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-   -   Breakers etc. weird problem (http://www.diychatroom.com/f18/breakers-etc-weird-problem-33295/)

abehiht 12-06-2008 09:34 PM

Breakers etc. weird problem
 
Our house was built in 1962 and all has been fine, we've had it for 20 years.

Thursday the fan on our heat pump went out which is unrelated except for the fact we got two small heaters.

I plugged one of the heaters in and all was fine, then the second one a few hours later and power went out to all the outlets in the living room, bathroom and kitchen.

So I unplugged the second heater, and none of the breakers were thrown and the light came back on for 10 minutes and then out they went again. So off I went to Home Depot and got all new 15 and 20 amp breakers and replaced them all hoping one was old but still no lights.

So we only turned on the ones we need for tonight and left the breakers off to the lighting. The refrigerator is on, the washing machine/dryer works and all the bedrooms have power and are on their own circuits/breakers.

What I think happened is the outlet might have popped/shorted out and the circuit is a series circuit. So my next plan is to replace all the outlets and see what happens.

Anyone with any thoughts on this? Thanks!

Plumbvoltage 12-06-2008 09:38 PM

I would check to make sure you don't have a loose neutral connection somewhere on the circuit.

Billy_Bob 12-06-2008 09:43 PM

Instead of spending all that money and just guessing, maybe it would be better to hire an electrician to track down the problem(s)?

abehiht 12-06-2008 09:43 PM

Thank you for your replies. Please know I'm really not knowledgeable with this stuff but do well with instruction.

Is it possible that would be on one of the outlets?

I keep wanting to believe that this is all related to the outlet that I plugged into when the power went out. Am I wrong in assuming this?

Could it be related to the GFI switch in the bathroom, I've tried to reset it but no luck?

So far I've only invested about $40.00 which is not bad.

jamiedolan 12-06-2008 09:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by abehiht (Post 194902)
Our house was built in 1962 and all has been fine, we've had it for 20 years.

Thursday the fan on our heat pump went out which is unrelated except for the fact we got two small heaters.

I plugged one of the heaters in and all was fine, then the second one a few hours later and power went out to all the outlets in the living room, bathroom and kitchen.

So I unplugged the second heater, and none of the breakers were thrown and the light came back on for 10 minutes and then out they went again. So off I went to Home Depot and got all new 15 and 20 amp breakers and replaced them all hoping one was old but still no lights.

So we only turned on the ones we need for tonight and left the breakers off to the lighting. The refrigerator is on, the washing machine/dryer works and all the bedrooms have power and are on their own circuits/breakers.

What I think happened is the outlet might have popped/shorted out and the circuit is a series circuit. So my next plan is to replace all the outlets and see what happens.

Anyone with any thoughts on this? Thanks!

Most of the little electric heaters I've seen draw at least 10 amps. If you had 2 of them on the same circuit, they likely should have tripped the breaker. It's possible these are smaller heaters and something else happened. But if there not, then you may have had a breaker fail to open when it should have. If that is the case, then running too high of a load on the wire may have melted wire connections and or wire insulation at the outlet or elsewhere in the walls.

I think it is only right for me to insert the suggestion that it would be best to have this professionally diagnosed and repaired. If there is damaged wire in the wall you don't want it to start a fire later on.

My thought is that one or more of the outlets may have push in connections on them and the load may have damaged the connection on the outlets. If the wire is undamaged, then replacing the outlets may solve the problem and be fine, but it might now, depending on what happened.

If you are not going to hire someone to look at this... I would spend the $30-$40 on a Arc Fault breaker. I almost never recommend the over price arc fault breakers, but in this case, it might be a good idea.

If you replace the outlets yourself. Do not use push-in connections. Only use outlets that you wrap the wire around the screw or where you push in the wire and turn a screw until it is tight (clamp down style). Push-in connections have many problems, including failure under heavy loads.

I assume when you replaced the 15 and 20a breakers that you made sure to put only the 15a breakers where there where 15a and only 20a where there were 20a. Meaning, I wanted to make sure you did not "upgrade" any of your breakers in size.

Jamie

jamiedolan 12-06-2008 09:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by abehiht (Post 194909)
Thank you for your replies. Please know I'm really not knowledgeable with this stuff but do well with instruction.

Is it possible that would be on one of the outlets?

I keep wanting to believe that this is all related to the outlet that I plugged into when the power went out. Am I wrong in assuming this?

Could it be related to the GFI switch in the bathroom, I've tried to reset it but no luck?

So far I've only invested about $40.00 which is not bad.

What do you mean by "no luck"? Do you mean it didn't reset or do you mean it reset but didn't solve the problem?
Jamie

jamiedolan 12-06-2008 10:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jamiedolan (Post 194913)
Most of the little electric heaters I've seen draw at least 10 amps. If you had 2 of them on the same circuit, they likely should have tripped the breaker. It's possible these are smaller heaters and something else happened. But if there not, then you may have had a breaker fail to open when it should have. If that is the case, then running too high of a load on the wire may have melted wire connections and or wire insulation at the outlet or elsewhere in the walls.

I think it is only right for me to insert the suggestion that it would be best to have this professionally diagnosed and repaired. If there is damaged wire in the wall you don't want it to start a fire later on.

My thought is that one or more of the outlets may have push in connections on them and the load may have damaged the connection on the outlets. If the wire is undamaged, then replacing the outlets may solve the problem and be fine, but it might now, depending on what happened.

