Why Is My Bathroom Light Fixture Not Working?
By Dave Rongey - Summary:|
How can I fix a bathroom light and fan that stopped working? The Most Common Problems with Bathroom Light Fixtures and How to Fix Them.
If this is your first visit, be sure to sign up for your Free Electrical Tips and eBook.
Your Comments and Electrical Questions are always welcome.
Guide to Fixing a Bathroom Light Fixture
Bathroom Light Fixture Problem #1
- I have a 1975 townhouse, and as a single mom I find myself having to learn and do a lot of things by myself.
- My daughter’s bathroom has both a fan and light switch (single-pole wall switch).
- The fan was not working so I thought I would replace the switch for the fan.
- I had forgot to turn off the power at the electrical panel and there was just a little spark–I know, Be Careful.
- Well now the fan works, but the light does not.
- The two slot receptacle (15 amps, 120 volts) works, but it also affected the light in my bathroom and the GFCI receptacle.
- I have aluminum wiring and if there is a overload it trips, but I know it is not the fuse because everything else is working.
- I have been researching I think it has to do with the GFCI am I on the right track?
Background: Ingrid, a Homeowner from Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Bathroom Light Fixture Problem #2
Bathroom light fixture or switch have no power.
- The receptacle next to it is energized.
- The lights suddenly quit working the other night, as well as the light over the shower – no power there or it’s switch either.
- The circuit from the breaker box (labeled ‘Bath’) energizes the working receptacle, where does the power come from for the fixtures?
- All GFI outlets check OK.
- No other problem areas.
This electrical wiring question came from Beki in Henderson, Nevada.
Bathroom Lights and Outlets Problem #3
My downstairs bathroom lights and outlets in the neighboring bedroom stopped working. The GFCI outlet in the bathroom still works but must be on a different circuit.
- I had an electrician come over and he removed the wall plate for the light and fan switches and “pulled out” the switches.
- The electrician didn’t disconnect the switches, he unscrewed them from the box and pulled them out.
- A few minutes later without doing anything the lights started working again.
- This was fine for several months, but now the bathroom lights and bedroom outlets stopped working again.
- I’ve checked the circuit breakers, turned everything in the house off and then on again, but still no lights in the bathroom.
- How can I go about troubleshooting this? Is there a special kind of electrician I need to hire?
This electrical wiring question came from Jim, in Livermore, California.
Thanks for your electric wiring questions Ingrid, Beki and Jim.
Ingrid, Yes I believe you are on the right track, let’s continue and get your bathroom working again.
How to Repair a Bathroom Light Problem
Application: Repair a Bathroom Light Circuit.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with hand tools and electrical troubleshooting skills.
Precaution: Identify the circuit, turn it OFF and then Tag it with a Note before performing any wiring or inspections or repairs.
The Most Common Problems with Bathroom Light Fixtures and How to Fix Them
- A GFCI Outlet is Tripped Off
- At the GFCI outlet for the bathroom press the Test button, then the Reset Button.
- If the GFCI does not reset then the GFCI outlet may need to be replaced.
- If the GFCI resets OK then see if the bathroom light fixture is working. If not the GFCI still may have a problem – maybe.
- Bathroom light fixtures are not required to be protected by GFCI unless the fixture is in close proximity to the bathtub or shower.
- A GFCI Circuit Breaker is Tripped Off
- Some homes may have the bathroom ground fault protection provided by a GFCI Circuit Breaker which is located at the main panel or a sub panel.
- There will be a TEST button near the switch of the circuit breaker. If the circuit breaker is tripped the switch will be in the middle position.
- To reset the GFCI circuit breaker push the switch into the full OFF position, then push the switch into the ON position.
- If the GFCI breaker does not reset then there may be a fault within the bathroom circuit wiring, or the GFCI circuit breaker may faulty and require replacing.
- If the GFCI breaker resets OK then see if the bathroom light fixture is working.
- NOTE: GFCI circuit breakers should be tested about every month to ensure proper operation and reliability.
- ELECTRICAL TIP: A GFCI outlet in the bathroom is much more convenient than a GFCI circuit breaker located in a panel. Discuss this option with your local electrician.
- Bad Light Switch
- The light switch should be tested to see if it is getting power to one of the terminals.
- If not then the source of power needs to be identified. It’s all a process of elimination, but yes – you have to know where to start, and of course that is always at the electrical panel and identifying the circuit.
- If the switch does have power then turn it on – is there power to the other terminal? If not then the light switch needs to be replaced.
- Burned Out Light Bulbs
- If there is power then the light bulb may be out. Believe it or not, I have been paid to discover that a customer’s light bulb was burnt out, and one time the customer’s light switch was in the off position – true story, the customer insisted that I bill him due to his oversight. So I did.
- Problem with Light Fixture Wiring or Wire Splices
- Wall mounted and ceiling mounted light fixtures may produce a lot of heat from the light bulbs that can lead to damaged wire insulation, bad wire splices, and burnt wire connections.
- Bathroom light fixture(s) should be unfastened so the wiring and wire splice connections may be inspected.
- Faulty connections or wiring should be repaired using approved electrical parts of the same circuit ratings.
- Make sure the light bulbs of the fixture are the appropriate size to prevent overheating and further damage.
- Separate Light Circuit
- Many bathroom outlets may be wired with a separate circuit and may not branch to the light and exhaust fan.
- If the switch does have power then turn it on – is there power to the other terminal?
- If not then the light switch needs to be replaced.
NOTE: Electrical problems like this are best discovered when using a voltage tester.
- Examples of Electrical Parts and Brands for this Repair Application
- GFCI Outlet
- Leviton WR899 20Amp 125Volt SmartLock Pro
- Single Pole Switch 15amp 120 volt
- Leviton 5601
- Yellow or Red Wire Connectors
- Scotch 3M
- Type-NM Cable
- GFCI Outlet
More detailed information can be found here in the electrical troubleshooting area here in this website. Just click the Troubleshooting Electrical Wiring link below.
More about Bathroom Light Electric Wiring
Bathroom Electrical Wiring
- Fully Explained Photos and Wiring Diagrams for Bathroom Electrical Wiring with Code Requirements for most new or remodel projects.
Troubleshooting and Repairing Electrical Wiring
- Licensed Electrician Reveals the Secrets of Successful Electrical Troubleshooting Methods used to solve the majority of the home electrical problems and wiring failures encountered.
Home Electrical Safety
Electrical Safety Articles covering several topics of home electrical safety and Do-It-Yourself Electrical Safety
Wiring a Light Switch – Diagram 1
- Fully Explained Light Switch Wiring Diagrams. Detailed Electrical Wiring Diagrams and Pictures assist your Home Electrical Projects.
GFCI and GFI Wiring Diagrams
- The features and benefits of GFCI outlets and receptacles will give you a clear understanding of the importance why these safety devices are required by code to help protect you and your family against accidental electrical shock hazards.
- GFCI Wiring
- This list of articles will help you learn about the features and benefits provided by GFI and GFCI Receptacles and how they are wired.
Learn How to Wire it Right with my
Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring
Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handywomen, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electrical Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
Troubleshooting and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
Electrical Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.
» Click here to learn more about Home Electrical Wiring «
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all projects.
Do You Have an Electrical Wiring Question?