Electrical circuit woes

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  #1  
Old 11-26-05, 07:19 AM
heybiff
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Electrical circuit woes

I am in the process of putting up drywal in a spare room and thought I would add a switchable outlet to the room. To do this I ran a line from the ceiling light to a new recepticle on the wall. Tested it nd ll worked as I expected.

Three hours later the bathroom lights and exhaust fan as well as lights to the spare room stop working, but the breaker is not tripped ( all on same circuit). I turn the breaker off and on and no go. I temporarily disconnect the new outlet, no go. Unplug the exhaust fan, unscrew the bulbs in the bathroom light fixture, hit all switches, try breaker, no go. Bought a tester and checked the wall switches and there appears to be no power to them. Even went to Home Depot and bought a new breaker ( did I get the right type? It looked the same, same amperage, and popped right in?), and still no go.

The boss is getting tired of using a worklight in the bathroom for light. And suggestions or obvious things I overlooked?

Heybiff
 
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  #2  
Old 11-26-05, 07:37 AM
rmoorman
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Is there a GFI outlet on circuit?

I'm no electrician and this might be pretty simplistic, but since you mention that the circuit services the bathroom I'm wondering if there is a GFI outlet on the circuit that may have tripped. These outlets have two buttons one says test the other says reset. It might be that you just neet to hit the reset button. However, you would certainly want to figure out why it tripped.
 
  #3  
Old 11-26-05, 07:40 AM
heybiff
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Good suggestion!

There is one outlet and it is for the exhaust fan. I will check that one JIC.

Heybiff

p.s. but keep the help coming. I'd liek to nail this one asap.
 
  #4  
Old 11-26-05, 07:47 AM
heybiff
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Checked, not GFI not even grounded...

But I guess it's a lighting fixture kind of thing so ?

Heybiff
 
  #5  
Old 11-26-05, 09:02 AM
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You wired something wrong, or one of your splices has come undone.
 
  #6  
Old 11-26-05, 11:51 AM
heybiff
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ok

But if I wired someting wrong, it ouwld have been undone when I removed the recepticle, right? Also the splices were twisted, with screw caps and electrical tape to make sure the caps didn't fall off, plus I check them 2x to ensure there wasn't any arching or other weirdness.

I'm completely open to having f'd up. I just can't see where the prob is tho.

Heybiff
 
  #7  
Old 11-26-05, 03:30 PM
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coud you have been overzelus and twisted a wire cap so far as to have the wire break off under the cap right at the insulation and is no longer making contact?...this could have happened..you say everything worked for a small amount of time...one of your wires may have been damaged in twisting the cap too many times...and "scarred" a wire only to have it heat and break a short time later?...just one of those ..."could happen" things
 
  #8  
Old 11-26-05, 04:41 PM
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Hey........heybiff.......... How many wires were there, up above the ceiling light fixture where you tapped your outlet wire into?

I am asking this to determine if your wire nutting did or did not cause this? I plan to learn if at that ceiling junction, if there were the necessary wires to also feed the bathrooms.

If there wasn't, something else occured here. But I'm not going to speculate until you say whether or not there was only the ceiling light feed wire, only, up there, that you tapped into. But if you said there were THREE black wires you tapped into....well............
 
  #9  
Old 11-26-05, 05:47 PM
heybiff
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Goog point...

The ceiling connection was for the light fixtureonly, so only one hot, neutral and ground. The switch bof fpr that fixture haas 3 neutrals, 3 hot ( one in, one to fixture, and one back from fixture ), and 2 ground. -- that sund correct?

My understanding is that my additional outlet would be in series with the light fixture. I'm not sure if that is the best way to do it, but I'm also sure it's not against code either. -- someone correct me is I'm wrong, I'd like to know for the future.

The light fixture was not attached as I'm putting up drywall, so nothing should have been in series with it down the circuit.

I've since removed everything I've done and left bare leads in place. I've replaced the breaker to no effect, and replaced the bathroom switch.

I will say the bathroom switch was a lighted switch, and the box also holds a GFI outlet. I've been putting off playing in that box as the outlet ison a different circuit that still funtions, and there are a lot of wires in that box. FWIW when I replaced the switch with a plain switch, the ground broke off at the wire nut. I reattached it as best I could without pulling everything out of the box, but that lead >>shouldn't<< prevent the circuit from working shouln't it?

Please keep it coming. I REALLY don't want to have to pay an electrician to tell me someting I could have fixed was broken.

Heybiff
 
  #10  
Old 11-26-05, 06:16 PM
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Because you have so many wires in the SWITCH box and only one romex worth of wire to the CEILING box, leads me to believe that you wired everything okay and in no way affected those other outlets if you did just what you said - by hooking up those wires in the ceiling box.(I made a drawing of what you did on paper and it is correct.) Because it is impossible for that area to be a junction for the other stuff that went out!

Is that all you did? Because even if you broke a wire in the wire nut, this would only cause either the light in that room, or the outlet to go out, or both. Not that other stuff.

