Power out, but breaker not tripped.

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  #1  
Old 04-07-08, 05:39 PM
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Power out, but breaker not tripped.

A section of our house which I believe should all be on the same circuit is completely lacking power, but the breaker has not been tripped.

So far I've flipped and reset every breaker (including the master) to no avail. We have no GFI outlets in our house.

This morning everything was working fine one minute and out the next w/out any major drainer having been turned on or plugged in.

I'm thinking the breaker needs to be replaced? Do breakers just die like that (I though breakers started tripping too frequently when they start going bad)?

If I'm understanding my Googling correctly, I'll need to trip the master breaker (it's got a 125 on it) and then I can safely remove the questionable breaker and replace it w/out electrocuting myself.

I'm an avid DIYer, but electrical issues are my weak point.

Thanks for any and all input,
Alex
 
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  #2  
Old 04-07-08, 06:06 PM
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Just circuios what room it did affect ??


sound like you have a open or bad splice along the circuit.

you should map it out first to see where all the circuits are.

over the time the listing in breaker box do change and it will be good time to check it out see where it do feed.

sure some breaker do go bad over the time.

you may want to get a tester [ 2 wire neon light tester ] and test at the breaker box to verify if the breaker is bad or not if good then you have a bad or open splice.

most likey bad splice or back stabbed receptales that is the most common cuprits.

Merci,Marc
 
  #3  
Old 04-07-08, 06:24 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions Marc.

It's affecting the house bathroom (lights out, outlet working), the master bedroom (adjacent to the bathroom) and the master bedroom bathroom.

While I was checking all the breakers I went ahead and mapped it out.

I'll go get a tester tomorrow (hopefully they're not too much $$) and check the breaker. I assume it's a pretty straight-forward process?

Not sure what bad splices or back stabbed receptales are, but I know how to Google....

---

I've also noticed while searching that some users have suggested calling the Elec. Co and have them check the box. Does sound like something that would apply to me?
 
  #4  
Old 04-07-08, 06:30 PM
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it pretty straght foward to trobleshooting it.

what year is your home is ?? and is the garage is attached ??

the reason why i am supecting there is a hidden GFCI repectale somewhere something most peoples will never think.

as someone ask you to call the poco well not really unless you have really half of the house is dark or light went insane bright or dim then you have serious issue there but for one circuit naw you have to track that down where is bad splice or backstabbing repectale located even hidden GFCI which sometime in really oddball place

Merci,Marc
 
  #5  
Old 04-07-08, 06:45 PM
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Bonjour Marc!

The house was built ~1975 give or take. The garage is attached. I'll double check for GFCI, but I really don't think there's a hidden one somewhere.

Thanks again for your help.
 
  #6  
Old 04-07-08, 07:58 PM
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Also check with outside repectale sometime it will show up there as well.


humm 1975 .,, i am sure there is one there somewhere unless someone did remove it or it was never installed [ if that happend on very oddball era i don't have the older code book that go back that far so i will let other electrician who have older code book may chime in on that one ]

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 04-07-08, 09:01 PM
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I'll go get a tester tomorrow (hopefully they're not too much $$) and check the breaker. I assume it's a pretty straight-forward process?

Even most of the super fancy "dual Voltage " ones are under 10 bucks.

If you know how the circuit runs, The rule of thumb is this....

The last one that works , or the first that doesnt. Although it does happen, a bad breaker is not common, and likely youve experienced a loose or burnt connection somewhere in the string.
Think of the chain on a boat anchor. If it breaks, the broken link will either be attached to the anchor end, or attached to the boat end. This broken "Link" in your electrical system is the same. Start at the breaker, and verify it. Follow the string ,Testing until you find the one that doesnt work, and back up one spot. Your problem will be between the two.
 
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Old 04-08-08, 06:07 AM
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An easy way to check the breaker is to figure out which one it is and then just switch the line feeding it with another near it of the same amps. If the line works, you have the answer. If it still doesn't, I agree with French277! Check your back stabbers..one probably popped out.
 
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Old 04-08-08, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by french277V View Post
Also check with outside repectale sometime it will show up there as well.


humm 1975 .,, i am sure there is one there somewhere unless someone did remove it or it was never installed [ if that happend on very oddball era i don't have the older code book that go back that far so i will let other electrician who have older code book may chime in on that one ]

Merci,Marc
Had a family emergency (severely thrown out back) last night so still haven't had a chance to do a real thourough check, but I did just notice that we have an outdoor GFCI socket...)
 
