blink off - on - off - on - then gone

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  #1  
Old 01-14-06, 08:43 AM
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blink off - on - off - on - then gone

The lights and outlets on a single circut were going on and off on their own then quit for good. This went on for a couple of days before it quit for good. Breakers look OK but no power. Older modular home.
 
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  #2  
Old 01-14-06, 09:28 AM
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You have a loose connection somewhere on the circuit. You will need to shut off the breaker, and methodically open every receptical, light, switch box, etc. on the circuit and find the problem. It could be a bad connection at a wirenut, it could be a loose "backstab" connection into a receptical or switch, etc.

As you go through each box, move any wires poked into holes (aka "backstabs") in the back of recepticals to the corresponding screw. You will need to make a loop in the wire to allow it to wrap clockwise around the screw. As you find wirenuts, tug on each wire to see if any seem loose. Remake the splice if they are loose.


Do a search for "open neutral" for more info.
 
  #3  
Old 01-14-06, 09:29 AM
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Yopu have an open hot or an open neutral. Use a plug in type tester to determine which one and then start looking for it. When you find it, fix it.
 
  #4  
Old 01-14-06, 12:39 PM
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looking

There is no power going through the circuit so I can't tell which circuit is down. These switches are the style (1988) that you push the wire into the connector, like a "V", and it makes contact. I've looked at switches and outlets that I know don't work and there have been wires not pushed fully into the "V", but it has made no difference when fixed. I have 3 voltage testers I use before I open up anything. I can't determine if this is an entire circuit down or just part of one.

It does seem to be a straight line from the fuse box to the kitchen overhead light, a bathroom light switch (outside the bathroom), then to a bedroom. All of the outlets that are working test OK on the tester with the 3 lights. All protected outlets trip when the test button is touched and come back on when re-set, including the bathroom with the switch in the hallway.

The kitchen light switch is very close to the circuit breaker panel so I can't imagine that there is anything between it and the panel that could be loose. There is no current at this switch. Should I seperate the wires there and test the continuity from there to the rest of the faulty switches? Going the "other" way, should there be continuity between black and white going to the C/B panel?

The C/B panel looks OK (very professional looking) and there are no circuits popped. There is a pair of C/B's that look like they are wired together and they have a red wire. The house is almost all gas (furnace, water heater and stove) and doesn't seem to have any other problems. A few months after this happened you would get a shock near the front door but was fixed by adding a ground... don't know exactly what entailed... before my time.
 
  #5  
Old 01-14-06, 02:05 PM
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Tesing for cointinuity is a waste of time and won;t help you.

Check for power at the switch. Test the hot wire and the neutral, if there is one, and test the hot wire to ground.
 
  #6  
Old 01-14-06, 02:22 PM
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test results

At light switch:
Black to white zero volts
white to bare ground zero volts
black to bare ground 3 volts

Same results at the outlet in the bedroom.

A friend has a circuit breaker turned off to an air conditioner in an un-attached garage. I get close to the same test results except there is 2.5 volts from black to ground instead of 3. C/B has been in the off position in the garage for months.
 
  #7  
Old 01-14-06, 04:03 PM
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The problem you have now is exactly why panel boxes need to be labeled...so when something goes wrong you know EXACTLY what is on each circuit, and what breaker controls each circuit. It's a lot harder to determine this when you have a problem.

Here's what you need to do before anything else:

Sketch out a rough floorplan of the home. Mark on the sketch EVERY electrical device, including recepticals, switches, light fixtures, appliances, garage door openers, the AC unit, water heater, EVERYTHING.

Next, ensure all the breakers are on. Test EVERYTHING to ensure it works. Take note of everything that is currently dead.

Next, turn off the first breaker (other than the main). Go see what is now dead. Mark on the sketch beside that item the circuit breaker number that you turned off. Turn that breaker on.

Turn off the next breaker. Repeat the testing and marking process.

Keep testing until you've done all breakers and have labeled everything. At some point, you'll find a breaker that controls surprisingly few items. Perhaps those items will be near the non working items. Good chance that will be the breaker you want. However, since you don't know for sure, you would be best served to turn off all 15 and 20 amp breakers in the panel before you start handling wires, as any of them may control some of the non-working lights/recepticals.

You may want to start replacing the recepticals/switches with more standard ones and use the screws rather than backstabs so you can assure a tight, secure connection.
 
  #8  
Old 01-14-06, 04:22 PM
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What if?

How about this? I take the first light switch that doesn't work, which is in the kitchen near the C/B panel, and disconnect all wires. Then I use a long wire and check continuity to the fartherest outlet in the back bedroom that doesn't have power. If the wire going to the last outlet goes in and doesn't exit, then that is the end of the line... correct? Would that show that my problem is "up-stream" from the light switch?

If one of the wires does not show continuity then the problem is between them? If the "last" outlet really isn't the last one, then I need to find it by still using continuity.

I read in one of your older posts that mice can eat into wires. This house is in a rural area and the circuit went dead as winter was setting in. Do they actually eat through the copper or just allow it to ground? There was a grounding problem with the front door some time after the circuit went dead.

Sorry to keep asking questions. I don't want to make matters worse. If I don't re-connect the wires that go to the back bedroom (assuming it tests out as one circuit) from the light switch, then no matter how they test there will be no fire danger. And the problem will be between the light switch and the C/B panel. I would put a twist connector on both the white and black wires separately so they can't touch anything. It wouldn't fix anything but there would be no fire danger... which is my biggest fear.

Then if a professional is called, all they would have to do is fix the wire between the light switch and the C/B panel?
 
  #9  
Old 01-14-06, 04:26 PM
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Give up on the continuity testing. It is incomplete and inaccurate, and a waste of time.

Check each and every junction box on the circuit until you find the failed connection.
 
  #10  
Old 01-14-06, 04:39 PM
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slow typest

Sorry, we were both working on replys at the same time. I'll follow your advice as soon as I isolate and remove the fire danger. I was thinking of using night lights... I have a ton of them, to test the outlets. Although there are a lot of C/B's, this is a small place, so it shouldn't take too long.

Unfortunately this is a single mom who doesn't mind spending money on hair and clothes, but won't call an electrician. My granddaughters play with her daughters, which is how I became aware of the problem.

None of the switches or outlet holes are near studs, they just put them where they want. They are just held in place on the drywall by little arms that swing out when you tighten the two screws on each device. I can't beleive this was ever legal! Anyway, it would just about be impossible to put "real" boxes in and then fill in the holes where the old ones were. I guess now I know how come these homes are so cheap.
 
  #11  
Old 01-14-06, 04:45 PM
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Since this is a modular home your problem could be in the connectors they use the put these thing together. I have not seen them myself but have read about them giving problems. These connectors are not in junction boxes. They are found behind panels that sometimes get covered over during renovations.
 
  #12  
Old 01-14-06, 09:05 PM
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not on the net

I tried finding the company on the net to see if they had any info. Imagine that... they're not there. They're probably hiding from all the law suits. I might try a trade organization. Maybe someone has an idea of where to look. Thanks for your help. It will probable be a while before I get the time to track everything down. I will leave a message if I ever get it fixed.
 
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