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Bathroom light switch stopped working, but other still works

I noticed a few weeks ago in my guest bathroom that my overhead light stopped working when I flipped the switch. I have two light switches together in this bathroom: one for the light and one for the fan. The fan works great when I flip that switch, but the light won't come on when I flip the switch associated with it. Right below these switches are a GFI outlet, it also still works. I took the switches off and re-attached both (but switched them) to see if maybe something was loose or maybe one of the switches was bad. The fan still works, the light does not...so, I know the switches are good. I've included an image of the wiring. I thought it was kind of weird that the white wires are capped off and shoved in the back, but maybe that's normal? Anyone run into this issue before and have any ideas?

Re: Bathroom light switch stopped working, but other still works

Hi jon,

This may sound odd, but I doubt very much if it is one of the switches. Most likely it is the light fixture itself. If that is not a wet environment fixture, the light socket will deteriorate. Especially since the socket and the light bulb uses dis-simular metal. All it takes for trouble is a little bit of moisture. Replace the light socket.

Yes, the neutral wires are supposed to be connected together on a SPST(Single Pole,  Single Throw) switch. It is never a good idea to have lights and outlets on the same circuit, especially in a wet/damp location. In my bathrooms. I use 12-3 with ground to supply the vents and lights in the vents. That way I can turn on either separately. And I never share a neutral on any circuit, even though the NEC approves it. That is just asking for trouble at times.


Handy Andy in Mt Airy NC

Re: Bathroom light switch stopped working, but other still works

I concur with Handy Andy. Based solely on the picture you have there (wiring, boxes, etc.)... I'd guess your home is probably from the late 1970s. I'm renovating a home right now that I just bought (from 1983), and noticed that some of the light fixtures that I'm replacing, while the wiring in the home itself is solid (romex, etc.), the sheathing on the wiring that's capped to it (from the fixture itself) seems to be deteriorating. I've replaced them all, and it doesn't seem to be an issue, but there was one light fixture that wasn't working, and when I removed it, the wiring crumbled in my hand and all the sheathing came off. I'm surprised it didn't cause a fire. I simply replaced the fixture (after testing the voltage) and it worked.


If this is a recessed / can light, then you'll need to access it from the attic, or the vented space between the floors if you can.


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