Circuit out but breaker good

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Old 07-28-07, 10:30 AM
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Circuit out but breaker good

Overloaded a circuit and thought the circuit breaker had kicked out. Tested and all breakers showed good. Still I swapped out each one with no luck in restoring power. One thought I had is that the circuit is wired in series so if the first outlet is burned out then all the downstream plugs and light will go out. This circuit has a lot of wall outlets and lights so this could end up being a long process. House was built about 1973. Any suggestions?
 
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Old 07-28-07, 10:57 AM
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Where are these receptacles located at?

If it's a bathroom, kitchen, garage, etc I would look for a tripped GFCI receptacles.

If none, turn power off to that circuit and open up each receptacle and look for loose wires and loose wirenuts. It takes some time, but you should find your problem.

If all wires and wire nuts are good, then you may have just fried a receptacle.
 
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Old 07-28-07, 12:36 PM
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No GFCI

Unfortunately there are no GFCI receptacles, so no easy answer. In addition I have no idea which circuit breaker serves the "dead" region. There are two bathrooms and a hall light out which represent a minimum of nine connections and six were in use when the power went out. Since I do not know which circuit breaker controls these receptacles I need to cut power to the whole house, and most of the receptacles are in a room with no window. It's never easy.
 
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Old 07-28-07, 01:27 PM
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Ah....stay tuned for "racrafts" speech.....

You will probably have to kill all the power if you don't know what circuit breaker controls it.

You can purchase circuit finders, but if you have a bad connection, it might be pointless.

Hang in there.
 
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Old 07-28-07, 01:32 PM
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Thanks

You confirmed my fears. Still, it's nice to have someone agree with you...I think. Thanks.
 
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Old 07-28-07, 03:49 PM
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You should have determined exactly what circuit breaker controls each and every receptacle, light and appliance in your house shortly after moving in. You need to know this at a time like this, and the information could save your life.

You have an open somewhere on the circuit. A wire has come loose. The most likely problem is a failed back stab. Because you don;t know what circuit breaker to turn off, you will have to do the following with the main circuit breaker off. I hope you have flashlights.

Open each dead box, one at a time. Check for a failed connection. Move any back stabbed connections to the crew terminals. Remake any wire nutted connections. Replace the light or switch and test to see if you fixed the problem.

If you don't find and fix the problem at a dead location on the circuit, you will have to check everywhere else on the circuit. Since you don;t know what is on the circuit, you will have to check every location in the house. (Now you know why you need to know what's on each circuit.) Start with the ones that are likely on the same circuit.

After you find and fix your problem, do what you should have done before. Make a detailed map and listing of what is on each and every circuit, and determine what circuit breaker controls each and every receptacle, light and appliance in your
 
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Old 07-28-07, 07:03 PM
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Search this forum for "open neutral". That'll give you enough reading material for a month.

Then go buy a $6 outlet tester, a device that has three lights on it and plugs in.
 
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Old 07-28-07, 07:26 PM
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I'll bet Bob would like to see the electrical inspectors all around the country start doing what the inspectors in my area do. NO PANEL LEGEND, NO FINAL INSPECTION. No final means no connection and no power.

This means the electrician must label all circuits.
 
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Old 07-28-07, 08:24 PM
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Bob would say, and I would agree, that a panel legend is far from sufficient. Few circuits can be adequately described in the two words that the panel legend has room for. Even if your panel has a legend, you should still map out your circuits and make a more detailed list.
 
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Old 07-28-07, 08:34 PM
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Unfortunately the legend on most panels is far from large enough to accommodate even the smallest of houses. There are just too many rooms and too many items that share circuits.

For example, my recently remodeled kitchen and dining room have the lights in both rooms, the lights in the new mud room and the lights in the garage all on the same circuit. Try writing that on most legends.

Instead, I have my own legend Each circuit is identified by position number, breaker size (voltage and amperage) and then lists what is controls. Some circuit take one line (like the dedicated circuit for the freezer). Some take a couple of lines, and others take six or seven lines.

I also have each room detailed on a separate chart. This lists the receptacles, lights and appliances in the room and what circuit breaker controls each one. Again, some rooms are easy, others are more difficult.

The idea is, you need to be able to find the right breaker without having to turn off power to the whole house. And when you have a problem, you need an accurate list of places to check for a problem.
 
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Old 07-28-07, 08:52 PM
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Rebuttal

Actually, all the circuit breakers except two are described on the panel, but none of the descriptions include this circuit. Since this is the first problem I have had on this circuit I was unaware that it was not listed. I will, of course, add it to the list once I know which breaker controls it.
 
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Old 07-29-07, 06:10 AM
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When you move into a house you need to assume that any existing labels or descriptions are wrong. Everything must be checked. You can certainly use any existing labels as a starting point, but you still must verify each and every one and make sure that the list is complete.
 
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Old 07-29-07, 08:07 PM
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We were all wrong

...but it was my fault. First, I really appreciate all the advice I got and I promise to upgrade my circuit labels. The solution became obvious once I turned off the main breaker and went upstairs to the problem receptacles. Guess what...(drum roll please)... there were still lights on. Obviously that meant a second breaker box, but I knew for a fact that the house had only one box when we moved in. HOWEVER, three years ago we had a generator wired into the house after being without power for 7 days. The installer was working in cramped quarters to put a new box in so he moved some of the old circuits to the generator's box so he could replace the old box with a smaller one. The popped circuit was right there. A quick reset and the problem was solved.

The moral: sometimes the problem and solution are right in front of your eyes. You just have to look hard enough.

Thanks guys.
 
 

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