3 way switch. 2 switches 2 recessed lights in the hall way

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About a year ago I had two recessed lights installed in the hallway. They w ere previously regular lights, so I was told it was just cutting a hole out and hooking the wiring back up. He also changed the switches to the newer flat switches. They worked for 2 months until one day it just stopped worki ng. I'm not too keen working with electricity.
Just a few weeks ago I called the actual makers of the recessed lighting an d they said that it "sounds" like a problem with both of the actual units i nternal components. Seemed a little weird to me, i thought it had something to do with the wiring. But I got the new units, thinking that will an easy fix on my side. Since all the wiring is set up I could just match the conn ections with the new identical unit.
Switched off the power to the hallway, tested making sure I turned off the right breaker. Then installed white to white / black to black / ground to g round on one of the units, leaving the other one alone. Put a light in, and as soon as I switched on the breaker, I heard a pop near the actual light. And the breaker popped to the middle position. Looked up online which said it's in the neutral position after being popped.
I checked the other light and it is black to black / white to white / groun d to ground. I didn't think it could be a problem with the wiring since it for sure worked for a couple months.
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On 01/30/2014 12:43 PM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Then check the wiring in the light fixture. It must be shorted.
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This seems bad advice for someone "not too keen working with electricity." In the modern world, peace of mind costs hard cash, but employing a skilled tradesman (if you can find one) is usually worth the price.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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On 01/30/2014 03:57 PM, Don Phillipson wrote:

I told the guy elsewhere that the price of an electrician will be less than that of a funeral.
This newsgroup is really for people who basically know how to do things but are looking for tips on how to /best/ do things.
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On Thursday, January 30, 2014 2:52:41 PM UTC-8, philo  wrote:

thanks again guys. unfortunately the original installer is not available an ymore. he moved away. So I'll have to find a new electrician. Hopefully thi s doesn't set me back too much since all of the stuff is cut out and the wi res are set up.
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On 01/30/2014 05:06 PM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Well...unless you are totally sure of what you are doing, calling an electrician will be money well spent.
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On Thursday, January 30, 2014 3:35:00 PM UTC-8, philo  wrote:

this doesn't set me back too much since all of the stuff is cut out and th e wires are set up.

yeah.. I'll probably be calling an electrician soon.. eh.. Confusing. I wan na know the solution though.. So i'll be eyeing him ha
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On 1/30/2014 12:43 PM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Is this with the light switch on, or off?
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On Thursday, January 30, 2014 1:43:21 PM UTC-5, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

ut and hooking the wiring back up. He also changed the switches to the newe r flat switches. They worked for 2 months until one day it just stopped wor king. I'm not too keen working with electricity.

internal components. Seemed a little weird to me, i thought it had somethi ng to do with the wiring. But I got the new units, thinking that will an ea sy fix on my side. Since all the wiring is set up I could just match the co nnections with the new identical unit.

ground on one of the units, leaving the other one alone. Put a light in, a nd as soon as I switched on the breaker, I heard a pop near the actual ligh t. And the breaker popped to the middle position. Looked up online which sa id it's in the neutral position after being popped.

t for sure worked for a couple months.
you might need to look at the wiring at all boxes. May be that some of the white wires are actually hots and weren't marked with a tape ring like the y should be.
nate
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On Thursday, January 30, 2014 11:59:03 AM UTC-8, N8N wrote:

out and hooking the wiring back up. He also changed the switches to the ne wer flat switches. They worked for 2 months until one day it just stopped w orking. I'm not too keen working with electricity.

ts internal components. Seemed a little weird to me, i thought it had somet hing to do with the wiring. But I got the new units, thinking that will an easy fix on my side. Since all the wiring is set up I could just match the connections with the new identical unit.

to ground on one of the units, leaving the other one alone. Put a light in, and as soon as I switched on the breaker, I heard a pop near the actual li ght. And the breaker popped to the middle position. Looked up online which said it's in the neutral position after being popped.

it for sure worked for a couple months.

hey should be.

I checked the other light and it was correctly connected.
It "popped" when I switched it to on. (Or actually toggled it, I couldn't a ctually tell you if it was on or off, but I'm pretty sure it was when I swi tched it to ON)
"by boxes" you mean light fixtures? I was thinking I should check the switc hes... Is it possible for it to work for some time and then stop working af ter sometime if the wiring was switched?
Maybe a stupid question. But I'm not a 100% sure. When people say shorted.. Does this mean red on white or not wired correctly?
Thanks guys for the help !
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On Thu, 30 Jan 2014 12:51:13 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Many people misuse the words short and shorted. They use them for almost any electrical problem, but especially they use them for 'opens"** I haven't noticed people here doing that, but it's very common.

