Tried to fix a light and...


Ok, please don't mind me and my inexperience in home repair, my husband and i just purchased our first home, and I am learning as I go.
So I tried to change the light in my kitchen, because the old one just stopped working. So I go to the shop and buy myself a fancy new light, get home, open the instructions and get to work. I hadn't even really done anything yet, I was in the process of removing the old light bulb from the old fixture and this big spark happened, and all the lights in and near the kitchen went off. so i called my father in law and he said to flip the switch in that circuit breaker box, and when i went to do that, another spark, and everything turned off. Then he told me to flip the main switch, which I did, and everything except the kitchen and the room near the kitchen came back on. I am going to call an electrician tomorrow, but i would really like to know what on earth happened.
any help or insight would be greatly appreciated, and thanks in advance for your time.
Jasmin
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com spake thus:

Pretty simple, really, though I can see how the fireworks show might have rattled you a little bit: When you went to change the bulb, the power was still on, and apparently you caused a short circuit when unscrewing the bulb, which caused all the sparks. This caused the circuit breaker to trip, which you should be grateful for, because that's what's supposed to happen when there's a short circuit.
One thing's not clear: are you changing the light *fixture*, or just the light *bulb*?
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thanks for the response,
i was beginning to change the entire light fixture, but at the point of the spark, i was just removing the bulb. my only concern was when i tried to flip the switch in the circuit breaker (i think that's what it's called) and the spark happened there. not on the main switch at the top, but when i tried to flip the switch for the kitchen. now the kitchen lights don't work, but the appliances do, and the outlet in the family room next to the kitchen doesn't work.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I'm with you, the arc at the breaker in the panel is at least unusual and worth having an electrician check out what's going on.
I also agree w/ the posts the explanation of the spizensparks at the fixture were from the fixture having either a loose connection or something loose in the fixture itself that caused a short. It is possible, of course that there may be a broken insulation spot on the wiring or other problem there as well. You probably will be able to see some signs of where the arcing actually occurred from a burn mark--if so, it would likely pinpoint the problem area and you would then know whether it was fixture or wiring. If fixture, it's going away with the new one, if wiring, that needs attention, obviously.
The suggestion to take the fixture down (breaker off, of course) and then turn the breaker back on w/ the leads to the fixture isolated is good, too. That will be a basic indication of whether there is a problem in that circuit wiring or not, but might not be a good indicator of whether there's an issue in the panel with that circuit or something else, hence the agreement on getting an electrician is a wise choice.
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dpb wrote:

fixture, and there appears to be from what the OP said, a flash when the breaker contact makes, is certainly a possibility. The other question that comes to mind, is there a wall switch on this fixture? If so, try reseting the breaker with the wall switch off. If it resets ok, the short is probably in the fixture area, but, that's what was indicated by the flash at the fixture. BTW, a bulb can be a dead short. Sometimes the bulb base gets loose and the wires to the glass part of the bulb can get twisted and short.
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On 7 Nov 2006 22:17:52 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

You probably have a loose wire up there. That made the light stop working and now it is shorting to the box or the fixture. No big deal.
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Leave the circuit breaker for the kitchen lights off. Remove the old light fixture and only disconnect the wires that are directly connected to the light fixture. Do not disconnect any wires in the ceiling box that are not connected to the light fixture. Once the fixture is down separate the wires that were connected to it and cap off with wire nuts. Now try to reset the circuit breaker. If it resets without any problem go and check to make sure everything is working and turn the switch on that controlled the old light fixture. If the circuit breaker doesn't trip, shut it off and proceed to install the new light fixture. If the circuit breaker continues to trip you may have a problem somewhere within your wiring, but I'm thinking that it was just a problem with the old light fixture.
You should always shut off the power before doing any electrical work.
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