Can an entire circuit go bad?

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  #1  
Old 07-29-04, 05:56 AM
Janice128
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Question Can an entire circuit go bad?

This AM we discovered that the refrigerater was not on, but when plugged into a different plug is working. We checked the circuit breaker at the box and switched it on and off several times, nothing happened. Normally, I'd just think that the plug was bad and replace it, however, the microwave (above the stove) is also off and is actually plugged into a separate plug in the cupboards. These are the only two plugs/appliances on that circuit.

If it's an easy fix like replacing the plug, I'll do that first, if it's an entire circuit I'll call the electrician. Can anyone give me tell me which is more likely?

Thanks!!

Janice
 
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Old 07-29-04, 06:40 AM
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Certain kitchen receptacle-outlets are required to be GFI protected,therefore, the 1st. step is to locate adjacent GFI-type receptacles (if any), and check for a "Tripped" condition which is indicated by the position of the "Re-set" button. If the "Re-set" button protrudes, push it in, and you will restore power unless there is a permanent trouble.

If you'r certain there are no GFI devices, please inform us.

Good Luck & Enjoy the Experience!!!!!!!!!!
 
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Old 07-29-04, 06:55 AM
Janice128
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I'm fairly certain that there is not a GFI breaker on this circuit. The house is 40 years old and although we had the fuses replaced with a circuit breaker board I don't think they've installed any GFI breakers. I will, however, take a look around to be sure.
 
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Old 07-29-04, 07:15 AM
Janice128
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I've double checked for a GFI and I don't find one. I pulled the plugs out of the wall on the circuit with the electricity breaker off and then turned the electricity on and tested the wires coming into the boxes with my plug tester, none turned the tester on. Is there anything else I can do, or do I have to call a professional?
 
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Old 07-29-04, 08:10 AM
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Is this knob and tube wiring? Shielded aluminum or copper? Romex?

...so you took the covers off the outlets, pulled the outlets out of the boxes, and tested the wires? If not do this:

1. Shut the breaker off that supplies power to this circuit (make absolutely sure you're tripping the right breaker).
2. Unscrew the plates off of these outlets.
3. Unscrew and pull the outlets out of the boxes, and describe how they're wired.

If these outlets are the only thing on this circuit one outlet should have power to it from the box, and supply power to the second outlet. Both outlets should have neutral back to the box either independently (sometimes with knob and tube this is the case), or via the first outlet.

Once the outlets are removed from the box inspect them to make sure the connections are good.

Another thing you can do is test your breaker. Use a voltage tester to test that there is adequate voltage from the post on the breaker to ground with the breaker on. Sometimes these fail, but it's actually pretty rare depending on your breaker.

If your breaker is good and your outlets are wired correctly then you probably need to test the wire supplying the first outlet with power from the box with the breaker on like you did testing the breaker. If the breaker is supplying power, but the hot side of the plug doesn't show anything you have a bigger problem. If you do have power, then I'd start suspecting something is wrong with your neutral wire back to the ground lug on the box...
 
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Old 07-29-04, 08:29 AM
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If you have definitely eleminated GFI devices as the cause, then step 2 is a "positive" voltage-test of the circuit-breakers.You will have to test for 120-volts between the Neutral terminal-strip where the White wires connect, and every individual breaker-terminal.

You have a "deflecting-needle" type voltage-tester that reads 120-volts, and an "assistant". Your assistant holds one testing-probe firmly against the Neutral terminal-bar , and also holds the meter. You press the other probe firmly against each breaker-terminal and note the meter indication.
 
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Old 07-29-04, 08:59 AM
Janice128
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OK, first, thanks so much for your responses, I got a little lost in how to check the breaker at the box, but I went back and looked closer at the outlet closest to the circuit breaker (I've actually found there are three outlets on this circuit, not just the original two). I was looking for the neutral back to the box, even though I wasn't sure what that would look like and on this outlet there are two white wires coming into the box and two black wires. Currently all four wires are connected to the outlet. I also realized that when I used my plug tester on this outlet I tested both white wires not a black and white. I've just done a test again and found that two of the wires DO test positive coming into the outlet, so there is electricity from the box.

I don't have a voltage tester, only a simple plug tester that lights a light and tells you the electricity is off or on.


Now I have more questions. Are all four wires supposed to be connected to that outlet, would it definitely be THAT outlet that is the problem (it's the newest outlet on the circuit).

Thanks again for your help guys,

Janice
 
  #8  
Old 07-29-04, 09:33 AM
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The only reason there would be four wires (two black and two white) connected to this outlet is to supply power to something else. One black/white pair is coming from the box, the other pair is going to another outlet. Hopefully blacks are on one side and whites on the other.

Outlets are funny. Some have several connections possible (up to 4 pairs of wires), while other older ones will only allow two pairs. To make it more complicated you can actually split the outlet by removing the metal tabs on the power or black side to prevent both the top and bottom part of the outlet from sharing the same power. This is useful if you want one half of the outlet to be hot all the time, and the other half to be hot only when a switch is thrown.

Does this outlet actually have power? You said it has power from the panel, but can you actually use it? If so then find out where that second pair of wires is running. To one of the other two outlets you were originally talking about?

If this outlet has power, but you can't use it then I would suspect the plug, and since it's supplying other plugs with power there's no way for that power to get there if the outlet is bad. I always use the heavier duty 15 amp or 20 amp outlets. I never use the el-cheapo outlets because of this exact reason...
 
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