Troubleshooting: Power out in garage and few other places

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Old 01-20-13, 03:12 PM
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Troubleshooting: Power out in garage and few other places

When it happened:
I was on a table saw using an extension cord, it worked for about 4 cuts, then on the 5th cut, the power cut out.

What I did after:
Went straight to the breaker box, nothing was off or in the middle, everything was still in the on position.
I went around looking to reset all GFCI outlets.
A few of them had the green light on, but once I hit the reset button, they went off, and hitting either test or reset doesn't do anything now.

Affected spaces:
Garage, downstairs restroom, and upstairs restroom

I also can't figure out which switch is connected to those areas, so I've switched off/on all switches.

There's one that's called GFI (labeled on the breaker) that is controlling the garage storage room, and that light works when I switch it on, so I doubt it's that one. All the other ones are connected to other rooms that still work. Is it possible that there's a switch somewhere outside the house?

Townhouse built in 1984

Please help, I'm

Thanks!
 
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Old 01-20-13, 03:24 PM
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You have a GFCI (either breaker or receptacle) hiding behind a box, shelf or fridge....somewhere. Likely in the garage or the storage room (my first guess). Lights aren't put on GFCI.

The fact the breaker is labeled GFI tells me it feeds a receptacle in the storage room which is where you will find your problem.
 
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Old 01-20-13, 03:27 PM
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You might also try looking in a bathroom for the GFI.
 
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Old 01-20-13, 03:52 PM
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From your first post it seems there may be GFCI's daisy chained to other GFCI's, which will drive you crazy. You only need one at the beginning of the run. We'll wait while you go through the garage and move boxes, check all the bathrooms and the one under the house in the crawl/basement.
 
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Old 01-20-13, 04:01 PM
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A few of them had the green light on, but once I hit the reset button, they went off, and hitting either test or reset doesn't do anything now.
That would seem to say that the problem is at one of the GFI's you were at.......not a hidden one.
 
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Old 01-20-13, 04:32 PM
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Some have lights to indicate tripped, others that power is on.
 
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Old 01-21-13, 09:21 PM
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So... I've hunted down all gfci outlets and hit "reset" on all of them, and still no luck... I even found one out in the patio! I can say with 95% certainty that I've gotten them all, at least every place i can visually see and reach. I'm out of ideas, so I decided to try removing the outlet that I think caused the problem, since it's the only outlet that's old. So I go to open it up, and it looks a lot more complicated than I anticipated, so maybe you guys can help me out. There looks to be three 12/2 wires coming to the outlet. (See attached)
 
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Old 01-21-13, 10:10 PM
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Those two blue things in your box are called scotch locks. My opinion.....get rid of them.
Remove them and twist the wires together with wire nuts.

I've never seen a more intermittent connection than those things
 
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Old 01-21-13, 11:44 PM
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So I've removed the outlet, and problem still hasn't been solved. I've attached a picture of what I did... maybe something's not right?

Also, all the wires in the back of the outlet look like they were burnt, fried...

I'm guessing the old GFCI outlet didn't do it's job... am I right? If so, do you think it damaged something else?

Running out of ideas,
 
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Old 01-22-13, 12:51 AM
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I've removed the outlet, and problem still hasn't been solved. I've attached a picture of what I did... maybe something's not right?
It looks like the power feed wires are disconnected from the load wires and capped off. If so, you need to connect all the blacks and all the whites together with wire nuts, as PJ suggested.

Are you testing for power with an analog multimeter as you go?

Hard to tell from the picture, but the wires don't look burned or severely overheated to me.

That's a rare horizontal GFCI, BTW. If it works at all you should hang onto it. Might be worth a couple of bucks, since they seem to have quit making them.
 
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Old 01-22-13, 09:42 AM
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Ok, I've connected all 3 wires, still nothing.

Not using a multimeter, I'm just switching everything off as I work on the wires.

If you look closely, the red wire shows it, there's black all over the wire, and even on the back of the outlet housing, there was definitely something fried.

Is there an easy way to test if the horiz outlet is bust or not?

Any other ideas? Or you think it's time to call in the electrician? If so, anyone have any recommendations in the South Bay Area in California?
 
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Old 01-22-13, 03:03 PM
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Ok, I've connected all 3 wires, still nothing.
But you don't know whether power is reaching that box or not.

Not using a multimeter, I'm just switching everything off as I work on the wires.
With a multimeter, and possibly a plug-in GFCI tester, you can troubleshoot and repair this. Without reliable test equipment, you can't. Without those tools, those of us who do this for a living couldn't reliably diagnose and repair your power loss, if we could do it at all.

If you look closely, the red wire shows it, there's black all over the wire, and even on the back of the outlet housing, there was definitely something fried.
From just looking at it in a photo, that could be tape residue. If there was overheating in this box, that is often an indication that there was an inadequate splice, possibly as a result of the Scotch locks that PJ pointed out.

Is there an easy way to test if the horiz outlet is bust or not?
Sure. Connect the two power-in wires on it to a black and white pair that you've tested and confirmed to be a complete 120V circuit. Then test it with its built-in test button and with the button on a plug-in GFCI tester.

Any other ideas? Or you think it's time to call in the electrician?
Yes. Read Troubleshooting a dead receptacle or light, Basic Terminology & Other info if you haven't already. Also buy a copy of Wiring Simplified. You can spend less than $20 to get a couple of testing tools and another $10 or so for a good reference book, or you can pay an electrician whatever he or she charges to fix this - plus whatever else they find wrong.

If so, anyone have any recommendations in the South Bay Area in California?
Sorry, we don't do referrals here. Ask your neighbors.
 
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