Circuit dead, but breaker not tripped...

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  #1  
Old 01-24-05, 07:04 PM
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Circuit dead, but breaker not tripped...

Ive searched from a year ago, from Pg 83..and then gave up...So I'll ask.
Ive been called to a repeat client to try to fix a problem. Their DR/LR and foyer lights and outlets are dead. No power to them. The circiut breaker as not tripped...and looks fine at the box. Its a 2x15amp/toggled breaker...and I cant for the life of me figure out why there's no power to the circuit.
Could the breaker be bad?
Do breakers just 'Die'?...ie when flicking on/off often? (not that this one or any of the others have).
If so, why just that one, while the others (and power to the rest of the house) is fine and operable.?
Im heading back to my client in the AM to investigate and/or replace the breaker...but could use some help....
Any insight or suggestions would be most appreciated.
TIA
 
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  #2  
Old 01-24-05, 07:07 PM
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If you have power leaving the breaker, and no power at the box, then there is a problem somewhere along the way.

In the absence of remodeling or picture hanging or something like that which might have damaged a cable, the most likely cause is a failed connection.

You will need to follow the circuit back from the lights or forward from the breaker and find where a connection has failed. A likely candidate is a backstabbed connection at a receptacle.
 
  #3  
Old 01-24-05, 07:20 PM
dennisjonescon.
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purchase an inexpensive (pencil like) voltage tester.....this will detect voltage on the black (red) wire. If there is voltage dectected then your problem is a short in the neutral(white). If no voltage is dectected then there is a break in the hot somewhere between the breaker and the switch. You'll need to start at the breaker and trace it thru every box it may run thru.....good luck
 
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Old 01-24-05, 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by dennisjonescon.
purchase an inexpensive (pencil like) voltage tester.....this will detect voltage on the black (red) wire. If there is voltage dectected then your problem is a short in the neutral(white). If no voltage is dectected then there is a break in the hot somewhere between the breaker and the switch. You'll need to start at the breaker and trace it thru every box it may run thru.....good luck
.
Would it be safe to presume that the 'tracing back thru every box' would be focused on the outlets and/or switches.....vs the light fixtures in the ceiling? (Canned, receased lighting?)
.
EEEEgads.. What a challenge!!
 
  #5  
Old 01-24-05, 08:21 PM
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Breakers do just Die.
Some times you need to switch the breaker to the off position then back on. to reset the breaker.

If its not a bad breaker.
Start with the not working box closest to the breaker panel. Plugs first, switches then lights.
you may have a working plug with a bad connection not feeding power to the others.
It will be a chain from one item to the next( up, down left, right). Most of the time.
 
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Old 01-25-05, 08:14 AM
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Ive reset the breaker, more than once with no change.
It just seems odd that EVERYTHING on that circuit is dead: outlets, switches and the lights. I could understand maybe just the outlets running in a chain be out 'coz of a bad connection not feeding downline, but everything?!?!?
Oh well, I'll be out there again today to investigate....
Thx
 
  #7  
Old 01-25-05, 09:43 AM
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A couple of tests would prove useful...

Test for voltage with a multimeter at the breaker. With the breaker reset to "on", there should be 110 volts between the hot lead of the circuit breaker and the neutral bus bar. If there is less than 110 volts, swap out the breaker with a "known-good" breaker, then test again.

Once you know the breaker itself is good, check the voltage at each of the devices. If you have 110 volts between hot and ground, but no volts between hot and neutral, then you know you are looking for an open neutral condition. If you have an open neutral, you can narrow things down a bit with another test: TURN THE BREAKER OFF, then test for continuity between neutral and ground at each device. Because neutral and ground are bonded together at the main panel, there should be continuity between neutral and ground at each device.

If you have no volts between hot and neutral, then you have an open hot condition.

By-the-way, we have checked to make sure there is not a GFCI-protected outlet in this circuit, right?
 
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Old 01-25-05, 09:47 AM
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Mr Fixit's ideas are very good.

Two more points:

(1) Not all white wires are neutral. That's very important to know as you do your testing.

(2) You cannot exclude light fixtures from your testing, because power does often flow through those boxes and on to someplace else.
 
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Old 01-26-05, 08:30 AM
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Update......

Returned to the job site with a new breaker in case... So I decided to unscrew the orig breaker to start some tests. Once I had it loose, a little spark appeared, so I know there was power to the breaker. I scrap/cleaned the bolt down area and for the hell of it, reconnected the orig breaker. Low and behold, all the lights in question came on. Voiala. Problem fixed. I can only presume that there mustve been some 'oxidation' of sorts at that breaker. What a relief!!!
Then, after changing/adding a couple of bulbs to 3 other canned lites in the same area and testing them, by toggeling the rocker switch on/off a few times, all of a sudden those 3 lights stopped working. WTF now!! These 3 lites are on that same circuit. I checked all the light connections and all was fine..so I figured it had to be the switch. Opened it up to find a poor Black wire connection. Redid that..and all was fine. Phew.
Thanks a mill for all your feedback and suggestions.....
 
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