Before I call a Electrician...

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  #1  
Old 07-13-07, 07:57 AM
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Before I call a Electrician...

Hi,
I'm new at this forum and have a question about my house. Started last week when my wife used a vacume cleaner in our living room and after cleaning, three outlet and light fixture stoped working, however one of a outlet is still working. Few days later our basement room is totally out after I've used a treadmill machine. Both room are in a top of each other and wondering what is going on with our outlet and light fixtures. House is around 30 years old and this never happend before. I've checked a circut breaker(these are one with a switch and 20A, 15A on it), turned it off and on but nothing changed. I have no experience/knowledge of electrical problem and if someone can tell me what may have happen, at least I know when electrician shows up.
Thank You.
 
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  #2  
Old 07-13-07, 08:07 AM
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You have an open connection. A common cause of these is the use of a high current device, such as a vacuum cleaner. A tread mill is also a high current device.

The most common open connections are because of failed back stab connections. More often than the the problem is an open neutral, rather than an open hot wire. The back stabs are the push in type connections on the back of some receptacles and switches. The wire is held in place by pressure from a spring inside the device. Over time the spring loosens and the connection fails. High current hastens this as the metal expands and contracts as it heats and cools.

The fix is to find a repair the open connection. It would help if you knew whether it was a neutral or a hot wire. Use a plug in type tester, which will tell you which wire it is.

Then your task is to find it. Open every box on the circuit, one at a time. Even open the boxes containing working receptacles, as the connection can fail there too, on the "outgoing" side.

While the box is open, look for a loose or disconnected wire. Remake any wire nut connections with new wire nuts. Move any back stabbed connections to the screw terminals.

Turn the power off before opening each box and turn the power back on and test after each box.

Yes, this is time consuming, but eventually you will find the problem.
 
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Old 07-13-07, 08:58 AM
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Thumbs up

Thank You very much for your reponse. I know most of your explanation is foreign to me, however at least I know when they mention "open connection" I'll know what they are talking about. I am just curious, I know I am talking about apples and oranges but I've learned and done many of a auto repair work from books and forum like this one, Is this something I can fix(basic fix?) it myself with a how to book or forum? or Is this a job for a licensed electrician?
 
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Old 07-13-07, 09:05 AM
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Yes, you could probably do this yourself. Pick up a Residential wiring book at Home Depot or similar.

You are basically going to shut the circuit breaker off for that circuit and pull out each receptacle on this circuit. Look for loose neutral (white) wires and loose wire nuts. If you have backed stabbed connection, remove the wires from them and put them on the screw terminals of the receptacle.
 
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Old 07-13-07, 09:09 AM
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Yes, you can fix it yourself. I gave you instructions on how to do it. It will help, of course, if you understand a little about home wiring.

Buy and read several books on home wiring. Start with the book "Wiring Simplified," available on-line or at the big box stores. You will want to buy that book if you buy no others.

Understand that if you are having this trouble now, you will likely have it again. So it will certainly pay to do it yourself, or at least pay attention when an electrician fixes the problem so that you can do it next time.
 
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Old 07-13-07, 09:38 AM
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Smile Thanks everyone for help!

Oops I forgot, after all this is a "Do It Yourself.com" right? I guess I'll visit local DIY warehouse and read more about it and get back to this forum for more questions or updates!
Thanks Again
 
  #7  
Old 07-13-07, 03:54 PM
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If I were you, I would check the receptacle your wife used to plug in the vacuum cleaner. Pushing the plug in and pulling it out would cause a wire if back stabbed to come loose. Most if not all people (including myself) have a habit of pulling from the cord and yanking out the plug from the receptacle. I've had this very same problem happen twice before except that whole circuit went out from the result of a loose neutral (white wire). Check to see if the black wire came loose. First, before you do anything I've mention as well as others, be sure that the breaker is off and the circuit is de-energized.
 
  #8  
Old 07-30-07, 12:38 PM
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Smile Update

Now I know this is a very common problems from reading up on other peoples problem. Since then, I've learned lot of electrical things especially thanks to "Racraft" and others. Over a weekend finally my wife and I had a chance to work on our receptacles and problems were fixed. First of all, we had "back stubs" on every receptacles and decided to replace a ones that we've used a most. Got lucky in a living room because first recepticle that we've replaced, solved a problem. However basement were not so lucky, because recepticle that we thought causing a problems weren't a one. Make a long story short, we've changed every recepticle in a room and guess what, very last one that we've replaced fix a problem. This is very strange because it was not touched for at least 20 years and hidden in a corner that we almost missed it, so needless to say we were puzzled. Only thing about this recepticle is that it had three white and three black wire into a back stab connection, so we have to buy another back stub recepticle from Home Depot.
Any case, everything is now working and we are very happy that we've accomplished something.
 
  #9  
Old 07-30-07, 01:27 PM
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You said, "so we have to buy another back stub recepticle from Home Depot."

No you don't. Either buy a backwire receptacle with room for at least three wires of each color, or use wire nuts and pigtails. Backstabs are never the right solution.
 
  #10  
Old 07-30-07, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by John Nelson View Post
No you don't. Either buy a backwire receptacle with room for at least three wires of each color, or use wire nuts and pigtails. Backstabs are never the right solution.
Actually this one has a screws to tighten a wires not a regular spring or clip to snap a wires into a hole. I think we paid $6.00 each so Isn't it better?
thanks.
 
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Old 07-30-07, 05:07 PM
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Yes. You have good ones now. You have the kind that you turn the terminal screw and it pushes a plate against the wire.......
 
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