Over Half of the upstairs outlets stopped working


  #41  
Old 02-02-14, 02:37 PM
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WyrTwister, The closest working outlet can certainly be the cause unless you change every outlet, in the house & they still don't work. In that case, you would have to go down stairs.
 
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Old 02-02-14, 03:45 PM
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And don't forget ceiling lights and switch boxes but start with the two basement J-boxes and move on to the working receptacles on the same breaker as the non working receptacles. No need to replace anything. Just redo all the connections. (Just looking isn't enough. Replace any wire nuts with new ones.)
 

Last edited by Nashkat1; 02-02-14 at 03:48 PM. Reason: breakers >> receptacles
  #43  
Old 02-02-14, 03:48 PM
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I think scranton76 is up to his comfort limit.

@ scranton76 If you want to continue with troubleshooting let us know. As you can see, there are many here willing to help.
 
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Old 02-02-14, 04:26 PM
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Beyond my comfort limit...so yeah, done with this. Anything else to be checked will have to wait for an electrician.

I've replaced nine outlets with no change. Found no nest of hidden wires. Checked the junction boxes in the basement and things looked ok, and just tried tightening the screw caps. No change. There's no lost or hidden outlets, but the ceiling lights/ceiling fans won't be getting messed with by me. Neither will anything above in the attic. Mom doesn't want me touching the really old wires that are up there, and I really don't want to be doing that either.

Thanks all!
 
  #45  
Old 02-02-14, 05:01 PM
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Did you check any receptacle that were hot / working and also near a dead receptacle ? As we have said , there is often where the fault lies . And it often lies behind a huge bed , couch dresser , etc. . :-(

God bless
Wyr
 
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Old 02-02-14, 05:19 PM
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I think Scranton's choice is best. There sometimes comes a time when you need to get outside help. Yes, Scranton call an electrician but please come back and let us know what he finds. We all want to know.
 
  #47  
Old 02-02-14, 06:16 PM
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Wyr...yes, even the outlets that are still working

My room has three outlets, two still work, one doesn't. Replaced all three outlets.
The middle room has three outlets, none work. Replaced all three outlets.
Moms room has three outlets, one works, two don't. Replaced all three outlets.

The bathroom has two outlets. This is the only room that I only checked/took apart/put back the existing outlets. Didn't replace these two outlets because the existing covers won't work with the replacement outlets.
 
  #48  
Old 02-02-14, 07:50 PM
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Scranton76, The bathroom should he on a separate circuit, so it's ok that you didn't touch them. Go back to those two junction boxes in the cellar. Twist the wire nuts a little tighter. If that doesn't work, we'll tell you how to trace the juice.
 
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Old 02-02-14, 08:26 PM
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Didn't replace these two outlets because the existing covers won't work with the replacement outlets.
Interesting. Are those two receptacles rectangular? If so, does either of them have two buttons built into it marked TEST and RESET?
 
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Old 02-03-14, 08:10 AM
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Scranton76, The bathroom should he on a separate circuit, so it's ok that you didn't touch them. Go back to those two junction boxes in the cellar. Twist the wire nuts a little tighter. If that doesn't work, we'll tell you how to trace the juice.
The house originally had a fuse box and is probably at least 50 years old. I would doubt very seriously that the bathroom is on a dedicated circuit. More likely the entire 2nd floor is on one circuit or two at the most.
 
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Old 02-03-14, 08:23 AM
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Actually the wire nuts should be removed and both the insides of the wire nuts and the wires checked for corrosion. (What better place then a basement for corrosion.)
 
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Old 02-03-14, 09:28 AM
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Removing wire nuts and cleaning the conductors is beyond my comfort level unless I have verified that the power is off.
 
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Old 02-03-14, 01:48 PM
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Ok, missed something because of the now non-existant lighting in the bathroom. Sun was out this morning and because of the brightness noticed what looked like a faint scorchmark on the wall coming from the one bathroom outlet. Had already checked this and not noticed anything. Took it apart again and still did not see anything looking like fire/scorched wires inside the outlet. Tried pulling the wire out to see but there was no slack to pull out. Ended up replacing both bathroom outlets, but still no change.

I also found in my fathers workbench a power tester. Don't know the actual name for it, it's two leads with a yellow plastic head with a light in it that comes on when you stick the leads in a working outlet. No readout or info, just a light. Tried sticking it in the upstairs outlets and it just lights up on the still working outlets, doesn't light up on the non working outlets.