If you are not going to hire someone to look at this... I would spend the $30-$40 on a Arc Fault breaker. I almost never recommend the over price arc fault breakers, but in this case, it might be a good idea.

If you replace the outlets yourself. Do not use push-in connections. Only use outlets that you wrap the wire around the screw or where you push in the wire and turn a screw until it is tight (clamp down style). Push-in connections have many problems, including failure under heavy loads.

I assume when you replaced the 15 and 20a breakers that you made sure to put only the 15a breakers where there where 15a and only 20a where there were 20a. Meaning, I wanted to make sure you did not "upgrade" any of your breakers in size.

Jamie

I should clarify what I was trying to say. It is possible that the breaker is fine, and this was a failure at the outlet. Someone needs to look at that outlet and it's connections, and inspect it for heat damage. It may very well be a failure at that outlet that has cause all of the problem, however, if you replace just that outlet, and it fixes the problem, don't necessarily assume that there are no other problem or wiring damage.

Jamie

InPhase277 12-06-2008 10:01 PM

It probably is a bad connection in a back stabbed receptacle. First thing to do is make sure all the neutrals are tight at the panel. Then start at the receptacle you plugged everything into to see if it is back stabbed and loose. Then work you way back toward the panel to other receptacles on the non-working circuit. I have a feeling that you will find a loose connection in one of the outlet boxes.

abehiht 12-06-2008 10:08 PM

Thanks Jamie.

No I did not upgrade the fuses, put the 15s back in with the 15s and the 20s with the 20s.

With the GFI switch it did not solve the problem, tried to reset it twice.

Never heard of the push in kind thanks for the advice, we'll see what the outlets are like tomorrow and will buy the best ones I can to replace them.

Never heard of the Arc Fault breakers before, if they are really that much better might as well just buy them at regardless of cost.

Hiring a professional is an option for sure, but I want to learn a bit and am thankful for all your thoughts.

Any other ideas? Please understand as stated before I'm really not knowledgeable with this stuff but do well with instruction and am open to suggestion.

abehiht 12-06-2008 10:10 PM

Thanks InPhase277 the guy at Home Depot had similar thoughts as well.

farmerde 12-06-2008 10:30 PM

A quick easy way to trouble shoot outlets is to buy a $5.00 tester like this:

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=32907

The lights will tell you if you are missing a neutral, or hot connection, and so on. You can also use it to test your GFI. It's not all inclusive, but it can help track down simple problems fast.

jamiedolan 12-06-2008 10:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by abehiht (Post 194918)
Thanks Jamie.

No I did not upgrade the fuses, put the 15s back in with the 15s and the 20s with the 20s.

With the GFI switch it did not solve the problem, tried to reset it twice.

Never heard of the push in kind thanks for the advice, we'll see what the outlets are like tomorrow and will buy the best ones I can to replace them.

Never heard of the Arc Fault breakers before, if they are really that much better might as well just buy them at regardless of cost.

Hiring a professional is an option for sure, but I want to learn a bit and am thankful for all your thoughts.

Any other ideas? Please understand as stated before I'm really not knowledgeable with this stuff but do well with instruction and am open to suggestion.

"Better" with the Arc faults depend on the situation and application.

"The “AFCI” is an arc fault circuit
interrupter. AFCIs are newly-developed
electrical devices designed to protect
against fires caused by arcing faults in the
home electrical wiring"

A number of people share the opinion that arc fault breakers are very expensive and of very little value in most situations (where the wiring and connections are made properly and in good condition). That said, a arc fault breaker MAY offer some addition protection in a system that may have some connections that are not idea or may have some wire that is in less than perfect condition.

I personally think that the outlets with clamp down connectors on them are the best option. They are very easy to use and I have not heard of any problems with the connections on them like there are with the push in connectors. The nice clamp down outlets are around $3

Glad to hear you replaced the breakers properly, no offense intended, I often read of people that "upgrade" there breakers.

When you reset a GFCI, it will either reset and have power or the red light will stay on. It sounds like the GFCI actually did reset and the red light is off and it has power?

I think your going to find the problem once you start looking at the outlets and there wiring. Just make sure to carefully inspect all all the wires and make good secure connections to the new outlets.

Jamie

kbsparky 12-06-2008 10:33 PM

That GFI probably won't reset, since its feed is already dead from the source.

You most likely have a bad/loose connection in one of the outlets on that circuit. :huh:

Does anything on that circuit work properly? If so, start from there, and work your way back to the panel, checking and replacing the outlets as needed. :whistling2:

abehiht 12-06-2008 11:06 PM

Thanks for the info all.

Kbsparky nothing works on it.

There is no light on our GFI just two butons, test and reset, and it is possibly dead from the source as you say. I'll see if I can replace it with one with a light.

Jamie, no offense taken, thank you for your help.

Thank you farmerde I'll get one tomorrow.

220/221 12-06-2008 11:33 PM

Quote:

Is it possible that would be on one of the outlets?

It is LIKELY that it would be in one of the outlets.


You circuit loops from outlet to outlet. In each receptacle, the 2 incoming wires and the 2 outgoing wires plug in to the back of the recep. This type of connection is a common failure point, especially when a big load like a heater is plugged in.

90% of the time, the problem is at the first dead recep or the last working one. It could be the hot or the neutral wire.


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