Electrical Circuit to Nowhere

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Old 12-16-13, 12:46 PM
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Electrical Circuit to Nowhere

Hi,
I have mapped my home's electrical system and now have a diagram and list of all of the outlets and switches in my home along with the breaker that controls each. However, there is one breaker with an electrical wire that comes out of the panel and heads up out of the basement into the wall that doesn't seem to control anything? I have opened the panel and verified that the wire is connected to the breaker. I have checked every outlet inside and outside and matched them to their respective breakers. If this breaker controlled a normal circuit there would be numerous switches/outlets that would be off when the breaker is tripped and this simply is not the case. All of my appliances (including furnace) and kitchen outlets on dedicated circuits match up to other breakers. I thought it might control my hard-lined smoke detector...but nope that is on another breaker. So, the question is where does it go? I have no outbuildings and every outlet and switch I can see or have used over the last several years is mapped to another breaker. Any ideas or other possibilities?Thank you.
 
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Old 12-16-13, 01:01 PM
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Welcome to the forums! Aaah, that elusive circuit thing! Not knowing your complete layout, and knowing you have looked well, we may only be able to give you common hiding places.

If you have attic access, often circuits are terminated there for "future" use as a convenience, say for Christmas lighting along soffits, etc. if you have a crawlspace, look for junction boxes with no second wire coming from them. Here again, for convenience. Sometimes sump pumps are wired, never needed, and therefore left boxed. Do you have post, or other exterior lighting/receptacles?
 
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Old 12-16-13, 01:43 PM
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If you have any duplex receptacles that are switched, check that the switch controls both outlets; could have one or more that are split.
 
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Old 12-16-13, 03:52 PM
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Turn it off and see if your doorbell works. I had a family member who had a line running up to their attic just to run the doorbell transformer.
 
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Old 12-16-13, 04:11 PM
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The wire-gauge , # 14 or #12, could be a clue in addition to the CB rating, 15 or 20 amps.

Possibly a future circuit for an attic fan ; it would have taken someone 5 minutes to emplace a identification tag describing the termination location.
 
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Old 12-16-13, 07:09 PM
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Any ideas or other possibilities?
If you have a septic tank and drain field it could be an aeration pump motor circuit. It could also go to a sump pump or sludge pump. I'd turn it off and eventually you'll find something that isn't working.
 
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Old 12-16-13, 08:44 PM
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still stumped...

Thank you all for your replies...here is some additional information:
- 15 amp circuit breaker, 14/2 wire
- 2 storey home, basement full and unfinished (no crawlspace)
- urban home on municipal water and sewer
- No sump-pump or pit in home (or in this neighborhood)
- No post or other exterior lighting/receptacles that aren't accounted for on other breakers
- I have checked the switch controlled receptacles as suggested by aka pedro and unfortunately not there
- tripped the breaker and the doorbell still has power and rings
- The wire in question exits the panel and goes straight up into the exterior wall of the first floor bypassing two outlets on either side (in the living room) which are on other breakers

I will try to check out the attic which seems to be the scenario that makes the most sense although I would be really really really surprised that they would have intentionally added power into the attic for a future use (in this subdivision in 1990 when the home was built).

Very strange. Still stumped. Any other ideas, I'm all ears. Thanks again for all of your input and ideas.
 
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Old 12-16-13, 10:01 PM
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Turn it off and leave it off. Come spring, you'll probably find something that doesn't work.
 
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Old 12-16-13, 11:53 PM
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Circuit to nowhere

If you have an attic, maybe an attic fan. If you know someone with a toner it may help.....good luck.
 
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Old 12-17-13, 05:42 AM
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I'd turn it off and eventually you'll find something that isn't working.
Turn it off and leave it off. Come spring, you'll probably find something that doesn't work.
Before leaving it off and 'waiting for the suprise' I would track it down now. It likely something more important than a doorbell transformer!
 
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Old 12-17-13, 07:03 AM
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phbala
Very strange. Still stumped. Any other ideas, I'm all ears. Thanks again for all of your input and ideas.
phbala,

I am a newbie here too and went through this very issue a few months ago. You mentioned your map shows plugs and switches, but you do not mention if you have mapped the actual wire lines as the travel through the house?
You mentioned you have an unfinished basement, which should help.

I tracked down one circuit that made a large U turn through my entire basement only to be terminated on the complete opposite end with no load on it, just as Chandler has mentioned.
How I traced it was with a Sharpie and a Klein tester:

Klein Tools NCVT-1 Non Contact Voltage Tester - Amazon.com


I followed every line through the basement and marked the breaker number on the wire tacks that secure them to the floor joists. Long and boring, but I found out what and where every line in the house was. Now every line has the breaker number marked on it, for the few lines that zig zag like wet spaghetti, an arrow out lining the feed route, and if applicable, if they are travelers.

Good luck,
 

Last edited by Kiton; 12-17-13 at 07:19 AM.
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Old 12-17-13, 07:40 AM
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Any other ideas, I'm all ears
Do you have a roof mounted powered attic ventilastor with thermostat in the attic?
 
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Old 12-17-13, 08:14 AM
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14/2 Circuit

Look for lights in the attic.
 
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Old 12-17-13, 08:40 AM
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My house in VA had an outlet and lights on a circuit in the attic.
 
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Old 12-17-13, 01:15 PM
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These are admittedly long shots, but you seem to have looked in most of the typical places.

Have you, or a previous owner:
.. done any work inside the house that involves moving walls/doors/etc.?
It's possible that they moved/covered up a receptacle, light, or switch, and moved it to another circuit or location.Once, we redid a kitchen, and when we opened a wall, we found an "abandoned in place" mounting/junction box for a now nonexistent exhaust fan. In that case, the wires were no longer a part if any live circuit, but maybe you have the other end of a similar circuit.

... added insulation in the attic?
A neighbor added insulation, and it found that itcovered up a junction box where he terminated a "for later use" circuit.
...........................................................................................................................

Do you have any "heat tape" on water pipes (to prevent freezing)- or receptacles near plumbing?
..........................................................................................................................
Can you find out if, when your house was built, were there options available that the original owner might have said "no" to, but the builders placed wires "just in case".

(For example: one summer, I worked doing "grunt work" with a carpentry/framing/building crew that were working in a development. One of the options for buyers was extra heating/lighting(??) in the bathrooms, and I would see the electricians run the wires "just in case" the buyers selected that option. But these wires were never connected to the breakers unless the option was chosen.

Happy hunting, and let us know what you find.
 
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Old 12-17-13, 04:19 PM
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This reminds me of an episode of Married...With Children where Al and his friends try to determine what a light switch next to the staircase controls. After pulling miles of wire, everyone getting shocked several times and one of the friends getting lost inside the wall the last scene shows Al flipping the switch on and off while the light in Buck's doghouse goes on and off.
 
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