Vanity Lighting Issue

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by MK_Chicago, Jan 7, 2017.

  1. MK_Chicago

    MK_Chicago New Member

    Nov 23, 2013
    I am trying to wire up two new vanity lights in my guest bathroom. They should work off a single switch. Everything seems to check out when using a tester (hot wires light up in both boxes when flipping switch) however, when I tried to connect the fixtures (with a single 60w bulb in it) and flip the switch, I heard what sounded like a surge and the vanity lights never came on and all of the lights on that breaker, including the vanity lights, then did not have any power to them anymore. I checked the breaker box and it did not trip but I had to manually turn it off then on to get the lights to come back on (after disconnecting the vanity lights first).

    So I am thinking I have a mistake somewhere in my wiring that I'd like someone to validate.

    Here is a diagram of how it is wired with the lights (White, Black, Ground). It seems to match this other diagram I found.

    12/2 gauge wire with ground wire (which is what was existing gauge in that bathroom). I should mention that I did have to make some changes to the circuit because it previously had one vanity light and a bath fan/light. I can provide more info on what I did if this is a more complicated issue.

    Thanks for the help

    Vanity Light.png

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
  2. kreemoweet

    kreemoweet In the Trades

    Sep 7, 2009
    Seattle. WA
    I have no idea what "sounded like a surge" means. I don't understand your statement about the
    circuit breaker: if the power was cut off, and you had to reset the breaker handle, then the breaker
    most certainly "tripped". Probably as the result of a dead short in your wiring. The problem is likely with the unspecified
    "changes" you made to the circuit, or something else you haven't shown here. How did you
    verify that the existing wiring actually corresponds to what your diagram shows? A non-contact
    voltage tester is simply not adequate to troubleshoot problems like this.
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  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    That circuit is "wiring 101" and almost impossible to miswire, so I cannot imagine what you did to create a short circuit, because your diagram is correct.
  5. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Sep 25, 2013
    The breaker tripped.

    The tripped position of your breaker handle is not all the way to the off position.
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    We'd have to see what was in the electrical box where the switch is to get a better idea.

    You might have things wired up correctly, but either pinched a wire or have an excessively long lead that is shorting out to ground or neutral which trips the breaker. Often, careful searching can discover where. A nail or staple or screw could have penetrated the cable to the lamps as well, or it's possible to tighten the clamp too tight on some designs that can short the wires together. If it only happens when you flip the switch for those lights, you've located the branch with the problem. If it trips the breaker regardless of whether that switch is on or off, it could be anywhere, but most likely in that box where you were working.
  7. MK_Chicago

    MK_Chicago New Member

    Nov 23, 2013
    Thanks everyone for the feedback and confirming my wiring logic appears correct. My apologies for any incorrect terminology.

    I'll take a look in the box to see if the clamps are too tight and check the leads.

    As far as what were the other changes made: There was originally a single vanity light and a bath fan/light combination in the bathroom. The light worked off the same switch as the vanity light as well as from a dual switch near the toilet. We decided to replace the bath fan/light with just a bath fan and get rid of the dual switch in favor of a single switch for the fan. So I removed the single black for the bath light running from a junction box to the dual switch and rewired the bath fan as a single switch. The source for the bath fan is on a different breaker than the vanity light.

    Vanity Light Before.png
  8. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida Panama Canal’s new locks!

    Oct 28, 2009
    Orlando, Florida
    Are you sure there
    Are you sure there is no GFCI in line with this switch?
    However, what I underlined in your last statement, two switches operated the light? The only way to work was to have three way switches. Maybe you described it wrong. To have a three way dual switch is rare but they can be had.

    Leviton model number 5241

    15 Amp, 120/277 Volt,
    Duplex Style Single-Pole
    3-Way AC Combination Switch,
    Commercial Grade,
    Side Wired, - Brown

    Attached Files:

  9. MK_Chicago

    MK_Chicago New Member

    Nov 23, 2013
    Working now. It seems like it was a long lead that Was making contact with the ground wire.

    Thanks for the help everyone
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