Track light Troubleshoot and repairs

Do you need guidance in finding out what is wrong with your track light?

track light troubleshoot and repair:

First of all, we can troubleshoot and repair any track light systems for you.  We can even install all new systems. All you have to do is to call us.

But if you are the DIY-type,  you can handle it, I mean,  with the proper guidance…

Here it is: 

Links: 

If you need to know where to buy a track light, choose and buy the best here.

The best in dimmable LED track lights

If you need to know where to choose and buy the necessary electrical tools first watch this video here:

Basic electrical tools to do the job.

Then go to this page here:

ELECTRICAL TOOLS.

Basics of track light troubleshoot and repair:

standard track light troubleshoot repair and installation

Odds are, that you are reading this page because you are having trouble with a track light and you need to know the basics of track light troubleshoot and repair.   

There are many types, colors, styles and designs, but the track light that is the most common is what we will address here.  Standard track!

The most common problem with track lights is the contacts within the fixture, usually a little bit of playing with the contacts and the track will bring a light fixture back to life. It will save a lot of money and aggravation.

But if you tried wiggling the base connector and nothing happened, here is what you can do safely:

 

trick light fixture with bulb being removed for troubleshooting

Track light troubleshoot steps:

1 – Tap the bulbs

2 – Check the bulbs

3 – Check the fixture

4 – Remove the fixture

5 – Test the fixture

6 – Test Track and Live-in

7 – Test box to switch

8 – Test circuit breaker

track lights on bare ceiling

To Troubleshoot a track light you do this:

Start by checking the light bulbs

Track light troubleshoot basics: TAP THE BULB

Turn the light switches on and with your finger, tap the light bulb.

 If the light flicks on and off, or turn itself on, it means that the bulb is bad.  This works for halogens and incandescent only. But is part of troubleshooting, so do it.

Replace the bulb weather or not it came back to life and stayed on. Believe me, it will go bad soon again. If it did not, do not replace it yet.

A general test to see if you have a good of bad halogen or incandescent light bulb, is to use your multi-meter. 

Move the dial of your multi-meter to “continuity” and touch each prong of the bulb with each one of the two meter prongs. 

If it beeps is that the light is good, and if it doesn’t is that the light bulb is bad. See picture illustrating such procedure. 

 

track light fixture installed - tap on light bulb before removing the fixture.

Track light troubleshoot basics: CHECK THE BULB

If the light is completely off, first check that the light bulbs are not burned out again. This is a mistake often made, because techs are too lazy to test the bulbs.

Even if multiple light fixtures are not working on the same track, make sure to test the light bulbs first. Should I repeat it again?

To test the light bulbs, just touch the prongs of your multi-meter, one in each prong of the bulb. 

Make sure your multi meter has  continuity test selected on the dial. See picture of our dial below. 

It is suppose to beep when you touch both of the testers prongs to each other. So when you touch both prongs of the light bulb, it is also supposed to beep for a good bulb.

If it doesn’t beep when you touch the bulb’s prongs, but beeps when you touch both of meters prongs together, it means that you have a bad light bulb. Just replace it and you are good!

Now if your bulbs are good, you wiggled the base of the light fixture and you tried all the obvious, then continue with troubleshooting. 

light bulb, troubleshoot by touching each prong of your meter to each prong of the bulb.
Troubleshooting with a multi meter track light

Track light troubleshoot basics: REMOVE FIXTURE

Remove one fixture from the track. Do it by pulling the locking tab and twisting the base of the fixture 45 degrees. This will unlock and detach the light fixture from the track.

Pay attention what side of the track will have two prongs and what side will have only one. This will come in handy when you put the new fixture on the track, because you will already know what side takes two prongs and you  won’t make a mistake.

Track light fixture removed from track

Track light troubleshoot basics: TEST FIXTURE

Now that you triple checked the bulbs, your task is to test each failing fixture. 

The testing goes along the same lines that you took when testing your light bulbs. 

Using the same leads from your multi-tester, you can check to see if power comes in to the bulb socket. 

If you detect power coming into the bulb socket, the problem must be the contacts in between socket and bulbs. 

 

Troubleshooting light prongs multimeter

ROOKIE REMINDER:

Remember that to test voltage, the dial of your multi-meter tester has to be in the position of “alternate current mode”, otherwise you can’t read the voltage coming in.

If power is not coming through to the light bulb socket, remove the fixture again and test continuity in between the track prong and one of the sockets.  

Each prong that connects to the track must be in contact to one prong inside the bulb socket.

The picture shown here, is to identify the prongs negative and positive that you must test at the base of the fixture.

 

Track light troubleshoot basics: TEST lIVE_IN AND TRACK

Once you know for a fact that the bulbs and the fixtures are working properly, it is when you move on to test the tracks. 

Open the track leads, which is where the power comes into the track, and work your way back to the electrical box to which that particular track light connects. 

Remove the screws of the live-in connector, or box-in connector and test the two connecting screws. See the example of the live-in open and the electrical box open.  

