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Question DetailsAsked on 10/24/2014

hall ceiling and kitchen lights don't work -- replaced bulbs in both. May need new switches?

Replaced bulb in ceiling fixture -- flipped switch and light came on - proceeded to put fixture back on and then flipped switch -- light doesn't come on. Kitchen overhead light (48" bulbs) quit working. Replaced 2 bulbs but it still doesn't work. Could it be a switch problem here??

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Presumably hall and kitchen are on different switches, so highly unlikely a switch problem if on 2 different switches. Most likely in the process of changing the bulb you wiggled the fixture enough that a wire came loose, and you have lost circuit continuity. If wired properly, possibly the incoming live wire leading to the hall fixture came loose, which also interrupted power from there to the kitchen lights. Could also be the neutral (return) wire got disturbed, especially if fixture was taken loose from the ceiling or wall as your question implies, so the hall and kitchen lights now have no return path for the electricity to flow through. If you took the hall fixture off the ceiling, a loose wire at one of the connections on the fixture or, if more commonly wired with pigtails from the wires in the box to the fixture, then in the wire nuts joining wire end together a wire came loose and is not making contact. Remember the black (or possibly red) wires will be live (or white if circuit is incorrectly wired), so before doing a DIY on that be sure the breaker is off - wall switch will NOT turn off all the live wires in the box. Turn off BEFORE touching fixture, because if the live wire came loose and is touching the fixture and the fixture is ungrounded, the entire fixture could now be "live" all the time - particularly if the mounting box is plastic rather than metal - another one of UL and code writer dumb moves to downgrade safety to give manufacturers a few pennies cheaper products.
Another possibility - bulb was defective and failed almost immediately (I have seen this in Sylvania CFL bulbs before I quit getting them earlier this year) or in the process of putting the bulb in a short developed in the fixture so the breaker tripped, taking out all fixtures (and any wall outlets) on that circuit. For instance, if a standard edison type screw base, a rough solder blob on the end of the bulb can hook the center spring tab in the socket, twisting it so it makes contact with the metal inner surface of the fixture or the outer thread of the bulb, shorting out and tripping the breaker. Another less likely possibility, if wiring was done wrong - if hall and kitchen fixtures are on same circuit and the live wiring runs into the fixture, through the bulb ONLY, then on to the kitchen (or vice versa), then if the bulb goes out so does everything else on that circuit. That would mean the wiring (if using correct wire colors) would be black wire both in and out of the fixture (not counting any ground or separate neutral connections) AND the bypass jumper (usually a brass strip between rivets in the base of the fixture) in the light fixture that keeps power going past the fixture if the bulb goes dead was cut or broken. Very rarely done, but does appear in a few very old houses where higher-voltage european bulbs were run in series for very long life. All modern wiring runs black in, white out from all fixtures - plus hopefully a ground connection direct to fixture. One last possibility that comes to mind, if you took the fixture down entirely and removed wires - when you put it back up you swapped the wires - the light would have come on for a brief second when you flipped the switch then (hopefully) tripped the breaker if the fixture is grounded, then the circuit would not have worked from then on. Well, that's all the scenarios I can think of other than a very small UFO hovering over your house so only those particular lights went out, instead of a total power failure in your area. If not up to handling this yourself, then an electrician is what you need - minimum trip charge of probably about $75-150 ($125 range is common these days) except up to $250-300 in a few very high cost cities should cover it. Highly unlikely to be any parts cost unless breaker is old and fails to reset properly - then $25-200 depending on age of breaker and availablility - usually $50 or less except for a few very out of production and brands.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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