HELP please!! Troubleshooting where I screwed up

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Old 10-21-16, 07:30 AM
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HELP please!! Troubleshooting where I screwed up

Hi there,

I am brand new to the forum, and I really need help fixing the screw up I did in my home electrical.

I will give the long version:

We bought a house and the previous owner had beige receptacles and switches, but white face plates. So, I decided rather than change the face plates, I would change the receptacles and switches to white instead.

I did one room (daughter's) (after turning off the breaker to the room, of course), and everything was hunky dory. A few days later, I changed two more rooms, son #2 and son#3. Here is where I screwed up. Instead of changing one, testing it, and changing the next one and so on, I turned off the breaker to a series of receptacles, changed all the receptacles, and then turned the breaker back on.

So, after changing the boys' rooms, I found that everything I changed that day (all the receptacles and light switches) still work and have power. However, the lights and outlets in the hallways and the GFI receptacle in the master bathroom don't work and daughter's room has no power either. Daughter's room was changed a couple of weeks ago, and everything in it worked until I fiddled with the boys' rooms.

I don't have the wiring map/sketch of the house, so I am not 100% sure how the rooms are wired. I think I know which breaker controls which room/outlet/switch, but can't be 100% sure anymore because there is no way to test the dead receptacles and switches.

I have tried removing and reinstalling the light switches and receptacles, but nothing seems to work.

IS there anyone out there who can help?
I am really at wits end here as I think I have tried everything I can to try to troubleshoot and correct the mistake I made. But I don't even know what the trouble/mistake is at this point.

Please help!!

Thanks.
 
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Old 10-21-16, 07:55 AM
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One suggestion would be to go back to each device you worked on and look for groups of wires tied together with wire nuts. Unscrew the wire nuts (with power off of course) and make sure all the wires are stripped and positioned properly and then put the wire nuts back on.

I would also use a voltmeter to verify that you have power at the terminal of each circuit breaker.
 
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Old 10-21-16, 07:57 AM
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I probably don't have any detailed suggestions, but here's a few things to look into, and a question or two.
I know that you mentioned in your post that you're not sure about the answer to either of these questions, but if you can make a reasonably accurate guess, this might give you a starting point. As always, be sure to test that the power is off before you start working on anything!

Are all your repairs on the same circuit?

Whether they are or not, if you know the way in which the wiring was run (in other words the order in which the receptacles and switches are on the circuit) you might start by checking the connections at the last device that works, and that the first device that does not work.

I'd also suggest checking for other previously undiscovered GFCIs. It's possible that one of those was tripped, thus killing the power in the circuit beyond that point.

Good luck, and don't worry, the pros will be along soon.
 
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Old 10-22-16, 07:04 AM
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Besides what MikeDel pointed out being sure no other GFCI receptacles in the house tripped be absolutely sure that the GFCI that you did replace you wired correctly. Incoming power goes to the line side of the GFCI and anything you want to protect after that goes to the load side of the GFCI.

If you don't want anything protected connect to the line side only. I have seen people replace a GFCI assuming that the new one will have the line side on the top of the receptacle and the load on the bottom. Depending on manufacturers it may be reversed. If they are reversed and you have all going to the load side the GFCI will probably not reset and not let the power continue to the rest of the downline circuit. Since we don't know and you don't know the layout of the circuit I would suggest you start there. Take the GFCI out (after you shut off the breaker), Test to be sure that the line power coming in is going to the line side of the GFCI (look on the back of it). Then the balance of the conductors if you want protected go to the load side. If you don't want to protect anything downline then connect the conductors to the line side of the GFCI.

Again, be sure you shut off the proper breaker before doing this.

Another possible thing is that you may have wired something incorrectly thus causing a dead short. When you attempt to reset the breaker it won't reset. Sometimes when someone resets the breaker they do not push it far enough to the "off" position prior to turning it back to "on' and therefore are not really resetting the breaker. But I would check the wiring on the GFCI.
 
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Old 01-01-17, 09:38 AM
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Wink Fixed the problem - partially

Happy New Year, folks.

I managed to get the power going again in the kids rooms. I did this about a month ago (I work slow, only on weekends and only after kids' hockey and when there is nothing else going on)
I spoke to a colleague's husband, who is an electrician, and he insisted that the problem must have been in the light switch that I changed. I changed from regular light switch to ones that are illuminated when you turn off the light.
Sure enough, when I compared the wiring in daughter's room with the boys' light switches, they were different.
So I changed the wiring in boys' rooms to the same as daughter's and now things work EXCEPT for the GFCI outlets in my ensuite bath and the outlet in the kids' bath. I just left the outlet dead for the past month or so as I have not had time to do anything.

