Home>Discussions>ELECTRICAL & LIGHTING>All Bathroom Fan/lights not working out of the blue
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This Old Newbie
All Bathroom Fan/lights not working out of the blue
This Old Newbie

HI TOH helpers,

I'm a newbie to the site and this is my first question.

Went out of town for 2 days and came back to find my bathroom lights and fans all not working. Can't figure it out.

House built in 2004-5 SFR 3 bed 2.5 bath

The whole house is fine and even the electrical outlets in the bathrooms work but not the fans/lights on the switches. This is for all 3 bathroom lights/fans. I've gone through the whole house and found the outlets with the test/reset buttons and tested them and they all work and reset them. Went outside to see if any of the breakers in the power box was thrown but they were all in the ON positions. I tried turning them all off and then back on without any change. The only ones that are not working are the bathroom fans and the lights. Is it time to call an electrician to come out and replace a fuse/breaker in the power box?

SO strange that it's not just one bathroom or that it was something caused when I was repairing something. The house was sitting still with nobody in it for just 2 days.

If anyone can tell me if I can do anything else before calling in a licensed electrician that would be great.
I watch the show but didn't know about this discussion board until I googled my problem and saw similar related electrical problems.

TOH newbie

Re: All Bathroom Fan/lights not working out of the blue

First, check the switches and the connections to the switches: remove cover plates and switches from the boxes, see how the wires are connected (pushed into the slots in the back of the switches or connected at the screws) and that, use a tester to check for power on the wires. Don't touch any wires with your bare hands.

When you finish, report your findings.

Re: All Bathroom Fan/lights not working out of the blue

Since your house is fairly new they probably ran separate circuits for the outlets in the bathrooms(this is a newer code requirement over the last 10-15 years). Based on what you've said I'm sure that all these lights are on the same circuit. That's why the outlets work when the lighting doesn't

One of two things is going on. You either have a loose wire somewhere or a tripped breaker.

Loose wires in main panels are not uncommon. As the wire heats and cools with use it can work itself loose from the neutral bus bar or breaker itself. This is especially possible if the electrician didn't crank down on it when installed. I really crank mine down tight.

The other option is that maybe those lights are on a GFI breaker in the panel. This would mean that depending on the brand of breaker it might have a separate trip setting for the GFI function. They are sensitive and can trip for seemingly no reason sometimes.

The other thing I just thought of is that maybe they are on a GFI outlet somewhere that has gone bad. Many times they would put these lights on a GFI someplace and then the GFI breaks (happens a lot!) Double check all the GFI sources again and make sure they trip/reset properly.

Let us know what you find out!

This Old Newbie
Re: All Bathroom Fan/lights not working out of the blue
This Old Newbie

DJ1 and Joel,

Thanks for the replies.

I've gone and tested all the outlets with the GFI test/reset buttons and I only found 3 in the house. 2 in the kitchen and one in the downstairs 1/2 bathroom. Checked the whole house and don't see any more. All of the outlets in the house are working but I noticed that the garage outlet 1 of 2 isn't working.

Also went out to the panel and tested the switches. Turned them all off and on again with no improvement.
Could you guys check my panel pic and see if I should have more than 3 outlets for me to test. Also how do I tell if one of those breakers are bad? I feel like a breaker connecting all three bathrooms and that one garage outlet are on one breaker that's bad but I don't know how to figure out which one is bad and at this point not even sure I should do the replacing of the breaker but would like to know more info before calling in a pro.

I guess I don't have enough post to be able to upload pics. shoot! copy and paste?

//i1295.photobucket (dot com) /albums/b640/this_old_newbie/Outdoor%20Panel%20Pics/IMG_1484_zps115e1e29.jpg

//i1295.photobucket (dot com)/albums/b640/this_old_newbie/Outdoor%20Panel%20Pics/IMG_1488_zps8fc2c4e6.jpg

Again thanks for the help.

Re: All Bathroom Fan/lights not working out of the blue

I would immediately start looking at that outlet in the garage in conjunction with the interior stuff that's not working. I assume the garage outlet is not a GFI. If it is a GFI then that could be the answer. If it's not a GFI and the outlet is pretty close to the electrical panel then there might be a loose wire in that outlet box. It can only be one of these things....

1. A loose wire in a box (either neutral or hot)
2. A loose wire in the main panel
3. Bad breaker in the panel
4. Tripped (or broken) GFI outlet or breaker.

It doesn't appear that you have any GFI breakers so it's probably not that. You do have arc fault (AFCI) breakers in the panel (the top three). If it's connected to one of those then it could be an issue with those. They are very, very sensitive and will trip for almost no reason sometimes. I would push the test button on each one of those to make sure they're working right.

To see if all the breakers are working is pretty easy. If you have a current tester you can hold it on each hot lead screw from the breakers to see if one doesn't light up. Then you'd know if the breaker was no good. You can buy them fairly cheaply at the home centers. This is not a voltmeter. It's a little tool that lights up when it detects a hot wire (very handy). A bad breaker is pretty unlikely but I have seen it before. They're easy to replace but if you're not comfortable then don't do it. Get a pro!

You can also start turning off breakers and seeing if stuff in the house goes out. If you turn one off and nothing goes out inside then that is probably the breaker causing the issue.

Good luck!

Re: All Bathroom Fan/lights not working out of the blue

Thank you to the original poster and the replies. I had the same problem and checked everything mentioned. I was just about to call a pro and then read the post again. Garage? Why would the fans be connected to an outlet in the garage? Went out to the garage and found a GFCI outlet had popped. Reset it and everything working again. Thank you!

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