Half a circuit run is dead...

Reply

  #1  
Old 03-02-05, 06:47 AM
Robert_W
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Half a circuit run is dead...

Last fall I was pressure washing the front of the house, and the same day I noticed that the circuit that takes care of the exterior front of the house and two plugs in the garage was dead. I went to the poorly labeled breaker box, and it seems as if maybe the circuit they are on also includes two outlets in the wall adjacent to the box and it the direction of the garage. They are energized. Is it possible that the connection throught the wall plug can go bad, effectively ending the circuit at that plug? Has anyone seen this happen? (I'm positive there are no GFCIs in the entire circuit).
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 03-02-05, 07:18 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
Why are you sure there are No GFCIs? Is this an old house? They can hide. Common places are the garage (often hiding behind something) the basement, or even in a bathroom.

When part of a circuit goes out it means that there is a break in the circuit. This could mean that a wire has been cut, a device has failed, or a wire has become disconnected from a device. It could also mean that a GFCI has tripped.

A common point of failure for circuits is the backstab connections to receptacles and switches. These backstabs tend to fail over time and a wire disconnects.

What you describe leads me to think that a backstab has failed, or a wire has simply become disconnected from a receptacle, possibly because it was loose to begin with or loosened over time.

Check each and every receptacle or light on this circuit. The problem is most likely on one of the receptacles on the exterior walls, but it could be any other place on the circuit.

With the power off, remove the device and examine the connections. Move any backstabbed connections to screw terminals. Eventually you will find the problem.

While you are at it, now is the time to install GFCIs, since you seem to think you don't have any. Install them in the garage and the outside receptacles. If you map the circuit, you will find that you may only need one, as long as you continue the circuit from the load side of the GFCI.




Now for my soap box. Your panel should not be poorly labeled. You should have fixed this after you bought the house. You should know exactly what breaker controls each and every light, receptacle and appliance. You should also know exactly what is on each breaker. This information is invaluable when you have a problem, but more importantly it may save your life some day. After you fix this problem, spend a couple of hours and identify each and every circuit, so that you have this information.
 
  #3  
Old 03-02-05, 07:27 AM
Robert_W
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
The reason I'm sure there is no GFCI in this circuit is that after I noticed the dead outlets I conducted a THOROUGH search in the fervent hope of finding a tripped GFCI. I agree that I need to spend some time re-labeling the box. It would have been nice to know exactly which outlets were in each circuit. It does seem that my hunch may be correct in that this problem lies in one of my outlets. Thanks for the advice. I plan to work on this problem this weekend and I'll let you know if that turns out to be the cause.
 
  #4  
Old 03-02-05, 08:11 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
What year was the house built? If new enough, there most likely are GFCIs.
 
  #5  
Old 03-02-05, 08:15 AM
Robert_W
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
It was built in '79, and the only GFCI I've seen in the whole house is in the bathroom.
 
  #6  
Old 03-02-05, 08:31 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: NW Ohio
Posts: 188
I agree with racraft. This is a typical GFCI culprit or open circuit somewhere. Because you were pressure washing my thoughts lie more toward a GFCI tripping.

I know you said you looked high and low. But I have found "GFCI receptacle in an upstairs bathroom far away from the front of the house" situations before-and sure enough, it needed resetting.

Nothing lost by tightening the investigation up a notch is there?
 
  #7  
Old 03-02-05, 08:49 AM
Robert_W
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Originally Posted by trs4594
I agree with racraft. This is a typical GFCI culprit or open circuit somewhere. Because you were pressure washing my thoughts lie more toward a GFCI tripping.

I know you said you looked high and low. But I have found "GFCI receptacle in an upstairs bathroom far away from the front of the house" situations before-and sure enough, it needed resetting.

Nothing lost by tightening the investigation up a notch is there?
I agree, look for the simple problems first. I recieved this advice (look for GFCI) a while back, and canvassed the entire house and every square foot of garage wall looking for one, to no avail. Hopefully it is a bad stab connection, is this a common problem with what I'm sure were the cheapest wall plugs on the market in 1979?

EDIT: PS, I'm gonna look one more time for a GFCI before I start pulling wall plates...
 

Last edited by Robert_W; 03-02-05 at 09:01 AM.
  #8  
Old 03-02-05, 09:04 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
The cheapest receptacles available today still have backstabs, In fact, I have even some receptacles and switches that don't have screw terminals (except for the ground). Backstabs are usually faster to install, and they do work, for a while. Sometimes they work for a long time.

In my house I have backstab connections. I don't make any myself, and I switch the ones I find to the screw terminals, but I don't go specifically looking for them.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
'