Circuit Troubleshooting Help


Old 08-31-13, 02:19 PM
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Circuit Troubleshooting Help

My wife pressed "start" on the microwave the other day and says it went dead at that precise moment. When I got home, I found all the kitchen lights were out as well as the living room lights and plugs. The breaker did not trip. The dining room, which is also on that circuit, was still working. From living here ten years (as third owners) I know that all this is on the same breaker.
I have been changing the outlets and rewiring backstabbed connections to proper pigtail wiring along the likely route of the power (the dining room plugs are right above the panel in the basement). So far I haven't seen any loose connections or visibly broken wires. Everything looks good, including the connections inside the outlet where the microwave was plugged in, which is only a single wire coming in (no power going out to further outlets). What else can I try? There are two outlets in the dining room with wires going out to unknown locations, presumably powering the kitchen and living room. They look O.K. I'm at a loss what else to try. Does anyone have any ideas?
Thanks, gordoncanada
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Old 08-31-13, 02:27 PM
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You didn't specifically say, but since the dining room is on the same circuit, have you pulled the receptacles there? It is usually the first one in line, or the last good one, which in your case may be the dining room.
Old 08-31-13, 04:37 PM
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Reset all the GFI's? As messed up as your wiring sounds the GFI could be in just about any room.
Flipped the breaker all the way off and back on again?
I'd unplug the micro wave until I got the power back on to make sure that's not what's causing it.
Old 09-01-13, 08:18 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Canada
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Troubleshooting Victory

Thanks for your replies, everyone. After re-wiring every box one by one along the probable line of sequence (starting from closest to the electrical panel), I found the culprit. It wasn't the last good box (in the dining room), it was the first box that didn't work (in the kitchen). When I pulled the switches out from the box and turned the power on, the lights and receptacles all worked.
When I replaced a switch with a dimmer in that box, I did not take apart the pigtail; I just maretted the wire from the dimmer to the wire that had been in the box. Turns out the pigtail was poorly made. I should have just redone it then. When I twisted off the marrette, two of the wires just fell away and were only bared less than a quarter inch. The other two were unevenly set up. Worst pigtail I ever saw. I did it over again properly and things are back to normal. Today I'm also going to replace the original switch in the box beside the dimmer (two gang box), which was backstabbed with a power out wire connected to the screw terminal rather than pigtailed.
It has been a scare, but this has led to some needed electrical maintenance. I am now a firm believer in going over the electrical boxes in the house until they have all been checked. The builder often does things too fast and on the cheap.
Thanks for your help, gordoncanada
P.S. There was nothing wrong with the microwave; the extra load when my wife pressed "start" must have coincided with the inevitable disconnect that took place in the pigtail at that moment. That's my theory.

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