Multiple switches: which one's out?

We have a hallway light that is controlled by three different switches. It no longer works. Strangely, neither does a pantry light that is controlled by yet another switch (operates by itself, not in line with the other three).
How do I figure out which of the three is the bad one, other than replacing all three? (I'm guessing that this will fix the pantry light problem as well.)
Bob
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I am guessing that there is no problem with any of the switches. I think the problem is that either the fuse is blown, or someone has put a GFI in the circuit and it has tripped, or the wire supplying current to the hallway and the pantry switches has come apart somewhere. Check the fuse first. Then check any GFI's in the house. (Don't have someone else check the GFI's as that person may not understand how they work, and tell you, incorrectly, that they are not tripped. That has happened to me. You check 'em.) If it's not a fuse or GFI, then check the wiring near any switch or outlet that has been flexed, moved around, or vibrated a lot.
Good luck - and if I was right, put up a post praising my intelligence. That is how we get paid here.
Jim
Bob Landry wrote:

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If non of the hallway switches work, when flipping all of them in both up and down positions, it's probably not a bad switch. Unless other lights or outlets are dead as well, it's probably not a blown fuse or breaker. If one of the switches is ganged in a box with the closet light, I'd look there for a loose connection and if not I'd look for a loose connection in the closet switch box and the hall switch box nearest the closet switch box.

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snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net wrote:

No offense meant... but if you imagine that one bad switch has caused both lights to fail, or that replacing one switch will fix both lights, you don't even come close to understanding how residential wiring works well enough to troubleshoot this safely, let alone repair it.
Your first step is to look for a tripped breaker, or a tripped GFCI, and reset it. If that doesn't solve the problem, you need to call an electrician.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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go scroll down at: http://www.electrical-online.com/howtoarticles/3&4WaySwitches.htm
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a $3 tester has two probes and a small neon light i bought last week from walmart superstore electrical dept. read all of this first: with your friend the licensed electrician who knows cpr standing next to you: with one hand in your pocket, you can carefully chase the circuit thru switches with one probe grounded and the other probe touching the wire resulting in a glow. the electrician will show you how hot 110vac to one probe glows when you touch the other probe.
see pictures of testers at: http://images.google.com/images?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGLG,GGLG:2005-52,GGLG:en&q=neon+tester+ac
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All the GFCI's in the house are in the 3 bathrooms, none of which is near any of these switches, but I will check those; also the breakers.
And then I'll call an electrician, which is kind of where I thought any replies to my question would go.
Thanks to all who responded.
Bob
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