Why Is My Bathroom Light Fixture Not Working?
How Can I Fix a Bathroom Light and Exhaust Fan that Stopped Working? The Most Common Problems with Bathroom Light Fixtures and How You Can Fix Them.
Fix a Bathroom Light Fixture
Electrical Question: How can I fix a bathroom light and exhaust fan that stopped working?
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?
This electrical wiring question came from Ingrid, a Homeowner from Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Bathroom Light Fixture Problem #2
My bathroom light fixture or light switch not working.
- The receptacle next to the light switch is working.
- The lights suddenly quit working the other night, as well as the light over the shower. There is no power to the switch either.
- The circuit from the breaker box labeled ‘Bath’ energizes the working receptacle, but where does the power come from for the fixtures?
- All the GFI outlets check out 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.
Bathroom and Bedroom Lights Not Working :
- We have no light in three bedrooms and a bathroom. The circuit breaker is on. When we tested the black wire and white wire both read 120 volts. The outlets are also not working. How should I fix this?
This electrical wiring question came from Chandy, a Handyman in Chandler, Arizona.
Thank you for your electrical wiring questions.
How to Repair a Bathroom Light Problem
Application: Repair a Bathroom Light Circuit and Exhaust Fan Problem.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a Certified Electrician or Licensed Electrical Contractor.
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 Type of Repair
- 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 about Bathroom Light and Electrical Wiring
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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.
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wiring!The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester, [amazon.com], I use for the detection of Standard Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.
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