Breaker off- electric on

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Old 01-24-15, 02:22 PM
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Breaker off- electric on

Please help! Twisty bulb in kitchen ceiling light blew(and burnt insulation in fixture). Bought new fixture, turned off circuit breaker and checked to make sure power was off with beeping meter. Started working on connecting new fixture, checked again and power is live!!! with breaker off. By the way, house is 70+yrs old. Also, we paid a retired electrician (over $2,000!) to rewire house within the last 10 yrs. and he put in a new 100 amp panel (different rooms on same circuit(which even I know is a no-no)), ran new wiring in basement and connected it to old knob and tube wiring (said wiring in walls should be ok), installed wiring for kitchen exhaust fan, and installed wiring for ceiling fan in living room(on interior of our wall). Now, kitchen fan is not working. We have no more money to pay an electrician. I believe that the electrician we had, has died. Also, recently had to shut off the whole house to replace a broken pull chain in laundry room. Our house wiring is a mess!!! Any advice would be appreciated! Thank you!!
 
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Old 01-24-15, 02:29 PM
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Welcome to the forums! With the work he did, it is possible some of the circuits are double tapped, meaning they are serviced from different sources. The best thing to future proof your house is to work together, buy a good analog multimeter and ditch the tick tracer, and run through each breaker in your house to determine what each controls. Pen and paper is best. With all breakers on, check to make sure everything has power....lights receptacles, all. Then one at a time turn a breaker off and write down what that breaker controls. After you do this to all your breakers, you can type up a new legend to paste in the door of your panel.
 
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Old 01-24-15, 02:43 PM
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(different rooms on same circuit(which even I know is a no-no)

News to me. Rooms have more than one circuit so if one circuit goes down, there is still power in the room. A single circuit can cover a number of rooms and or locations.
 
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Old 01-24-15, 02:45 PM
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Thanks Chandler! Here is an example-# 15 breaker controls: front porch light, dining room light, kitchen light and exhaust fan, basement lights, bathroom sink light and outlet, master bedroom light and 1 outlet, all 3 outlets upstairs, and finally the back porch light. All that on 1 breaker!!! Please explain to me: how do I use an analog multimeter to test? Thank you!
 
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Old 01-24-15, 03:00 PM
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Thanks Goldstar! I thought each room was supposed to be on its own breaker, with the kitchen having different breakers for refrigerator, microwave, etc. When washing machine cycles, bedroom light dims. Also. when I use the hair dryer in the bathroom, bedroom light dims.
 
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Old 01-24-15, 04:44 PM
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It is not unusual for a lighting circuit to cover several rooms. In the kitchen a separate circuit is not required for a refrigerator or a counter top microwave or a gas range. They can be plugged into the two required GFCI protected dedicated 20 amp small appliance branch circuits. Lights can not be on the SABC. Dishwasher and garbage disposal cannot be on the SABC but may share a dedicated circuit.

The bathroom requires a dedicated GFCI protected 20 amp receptacle circuit. Only other bathrooms can be on that circuit and if there is more then one bathroom on that circuit bathroom lights can not be on the circuit.
 
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Old 01-24-15, 04:48 PM
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While it is common to wire more than one room on a circuit, it is usually a practice to wire the receptacles on one circuit and the lights on another. As Woody said, if one circuit needs to be worked on, at least you can have light in the room. HOWEVER, it seems your electrician took liberties at just shooting craps with your wiring. He should have run separate circuits to the bathroom receptacles and protected them in the bathroom or at the panel with GFCI. Your hair dryer pulls probably 15 amps if it is of any size, making it marginal with other items running. That is the reason for the dedicated circuit.

The multimeter is used to determine voltage (among other things) at a particular point. With alternating current you can place the probes in the receptacle and read the results. The black lead is for the hot and the red one is for the neutral. You can also measure drawdown in a marginally overloaded circuit to see if something needs to be done, which in your case may be the rule. Kitchen countertop small appliance circuits (2 of them required) must be 20 amps and GFCI protected.
 
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Old 01-25-15, 10:53 AM
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When washing machine cycles, bedroom light dims.
That is not usually a problem with the wiring, but because of the transformer or service drop. That is, assuming the washer is on it's own 20 amp dedicated circuit.
 
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Old 01-25-15, 11:48 AM
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Thanks for the replies! I will try to take pictures and upload them later (on my next day off of work). How can I tell if the breaker is a GFCI? There are no GFCI outlets in this house. I will have my hubby help me check which breaker the washing machine is on, but I think it is the same one as the bathroom ceiling light and fan. Thanks!
 
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Old 01-25-15, 12:29 PM
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If the breaker is GFCI it will most likely have a red button on it that will trip the breaker as a test. The breaker must be turned completely off then back on to reset.
 
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Old 01-26-15, 09:45 AM
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I will have my hubby help me check which breaker the washing machine is on, but I think it is the same one as the bathroom ceiling light and fan.
If this is true, it sounds like the work of a handyman rather than an electrician.

If the breaker is GFCI it will most likely have a red button on it that will trip the breaker as a test.
A GFCI circuit breaker wouldn't necessarily have a RED test button, I think GE uses a RED button, but I also think Square D uses a YELLOW button. Regardless, a GFCI breaker will be marked "GFI".
 
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