or per area. And no need to track anything, you always know exactly where it is when it trips.
    – Mołot
    Nov 28, 2022 at 22:15

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