Test the connectivity in between tracks and boxes.

ROOKIE REMINDER:

Again, for those who know little about electricity, the testing procedures are the same here. 

First use the alternate current mode of your multi-meter, turn the power on to the track in question, and check to see if power is getting to those screws. 

If power is not making its way to those two screws, negative and positive, the problem is down the line, meaning that the electrical circuits and devices; like switches, wires and connections that connect to that fixture in particular need to be checked methodically on each and every connection. 

If power gets to it all right, the problem is up the line, meaning on the track itself or the fixtures… but you already tested the fixtures and the bulbs, so the track itself is the only culprit. That is why it is important to test every fixture. 

Track light troubleshoot basics: from switch to live-in

If you still have not found power coming in, it means that the problem is further down the line. Meaning that the problem is before the wires get to that box.

Test connectivity in between the box and the switch for that circuit. To do that, you must start at the switch that is supposed to control the particular track light that is not working.

Most electricians open that switch box and test the leads to make sure power is getting to the switch itself.

If power is not getting to it, the problem is down the line towards the circuit breaker.

On the other hand, if the power is getting to the switch, and the switch is working fine, the problem is towards the track light that is not working, but before the track, because you tested everything from the bulb to the electrical box adjacent to it. So the box that you already tested up the line towards the fixtures should be fine.

Track light troubleshoot basics: CHECK CIRCUIT BREAKER AT THE PANEL

This is your last shot at resolving this problem, actually you can use this step alternatively at the beginning of the process of troubleshooting, but we left at the end, because experience has told us that the problem is usually within the fixture to the adjacent electrical box, by the failing fixture, so it would be pointless if you had done this one first.

But at this point, if you have not solved this problem yet, just switch the power off and back on to the circuit breaker that controls that circuit.

If you are lucky, this would be all that you need to do to get the track light to work again, if not, you reached a critical point to DIYers. 

From this point on, a DIYer can do more damages than repairs!

Know when you need help:

If you reached this point and has not solved the problem yet, you definitely need an electrician

Give us a call and we can go troubleshoot and fix this problem for you.

At this point, you probably made a mess of this job, and anything is possible when DIYers try to do things and then try again to put everything back together. 

We have experience undoing the messes of DIYers.

That is why we are the company for you. We tried our best to help you without stepping a foot into your home. Now is the time to get this problem resolved once for all. 

Contact us by clicking here and explain to us what the problem is. 

Frequent Asked Questions:

Are track heads interchangeable?

The whole point of track lights is that you can exchange light heads. 

In addition, you can move them around, and place them wherever is most appropriate for the settings of a perfect ambient light.

The trick is to make sure that you get the standard tracks and standard heads. 

In the USA most of the standard tracks are neutral on one side of the track, and hot and ground on the other.

To be more specific, inside the track, there are strips of conductive metal.  Most commonly, this material is copper.

The strips of copper, go from one side of the track, all the way to the other, transferring power to/from the fixtures and to/from an electrical box.

Now back to the question, are heads interchangeable?

The answer is: – as long as the prong system in the fixture matched the track, and you have the correct voltage in the track, it will work.

Inside leads track lights

how long are the tracks?

In the United states, tracks can be found in lengths of 4′, 6′, 8′, 10′, 12′ and less commonly found but existing in the market, 16′, 18′ and 20′.

These tracks can especial ordered to your project and specs.

Now if you are working on a run-of-the-mill project and just want to buy a regular track from your local wholesaler electrical supplier, the most common track dimensions are 4′, 8′ and 12′. Most likely they will only have white.

Everything else is special order.

Can a track be cut?

Disregard the fact that every track comes with a horrible warning, saying that the track cannot be cut.

The standard track light is made in a way that cutting it, will not hurt the track. They list it in every track because you will lose your warranty. 

Make sure that the metal shavings do not get stuck in between the insulator rubberized track in between the leads. 

That mistake can cost you a whole lot of trouble.

Cut clean perpendicular to the track, and make sure that you install an end-track or a live-in to seal the end of the track and insulate the leads. 

Those are insulators and they prevent short. Ultimately just follow manufacturer instructions if you are not comfortable doing this.

track lights do not cut track warning

How does Track lights work?

Track lights are long strips of  “U” shaped aluminum lengths, which contains grooves on the inside.

These grooves are designed in a way that fits two runs of non-conductive material, either plastic or rubberized insulators, that run inside all the way through the track.

In turn, these lengths of rubber, protect and hold tight, strips of copper, that bring power from and to an electrical circuit.

The whole system works together,  allowing the entire track to be a surface in which you can plug a track light and get power to it in a safe manner.

The electrical leads never stay exposed, and you can plug in as many light fixtures as the system allows by manufacturer instructions.

Track aluminum for track lights

If you either needed information or knowledge, feel free to call us at 323-651-0635 and we will be glad to send you an expert to discuss your project.

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