dead portion in circuit

Old 08-05-02, 07:19 PM
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dead portion in circuit

I was trying to help a friend troubleshoot a circuit - here's what seems to be going on:
He painted a room and decided to replace the receptacles to better match the paint. He did not realize that the top half of one of the receptacles was switched. So he hooked both the red and black wires to this receptacle identical to the old receptacle, but did not break off the copper tab on the receptacle. He said when he switched back on the breaker he heard some sort of click or pop in the room (he's not certain of exactly where). The lights stayed on in the room for a few minutes then went off. The breaker did not trip and the breaker appears to work normallly now. The problem is that now there are several lights and receptacles on the circuit that are dead. There are also some lights and receptacles on this circuit that appear to work fine. The wires are difficult to trace as they are in the walls and in-between floors. There are about 4 - 2way switches (probably not the right term) and 1 - 3-way loop. Taking off the switch plates, these all seem to be tied together in some fashion and all the lights these control do not work. I replaced the receptacle where he forgot to break the tab, thinking that this was trashed when he turned the breaker back on and therefore broke the continuity in the circuit. But it had no obvious effect. There are no GFCIs in the loop, either
Any ideas?
Old 08-05-02, 08:26 PM
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Sounds like a loose connection. Double check connections on all the outlets/switches he changed. Make sure the connections are to the screws, not to the backstab holes in the back of the outlet/switch.

The tab on the switched outlet is probably a red herring - leaving the tab on wouldn't cause the symptoms you report (of course you already figured that out...).

The fact that the circuits worked for a few minutes indicate to me that no fundamental miswiring happened when the outlets were changed.
Old 08-06-02, 08:48 AM
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It is possible that the receptacle that should have been half-switched with the black and the red wire has two different circuits coming to it. If that is the case and you or he forgot to break the tab, when he turned that breaker on it would have caused a short between phases and may not necessarily trip the breaker that he had turned off! It could have caused a different breaker to trip. This would be improperly wired and not in compliance with the NEC but, I have seen it done.

The NEC requires that if you have two circuits feeding two receptacles on the same yoke or mounting strap that the conductors be terminated in a two pole breaker. Sometimes this is not the case and you can have a condition like you describe.

I offer this in addition to the lead that you have already been given by Mike. This lead is definitely a longshot but it is a possibility. The easiest way to answer this question is to go back and have a look at the panel and see if there are any breakers that are tripped. Keeping in mind that it wont be the one that was previously turned off to work on the circuit.

Hope this helps.
Old 08-11-02, 04:11 PM
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thanks for the input....i had my friend go back and check the outlets....sure had a loose neutral wire....reconnected and everything returned to normal...thanks again

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