It's more specific than that. It might be red connected to white, but only if that meets my definition which follows. And certainly if two wires are connected so as to make a short, they weren't wired correctly, but lots of mistakes are not shorts.
A short circuit is one where the current can flow from the hot to the neutral or to the ground without passing through all of the load. Or you can have a short which bypasses any of the other parts of a circuit. See below****
The load is the lightbulb or the motor, or the heating elements in a toaster, etc. The load is the reason you are using the electricity in the first place. For light, motion, heat, etc.
Lets use an example where the load is a string of Xmas tree lights, the old kind iiuc where if one light burned out, they all went out. You could have a short circuit (a short) right at the plug, if the insulation dried out and one of the wires was touching the other. Then nothing would go to the lights, the circuit would be shorter than it should be, (Get it? That's why it's called a short circuit.) The current would go a quarter inch out from the plug to where the insulation has fallen off, to the other wire, and right back into the plug and the house wiring. It would normally blow a fuse or tirp a breaker.
Or one lightbulb socked could be shorted. Maybe someone stuffed tinfoil in where the bulb went. Because he didnt have any more good bulbs and so none of them would light. That is a short. If only one bulb out of say 40 is bypassed, the voltage will go up a little for all the other bulbs, they will burn out a little faster, but until then they will be a little brighter. If otoh there were only 10 bulbs, and now there are 9, the voltage on each bulb will be 10/9ths what it's supposed to be. Insteal of about 11 volts (110/10) it will be a little over 12 volts. That might work too, but the bulbs will be brigher and burn out faster. This is also a short.
Let's say somehow, you ended up bypassing 20 of the 40 bulb string. That will double the voltage across each bulb, double the current through the wire, make the wire get much hotter, and if the bulbs somehow don't burn out, you'll have a heat hazard from the hot wire. That's still a short, even though it's not bypassing the entire load. it doesn't have to bypass the entire load, just any part of it, and it's a short. Some shorts are very dangerous, others are not, but very very few are desirable. The only one I can think of is the first example of shorting out only one lightbulb socket in a string of 40.
****You can also have a short that bypasses, for example, the switch. If a switch breaks and it is closed (the On), it's as if the switch is shorted. Or if someone connects both of the wires to the switch to the same screw on the switch, he's shorted out the switch. Not as big a problem as shorting the load, but the switch won't work anymore to turn the thing off. If the switch is broken but it's not On, it's Off, that's called an Open. If someone takes a short wire with alligator clips on each end and clips one to each screw on the switch, he's shorted out the switch. People do this to bypass the switch to see if the light etc. will turn on. If it turns on when the switch is shorted but not when the switch is On, the switch is broken. (Not that that applies to you. I don't think so.)
You could have a short that bypasses an antenna. If you're using stranded flat line wire and a stray strand touches the other conductor where it's not insultated, the two strands will be connected and almost the entire signal from the antenna will go through the short and not to the radio or tv. "The antenna is shorted". If one of the wires to the antenna is broken, the antenna circuit is open.
YOu could short out the output of an amplifier. That's why there is a plastic ridge (didn't used to be) between the two screws where one attaches the speakers, so the strands of one side of the speaker wire won't touch the other side. If you short out the amplifer output, you'll blow the fuse if it has an output fuse, and if not, you'll burn out the output transistor, and maybe the transistor before that, if there is direct coupling. You may burn them out before the fuse blows, even if there is a fuse.

**What is an open? It is two things that should be connected but are not, or two parts on the inside of something that should be connected but are not. For example, in a simple light bulb, when the filament burns out, breaks, the circuit is open, or has an open, and the bulb is open. If you cut through a wire with a saw, you make an open.
Don't confuse open and shorted and everything else.
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About a year ago I had two recessed lights installed in the hallway. They were previously regular lights, so I was told it was just cutting a hole out and hooking the wiring back up. He also changed the switches to the newer flat switches. They worked for 2 months until one day it just stopped working. I'm not too keen working with electricity.
Just a few weeks ago I called the actual makers of the recessed lighting and they said that it "sounds" like a problem with both of the actual units internal components. Seemed a little weird to me, i thought it had something to do with the wiring. But I got the new units, thinking that will an easy fix on my side. Since all the wiring is set up I could just match the connections with the new identical unit.
Switched off the power to the hallway, tested making sure I turned off the right breaker. Then installed white to white / black to black / ground to ground on one of the units, leaving the other one alone. Put a light in, and as soon as I switched on the breaker, I heard a pop near the actual light. And the breaker popped to the middle position. Looked up online which said it's in the neutral position after being popped.
I checked the other light and it is black to black / white to white / ground to ground. I didn't think it could be a problem with the wiring since it for sure worked for a couple months.
*Occasionally I get a recessed light that has a defective thermal protector in it. Usually it shorts out immediately. Once I had one start blinking a few weeks after I left the job. I had to go back and replace the recessed light.
To have two recessed lights stop working at the same time is not likely an internal component problem. I would look for a bad splice somewhere in the circuit. Do you have juice at the switch?
You could wire up a pigtail socket to the wires that feed the recessed lights to make sure that you have electricity going to the lights.
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On Thursday, January 30, 2014 12:48:51 PM UTC-8, John G wrote:

A pigtail socket? Is that a tester? Maybe I should get an electrician involved? I'm in the los angeles area, what is the average price for fix up work.
I did see I had power going to the sockets using a tester. and at the switch. I don't want to reset the breaker if there's some improper connections going on. Seems a tad dangerous.
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On 01/30/2014 02:55 PM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

If you do not know **exactly** what you are doing, calling an electrician will be a lot cheaper than the funeral.
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On 1/30/2014 3:55 PM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I'd ask around, see if any of your friends are experienced with home wiring. Not everyone has every skill. I call for help when I get into some projects I can't handle. Wisdom isn't always manly, but it can be safer.
--
.
Christopher A. Young
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On Thu, 30 Jan 2014 10:43:21 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I am interested in knowing how you talked the rep into sending you new fixtures and how they both ended up going bad the same day.
What I would do is just disconnect both fixtures and cap the wires and see if the clears the problem.
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On Thursday, January 30, 2014 3:17:52 PM UTC-8, Metspitzer wrote:

out and hooking the wiring back up. He also changed the switches to the new er flat switches. They worked for 2 months until one day it just stopped wo rking. I'm not too keen working with electricity.

s internal components. Seemed a little weird to me, i thought it had someth ing to do with the wiring. But I got the new units, thinking that will an e asy fix on my side. Since all the wiring is set up I could just match the c onnections with the new identical unit.

o ground on one of the units, leaving the other one alone. Put a light in, and as soon as I switched on the breaker, I heard a pop near the actual lig ht. And the breaker popped to the middle position. Looked up online which s aid it's in the neutral position after being popped.

it for sure worked for a couple months.

the guy was willing to send me new ones with no hassle at all. I just calle d the "tech" support. and he easily sent me new ones. No Receipt, I told hi m my model number.. He even sent me the wrong two. Took it to my local hard ware shop and exchanged them for the correct ones, earning myself 60 bucks on a gift card.. lol. I didn't want to send them back and get new ones so f orth. But there might not be any pproblem with the units and I might be abl e to return both new ones and get a positive. This money I can spend on an electrician. ha
just cap them off and have them connected to nothing but the caps?
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On Thu, 30 Jan 2014 15:23:04 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Black to black. White to white and green/bare to bare is almost a slam dunk correct hookup.
What I would do is test one of the "bad" fixtures by hooking it up to 120v. I am not sure I would tell you to do that though.
If you only messed with one light, what I would do is just disconnect it temporary and cap the (house wiring to the fixture) black white with wire nuts.
Then I would reset the breaker and just see if it holds.
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On 1/30/2014 1:43 PM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

or the bulb. I had a case at church, where a light kept popping the breaker. Turned out to be a defective bulb. Did you try this with no bulb in the socket? Worth a try.
--
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On Thursday, January 30, 2014 1:43:21 PM UTC-5, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

ut and hooking the wiring back up. He also changed the switches to the newe r flat switches. They worked for 2 months until one day it just stopped wor king. I'm not too keen working with electricity.

internal components. Seemed a little weird to me, i thought it had somethi ng to do with the wiring. But I got the new units, thinking that will an ea sy fix on my side. Since all the wiring is set up I could just match the co nnections with the new identical unit.

I don't see on what basis any competent support person at a light manufacturer would tell you that the likely source of the intitial problem was that two of their light fixtures simultaneously failed after just a year. If two new fixtures on the same switch both stopped working, it's highly likely that there is some wiring problem.

ground on one of the units, leaving the other one alone. Put a light in, a nd as soon as I switched on the breaker, I heard a pop near the actual ligh t. And the breaker popped to the middle position. Looked up online which sa id it's in the neutral position after being popped.

are you sure the breaker wasnt' already tripped *before* you started? Sometimes it's hard to tell, because they don't move all the way to off. If that's the case, the breaker may have been the cause of bot lights going off due to a short before you even started. Anything else on that same breaker that you know was working when the lights were out?

t for sure worked for a couple months.
If something isn't done right, it certainly can work for some period of time, then fail. Wires not properly secured, comes loose, etc. Was this done by a licensed electrician? Given your inexperience with electricity, the only safe thing to do is call an electrician. It's probably not the fixtures and if you can return them, that may pay for the electrician. Unless it turns out the previous guy wasn't an electrician and did some half-assed install that needs to be done over.
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