I have isolated the chain for that breaker - which includes other outlets and son#3's light switch.

Today, I changed the GFCI outlet with a new one I bought (bought three weeks ago - you can see the pattern of my slow moving work schedule. LOL!! ) Still the GFCI outlet would not reset. I have tried everything - all possible combinations of the 2 black and 2 white plus ground wires. I tried installing just a regular outlet, and it works. So I know power is coming through on the wires.

So, I went back to son#3's illuminated light switch, because that's where things went wrong last time. Now remember, I copied the wiring from daughter's room, which I changed right after we moved in. And for the life of me, I can no longer remember how or where I learned the wiring from (I suspect it was google or youtube, but can't seem to find the same thing anymore, or I may have just replaced the light switch with exactly how the old one was wired in the first place).

Here is the part I don't understand - There are 3 sets of wires coming out of the wall - each with one black, one white and one bare. The whites are all bundled (screwed) together with a wire nut, the bare all screwed in to the box, and all three blacks are attached to the switch. Is this wired correctly? See the photos I attached.

Hoping I will be able to solve this problem a little quicker than the last. LOL!!

I guess the dumb and probably dangerous solution would be to get rid of the GFCI outlet and just put a plain outlet there...

Cheers!!!
 
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Old 01-01-17, 09:42 AM
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Ooops!

Forgot to attach the photos.

Here they are.Name:  IMG_20170101_113047.jpg
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Old 01-01-17, 10:04 AM
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Hard to tell is that one wire not under screw back stabbed? What 2 devices does it power? Which side does the power come in. You should get a meter, A cheap analog meter is all you need usually about 10$ at any hardware store.
 
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Old 01-01-17, 10:07 AM
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Turn the switch on and see if power now goes to the gfi.
 
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Old 01-01-17, 10:35 AM
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Yes, the third black wire is back stabbed. I think that's how it was wired in the other room.
Here is the weird part - as far as I can tell, this is a light switch and nothing more. So I don't think it powers anything other than the light.
Will get a meter tomorrow.
 
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Old 01-01-17, 10:38 AM
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Not 100% sure what you mean.

Do you mean to turn on the light and see if the gfi works?
 
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Old 01-01-17, 10:51 AM
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Update - wiring

A little update - I have been trying different combinations of the wiring in the GFCI outlet (which wire goes to which screw on the outlet) and came up with this combo that would reset the GFCI button, but it immediately trip as soon as I release the reset button.

So I assume at least I have got the wiring right?

Am I to assume/think that there is a bad wiring somewhere along this chain to cause the interruptor to trip?

PS - it's a pain to keep turning power on and off at the breaker panel because the fire/smoke alarm is on this wiring chain, and every time I reset the breaker in the panel, it sets off the alarm....
 
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Old 01-01-17, 10:56 AM
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Yes, the third black wire is back stabbed.
Back stabs are unreliable. The two wires need to be pigtailed to the screw. All back stabs need to be moved to the screws. They are often the source of failure.
as far as I can tell, this is a light switch and nothing more. So I don't think it powers anything other than the light.
Wrong. You have as hot in and a hot out at the terminal where there are two wires. Again you need to pigtail those wires to the screw.
 
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Old 01-01-17, 11:39 AM
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Hi Ray,

Back stabs are unreliable. The two wires need to be pigtailed to the screw. All back stabs need to be moved to the screws. They are often the source of failure.

- moved the wire to screw.

Wrong. You have as hot in and a hot out at the terminal where there are two wires. Again you need to pigtail those wires to the screw.

- pigtailed the two wires to the screw. Still no luck.
Are you saying there is another device/light or whatever that this switch controls?

All the other outlets I have changed have only two sets of wires (2 black and 2 white, plus a ground) - Only light switches have 3 sets of wires...
 
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Old 01-01-17, 01:25 PM
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Are you saying there is another device/light or whatever that this switch controls?
No. I am saying the power into the switch goes out to another device. I can't say what device. It could be a receptacle or another switch to another light. First I would disconnect the two wires that were on the same terminal and using a multimeter verily one is hot. I

t is common to mix up wires when they are connected that way so next you need to verify the single wire on the other switch terminal indeed goes to the light by connecting the hot wire to it. Light comes on you know the the correct wire is on the single wire terminal.

If all is correct at the switch: Have you moved all back stabs at all receptacles and switches to the screws? If not that is the next step.
 
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Old 01-02-17, 06:52 AM
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I gave it one last try last night with all the wires pigtailed and screwed rather than stabbed.

It worked!

Yay!!

Thanks!
 
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Old 01-02-17, 07:03 AM
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Glad you got it, That is why we hate back stabs.
 
 

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