a dead circuit/possible broken wire


Old 02-10-03, 10:34 AM
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Unhappy a dead circuit/possible broken wire

I have a circuit that keeps going dead on me. I have checked my panel box and power is coming thru. does anyone know how I can check for a broken wire without tearing the walls apart?

Last edited by Thecanes; 02-13-03 at 08:52 PM.
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Old 02-10-03, 11:07 AM
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Yes, you are going to have to troubleshoot the circuit. This involves the methodical isolation of parts of the circuit until you find the problem.

The first thing that you will need to do is to determine what receptacles,switches and so forth that the circuit in question feeds. This can be done by turning off all of the other circuits and leaving only that circuit on. Once you have identified all of that circuits components turn off the power.

Now you will need to go through and remove all of the devices that are on that circuit, be careful not to take anything apart. While you are removing devices keep an eye out for a wire or wires that are loose and may come apart. You want to make sure that you know where everything goes when you are done.

With all of the devices out you will need to inspect all of the connections, terminations and joints. In other words, remove the wire nuts and look at the splices to make sure all of the wires are twisted together and that all of the wires are contained in the wire nut. Check receptacles to make sure that all of the wires are tight on the screw terminals and do the same for any switches.

You will more than likely come across a connection that is loose and sometimes makes contact and other times looses contact. This is usuall the problem with a circuit that acts this way. If you find that the receptacles are wired using the "push in" feature, you will more than likely find the problem there. If your receptacles are wired this way, you need to pull on every wire that is pushed into the receptacle to make sure that it is solidly terminated.

Hope this helps.
Old 02-10-03, 11:15 AM
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If you have grounded receptacles, spend $8 on a receptacle tester. This will tell you whether you have an open hot or an open neutral. That will help focus the excellent strategy that Sparksone42 presented.
Old 02-13-03, 08:50 PM
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I tried what was suggested but was still unable to find the problem. Does anyone have any other ideas? I appreciate all the help.Thanks.
Old 02-14-03, 05:36 AM
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Problems like you describe are often a connection problem. You need to methodically trace where this circuit goes and check for power at the various devices along the circuit. Without actually seeing the house and layout it is very difficult to give any better direction. It is just a logical thinking process.
If all the connections are good then it could be problem inside a wall. Wires don't break inside wall all on thier own. Have you driven any nails or screws into the wall recently? Could someone have buried a connection inside the wall somewhere? Could squirrels or other rodents have chewed the wires in the attic or crawl space?
Old 02-14-03, 06:28 AM
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Please tell us what the reading was on the receptacle tester.
Old 02-14-03, 08:07 PM
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You may also want to check the circuit breaker itself. These do go bad or it's possible that the connections to the bus are corroded.

I had the same problem myself, and it turned out to be the main breaker. It started with just one circuit flickering, and then another, then another. The 26 year old main breaker connection was toast. Of course, the particular breaker and box wasn't made anymore, so I had to put in a whole new service. $$$

Call your electric company before messing with the main. They can do checks to see what kind of resistance and load is going through the service, and will pull the meter to secure power to your box.

If you're not comfortable around electrical work of this nature, call in an electrician.
Old 02-15-03, 03:52 AM
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Do you have any Ground Fault Recepticals on this circuit?

Check to see if there is a ground fault receptical on or near where your dead circuit is located. These circuits have a reset button located on the receptical and if this circuit is tripped then there may be other recepticals that attach to this ground fault circuit and it would kill all other recepticals that are down line.
Old 02-23-03, 02:54 PM
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Thumbs up

I want to thank the original poster, all those who replied and the moderators of this site. I am a new homeowner faced with a similar problem. After reading some do-it-yourself manuals, the advice in this thread, and using the receptical tester, I solved my problem and learned a great deal in the process. (In my case, there was more outlet hidden behind some shelves which was the culprit)

I am looking forward to using this site and following this group.

Just wanted to say thanks to all the professional electricians who are enthusiastic about their trade and suppport us novices.

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