Electrical Wiring in the Home/Chandelier went out

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Question
Hello,

I live in Southern California. I installed a ceiling light fixture chandelier with nine 40 watt  incandescent bulbs about six or seven years ago. Brightness is controlled with a wall dimmer switch. Recently my wife turned on the switch and with a popping sound the lights flashed then  went out. I installed a new light switch, but that does not seem to help. I replaced three of the bulbs with new ones and they don't seem to work. I also checked using a known good bulb. No light.

I used an IRT meter to check voltage and it does seem that juice is getting to the box. I have been advised that either the connection at the plate in the ceiling must be bad if current is reaching the box, or something within the fixture. Taking the fixture down will be a pain but I know I have to do what it takes, or call an electrician (my guy advised he does not repair bad fixtures). I thought I may take the unit down, hook up a pigtail to the wires, and plug it in to check the fixture. It seemed to me to be easier than fiddling with it hanging from the ceiling.

Any other advice?

Thanks!

Answer
Hi Thomas,

  Wish I was in any Southern State right now - Brutal arctic cold front pushing thru the Northeast right now - currently 5 below locally this morning and that's without the wind ! Based on your description - it sounds like you've done some basic troubleshooting (I say sounds because you use the word "seems")...it indeed seems like a former short - now an open - has occurred somewhere in that lighting circuit...but you don't mention a breaker having tripped back at the electrical panel (it normally should have in that scenario). Your running a ~ 360 watt lighting load...not a huge lighting load by any means - but enough to build up heat over time and possibly wear out insulation on wiring - especially if this is an older home or it has aluminum wiring (connections will work loose) or is a non-grounded system.

 I note you say "your guy" does not do fixture repair (most electricians don't - most simply install or replace defective fixtures...I'll do some minor repairs but if the insulation or fixture is shot internally...it is best to start with a NEW fixture...and avoid the time and hassles - let alone liability if the fixture should get even worse). Where you have done some preliminary testing...the next step - unfortunately is to remove the chandelier (yes - I know fair well what a pain that can be...I've installed hundreds - if not thousands - over the 4 decades in the field).If you do this part yourself...make sure the breaker that controls this circuit is OFF....if there is a shorted connection up at the ceiling - possible shock hazards exists - even if the switch is off ( Also - depending on how it's wired...some electricians run the power to the ceiling box first and then a switch leg down to the switch box...meaning there could be LIVE wires up at the ceiling box) - where there clearly is an underlying electrical problem...it is best to have your electrician remove the chandelier.....test the wiring at the box....and ring the wires to the fixture once it's down to see if there is an internal short inside the chandelier). It may be as simple as a wire nut connector having come loose up at the connections in the box...or a short/open in the fixture wiring....won't know for sure until it comes down and is checked.

  At this point...not much more advice I can give you (or any electrician)...the root cause needs to be determined first. Again...if you decide to attempt this yourself....make sure the panel breaker is OFF....and use extreme caution removing the fixture....( or have someone assist you - chandeliers can get heavy fast !)

  Hope this helps Thomas...if you need more info or have new details...please let me know (note - because of a heavy upcoming medical check-up schedule [ recovering from open-heart surgery that did NOT go well)- I will need to mark myself as "away on vacation" for awhile here at this site) You can still contact me directly at:    info@rkoelectric.com

(may be some time before I respond - will be away from my computers frequently)

Best Wishes,

Bob Osgood
Master Electrician / Owner

RKO ELECTRIC  
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Electrical Wiring in the Home

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Master Bob

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Master Electrician / Owner RKO Electric (USA Only) - can answer most of the typical residential, commercial and industrial electrical questions regarding new installations, wiring additions, lighting, switches and receptacle outlets and electrical upgrades of any nature.I will make every effort to respond to your questions as soon as possible at the end of the work day...very busy electrical company - your patience is appreciated. Stop by and see us at: www.rkoelectric.com

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Licensed Master Electrician with over 34 years licensed experience - updated with the latest NEC Codes every 3 years since 1978. Over see the daily electrical operations of two electrical companies. Also serve as a judge / editor (for Electrical Contracting Products Magazine) to help select which new products are fit and safe for electricians and the electrical market.

Education/Credentials
2 Years Technical College - Degree in Electrical Construction & Maintenance (Dean's List) OSHA Safety Certified (10 & 30), CPR / Advanced First Aid Certified

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