So still at a loss, no changes at all.

Also again yes, the Entire upstairs is on one circuit. And no, the bathroom outlets may be rectangular but they are not the gfci type, just standard.
 
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Old 02-03-14, 01:55 PM
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Don't know the actual name for it, it's two leads with a yellow plastic head with a light in it that comes on when you stick the leads in a working outlet.
That's a test light. Perfect for what you need to do. At the non working receptacles you need to use it to test between the ground wire and black wire. If no ground wire then we will have to rig one unless the receptacles are wired with BX cable.
 
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Old 02-03-14, 02:24 PM
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There are no ground wires in any of the upstairs outlets, just white/black...just watched a youtube video on how to jury rig a ground wire with the metal outlet box, so know that now but have no extra wire to actually do it...
 

Last edited by scranton76; 02-03-14 at 02:53 PM.
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Old 02-03-14, 03:21 PM
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jury rig a ground wire with the metal outlet box, so know that now
Unless your house is wired with Bx that won't work. If your house is wired with old cloth cables the metal box isn't grounded.

Simplest way is if you have any newer wiring with grounded receptacles you can run an an extension cord with ground from there.Then you measure from the ground of the extension cord to the narrow slot of the non working receptacles. (Breakers must be on.)

If no grounded receptacles you can use an extension cord from an ungrounded working receptacle and measure between the wide slot of the extension cord and narrow slot of the non working receptacle. (Breakers must be on)

There are other tests that may be needed but to keep it simple I've only included
the one and two ways to do it. Depending on those results we can go from there.

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Last edited by ray2047; 02-03-14 at 03:39 PM.
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Old 02-03-14, 03:24 PM
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Doesn't the code require that the bathroom be on a separate circuit, fuses or not? Either way, look at the junction boxes.
 
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Old 02-03-14, 04:42 PM
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Our wiring is black rubber outside, cloth inside, then the black/white wires inside that.
 
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Old 02-03-14, 05:03 PM
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Doesn't the code require that the bathroom be on a separate circuit, fuses or not?
For new construction and renovation that would need to be done to meet the provisions of the NEC. The NEC, though, is a model code. It has no authority. Only the regulations adopted by each permitting jurisdiction have authority.

In addition, adopted codes do not require, and never have required, that all current regulations be met in the process of making repairs. There would be a lot more gutted or demolished buildings if that were the case.

Not to mention the outcry against government intrusion that it would kick up.
 
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Old 02-03-14, 05:07 PM
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Our wiring is black rubber outside, cloth inside, then the black/white wires inside that.
I haven't seen that. An early form of Type NM? (I'm asking the other older hands, Scranton. )
 
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Old 02-03-14, 05:29 PM
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Our wiring is black rubber outside, cloth inside, then the black/white wires inside that
Then your metal boxes are not grounded.
just watched a youtube video on how to jury rig a ground wire with the metal outlet box
(Problem with Youtube is a lot of the alleged experts don't know how much they don't know.)
 
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Old 02-03-14, 05:58 PM
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An early form of Type NM?
Yup. I have seen a few kinds, without a ground, with a smaller (16ga?) ground, and a full size ground.
 
  #63  
Old 02-03-14, 06:30 PM
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If you have an extension cord you can use it from a working receptacle to use the test light.
 
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Old 02-03-14, 08:12 PM
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Thanks TI..................................
 
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Old 02-03-14, 09:11 PM
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The ones with #16 grounds are usually connected outside the receptacle box but if you open the panel you will see a whole mess of them.
 
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Old 02-04-14, 03:52 AM
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If you run a 3 wire extension cord to a 3 prong receptacle , it may not help , unless that receptacle is new enough that it was wired with 3 wire Romex .

But you can test between the neutral or the earth ground , in the extension cord , first to the hot of the dead receptacle . This will tell you if a hot is present at the receptacle . If you have a hot and an appliance plugged into the receptacle will not work , it means you have no neutral at that receptacle . The neutral has lost connection at that plug or at one of the others . Quite possibly the last hot receptacle .

If you have no hot at that dead receptacle , check between the neutral or earth ground of the extension cord to the neutral of the receptacle . If the test lite lites up , you indeed have lost the neutral .

It in not making connection , some where in this mess , and the neutral is hot from voltage passing through an appliance or light . This voltage is trying to complete its journey back to the panel and not succeeding . The slang term is the neutral " is hunting a ground " .

All this may be over the OP's comfort level ?

