lights not working but no circuit breakers tripped

28 Mar 2005
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United Kingdom
Hi guys,
the ceiling lights in our kitchen have suddenly stopped working yet the appropriate circuit breaker has not tripped and all other downstairs lights are working fine.
I have tried to check the relevant wires using one of those pen type voltage testers but because there are other wires in the ceiling gap in close proximity i believe that proximity may be contaminating the response as sometimes the suspect wires do beep and other times they do not.
I have checked the switch terminals in the kitchen using both the pen tester and a screwdriver with an integral light to show whether live or not. Both methods show no power present at the switch.However, is it a break in the wiring, a loose connection in the ceiling gap perhaps (can't think why that would be) or is it the switch? Can a multimeter be used to detect if current is flowing through the outer grey insulation of the appropriate wiring and if it can how do I do it?
Any advice would be most welcome and greatly appreciated.
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Can a multimeter be used to detect if current is flowing through the outer grey insulation of the appropriate wiring


What sort of lights are they?
Have you or someone else done anything else to the electrics recently? Or drilled any holes in the walls or etc. etc.
You'll need a multimeter, steady hands and an appreciation of the dangers of working live. Lots of variables here- to be honest, if you're having to ask here how to check reliably that voltage is present then you may be better off and safer calling someone who knows what they are about or have a look on Youtube for How To videos if you are determined to have a go. Do bear in mind that electricity can kill.
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Hello endecotp,
no work done, however, the downstairs lighting circuit breaker had tripped on several occasions over a 2-3 week period. I thought perhaps that outside security lights may have been responsible due to possible ingress of water through dozed seals and subsequently turned these off at their respective switches. Strangely the lights did not fail since then until last week when the kitchen lights failed to come on and subsequent check revealed that the circuit breaker had not tripped as i had suspected.
Voltage pen/stick and test screwdrivers are not going to help you fault find but they could help kill you!
You need a two pole/probe tester/meter that can reference between conductors.
Hello prenticeboy of Derry,
I do have a working multi meter (someone gave it to me) but unsure how to use it.
sorry endecotp, you asked why type of lights; 2 X 4 lamp spotlight bars with GU10 led bulbs
With your multimeter, you'll need to learn how to measure voltage and continuity (Ω) to sort out your problem.
Neon screwdriver & no contact voltage devices may (or may not) indicate the presence of a mains voltage, but they are unable to determine a missing neutral which is often the cause of a non functioning circuit.

You'll need to learn how to use your multimeter and also study the information in the WIKI on how lighting circuits are wired. Then you'll be on your way to sorting it out.

By the way, is your kitchen an add-on extension to the house?
I'll look on internet for the specific instructions. Yes it is an extension, however, this was completed 22years ago and there have been no issues since whatsoever.
I only ask this, as sometimes - when an extension is added - the lighting supply is provided from the main house ring final circuit and through a fused connection unit (FCU).
Which may be hidden away/forgotten.

When a lamp in the kitchen goes it sometimes blows the fuse in the FCU thus stopping the lights from working, while the rest of the house remains OK.

May be worth a hunt - otherwise you going to have to learn about your multimeter, or get a sparky in….
Many thanks to all those who tried to help me with this problem. I managed to trace it to a faulty ceiling rose. So, all good now.

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