Are you sure you didn't do SOMETHING in that switch box? Did you, before wiring the ceiling fixture tie-in for the outlet, open up the switch box and pull out the switch and pull out wire groupings to check it out? or unwire nut some of them and forget about which ones were wired to which other ones?

Did you fiddle with any other wiring anywhere before deciding on that ceiling light tie-in?

Even if you wired up the outlet backwards, only the polarity would be wrong, which would not affect anything.
 
  #11  
Old 11-26-05, 06:39 PM
heybiff
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:-|

I only opened up the switch boxes after the lights went out; and I'd ruled out tripped breaker, blown bulbs. That was easily 3 or 4 hrs after the fact. Plus we have houseguests, I can't beleive there weren't 4 or 10 trips into thebathroom between my work and when someone said teh lights were not working.

Heybiff
 
  #12  
Old 11-26-05, 07:32 PM
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This whole story sounds like one big koinky dinky, if you ask me.

I would be more prone to believe that a house guest plugged a hair dryer into a bathroom outlet and tripped out a gfci located there or elsewhere in the house. Make sure no GFCI has anything plugged into it when looking as I have seen them tripped out behind Glade air fresheners, etc. Look for GFCI next to panel box in basement. Also, make sure you have no unusual looking circuit breaker as that could be a GFCI circuit breaker and these don't always reset on the first try, as I can attest to.
 
  #13  
Old 11-26-05, 09:06 PM
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Is it possible that you drove a nail or screw through a wire when you were putting up the drywall or doing other construction…Just a guess?
 
  #14  
Old 11-27-05, 07:49 AM
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Buzz - Good thinking. Good possible theory. I knew a guy who just finsished a complex upstairs laundry where he stole room out of his garage to do it. A finishing up screw went dead center through a water pipe and he had to tear into the wall! And many, many construction people have indeed nailed or screwed, or sawzalled/nicked through wires.
 
  #15  
Old 11-27-05, 09:15 AM
heybiff
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I wish it was that simple

The outlet was the last thing before I started to BEGIN hanging drywall.

Heybiff
 
  #16  
Old 11-27-05, 10:09 AM
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If you shorted out the outlet, as a worse case scenario, you would have shorted out the breaker and tripped it. (And you said you didn't) And you would have known this I would think, by some spark, sizzle, whatever.

Were you hammering in drywal nails, or screwing. If hammering, especially, you could have jarred one of those wire nuts in the switch box, that probably feeds the bathroom (I mean - all those wires you said are in that switchbox have to go somewheres, right?)

Nothing you could possibly have done to that new oulet could cause that outage problem.

You haven't replied back as to if you have gfci outlets or a gfci breaker in the panel box, anywhere in the house. We have to know that. That is a must. If not in the bathroom, the basement at the panel box or elsewhere in the basement, out in a garage, a laundry room. We have to know if you have one or more of these devices in your house.
 
  #17  
Old 11-27-05, 10:23 AM
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Ok Biff,

In your ceiling light you should have only (1) romex coming into it if I am reading your statements correctly. And now by adding the line down to your recept. you added you should have (2) romex into the ceiling light...so that part is fine ( BTW..Not a code issue....not real practicle but again not against code unless at some point you place a dimmer on that light... )

OK...Now....in the recept. you added you have only (1) Romex coming into it so that should not be the problem.

Now...you stated you have NOT been in the actual switch box itself before the problem started...is that statement correct?

I would suggest you do this....Firstly, if you have a non-contact tester you will need to test at the switch for the bathroom fan and see if you have any current at the switch itself......you could have stepped on a wire in the attic or pulled something loose..( who knows at this point )

But you need to see if you can verify any current at the bathroom location as it could be simple " happen stance " and be a simple issue of a defective switch in the bathroom box.....but that is a place to start.

OK....last question..does your recept and light in the bedroom still work ( you may have posted it but I am short on reading today )....if it is working then I would narrow my search in the bathroom and then TRY to jar your memory to see if you just happen to go in to the bedroom switch box prior....just maybe......think back......

Anyway using a non-contact tester you can check the bathroom and see.....also are you 100% sure your bathroom is on the same circuit as the bedroom......could very easily be on a GFCI somewhere else in the house if built prior to 1999 NEC...where many people used to loop the GFCIs in bathrooms with other GFCI required areas.....just an additional thought.
 
  #18  
Old 11-27-05, 10:39 AM
heybiff
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Hmm, ok

First, thank you all for your continued help and patience with this. It is appreciated.

The lights in the bathroom are not on any GFI circuit I can find. There is also no GFI breake in the main panel.

I did not the the bathroom with a non-contact tester. I only have a regular test probe, and multimeter. I 'll pick one up tonight after work and give the two rooms the once over.

I will also test the light switch, just to be sure.

I am *pretty* sure only the bathroom lights and spare bedroom lights ( immediatly behind the bathroom ).