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Old 04-08-08, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Unclediezel View Post
Even most of the super fancy "dual Voltage " ones are under 10 bucks.

If you know how the circuit runs, The rule of thumb is this....

The last one that works , or the first that doesnt. Although it does happen, a bad breaker is not common, and likely youve experienced a loose or burnt connection somewhere in the string.
Think of the chain on a boat anchor. If it breaks, the broken link will either be attached to the anchor end, or attached to the boat end. This broken "Link" in your electrical system is the same. Start at the breaker, and verify it. Follow the string ,Testing until you find the one that doesnt work, and back up one spot. Your problem will be between the two.
Thanks for the tips Unclediezel, though I'm not sure I completely follow what you're saying. Are you saying the breakers in the box are all linked? Well, that's probably not what you're saying...I'm not sure how I can follow the string, but we'll see. Like I said before, electrical is not my forte.
 
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Old 04-08-08, 09:36 AM
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It's not the breakers that are linked, it's each device in the circuit. For example, the cable leaves the panel, goes to receptacle #1, then receptacle #2, then light #1, and so forth. At some point along the way, a wire can come loose or burn off over time which will cause the rest of the downstream receptacles and lights to have no power.

It's a bit tedious trial and error job, but if you don't find the problem elsewhere, you'll need to open up each receptacle, switch, and light fixture on the dead circuit until you find the loose or broken wire. The problem is almost always at the first non-working or last working device in the chain. Generally the first device in the circuit is the one closest to the panel, so it's a bit of guess and check, but you can usually track this down in a couple hours.
 
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Old 04-08-08, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by warmsmeallup View Post
An easy way to check the breaker is to figure out which one it is and then just switch the line feeding it with another near it of the same amps. If the line works, you have the answer. If it still doesn't, I agree with French277! Check your back stabbers..one probably popped out.
Thanks for the breaker swap tip, that's a good idea. Now I just need to figure out what back-stabbers are (but off to the chiro for now).
 
  #13  
Old 04-08-08, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by ibpooks View Post
It's not the breakers that are linked, it's each device in the circuit. For example, the cable leaves the panel, goes to receptacle #1, then receptacle #2, then light #1, and so forth. At some point along the way, a wire can come loose or burn off over time which will cause the rest of the downstream receptacles and lights to have no power.

It's a bit tedious trial and error job, but if you don't find the problem elsewhere, you'll need to open up each receptacle, switch, and light fixture on the dead circuit until you find the loose or broken wire. The problem is almost always at the first non-working or last working device in the chain. Generally the first device in the circuit is the one closest to the panel, so it's a bit of guess and check, but you can usually track this down in a couple hours.
Oh, OK, I see. That'll be a huge pain since I'm not sure what's on that circuit and some of misc receptacles in this house haven't been working for years as it is. Hopefully it wont come to that, but if it does, at least I'll know what to do now.
 
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Old 04-08-08, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by amm888 View Post
figure out what back-stabbers are
If you look at the back of a receptacle, there are two methods of connecting a wire. The screw terminals on the side of the receptacle accept a wire wrapped around the screw "side-wire". There are also holes in the back which a wire can be simply stuck in and there's a spring mechanism which retains the wire "back-stab".

The backstab connections tend to weaken up and fail over time. If you encounter backstab connections in your examination of the receptacles, it's a good idea to move those wires to the adjacent side-wire screw terminals.

There is a third connection mechanism found on higher quality receptacles called back-wire where the wire is inserted into a hole and screw tightens a pressure plate against the wire. Both back-wire and side-wire make very good connections; back-stab connections are not that great.
 
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Old 04-08-08, 12:40 PM
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I'm not sure what's on that circuit and some of misc receptacles in this house haven't been working for years as it is.
Well, you need THE SERMON!

When you first move into a new home (new to you) you need to "map out" the electrical circuits. By this I mean that you need to one-by-one turn off each circuit breaker and check which receptacles and which lights are controlled by that particular circuit breaker.

You need to locate each and every GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacle and know if there are any receptacles or lights that are wired "downstream" of this receptacle.

You need to make a detailed "Panel Schedule" that lists all of the above information. Do NOT rely on the existing panel schedule (if there even is one) because it may be wrong.

Keep the panel schedule at the circuit breaker panel and keep a spare copy with your electrical tools. If you make any changes in your electrical system such as adding a receptacle be sure to make a new panel schedule reflecting those changes.