God bless
Wtr
 
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Old 02-04-14, 06:32 AM
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Post withdrawn.

.
 
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Old 02-05-14, 11:52 AM
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I'm so confused...I've got an extension cord, and the power tester I found in the basement. I tried both examples Wyr listed and am so confused.

What I did was take one wire of the tester and put it in the outlet hot (large hole) and put the other tester wire in the extension cord neutral slot (small hole). The tester lit up. I then tried doing the opposite, to test the neutral slot on the outlet, the tester lit up. What does that mean? What do I try now?
 
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Old 02-05-14, 12:48 PM
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What I did was take one wire of the tester and put it in the outlet hot (large hole) and put the other tester wire in the extension cord neutral slot (small hole). The tester lit up. I then tried doing the opposite, to test
You have it backwards.
  • Narrow slot is hot. (usually black wire)
  • Neutral slot is wide slot. (White or gray wire.)
  • Extension cord must be polarized. Extension cord plug must have one wide and one narrow blade.
  • Receptacle tested a dead receptacle.
Expected test results (breaker on):
  • Dead receptacle narrow to extension cord narrow. No light or light brighter then 120 volt*.
  • Dead receptacle narrow to extension cord wide 120 volts.
  • Dead receptacle wide to extension cord wide 0 volts.
*How to read your tester:
  • Half bright 120 volts.
  • Full bright 240 volts.
Test each dead receptacle and let us know of any that don't match the above expected results.

If results do not make sense we may need to verify the receptacle the extension cord is plugged into is wired correctly but we will assume for now it is.
 
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Old 02-05-14, 01:03 PM
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Does the extension cord need to be plugged in to a working outlet (downstairs) or unplugged while doing the tests? And yes, the extension cord I'm using has wide/short holes, so assuming it's polarized.
 
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Old 02-05-14, 01:11 PM
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Yes it must be plugged in. You are using the working receptacle as a reference to test the non working receptacle. The closest working receptacle is fine.
 
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Old 02-05-14, 01:16 PM
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Ok, that's how I was doing it, even though the way I was doing it was wrong...will test in a bit. Thanks!
 
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Old 02-05-14, 02:03 PM
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Tested all the dead receptacles and got the same results on every one.

Dead Narrow to Ex cord Narrow, Full bright

Dead Narrow to Ex cord Wide, Half bright

Dead Wide to Ex cord Wide, Faint light
 
  #74  
Old 02-05-14, 02:37 PM
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Dead Narrow to Ex cord Wide, Half bright
So the dead receptacles have an open neutral as other have suggested. You need to open all the working receptacles on the breaker for the dead receptacles and redo all the connections in the box. Start with the working receptacles next* to the non working receptacles and test after redoing each working receptacle.

*If the non working receptacle is on a wall that has working receptacles in a shared wall with another room room on the same breaker as the bad receptacles they are considered next to.
 
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Old 02-05-14, 03:14 PM
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I don't understand, every receptacle on the second floor has been swapped out with the new ones, even the two in the bathroom that I wasn't going to replace have now been replaced.
 
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Old 02-05-14, 03:33 PM
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. Did you check the junction boxes in the cellar?
 

Last edited by pcboss; 02-05-14 at 07:05 PM.
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Old 02-05-14, 03:48 PM
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Yes, looked in both boxes, everything looked ok. Since I don't know what wires go where in those boxes all I did was look and didn't see anything to suggest a burn/short. To add to that I just now checked those two boxes again now, caps were all tight, wires looked good.

Could it be a wall on/off switch for the ceiling lights? The only things I've been into have been the outlets. And like I said, my mom doesn't want me dismantling the ceiling fans/ceiling lights (none of which work either) so if it could be in there I won't know till we can hire someone. I did get a name from a friend of a retired electrician who does small jobs, so we may try getting him in a few weeks.
 

Last edited by scranton76; 02-05-14 at 04:15 PM.
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Old 02-05-14, 04:12 PM
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So you are saying you changed out the working receptacles also. If so redo any wire nut in the switch boxes and ceiling lights.
 
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Old 02-05-14, 04:18 PM
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Things may LOOK good but I think you are going to have to actually make some tests. If you can't handle that yourself, call the retired guy. You might want to remove the cover in the breaker box too.
 
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Old 02-05-14, 04:18 PM
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Oh yes, since it was said that the problem could've been in working receptacles as well as the non-working I changed all of them out. Since we've got no idea which is the first/last receptacle either I thought it best to do them all.
 
 

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