Hot answers tagged

60

It depends on the type of bulb. Regular incandescents won't consume any electricity if the bulb is dead, since there's no continuous path for the current to take. It's just like an open switch. With CFLs and LEDs, it depends on why the bulb burned out, but in general they will consume some amount of electricity even when burned out. Some CFLs may even ...


18

A "short" as you call it seems unlikely since that should cause the breaker to trip. As a next step, you should SHUT OFF THE BREAKER, and then check the switch since you already seem to believe that it may be bad. Yes, switches do go bad and so your belief is reasonable at this point. If you have a VOM (Volt-Ohm Meter) checking the switch is ...


17

This is what happens when you randomly tear stuff off the wall without taking pix first. I'm guessing you assume the wire colors are meaningful in some way; colors mean less than than you think, and less than nothing at all in 3-way circuits. That stinks, so get some yellow electrical tape; we need to make colors meaningful. Looking at the 3-way switch ...


17

That is a side clamp switch, and it's your friend. Unfortunately, whoever wired it didn't do a friendly thing. This image is a snippet from yours: Where that red arrow points is called a "backstab". It's quick and easy to install wires there, but, over time, the little piece of brass used as a spring clamp can wear out, leaving you with a loose ...


12

The cable with the white wire that's connected to the two black wires is a switch loop: Normally wires with white insulation are used only for neutrals, but code makes an exception to allow for use of the white wire in a cable used as a switch loop as a hot rather than a neutral. If you'll look closely in the drawing, the whites used as hots are wrapped ...


12

In addition to what FreeMan have said, the tip of the wires seem to be wrapped in electrical tape and have exposed wiring. You'll need to re-do these and make sure they are wrapped up after reconnecting to the switch.


11

Here's a quick diagram. Switch 1 in the first box has 3 wires, and so does switch 2. In this diagram sw1 is "up" and sw2 is "down" so no current flows left to right. Just join the "down" wire on sw2 (the one you don't want) with the wire that proceeds to the light (or from power), disconnect or remove the other "up" ...


11

The contacts in switches can definitely "weld" or stick in the closed position or the switch can just wear out so it doesn't separate the contacts. Turn off the power and examine the switch, just replace it anyway and see what happens. The bulb burning out could just be a fluke.


10

It is possible, as long as they use the same power (or resistance). However, it comes at a risk. If one of the bulbs uses less power (for whatever reason, maybe damaged/end of light ... see Ferrybig's remark below for a good reason), the other uses more, and will break (faster), so it's not a perfect solution. Because of P = V * I <=> 150 = 110 * I, I = ...


10

Someone ran out of white wire It appears the previous installers ran out of white wire to use for running neutrals, so they grabbed the spool of green wire off the back of the truck to keep the job going. As a result, you'll need to treat the green wires in your switch boxes as neutrals for the purposes of installing your smart switch. This is workable ...


9

Add some ground pigtails Take the existing bundle of bare (ground) wires, and add a couple pigtails of bare or green wire to the bundle, making sure the bundle is joined properly using a wirenut or push-in connector instead of just being twisted together. The other ends of the pigtails simply land on the green ground screws of the new dimmers.


9

So your existing fixture (assuming standard US wiring, you'll have to verify) has a hot (black), neutral (white), and ground (bare) and has constant power. The additional lights will need 4 wires - constant hot to travel to the switch (black), a neutral (white) and a switched power that will come back from the switch (red). The existing wire (assuming 14G ...


9

Why are light switches so often wired in the wrong order. For example, on a single board, the switch closest to the hallway is for the lounge while the switch closest to the lounge turns on the hallway light. Because money. Paying someone else less money to do a set amount of work is a way to increase profits. The electricians for tract (non custom) ...


8

No, that is not safe. The 23W CFL limit means that you should not use a bulb that uses more than 23W of power. A 30/50/150W 3-way will use more than that on its lowest setting. If you don't want to use a CFL, and I don't blame you, please consider an LED bulb. These generate even less heat than a CFL. Use the ACTUAL power rating, which is likely to be in ...