This information is important. Some day it could save your life.
 
  #16  
Old 04-08-08, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by ibpooks View Post
If you look at the back of a receptacle, there are two methods of connecting a wire. The screw terminals on the side of the receptacle accept a wire wrapped around the screw "side-wire". There are also holes in the back which a wire can be simply stuck in and there's a spring mechanism which retains the wire "back-stab".

The backstab connections tend to weaken up and fail over time. If you encounter backstab connections in your examination of the receptacles, it's a good idea to move those wires to the adjacent side-wire screw terminals.

There is a third connection mechanism found on higher quality receptacles called back-wire where the wire is inserted into a hole and screw tightens a pressure plate against the wire. Both back-wire and side-wire make very good connections; back-stab connections are not that great.
Nice, thanks for the easy to understand explanation. I have noticed that every receptacle I've replaced in my home had been back-stabbed. I've always replaced them with side screws, not because I knew it was better, but just because it's been such a huge PIA to get the back-stabbers out (though I suppose I should've just cut them).
 
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Old 04-08-08, 01:11 PM
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...just because it's been such a huge PIA to get the back-stabbers out...
There is a little slot next to the hole the wire goes into that you press a tiny screwdriver into and then lever it to release the spring. The wire will then easily come out.
 
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Old 04-08-08, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by furd View Post
Well, you need THE SERMON!

When you first move into a new home (new to you) you need to "map out" the electrical circuits. By this I mean that you need to one-by-one turn off each circuit breaker and check which receptacles and which lights are controlled by that particular circuit breaker.

You need to locate each and every GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacle and know if there are any receptacles or lights that are wired "downstream" of this receptacle.

You need to make a detailed "Panel Schedule" that lists all of the above information. Do NOT rely on the existing panel schedule (if there even is one) because it may be wrong.

Keep the panel schedule at the circuit breaker panel and keep a spare copy with your electrical tools. If you make any changes in your electrical system such as adding a receptacle be sure to make a new panel schedule reflecting those changes.

This information is important. Some day it could save your life.
You're preaching to the choir here furd (well, kinda). I do have everything mapped out (as of yesterday), though not with great detail. Right now there are two breakers that seem to do nothing, though I believe one of them have been like that for a while.

Part of the problem is I never really 'moved' into this house. It was my childhood home and I've been living here again since cancer took my mom and she passed it on to me (and my brother). So the issues with house have always just been there and we're used to them (plus I'm the only DIYer who lives here and I tend to shy away from electrical stuff).

So far I've only found one GFCI receptacle, and it's outdoors, by the kitchen and works fine. My nest step will be to test the breaker via warmsmeallup breaker swap suggestion. I'm just a little worried about playing around in that box, since I enjoy being alive.

Thanks everyone for the helpful suggestions and tips, I really appreciate it!
 
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Old 04-08-08, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by furd View Post
There is a little slot next to the hole the wire goes into that you press a tiny screwdriver into and then lever it to release the spring. The wire will then easily come out.
I can't seem to get it to work too well though in my past attempts. I usually just end up cracking the socket itself (which is no biggy since I'm usually replacing it anyway).
 
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Old 04-12-08, 02:11 PM
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Yessssssss! Thanks for all help folks, the lights are back on (always feels so good to fix it yourself (with the help of some forum friends, of course)).

Switched the breakers around, and all were working fine, so began a receptacle hunt. After checking all the non-working receptacles, it turned out to be a bathroom socket that was still working itself, but the rubber sheathing around the wires had turned brittle and began coming off and the socket itself was burnt and warped (on the inside). Replaced it and everythings working fine now!

While I was at it I checked out other sockets that have had issues for some time now. I found, again, that a working socket was the culprit. It had had one of it's black wires slip out and was causing everything downstream to be non-functional. So now we've got things working that haven't worked for years (or decades?).

Now some things I find odd. A stream of circuits that were out because of a socket are actually on a different breaker than that socket. Is that normal? That is, receptacle A was causing B, C, D, and E to not work. But A, B, and C are on one breaker, while D and E are on another. That seems odd to me.

Also, we seem to have to breakers (20s) that do absolutely nothing. One of them has a red wire (all the others are black) leading out of it if that means anything. Now we have one breaker that has issues because too many things are attached to it (gotta turn the lights and TV off to use the micro), and we have tried moving things around, but our current set-up seems to be the best (though it ain't that great). It would be nice to actually use those other breakers to spread things out a bit. Is there some way to do this?
 
