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Thread: What did I do wrong?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member alt's Avatar
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    Default What did I do wrong?

    My spouse and I are in the process of fixing up our 1952 ranch home, and we've encountered an electrical problem (that we probably caused

    We replaced the old exterior lights on both the front and back porch with new motion-sensor fixtures. We turned off the power at the correct breaker, and replaced the back porch fixture first. When we turned the power back on, it worked beautifully. So we flipped off the breaker again (they are connected to the same one) we proceeded with the front porch fixture. After it was finished, we once again turned on the breaker, only this time it did not work. Not only that, but ALL the light fixtures that are tied in to this breaker were not working (there are 4... front and back porch, plus hall and stairway light inside).

    We thought perhaps we had wired the front porch fixture incorrectly, so we undid everything, flipped the breaker off and back on again, and still none of the lights will work.

    If you haven't guessed, we are complete novices and don't know much about electrical work. But we did everything according to instructions, so we're a bit flummoxed. Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Are the lights on a 3-way circuit (can you turn them on or off from more than one location)? That type of light requires hot, neutral, and ground to be 'fixed' in location (on many of them anyways). When on a 3-way circuit, the hot and neutral can switch if I've got that right. You might get it to work if you flip one switch, then use the other one.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member alt's Avatar
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    Hi Jim, thanks for the reply.

    No, all of the lights tied to that circuit are operated by a single switch.

  4. #4
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    In the outside light fixture box how many wires of each color are present?

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member alt's Avatar
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    One black and one white.

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    Computer Programmer Bill Arden's Avatar
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    Some of the motion sensor lights have a "feature" where you can toggle the switch and lock them in a on or off position.

    My lights have a problem where they get stuck and I have to leave the switch off for 10 minutes to reset them.

    Edit: also wait for night since some of these lights have daylight sensors.
    Last edited by Bill Arden; 03-07-2008 at 10:48 AM.
    Important note Ė I donít know man made laws, just laws of physics
    Disclaimer: I'm a big fan of Darwin awards.

  7. #7
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    I have one that allows you to lock it on by flipping the switch from off to on twice within the first three seconds...read the operator manual to see if any of the modes might sync and make some sense.

    You really need a multimeter. You can often pick up an inexpensive one for less than $20 if you look around. They're often on sale for even less. An inductive test light can tell you if power is being applied, but may not be enough. Those are even less expensive.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  8. #8

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    Could even be that the breaker went bad. Did the front light have more than one white and one black?
    Last edited by PEW; 03-07-2008 at 12:55 PM.

  9. #9
    DIY Junior Member alt's Avatar
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    Yes, I don't think it is the new fixture itself, because now none of the lights on that circuit will work, even with the new fixture removed.

    PEW, how can I tell if the breaker went bad?
    I'm pretty sure there is just one white and one black, but I will double-check when I get home tonight.

    I will look into getting a multimeter. Sounds like a useful thing to have around at any rate.

  10. #10
    DIY Senior Member mikept's Avatar
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    are all the bulbs still good?

  11. #11
    DIY Junior Member alt's Avatar
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    Unless something happened to all three of the other light fixtures at the same time to blow out the bulbs (which are new), then they should be fine. I'll check them as well when I get home this evening.
    Last edited by alt; 03-07-2008 at 03:18 PM.

  12. #12

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    Turn the breaker off and on a couple times. Make sure it "feels right". Old breakers can kind of get stuck. Sometimes they don't want to come back on.

  13. #13
    DIY Junior Member alt's Avatar
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    Hm. The breaker seems to be working smoothly.

    We're stumped. I guess it's time to call in a pro.

  14. #14

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    Just because it "feels" good, does not mean it is good. If you are not comfortable using some kind of volt meter, or other tester, your best bet is an electrician. Let us know the outcome.

  15. #15
    DIY Junior Member alt's Avatar
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    Thanks, I will. Any recommendations for an electrician in Salt Lake City, UT?

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