Dead Circuit Help Please

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Old 07-27-16, 11:09 AM
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Dead Circuit Help Please

Hello, I have read a few threads on this forum relating to broken circuits, potential broken wires in wall.. however I have not been able to resolve this particular issue with the basic troubleshooting steps. Here is where I am at

1 . ISSUE - power went out to bedroom plugs in middle of night for a few seconds. Power came back on for like 15 seconds then shut off and didn't come back on. Note - air conditioning unit was plugged into one of these plugs and was running.. it was ran all last summer with no issues.

2 . On this circuit is the main bedroom lights/plugs as well as the en suite bathroom lights except for the bathroom counter plug and light above the bathtub that are connected to a GFCI circuit. The light in the closet works, one plug in the bedroom works (opposite of bathroom wall) and the bathroom light and fan work. But the lights in the bedroom and all the plugs are dead.

3. We opened all plugs and boxes to look for damaged wires/connections and everything seems fine. On the dead plugs/boxes the voltmeter is not picking up anything. The one thing we did notice is that the wire coming out of the breaker panel for that circuit is discolored (kind of dark).

So the only thing I can think of is a broken wire in the wall, but I know that is unlikely. The discolored wire make me think that the circuit was being over drawn.. possibly due to the ac unit.

Any ideas or advice would be greatly appreciated

Thanks in advance
 
  #2  
Old 07-27-16, 11:33 AM
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Welcome to the best DIY forum on the Internet.

A strictly visual "inspection" is often not enough. You need to physically check the connections, undo any wire nuts and remake the connection as well as removing any wiring that is "backstabbed" into spring-loaded holes in the back of switches and receptacles, what you are calling "plugs". Back stabs, while legal, are often unreliable and when encountered the wires should be re-connected under the side screws of the device. Note, there ARE connections that at first appear to be backstabs but in reality are wires being held by a pressure plate tightened by the side screw. These are called back-wired and are a superior method, even to wrapping the wire around the screw.

Don't forget that it could be a connection in a ceiling light fixture as well as any wall-mounted receptacle.

And yes, that discolored wire from the circuit breaker often is a sign of an overloaded circuit.
 
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Old 07-27-16, 11:36 AM
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If you haven't already turned the breaker fully off and then back on, do so. Verify that the connection to the breaker is tight and match up the neutral connection and verify that is tight too.

Use your meter to verify that with the breaker on you have 120 volts at the breaker terminal.

If all that is good, then go back over all the receptacles, light fixtures, etc that are on the circuit (turn off power first) and double check the connections. If any are back stabbed (pushed into holes in the back of the device), move them to the side terminals. Any places you have wire nuts, remove the wire nut and make sure all the wires are stripped long enough and lined up and then replace the wire nuts.

It's very unlikely that an overload would have caused a wire to open circuit, although there is always possibility that a cable was hit by a nail or screw and didn't fail right away. Make sure the breaker is the right size for the gauge wire.

Since you have so many outlets without power, the problem is likely at the first device where the cable from the panel connects, but that can be hard to identify.

Make sure you have found all the dead outlets...there may be others in an odd place and one of those could have the bad connection.

Good luck!
 
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Old 07-27-16, 12:36 PM
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On the dead plugs/boxes the voltmeter is not picking up anything.
Did you measure hot to ground? Did you move any back stabs to the screws? Since lights and therefore switches are involved did you redo wire nuts at the switches and lights? Did you move any backstabs on the switches to the screws. (Any switch terminal where both screw and backstab terminal was used should be converted to a pigtail to the switch screw.)
 
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Old 07-27-16, 12:38 PM
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Thanks for the response. Sorry, when I said plugs I meant receptacle outlets. Anyway we have checked all boxes that we can find within the circuit.. and they all appear to be in good condition like I took off the marettes and stuff. All the connections to receptacles and switches are connected via side screw. There has been no recent changes like screws or nails added to walls. My initial thought was that it was a GFCI issue or a receptacle that was over loaded. Couple questions.. if the breaker is on and a few things on the circuit are getting 120 then even though the wire at the panel is discolored it is still functioning.. Like if that cable was damaged nothing on the circuit should be getting power? Also is it worth checking the plug/light in the en suite bathroom that are on the GFCI circuit? they are getting power.. however we haven't looked in those boxes since they are on a different circuit i thought it would be unlikely that the bedroom wires would be in there. But i will check.. One other thing to note again - when the power shut off it came back on for a few seconds before permanently shutting off to those light/outlets.. Does this point to anything specific?

Thanks again for the help
 
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Old 07-27-16, 12:44 PM
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Problem can also be at any working light or receptacle on the circuit. Did you check those?
 
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Old 07-28-16, 08:05 AM
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Problem has been resolved, it was a bad connection at the switch.. so I learnt that even if the wiring all looks good you have to take off each marrette and check. Thanks again
 
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Old 07-28-16, 11:07 AM
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Good work! Thanks for letting us know the outcome.
 
 

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