Dark rooms are disorienting, and that’s why lights come into use. But it is very annoying to see the light not turning on. A major reason is power not reaching the switch. But what stops the power from reaching the switch? Let’s find it out.
If the power does not reach your light switch, it could be a bad light switch, a problem with the wire connections, tripped breakers, or a bad light fixture. To fix the problem, change the light switch and fixture, reset the breaker, and call an electrician for wire cases.
Though a professional can fix the problems without fail, you can also fix a few with a little trial and error and save money. Please read this article till the end to understand the reasons behind no power reaching the light switch and how to fix them.
Why is there no power going to my light switch?
There could be a lot of reasons behind the light switch not receiving enough power.
Due to insufficient power, your light will flicker or not light up.
Without light, it is disorienting to roam around a dark room.
So, the light and switch issues should be fixed soon.
Install a new light to understand whether the problem is in the light or the switch.
If it still does not work, the problem is in the switch.
Sometimes, the switch will be fine, but the power will not reach it.
Here are some of the most common problems behind light switch not receiving adequate power:
Flipped circuit breaker
The circuit breakers protect your house from dangerous electrical issues.
The breaker provides power to the whole house and other circuits.
Whenever the breaker overloads, it trips to prevent short circuits and fire hazards.
If the flipped breaker is connected to the light switch, the light switch will not receive power to light up the bulb.
You should check the breaker and flip it back to the ON position.
When a breaker trips, the switch remains either in the OFF position or in the middle.
If the switch is in the OFF position, flip it to the ON position.
In the case of the center position, flip the switch to OFF, wait for some seconds, and turn it to the ON position.
If your breaker trips again, there are some serious issues, overloading being the common one.
Consider reducing the load in the breaker, or contact an electrician to look into the matter.
GFCI breakers have a reset button. If the breaker trips, you need to press the RESET switch.
Press the RESET switch for a few seconds until you hear a clicking sound, and then leave it.
Your breaker will reset within a few minutes, and the switch should start receiving power.
You should reset the circuit breaker only once or twice.
If the breaker trips again, stop resetting or flipping and hire an electrician to look into the matter.
Repeated tripping results from poor wire connections, bad switches, or live and neutral wires coming in contact.
If the light switch fails to have power even after fixing these things, you should replace the switch.
A fuse burnout cannot send power to the light switch, thus causing malfunctions.
Inspect the breaker fuse before buying a new light.
In this case, you should hire an electrician to replace the fuse breaker.
If you face frequent fuse burnouts, you should reassess the amount of power to check whether you have overloading issues.
An electrician may inform you of the right cause and fix the problem.
Loose or damaged wire connections
A lot of people complain about the problematic light switches.
Sometimes, the problem occurs with the light bulbs rather than the switches.
If you have already checked the bulb and switches and did not find them not working, the problem might be in the wire connections.
Loose or damaged wire connections do not let the power reach the switch.
As a result, despite having a good bulb or light switch, it won’t light up or keep flickering.
Loose or damaged wires are extremely dangerous.
An internal arc due to loose or frayed wires can lead to serious fire hazards.
You should call an electrician to tighten loose and replace frayed wires.
You can also fix it yourself if the problem is a minor one.
Open the cover plate and reseat the wires around the switch.
Solving light switch issues is the only way to fix light problems.
Due to some short circuits, the power reaching the light switch will be cut off.
As a result, the switch will not receive power to light up your room.
In that case, you should remove the cover plate, remove the switch, and replace it with a new one.
Cover exposed wires with electrical tape for grounding or short-circuit problems.
Faulty circuit cable
A faulty circuit cable is another reason behind the light switch not receiving power.
For checking, use a circuit tester to check the light switch and find if there are any interruptions in the connections.
If you have a faulty circuit cable, you need an electrician to fix the problem.
A broken mechanism in the switch sometimes stops the power from reaching the switch.
The only way to solve the problem is by replacing the light switch.
A common sign behind the broken mechanism is the light not turning on, no matter how often you flip it or use a new bulb.
Another sign is the switch head will not stay in its position.
You can check for the broken mechanism by using a voltage tester.
Turn off the power at the service panel and then remove the bulb.
Connect the tester to the socket’s center and keep the light switch flipped off and then on.
If you do not find any change in the tester, it is confirmed that the switch is not receiving power due to the broken mechanism.
