I have a lighting circuit issue that has me stumped. While out buying candy, my wife called me to tell me that the kids were playing with a light switch, and now all of the first floor overhead lights are out. Sounds like a tripped breaker, I figured, and took my time getting home.

Turns out it's not so simple. Here's the situation: The switches they were playing with are a 3 way next to a single pole, both controlling overhead fixtures. The lights that are out are all on one circuit, and it seems that every light on that circuit is out (including many other fixtures not on this switch). There is no voltage to the switch in question, but the breaker is not tripped. I replaced both switches first, with no luck. I swapped out the breaker with a known good one, even though the breaker was reading 120v output. I checked all the other breakers, and every one of them reads 120v.

Basically it's acting exactly like a tripped breaker, without there being one. One weird thing, I have a cheap wand-type voltage checker, and it lights up when it gets within about 8 inches of the switches, until I shut off the breaker, then it won't respond at all. Does this mean there's voltage almost to the switch, but for some reason it ends before the wires emerge from the box?

I'm stumped, but need to exhaust every option before I call an electrician. This is my first post, but I promise to stick around and be useful!

Thanks, Andy