I will check the connections in the switch box after testing all the points with a non contact tester, and if no go after that I will admit defeat and call an electrician :-|

I'll keep you all posted.

Heybiff
 
  #19  
Old 11-27-05, 10:54 AM
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I refuse to allow you to declare defeat. Finding electrical problems is fairly easy. It's like finding where the water is dammed up in the river, as current flow is like water flow. It's simply like "follow the yellow brick road"

But you can't just go presuming NOTHING. You have to be 100% positive, for example that your circuit breakers all work. That step 1 is a must. You have to make sure you have 110 coming out of each wire as it exits the breaker in the panel box.

Then we can help you from there.

How old a house is your house? Newer homes circa 1976 uniform building code require GFCI outlets. If you can't find one does not mean one is not there somewheres. You have to look in all the typical places (bathroom, laundry, kitchen, garage, basement, outside outlet). You never have said about OUTLET(S) being out in bathrooms. What's the status there? Or, if your bedroom light you tied into, and your new outlet work? The more you tell us, the more we can help.

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  #20  
Old 11-27-05, 08:38 PM
heybiff
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Problem SOLVED!

Turns out I did miss something. The outlets in that room were on the same circuit, and were out.

After picking up the non-contact current sensor, I tested all the connections and found them dead. I then tested the breaker connection and it had power. I then sat on the couch and pouted.

"The Boss" asked me to explain what was working and what wasn't. She asked if the outlets were working, and I answered no. Then I actually remembered that I never tested all of them, one worked so I figured they were ona different circuit. So up I went and behold, 3 or the 4 outlets did not work either. The working outlet was on a diff circuit, the the non working outlets were apparently on the same bathroom circuit.

The first recepticle I checked did the trick, one wire in was hot, the wire out was not. I pushed the wire in further, and BAM, both wires hot, bathroom lights work, everything works. Apparently the circuit started at that recepticle and ran around the room, into the bathroom.

Thanks for all teh Help everyone, you all were invaluable to getting me to work through this in a methodicxal way. The suggestion to get a non-contact tester was the key as well.

Thanks, I can not potty in comfort.

Heybiff
 
  #21  
Old 11-27-05, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by heybiff
The first recepticle I checked did the trick, one wire in was hot, the wire out was not. I pushed the wire in further, and BAM, both wires hot, bathroom lights work, everything works. Apparently the circuit started at that recepticle and ran around the room, into the bathroom.

Sounds like you are talking about "backstab" connections, where the wire is stripped and poked into a hole in the back of the receptical/switch.

Most of the experts on this site will tell you to move any wires in the backstab holes over to the corresponding screw. Why? Because of the exact problem you just had...Wires work loose, and mysterious problems occur. You've already found one loose enough to kill half a circuit. How many more are just loose enough to heat things up, but not loose enough to kill part of the circuit?
 
  #22  
Old 11-28-05, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by heybiff
Turns out I did miss something. The outlets in that room were on the same circuit, and were out.

The first recepticle I checked did the trick, one wire in was hot, the wire out was not. I pushed the wire in further, and BAM, both wires hot, bathroom lights work, everything works. Apparently the circuit started at that recepticle and ran around the room, into the bathroom.


Heybiff
And this is the very procedure I have been trying to get that other poster to check for on another thread yesterday, where I said that if he had one of those "Live Wire" (I bought mine at a Menards - pretty cheap price actually. VERY valuable tool! They are like magic.) non-contact testers that light up and beep when you get near hot electricl wires, like a Geiger counter going off, he could literally 'wand' the wall and find if an outgoing hot wire was dead due to possibly a loose outlet connection (perhaps a backstavb connection) where you then lose power to downstream outlets, lights, fans, ?

If any of you electrician wannabes out there do not own one of these magic marker sized electrical wire detector and metal detector detecting tools, I highly recommend you put this on your Christmas list. You will actually like going around your house walls trying to trace hidden wires and show people how it can do this (like a new toy. ). And how, when you turn on a light switch, all of a sudden it activates the tool to show you where the wire goes up the wall to the light fixture. If a wire is dead in the wall because of a bad connection it will not beep and flash, so you can find where the wire starts to go bad. Does anybody here know HOW these tools work? How can they "know" that a wire in the wall is live, when nothing is even plugged into it and running. It will detect such a live wire. But, if you turn off the breaker or the light switch, it will no longer beep and flash. Who ever invented this had something on the ball.
 

Last edited by ecman1; 11-28-05 at 04:45 PM.
  #23  
Old 11-28-05, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by heybiff

The first recepticle I checked did the trick, one wire in was hot, the wire out was not. I pushed the wire in further, and BAM, both wires hot, bathroom lights work, everything works. Apparently the circuit started at that recepticle and ran around the room, into the bathroom.

Thanks for all teh Help everyone, you all were invaluable to getting me to work through this in a methodicxal way. The suggestion to get a non-contact tester was the key as well.



Heybiff
Oops, I forgot to include the last paragraph of the quote in my last post.
 
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