troubleshooting dead line


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Old 10-14-09, 02:45 AM
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troubleshooting dead line

Part of an elec. line from the circuit breaker panel is fine, but part is dead: the dead part has a two light switches (for two overhead lights) and 4 outlets on it. We've tested the switches and outlets with a continuity tester, and we've checked to make sure that all of the connections to these things are good. My worry is that the problem is in the walls or floors at a wire junction box, and I don't know where the junction boxes are. The wiring in the house is a mix from 10 to 30 years old, and when I mapped the circuit panel I found that the wiring layout is odd: it's hard to tell why some things are on same circuit, or where the wiring would have to be to get elec where it does.
I'm afraid that cutting out drywall may be next step, to trace the dead line back to the problem point. But before starting something like this, I wanted to check to see if anyone had some suggestions for troubleshooting where the problem is. Is there some kind of device that can track elec. line through walls and floors, that would identify a junction point? Or are there some ways to reduce the amount of wall / floor damage to get to right part of the wiring?

Thank you.
 
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Old 10-14-09, 05:36 AM
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A couple of items. Properly done electrical work should not have any splices not contained in an accessible junction box. All your splices and connections should be able to be checked without removing drywall etc.

Often times the backstabs were used to make a connection and may look secure but are loose internally. Move your connections to the screw terminals.

A continuity tester is not as good a diagnostic tool as a solenoid type voltage detector. A good method is to test for voltage from hot to neutral, and from hot to ground. A three light plug-in tester can also help when troubleshooting.

There are wire tracing tools available like the Ideal Suretest and toners commonly called Fox and Hounds.

Your problem could be in the last properly working device or the first non-workingt device. Check these first.
 
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Old 10-14-09, 10:38 AM
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If my understanding is correct , there are two switch-outlets boxes and four receptacle- outlet boxes without power, the wiring to these boxes being extended from a outlet box with a 120 volt Feed-In" cable, and a constant 120 volts at the "Feed-In" cable-pair.

Rather than a continuity-test, I advise forming "positive" wire-connections at the "Feed-In" outlet- box, and at all four "dead" receptacle outlet-boxes . Disconnect the receptacles, and splice the wires together with wire-nuts. Check all existing Wire-Nut connections. Do not attempt any device-connections until there is voltage at all connection-points.
 
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Old 10-15-09, 02:10 AM
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Post Thanks very much.

Thank you very much for these suggestions.
Originally Posted by pcboss View Post
A couple of items. Properly done electrical work should not have any splices not contained in an accessible junction box. All your splices and connections should be able to be checked without removing drywall etc. I wish the electric work here was that good. One upstairs room did not have a floor so in that room we were able to see some of the wiring for the room below. We made it as proper as we could before we put a floor on.

Often times the backstabs were used to make a connection and may look secure but are loose internally. Move your connections to the screw terminals. Thank you: Most were on the screw terminals but I will go through it all again carefully to make sure.

A continuity tester is not as good a diagnostic tool as a solenoid type voltage detector. A good method is to test for voltage from hot to neutral, and from hot to ground. A three light plug-in tester can also help when troubleshooting. I will get a STVD and try this.

There are wire tracing tools available like the Ideal Suretest and toners commonly called Fox and Hounds. I hope they work better than my studfinder! I will check for them at our local elec supply store

Your problem could be in the last properly working device or the first non-workingt device. Check these first. Difficult to know but I will try to check these first. Thank you.
 
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Old 10-15-09, 02:25 AM
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Thanks very much.

I appreciate your help with this.
Originally Posted by PATTBAA View Post
If my understanding is correct , there are two switch-outlets boxes and four receptacle- outlet boxes without power, the wiring to these boxes being extended from a outlet box with a 120 volt Feed-In" cable, and a constant 120 volts at the "Feed-In" cable-pair.Yes.

Rather than a continuity-test, I advise forming "positive" wire-connections at the "Feed-In" outlet- box, and at all four "dead" receptacle outlet-boxes . Disconnect the receptacles, and splice the wires together with wire-nuts. Check all existing Wire-Nut connections. Do not attempt any device-connections until there is voltage at all connection-points.I'm not absolutely certain which the "Feed-In" outlet-box is, and it may be before the hidden junction box. But I will re-examine my circuit map and recheck all of the boxes and their connections, to try to narrow this down better. Thank you. This is the good analytics that I needed: I really need to recheck all connections at all of those. You and pcboss have helped me very much. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you help.
 
 

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