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My upstairs lights are not all working

I have 6 ceiling lights upstairs. The other day the landing light stopped working and I found two bedroom lights also won't switch on. I have checked all the switches and light fittings and they are OK. All the 6 upstairs lights are on one fuse, so it is strange that 3 workand the other 3 lights don't. My neon screwdriver shows there is power to all six lights. I have visually inspected all the cables in the loft, though I can't get at some.. Surprisingly, without touching anything the three lights started working a day later and stopped again after 30 minutes. This has happened twice. The house was built in 1970, but the thought and cost of rewiring is not an option.

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You have an intermittant connection. This can be anywhere in the circuit - including white neutrals. It can be hard to find because it is intermittant. You may have luck tapping on or around switches, fixtures and outlets to narrow down the location of the intermittant.

You checked the connections - or did you tighten the connections? There's a difference! Every building is subject to vibration. Over time, this vibration can cause connections and wirenuts to loosen. If the wires in the wirenuts were not pretwisted before the wirenut was placed - there may be some intemittant connections going on inside the wirenuts.

Check and TIGHTEN all connections - wirenuts, terminal screws, etc. This includes the neutral wires! Test lamps are really not very good test tools to use - that's why electricians don't use them. Your test lamp cant tell you if it is registering 50V, 120V or 240V. There is a huge difference as you can imagine. Do not overlook the outlets. it is not uncommon for an outlet to supply power not only to the next outlet - but to a nearby switch above it, too.

Get an inexpensive multimeter. It can provide you with more information that you'll ever need as a homeowner. That is much better than the questions a neon test lamp raises.

Good luck!

Posted on Jan 26, 2013

  • John Darwent Jan 28, 2013

    I received a perfect solution 11 days ago. I confirmed this, but all those solutions have disappeared. Steve's solution was therefore not needed, but thanks.

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