Find circuit for dead receptacle

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  #1  
Old 06-07-13, 08:05 AM
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Find circuit for dead receptacle

How do I go about finding what circuit to turn off to try and troubleshoot if the receptacle, and others (I'm assuming from the same circuit) are not working.
I have a seven year old house, and had plugged in a treadmill to use. The treadmill has some kind of problem with shutting off, but I am going another route to repair that. Regardless, after using it the outlet stopped working. I have checked around the house and found three other receptacles that are also not working now. I had never used them before, but I am assuming they are also on the same circuit. I have checked all the GFCI switches I can find, and re-set them all. I am thinking I will turn the power off to the circuit, and take the receptacle out of the wall and check the wiring, however I cannot find which circuit breaker to turn off. I have an electronic circuit tracer, but when I tried using that, it gave no response at any circuit. Before it gets asked, yes I have checked and turned on/off all the circuit breakers numerous times.
I guess I could turn the power to the whole house to check, but to check wiring and keep turning off/on all the power and with the problems that creates with shutting off computers, refrigerators etc. I would like to avoid shutting the whole house down if I can.
 
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  #2  
Old 06-07-13, 09:50 AM
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They make a device you plug in that is suppose to indicate which breaker using a small hand held receiver at the panel. The cheap ones though may require 120 volts to work and the battery one be out of your price range. First I'd check that all the 120 volt breakers were hot using a multimeter.
 
  #3  
Old 06-07-13, 05:51 PM
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You may ,with a little luck have lost a neutral in which case check for voltage between the small slot on the receptacle and the ground if you have voltage there you can switch breakers off until you find the circuit,beware that your computers could be affected so power them first.
 
  #4  
Old 06-09-13, 12:37 PM
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Here is what I have done so far. I went ahead and shut off the power to the whole house. Then I replaced the four receptacles with new ones. Took out the ones that plugged the wire into the back, and used the ones that have a screw on the side. I looked at the wiring as I took them out and didn't see anything out of order as far as i can see. When i turned the power back on, they still did not work.
I have a device to check which receptacle goes to which breaker, but without power going to the receptacle at the wall, I get no reading or response as to which breaker to check.
I got a multimeter and checked all the breakers in the box, and all of them checked out as around 120 volts, or 240 on the double ones.
 

Last edited by Godzilla63; 06-09-13 at 03:04 PM.
  #5  
Old 06-09-13, 02:02 PM
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When you replaced those four receptacles......had the push-in terminals in the back been used ?

If so.....then there are probably more like that in the house. You replaced four receptacles but there are probably more on that circuit.

You need to use every avenue of testing open to you. We (I) get calls like this several times a week. I have to go into a customers home and troubleshoot quickly. You have receptacles that don't work. You don't know if you've lost hot or neutral. I use a non contact tester to check for hot. Then I check from neutral to ground at each outlet to see if the neutral is open.

I'll clip a tone generator on the dead receptacle and then check each receptacle for the tone.
This last step is one that I use to find seroius issues. It's dangerous because you can not normally tone into a live circuit.

Usually when you have several receptacles dead a pattern forms. Usually you can get a feel for how they ran the circuit based on what's dead.
 
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Old 06-09-13, 02:57 PM
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Another way that needs only a long wire with alligator clips on each end, a multimeter set to ohms (lowest scale), and patience is to turn off the breaker to the working receptacle nearest the one that is not working. Then disconnect all wires in the boxes after marking their connection points and test if any of the wires (except ground) in the working box show continuity to the non-working box. If so you have found the circuit the receptacle is on and perhaps the problem as the problem is often in the last working box on the circuit.
  • Turn off breaker to the working receptacle nearest a nonworking receptacle.
  • Open both boxes and disconnect the cables.
  • Check if any of the wires except ground show continuity between the two boxes.
Note nearest receptacle could be in another room on a shared wall.
 
  #7  
Old 06-09-13, 06:36 PM
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The receptacles i replaced were using the push-in terminals.
What is a "tone" generator?
 
  #8  
Old 06-09-13, 07:26 PM
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It is a self powered device that inserts a signal into the wire that can be picked up by a receiver.
 
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