Loss of power to outlets....

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  #1  
Old 05-21-05, 02:18 PM
OfcrRich72
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Question Loss of power to outlets....

I was using my shop-vac in my office and suddenly lost power. All three of the outlest in the room, as well as the GFI in the bathroom lost power. I checked the panel and found that the breaker didn't trip. I was unable to reset the GFI, so I replaced it. No luck. I went ahead and replaced all of the outlets and checked all the wiring. No luck still. I have no idea what could be causing the loss of power. Bad breaker? Any ideas?
 
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Old 05-21-05, 02:32 PM
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You said that you were unable to reset the GFCI. Do you know if in fact the GFCI was tripped or not?

Vacuums, because they pull a lot of current, are notorious for causing weak connections to fail. Since you have already replaced the dead outlets, using I assume most excellent connections (and not backstabs), then the failed connection must be at one of the other outlets on the same circuit, probably an outlet that is currently working perfectly. The failed connection is usually a white wire, and usually a backstab (wire poked into a hole).

I also suggest you double-check to make sure you got the "line" and "load" connections correct on the GFCI. If you reverse them, nothing will work. The pages of tiny print that come with the GFCI tell you the correct procedure to use.
 
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Old 05-21-05, 02:38 PM
OfcrRich72
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Thanks for the reply John. I did use the backstabs when I wired up the receptacles. Everything was working fine until I started using the vacuum. I don't know whether or not the original GFCI actually "tripped" or not. The reset button did pop and I was unable to push it back in. The lights still work in both rooms but all of the outlets are dead. Any ideas?
 
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Old 05-21-05, 02:49 PM
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Shut off the breaker, make a list of everything on the circuit (working or not), and remake all the connections in all the boxes on the circuit using new wire nuts, and using screws instead of backstabs. It's a bit time consuming, but simple. Doublecheck the GFCI instructions for line and load.

If the new GFCI is also tripped, then make sure you repack the boxes to avoid accidental contact of the bare grounding wire with any of the screws.
 
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Old 05-21-05, 03:07 PM
OfcrRich72
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Only the lights on that circuit work. Everything else is dead. I replaced all of the receptacles, using backstabs for connections, and still no power. The breaker never tripped when power was lost. Any possibility the breaker could be the problem?

I'm going to start pulling the receptacles out and using the screw connections. Thanks for the advice.
 
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Old 05-21-05, 03:27 PM
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The breaker could be bad, but unlikely. A voltmeter or circuit tester can answer the question definitively.

Again I say that a GFCI line/load mixup might be the problem.

Are you 100% sure that you've identified everything on the circuit?

The problem could be at the light boxes or switch boxes too.

If you created a short, you could also be tripping the new GFCI. Is the new GFCI tripped or reset?

Although backstabs are poor connections, they usually fail over time. A backstab made in a brand new receptacle is probably not the problem.

I recommend you spend $8 on an outlet tester at your home center. It plugs into a receptacle and has three lights on it. It will help narrow down the possibilities.
 
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Old 05-21-05, 04:21 PM
OfcrRich72
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I'm sure the GFCI is wired correctly. It was working fine until I used that shop-vac in there. I also tried swapping out the GFCI with a regular receptacle...same result. I have an outlet tester but have never used it before. What should I be looking for with the indicator lights?
 
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Old 05-21-05, 06:09 PM
OfcrRich72
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OK....I checked all of the connections and tested all of the receptacles. The tester lights indicate that I have an open ground. When I plugged the tester into the GFCI, I also pushed the reset button and the power came back on. Now I have power but the tester fails to trip the GFCI when I push the GFCI test button. Does it fail to trip because of the open ground? This section of my house is the original knob and tube wiring, which I don't believe is grounded.
 
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Old 05-21-05, 07:03 PM
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A GFCI receptacle will work fine with no ground. It will test properly with the internal tester, and it will tes properly with an external tester if the external tester is provided with a ground from another source.

I suspect improper wiring of the GFCI.
 
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Old 05-21-05, 08:14 PM
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So is everything now working properly now that you have reset the GFCI? Didn't you do that before? I guess that I completely misunderstand the sequence of events here.
 
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Old 05-21-05, 09:03 PM
OfcrRich72
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I did attempt to reset the GFCI before with no luck. Suddenly, now, it reset when I pressed the button. When i push the test button on the GFCI, it trips. When I test it with the external tester, it doesn't trip. The tester just tells me that there is an open ground.

I tried previously to swap out the GFCI with a regular receptacle, guessing that I may have a bad GFCI or may have wired it incorrectly. Same result though, no power. I put the GFCI back in later and still had the same result. Now suddenly, the GFCI decides to reset. I don't get it. I'm just not sure why it isn't tripping when I use the external tester.

Thanks for all the replies, I really appreciate the help.
 
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Old 05-22-05, 12:07 AM
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As Bob already said, because you have no ground, it's okay that the GFCI doesn't trip with the external tester.
 
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Old 05-22-05, 08:01 AM
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The internal GFCI tester tests the GFCI by leaking a small amount of current. IT bypasses the circuitry and leaks the current to the neutral.

An external GFCI tester cannot by pass the circuitry to get to the neutral, so it leaks the current to the ground. If the ground is open, the current has nowhere to go.

You cannot use an external GFCI tester to test, if there is no ground.
 
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