Call an electrician to fix the mechanism and replace the switch.
A lot of lights have features called a ballast that help regulate the incoming voltage.
If you hear humming or buzzing sounds and your light switch does not receive power to light the bulb, the ballast may be the problem.
Ballast and light socket replacement will need wire splicing.
So, you should consult an electrician to fix the ballast so that the switch can receive power.
Bad light fixture
Sometimes when the switch does not receive enough power, the switch is the problem.
But an incomplete light circuit in the light fixture can also be the cause.
Though you can solve the issue easily with little electrical work, finding out which fixture part is creating the problem can be complicated.
First, turn off the circuit in the breaker box and test the fixture continuity by removing it from the wall.
Take a multimeter and touch one end to the white neutral wire and the other to the metal shell in one light socket.
If everything is fine, the reading should be 0.000.
Similarly, check the black hot wire. Touch one end to the black wire and the other to the light socket’s brass part.
The reading should be the same again.
You will need the continuity from white to black wires to ensure the fixture is fine.
If the readings are different, you have a bad fixture. Call an electrician to fix the problem.
How do I test light switches with a multimeter?
Before you jump into the troubleshooting steps or buy a new light bulb or switch, check and confirm it.
Testing the light switch lets you know the problem is genuinely with the switch.
For confirmation, you should check the light switch with a multimeter.
Using a voltage tester or multimeter can save you from much trial and error.
Here are some simple steps for testing a light switch with a voltage tester or multimeter:
- Please turn off the breaker powering the switch because you won’t want to hurt yourself.
- Remove the switch from the wall safely.
- Change the continuity tester to the CONTINUITY and OHMS setting.
- If the switch is single-pole, attach one pole on each side terminal.
- If the switch is 3-way, put one pole over the common screw and the other to the normal side terminal.
- Test both the side terminals on the 3-way switch.
- If the multimeter does not show 1, you have a malfunctioning switch.
What to do with a light switch that is not receiving power?
You will likely have to call a professional to fix the light switch in maximum circumstances.
But with a little experience, you can fix some minor issues yourself.
At least, you can analyze the switch’s condition with the multimeter and ensure whether the problem is in the switch or something else.
- Circuit tester
- Flathead screwdriver
- Philips head screwdriver
- Needle-nose pliers
Here are the steps:
Since you will be working with electrical stuff, taking safety measures is important.
Make sure you wear protective gear and glasses. Keep moisture or metal-related things away from you.
The wires should be capped, and use a marker or electrical tape for the wires you will be fixing.
Find the problem
Before troubleshooting, find out what is wrong with the light switch and why it is not getting power.
Check the breakers and fuses. Use your circuit tester to check the circuit cable.
Remove the switch cover for closer observation if you find nothing in the breakers and fuses.
Replace the switch
In most cases, the problem is broken wire or wire joints.
If that is the case, you should call an electrician.
If the problem is with the switch, you should replace it.
To replace the switch, begin by removing the switch from the wall with the wires hooked.
Take the new light switch and screw it into the plate.
Click a picture before removing the switch and the wires.
It will let you fix the wires properly after installing the new switch.
After you have attached the wires properly with the new switch, screw the switch cover in the wall and turn back the power.
When should I call a professional?
Just because you can fix the switch yourself does not mean you do not require assistance.
The work is electricity-related. So, you must always call a professional if you are not confident about handling the problem.
Besides, if you do anything wrong in the process, that can lead to expensive damages.
A professional can detect and fix the right issue without any potential damage. It will further save time and money.
It is better to be safe than sorry, especially about electrical projects.
Electrical issues are complicated to deal with, but you can solve most of them with a little training.
If the light switch of your house is not acquiring enough power after flipping it on, consider checking all the above situations discussed above.
Common issues are tripped breakers, blown-up fuses, and broken wire or wire joints.
Before calling for help or replacing the light switch or bulb, consider testing the light switch with a multimeter or voltage tester.
Testing will let you know whether it is the switch or if there are other issues.
Why is my light bulb flickering?
One common reason is light switches not receiving enough power. Others include a loose bulb or outlet, a faulty light fixture, and a defective dimmer switch.
Are flickering lights dangerous?
Flickering lights are the least dangerous, provided there are no wire issues or buzzing noises. Before calling a professional, you should check the light switch and the bulb.
Reference: Electrical Wiring Wikipedia, Home wiring Wikipedia.