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Old 04-12-08, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by amm888 View Post
Yessssssss! Thanks for all help folks, the lights are back on (always feels so good to fix it yourself (with the help of some forum friends, of course)).


Now some things I find odd. A stream of circuits that were out because of a socket are actually on a different breaker than that socket. Is that normal? That is, receptacle A was causing B, C, D, and E to not work. But A, B, and C are on one breaker, while D and E are on another. That seems odd to me.

Also, we seem to have to breakers (20s) that do absolutely nothing. One of them has a red wire (all the others are black) leading out of it if that means anything. Now we have one breaker that has issues because too many things are attached to it (gotta turn the lights and TV off to use the micro), and we have tried moving things around, but our current set-up seems to be the best (though it ain't that great). It would be nice to actually use those other breakers to spread things out a bit. Is there some way to do this?

gald you got that fix now but however that are you have to becarefull if you did see red wire in the junction box that can be a MWBC [ multiwire branch circuit ] it will get tricky with it and if you move the breaker to wrong slot the netrual wire will get overloaded and you say you only saw one red wire then follow that wire to see where it goes [ you should have that mapped out ] and go to the first junction box like recpectale location or switch box or luminaire location depending on the set up.

however there are some issue you may want to take care of it like you have microwave it should be on it own circuit due the wattage and location.

to add new circuit sometime it very easy to add and some pretty tough to add depending on the age of the home and type of construction is.

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 04-12-08, 10:34 PM
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Switched the breakers around, and all were working fine, so began a receptacle hunt. After checking all the non-working receptacles, it turned out to be a bathroom socket that was still working itself, but the rubber sheathing around the wires had turned brittle and began coming off and the socket itself was burnt and warped (on the inside). Replaced it and everythings working fine now!
Do you mean receptacle? Did you replace it with a GFCI receptacle? Bathroom receptacles must be GFCI. Might be grandfathered but for safety best to go with GFCI. If other receptacles or lights are fed by this that do not need GFCI protection then they need to go to the line side of the GFCI.
 
  #23  
Old 04-13-08, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by french277V View Post
gald you got that fix now but however that are you have to becarefull if you did see red wire in the junction box that can be a MWBC [ multiwire branch circuit ] it will get tricky with it and if you move the breaker to wrong slot the netrual wire will get overloaded and you say you only saw one red wire then follow that wire to see where it goes [ you should have that mapped out ] and go to the first junction box like recpectale location or switch box or luminaire location depending on the set up.

however there are some issue you may want to take care of it like you have microwave it should be on it own circuit due the wattage and location.

to add new circuit sometime it very easy to add and some pretty tough to add depending on the age of the home and type of construction is.

Merci,Marc
Yeah, I just saw one red wire, and I kept it in the same slot.
 
  #24  
Old 04-13-08, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
Do you mean receptacle? Did you replace it with a GFCI receptacle? Bathroom receptacles must be GFCI. Might be grandfathered but for safety best to go with GFCI. If other receptacles or lights are fed by this that do not need GFCI protection then they need to go to the line side of the GFCI.
Yes, I believe I meant receptacle (it's excepts two plugs). I did not replace it with a GFCU receptacle, just used a new non-GFCI we had around the house.

Not sure what you mean by line side of the GFCI, but thanks for the input.
 
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Old 04-13-08, 09:58 PM
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Originally Posted by amm888 View Post
Yes, I believe I meant receptacle (it's excepts two plugs). I did not replace it with a GFCU receptacle, just used a new non-GFCI we had around the house.

Not sure what you mean by line side of the GFCI, but thanks for the input.
When replacing a receptacle in a bathroom even if it wasn't GFCI the new receptacle should be for safety. In modern code compliant wiring nothing should be on the bathroom circuit but bathroom(s) however you have more then just bathroom receptacles. To prevent a tripped GFCI from cutting of power to receptacles outside the bathroom and the bathroom light special consideration must be made for those lights and receptacles downstream of the GFCI. On the line side of the GFCI they will not be affected by a tripped GFCI. Anything on the load side will be controlled by the GFCI. Under normal circumstances where you were feeding other receptacles that need GFCI protection you do wire to the load side. Your case though may be the exception to the rule.

It might be helpful to pick up a book on home wiring from Home Depot or other place to better understand the special requirements of wiring in some rooms of the house.
 
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