Help! Power Out; Breakers On

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  #1  
Old 12-03-18, 06:11 AM
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Help! Power Out; Breakers On

Overnight, power went out for an overhead heat light and a powered air vent in two rooms on one side of the house, and way on the other side of the house, for an overhead heat light and a GFCI plug in one room; a combination light/powered vent and another GFCI plug in another room; and an attic light and powered vent fan. Also, a GFCI plug outside the house that powers a water softener.

All circuit breakers are untripped, and I tested each one with a multimeter and all are putting out power.

Every GFCI I mentioned is at the end of a run (no loads are wired onto them).

I don't even know where to start with this problem, since the affected fixtures are not listed on the breaker box door (the description cells are all blank), and since there's no power to the affected fixtures, I can't isolate the problem by flipping breaker switches.

I don't see how it could be related, but 12 hours before the power went out, I replaced a faulty GFCI in a bathroom, and it is working perfectly and a plug receptacle load downstream of it is also working.

All wires coming from the breakers seem to be nice and tight.

What can I do?
 
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  #2  
Old 12-03-18, 07:13 AM
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First try turning your breakers completely to the off position and then back to on. Sometimes when they trip the lever doesn't visibly move to the tripped position.

When you said you tested all the breakers and all are putting out power did you remove the cover from the circuit panel and test at the output of the breaker? If so then I would check the wire connections. If you are certain power is making into the wires in the panel then there is a break somewhere. You'll just have to check your circuits. You might find that one outlet in a circuit has a bad connection and power isn't getting to anything downstream of the problem outlet.
 
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Old 12-03-18, 07:23 AM
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What is the voltage at the main breaker between the two wires in?
 
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Old 12-03-18, 08:28 AM
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I did fully power off all the breakers before flipping them back on.
I did remove the breaker box cover and test the voltage directly on the screw-downs to the wires, but I didn't check directly on the wires.
Ray2047, which 2 wires do you mean? It's a standard 110/220 (120/240?) home circuit, but I don't have a way to figure out which breaker is powering the wires leading to my problem.
All wiring is 12 or larger gauge and all breakers are 20 amps, except for some breakers that have 10 and maybe 8 gauge.

Can all of the stuff that has lost power have been on one circuit? It seems like a lot, especially since there is about a 70-foot run between the power outage on the north and power outage on the south sides of the house.
 
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Old 12-03-18, 09:39 AM
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Ray2047, which 2 wires do you mean?

The two wires feeding the main breaker from the meter. You should have 240 volts across these two incoming wires.


Can all of the stuff that has lost power have been on one circuit?

Probably not on one circuit, but could all be fed from one incoming power leg.


If you have an electric range or dryer, check them to see if they are operating correctly and heating up.
 
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Old 12-03-18, 09:53 AM
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The load from the heat lamps may have caused a loose connection to fully open.
 
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Old 12-03-18, 11:21 AM
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Yes, 240V into the panel. Range and dryer work. Sound's like I have some uncomfortable tracing to do, in a crawlspace attic. Not sure how to do it safely, without shutting down all power to the house.
But if I do that, not sure how I can do a trace.
 
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Old 12-03-18, 01:21 PM
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A craewlspace where I am is under the house but regardless tracing wires is almost never done. You need to identify if it is all on the same breaker and than start redoing connections and moving any backstabs to the screws. Removing and redoing any wire nuts. https://www.doityourself.com/forum/e...ther-info.html
 

Last edited by ray2047; 12-03-18 at 02:12 PM.
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Old 12-03-18, 01:46 PM
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This is one area where a non-contact electric tester can be helpful. They aren't 100% reliable but they do have their place sometimes.
 
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Old 12-04-18, 06:17 AM
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From what I've noticed in past attic crawls, there aren't very many junction boxes up there. Isn't there like a 90% chance that a junction box with wire-nut connections is more likely to be within a wall?
 
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Old 12-04-18, 07:17 AM
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sn't there like a 90% chance that a junction box with wire-nut connections is more likely to be within a wall?
Yes. but not berried if that is what you mean. And also in ceiling boxes. That is why I wrote::
You need to identify if it is all on the same breaker and than start redoing connections and moving any backstabs to the screws. Removing and redoing any wire nuts.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 12-04-18 at 02:15 PM.
  #12  
Old 12-04-18, 10:53 AM
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If you are careful leave the breakers on. Open up the outlets, lights and switches that are dead and check to see if one or more of the wires inside is energized. That's a strong clue that there is a bad connection.
 
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Old 12-04-18, 11:51 AM
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I found the problem! Let this be a lesson to me. The neutral wire was loose in the breaker box. I had no idea which wire went to where, but I found a loose one and tightened it up, and now everything works! However, there is obvious evidence of scorching of the neutral wire at the point of the loose connection. Now, I did not know that neutral wires carried current. Is this indicative of a voltage leak somewhere? Should I be concerned? I can add a photo once I get on a computer.
 
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Old 12-04-18, 12:08 PM
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hopefully, photo here:

Name:  scorched neutral wire.jpg
Views: 59
Size:  94.8 KB
 
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Old 12-04-18, 02:20 PM
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Both the so called "Hot:" wire and neutral are the path for the current to travel.
"
 
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Old 12-04-18, 03:00 PM
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So, no worries on the scorched wire, now that it's tight?
 
  #17  
Old 12-04-18, 03:24 PM
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So, no worries on the scorched wire, now that it's tight?
If insulation is not cracking, it will be fine.
It is best to clean copper wire with sand paper to remove any oxidation that may have occurred from arcing or overheating.
 
  #18  
Old 12-04-18, 04:37 PM
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Very good. Thank you, Gentlemen, for your help!
 
  #19  
Old 12-04-18, 05:01 PM
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Good job! Finding a loose connection can be quite a bug hunt and an exercise in patience as you search connection after connection for the needle in a haystack.
 
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