Lights don't work

The ceiling lights in all my house's bedroom and bathrooms suddenly did not work. However, all the AC 110V plug outlets do work fine. I checked the circuit breakers shutting them off then on again several times, but that did not fix the problems. Short of hiring an expensive electrician, what can I do to fix the problem? Also, how much does an electrician charge and how long would it take to fix the problem? My preferred method is to fix it myself. Any help is quickly appreciated.
Thanks,
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

It is a simple matter of testing everything and seeing where the problem is. Some device or cable has voltage on one side and not on the other. Find that, and you have found the problem. (I suppose a simpler first step might be to check everything for loose wires; you might get lucky and find one.) If this isn't clear, then you had better hire an electrician. Could take 5 minutes, could take 5 hours; depends on what the problem is and how lucky he is.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
It is not easy to say how long, but this kind of thing is usually easy for someone with the tools and experience. Likely the minimum charge.
--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
If you really want to do electrical work buy a simple volt meter from Radio Shack for $40 then learn how to use it. I would also run to the borg and pick a basic primer on home electrical wiring. You might even want to create a mock up of a light circuit on a piece of plywood using a boxes, a switch, a socket, 14/3 or 14/4 wiring and use a standard outlet to plug it into the wall if you really want to visualize how a basic light circuit works. They can be deceptivly complicated when you start adding switches additional lights, plugs etc.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
GSB posted for all of us....

--
Tekkie

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Nope. Read the OP again. His outlets work, and the lights don't. Not common practice to wire a house so that the lights are GFCI-protected and the outlets are not.
-- Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
How come we choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Agreed. If there are a small number of lights, it seems likely to me that there is a faulty breaker or one which has not been fully reset. Some breakers do not reset by simply moving from off to on but require a further movement in the off direction first. Don Young
wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
GSB wrote:

It will take hime an hour and 18 minutes. He will charge you $70 an hour, plus travel time.
--
Ed
snipped-for-privacy@snet.net
http://pages.cthome.net/edhome
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
george snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (GSB) wrote in

Chances are that the lights are on a seperate curcuit and that'why they're out but the outlets still work. You'll need to test the breakers for a bad unit. With a voltage tester place the red probe on the screw where the wire leading away from the breaker is connected. Be very careful however. This is electrically hot. Place the black probe of the tested on the neutral bar where all the white wires are hooked up. Make sure the tester is set to VOLTAGE and not ohms. With that breaker on, you should show around 110V. If it doesn't, you have a bad breakers. Replace it. If it shows voltage, your problem is further down the circuit. It could be in a junction box somewhere in the house where perhaps some wire nuts have come loose of the wires have eroded away to the degree that they've become disconnected. Seen that numerous times by the way. The neutral (or white) wire can cause this too if it's disconnected for some reason as mentioned above. But be aware that if it's a neutral that's gone bad, you'll still have hot power feeding that system and you can become the ground then. The other guys are right though. Get a competant electrician in there soon in case it is a case of a shorted or partially open line wire. I'd rather see you do that than go too far in finding it and hurt yourself. Electrical problems are not for amatuers. They can and have been deadly to even the most experienced people. The cost for a good electrician varies from one locale to another and it's impossible to estimate the cost via the internet.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
GSB wrote:

effect which can pull enough current to throw a circuit breaker. That usually is signaled by a blinding white flash when the bulb is switched on, then darkness.
Are the circuit breakers in your home's panel identified as to which circuits they control?
If not, you should have taken the time to do that long before you had a problem son.
Narrow things down by finding out what each of the breakers in your home's panel controls. Use a radio turned up loud plugged into the outlets all over the house and have someone observe the lights and appliances while you flip the breakers off and on one at a time until you've mapped your whole breaker panel and marked each breaker with its function.
If you establish that every single breaker is turning something in the house off and on when it's operated, then you're in for a merry chase, as there's a wire come disconnected somewhere between the breaker panel and the switches for those ceiling lights which aren't working anymore. If that's the case, you probably should hire an electrician, as they're familiar with the way wiring is typically run through house construction and also have test equipment which can inject a radio frequency signal onto a wire and allow them to track its path through the house. There are other ways of finding out where the break is of course, but it'd take too long to teach you all that here.
If you narrow it down to just one breaker which doesn't appear to control anything, you'll have a better chance of finding out what's gone wrong yourself.
If you don't have a meter or a test lamp, you can use an old table lamp for a tester by cutting the plug off the end of the cord, splitting the cord back a foot or so and stripping about 1/8" of insulation from the ends of the two wires. Turn the lamp switch "on" and touch one of the wire ends to the neutral bar in your breaker panel. (That's the silver or copper colored bar with a whole bunch of white wires connected to it, you'll have to remove the inner cover of the breaker panel to access it.) Touch the other wire end to the screw on the breaker. If the lamp lights, the breaker is ok, and you're back to that merry chase again.
As others have told you, electrocution is a long term solution to a short term problem, so keep your cotton picking fingers away from anything metallic in that breaker box while you're doing that. Touch only the insulated parts of the lamp wires.
If the lamp doesn't light, and you're sure you've pushed the breaker handle all the way in the "off" direction before moving it back to "on", then you probably do have a bad breaker, so take it out, get another of the same type and rating and install the new one. Make damn sure you turn off the main circuit breaker before doing that.
Good luck, and take care that you don't become a statistic,
Jeff
--
Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)

"My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying."
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.