8

Call the power company and report an outage You lost one of your phases of power. This is almost always a problem at the power company's end of the wire. When you turn your oven on, it has the effect of connecting the dead phase to the still-live one. However this gives very weak power on the dead phase, and this won't hold. Go to your breaker panel and ...


8

From the link you posted: The dimmer is rated for up to 210W of halogens with or without transformer. So if you have 6x 20W 12V halogen bulbs, total 120W, it's okay. You should check the power on the bulbs to make sure they're not 50W halogen bulbs, in which case it would exceed the rated power of the dimmer, although 12V 50W are pretty rare. When your ...


7

That is a perfectly functional way of splitting a single hot (highlighted green in your sketch) to supply power to two separate switched fixtures. However, most smart switches require a neutral conductor in the switch box so there can be an always-on connection for the "smart" circuitry. It's hard to tell whether or not you have this because all of your ...


7

I found almost that exact same image behind a bathroom vanity light fixture that I took down to replace. Needless to say I was flabbergasted that such garbage workmanship would be hidden behind a fixture. You should look very closely at what is just behind the place where the romex cable is coming out one hole and reentering the wall cavity at the slot on ...


7

The decorative nut has been removed but there is still a small little nut that is holding the little escutcheon up against the glass. Use one hand to hold the glass and try to loosen the nut with your fingers, if you can not get it to move with your fingers try a pair of pliers gently.


7

Yes, they are giving you separate neutrals so you have the flexibility to put the fan and light on different circuits if you want to. Neutrals must be supplied from the same circuit as the hot; you can't return current from circuit 1 on the neutral from circuit 2, or it causes a number of problems and safety threats. In an application like yours, feel ...


7

The details of this answer assume you are in North America. If you are elsewhere, you should add that information to your question. Assuming you are correct in the wiring, then no, it is neither legal nor safe currently, though if the wiring is old enough, it may have been "normal" at the time. The problem is that the switch is interrupting the ...


7

It's not normal, and you probably have loose connections somewhere. As usual in my experience, "Home insurance" looks like a scam that does not solve anything. Send incompetent who sees nothing wrong, laugh all the way to the bank. Won't pay for a competent serviceman, they have their own special people who are selectively blind. If (as Jack asks ...


7

Your initial response is correct that the switch is faulty and should be replaced. When you mentioned that it is an old switch this gives more credence to the claim to replace it. The one issue to check is that the bulbs are not CFL's (fluorescent) or that the bulb is set tight in the base. If not, either might cause intermittent problems. Change the CFL ...


6

The bloke at the big-box store is out of his mind. Having multiple GFCIs fed from the same feed is not a problem whatsoever -- it's something that's done all the time (just imagine a panel loaded with GFCI breakers). Furthermore, the requirements for fixtures in 410.10(D) only hold for a zone that extends 3' beyond the edge of the tub or shower stall and 8'...


6

The fact that the white is with the blacks is very important. Most of what you need to know is in the positions of the existing wires; don't be in a hurry to tear it all apart, or you lose that critical info. Color-coding is not by wire function, it's how cables are made. That white has been reversed to be a hot. This is because it's in a switch loop, ...


6

Generally speaking, you don't want to have a fan/light - or more specifically, a light - on GFCI because if the GFCI trips due to something else on the circuit then you are in the dark. As I understand it (I am not an electrician, but I have seen other questions on this topic and I heard this from my own electrician years ago when he installed heat/fan/light ...


6

As you know, "green = ground" and "white = neutral". As you probably also know, ground and neutral should only be connected in one place (main panel) and not in individual switches or other devices. So that means one of two things: Broken Neutral This is the classic situation. A neutral breaks. Instead of running a new neutral wire or a new cable, someone ...


6

They stopped making that type of switch some time in the 1940s I believe. I personally would not replace it with something found on auction sites or antique sellers unless there was some good reason to maintain period authenticity, i.e. a museum display. Otherwise, anything you can buy is going to be just as old and prone to failure. Just replace it with a ...


6

This is "you getting discouraged" after the first try I get it, repairs are frustrating, meeting repairpeople is a disruption to your day, claims are intimidating; they're designed to be, to deter frivolous claims. But you have to do them. It is the nature of intermittent problems that iteration is required to fix them. Because the problem is ...


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