Multiple dead outlets

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  #1  
Old 03-08-13, 07:24 AM
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Multiple dead outlets

Sometime back (months), I tried replacing a switch on the wall of my sons room. When I tried the new switch it didn't work and also all of the outlets in his room, the outlets on the adjoining wall in the bathroom, and in the hallway had gone dead. I pulled the light switch again and moved the wires and now the light switch works but all of the outlets still don't work. I have moved all of the breaker switches and back again, no help. Any idea what I have done and how to fix it? I admit that working with house wiring scares me.

Thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 03-08-13, 07:54 AM
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How many wires do you have in that switch box ?
See if you tell how many cables are coming in and what colors you have there.

What colors are currently on the switch ?
 
  #3  
Old 03-08-13, 07:57 AM
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Did you have wires both on the screws of the old switch and inserted into the back of the old switch. If so you had a splice that carried current to the receptacles that you did not remake correctly.
 
  #4  
Old 03-08-13, 10:02 AM
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Any idea what I have done and how to fix it?
Yes. You opened a splice that connected the wire bringing power from the panel to the wire going to the receptacles. To fix it, turn the power off at the breaker and pull the switch out of the wall, leaving the wires connected to it. Look in the box behind the switch for a black or red wire that isn't connected. When you find it, pull it forward. Put a piece of tape on it so you will know which one it is.

Look at the wires connected to the switch. One of them is bringing power from the panel and the other one is taking power to the light. See if you can figure out which is which. If so, take the wire that you think is coming from the panel off the switch. If you have no clue, just take either wire off the switch. Straighten out the end of the wire you took off the switch and use a wire nut to temporarily connect it to the wire that was loose. Plug a working lamp into one of the receptacles and turn the breaker back on. See if the lamp will work.

If the lamp works now, turn the power off at the breaker. Get a piece of black insulated wire, the same diameter as the wires in the switch box, about 8" long, and strip about 5/8" of insulation off each end. Remove the wire nut and use a pair of pliers to splice (twist) the two wires that were in it plus one end of your new wire together, starting with the ends of the insulation lined up side-by-side. Give them about three good twists. Trim the ends of the wires if you need to and twist the wire nut on. make sure there's no bare wire showing outside the wire nut. Connect the other end of the new wire to the switch, where you took the wire off earlier, close everything up, and turn the power back on.

If the lamp didn't work, turn the power off and put the wire you took off the switch back on it. Take the other wire off the switch and temporarily connect that wire to the wire that was loose in the box. Turn the power back on and test the lamp.

If the lamp works now, turn the power off, make the 3-wire splice and connect the switch as above, only using the three wires that are available now. Close everything up and turn the power back on.

If you can't get the lamp to work either way, post back and we can advise you from there.

I admit that working with house wiring scares me.
I understand. Right now, will you take three deep breaths or stand up and stretch or tap your upper lip - whatever you do to relax? Then read back through what I wrote above and look for the places where you turn the power off and where you turn it back on.

Electricity can't hurt you when the power is off, and you are unlikely to do anything that will start a fire if all of the wires are connected. The worst that is likely to happen is that you might trip a breaker.

You can do this.
 
  #5  
Old 03-17-13, 07:04 PM
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multiple dead outlets

Ok. Thanks for the info. With the multimeter I think I've found the wire from the breaker box and I've found that when I turn the light switch off one of the wires fastened to one of the screws on the opposite side of the switch goes dead. So the other wire must be the one supplying the outlets, right? By the way, there are no loose wires behind the switch and the wires connected to the switch are ALL black. I remember when I started messing with this switch that one of the wires was stuck straight into the back tho when I look at it now I don't see how it would have been fastened. There is a hole at the top and bottom that goes all the way through to the front with no fastener at all.
The switch has an upper and lower screw on each side. I don't know if that is significant.
When I started testing the switch wires I had one probe on the hot wire screw and the other on another screw and briefly also let that one touch the metal box and instantly had a good chunk of the metal probe vanish/gone. Was the metal box supposed to be hot also?
Is the hot wire supposed to go into one of the holes in the back of the switch?
Or maybe the wire to the outlets?
Sorry for the confusing post.

and thanks
 
  #6  
Old 03-17-13, 09:05 PM
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there are no loose wires behind the switch and the wires connected to the switch are ALL black. I remember when I started messing with this switch that one of the wires was stuck straight into the back tho when I look at it now I don't see how it would have been fastened.
It sounds like you have three black wires that were connected to a single-location switch. If so, one of them is the power from the panel, one is the load for the light and one is feeding the receptacles that have been dead.

With the multimeter I think I've found the wire from the breaker box
OK,
Originally Posted by Nashkat1
take the wire that you think is coming from the panel off the switch... Straighten out the end of the wire you took off the switch and use a wire nut to temporarily connect it to [one of the other two black wires]. Plug a working lamp into one of the receptacles and turn the breaker back on. See if the lamp will work.

If the lamp works now, turn the power off at the breaker. Get a piece of black insulated wire, the same diameter as the wires in the switch box, about 8" long, and strip about 5/8" of insulation off each end. Remove the wire nut and use a pair of pliers to splice (twist) the two wires that were in it plus one end of your new wire together, starting with the ends of the insulation lined up side-by-side. Give them about three good twists. Trim the ends of the wires if you need to and twist the wire nut on. make sure there's no bare wire showing outside the wire nut. Connect the other end of the new wire to the switch, where you took the wire off earlier, close everything up, and turn the power back on.

If the lamp didn't work, turn the power off and put the wire you took off the switch back on it. Take the other wire off the switch and temporarily connect that wire to the wire that was loose in the box. Turn the power back on and test the lamp.

If the lamp works now, turn the power off, make the 3-wire splice and connect the switch as above, only using the three wires that are available now. Close everything up and turn the power back on.

If you can't get the lamp to work either way, post back and we can advise you from there.
When I started testing the switch wires I had one probe on the hot wire screw and the other on another screw and briefly also let that one touch the metal box and instantly had a good chunk of the metal probe vanish/gone. Was the metal box supposed to be hot also?
No, but it is supposed to be grounded. It sounds like you let one of your probes contact a hot wire and the grounded box at the same time. That'll melt the probe for sure.
 
  #7  
Old 03-18-13, 12:14 PM
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multiple dead outlets

Thanks to all. Nashkat1 I went back to your specific directions and so here I am, with overhead light and multiple LIVE outlets. Fist time in nine months that they have worked. My son will be so happy.
I also am a little more confident now. Thanks again.

Joseph
 
  #8  
Old 03-18-13, 02:44 PM
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OK. Glad you got it fixed, and thanks for the feedback. Proceed with confidence and caution!
 
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