Author Topic: Do I need an electrician?  (Read 1413 times)

intellectsucks

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Do I need an electrician?
« on: December 05, 2017, 01:20:28 PM »
Here is a rudimentary sketch of the light switches in a switch box at my new house. The switches have not worked since we moved in two months ago. The dimmer switch definitely connects to a ceiling fan with a light fixture (playing with the dimmer would cause the light to flicker).
I'm also hoping that one of the switches works for a fluorescent fixture in the kitchen. A voltage tester shows that the toggle switch has power, but the dimmer switch does not. The fluorescent fixture also has no power.
My questions:
How do I find out where those cables lead?
If the problem with the fluorescent fixture is not related to this switch, how do I diagnose it?

Also, please keep in mind that my electrical experience is very limited. So far the only electrical work I've done has been to replace a toggle switch and replace standard 3prong outlets with GFCI.

Thanks in advance for your help!!

Update: more investigation reveals that the toggle switch works a light outside, the non-working fluorescent was controlled by a different switch down a hallway. The cable going to the dimmer switch has no power, which is driving me crazy. Hope this update added useful info.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2017, 09:19:48 PM by intellectsucks »

jpdx

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Re: Do I need an electrician?
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2017, 09:04:14 PM »
In light of your update, I am not clear...do you still have a question or are you all set?

intellectsucks

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Re: Do I need an electrician?
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2017, 09:17:44 AM »
Sorry for the confusion. Yes still need some help. Though the fluorescent was the first priority, but I still want to get the ceiling fan which is connected to the dimmer switch working. Now I'm trying to figure out how to tell if the problem is a bad switch or bad wiring.


TexasRunner

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Re: Do I need an electrician?
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2017, 09:56:59 AM »
Sorry for the confusion. Yes still need some help. Though the fluorescent was the first priority, but I still want to get the ceiling fan which is connected to the dimmer switch working. Now I'm trying to figure out how to tell if the problem is a bad switch or bad wiring.

I'm 90% sure that with what you described the dimmer will be the problem considering you do have some amount of electricity (I think, may be misreading your posts...).  How confident are you in pulling it from the wall for a look?  (Turn off the breaker first!!!).  Typically, older dimmer switches that are expanded contacts and exposed (no enclosure on the back) will get dirty/dusty and lead to issues.  Most electricians would tell you to switch to a protected switch.

FYI, not an electrician.

Some things:

(1) post pictures if you can
(2) when you say 'flicker', what do you mean?
(3) how old is the house?  Any re-wiring or additions done?

There is a very useful set of tools called circuit breaker finders that you can use to track the line from the breaker box, into the attic, to the switch.  Considering getting one as (like a voltage meter) they are EXTREMELY useful and basically last forever.

jpdx

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Re: Do I need an electrician?
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2017, 09:23:03 PM »
I think we're all less than 100% clear on the problem you need help with. Are you saying the light attached to the ceiling fan is flickering, and you want to find out why? Also, what do you mean by "The cable going to the dimmer switch has no power"?

Assuming you are trying to diagnose the flickering, first make sure there is an incandescent bulb in there for testing purposes. A LED or CFL may flicker with the dimmer. If that doesn't fix it, kill the breaker to this circuit and remove the dimmer switch from the wall. Check the wire nuts for loose connections (sometimes solid wire connected to stranded can cause a loose connection). If that doesn't fix it, replace with a new switch.

soccerluvof4

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Re: Do I need an electrician?
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2017, 04:18:54 AM »
Another question I would have is do you have access to the wiring in the ceiling via attic etc.. and how far is the run from the switchess to the fixtures?

Jessica J. Babbitt

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Re: Do I need an electrician?
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2017, 10:55:54 AM »
It's always good to hire an expert when doing this type of work. This way you can also learn things since you have some knowledge already.

accolay

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Re: Do I need an electrician?
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2017, 01:53:13 AM »
You could find where the cables go using a "fox and hound." It's a tone generator you put on the exposed cable, then a inductive pickup with speaker that will make the tone when you get close to the wire in question, wherever it is. Probably $75-$150 range for the tool.