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Old 12-11-2012, 05:41 AM   #16
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Dead circuit, couldn't find problem so tied into second circuit


This really has the potential to be dangerous !
You clearly have a loose connection somewhere,
That has probably finally burnt out completely.
If it is still being fed then this could lead to a fire !
If you cannot find the loose connection,
then call an electricain as they have access to
specialist tools to do things you cannot.
Like tracing wires in walls.
Start at one end and work along the circuit
checking and redoing all joints and connections.
And testing all cables for good continuity.
It can be long and tedious but it MUST be done !
Be safe !

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Old 12-11-2012, 10:16 AM   #17
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Dead circuit, couldn't find problem so tied into second circuit


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Originally Posted by mpoulton View Post
If the two breakers are on opposite legs, then spontaneous re-connection of the loose connection will cause a 240V dead short. That's obviously not good.
If that happened it wouldn't be all that bad because one or both breakers would trip and I could then figure out which circuit the problem is on. It also wouldn't be a safety issue because the breakers would be off.

If they're on the same leg, then yes, overloading the circuit and overheating the wires could be a big problem but I have advised her not to use anything on that circuit that could result in that sort of current flow.

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Originally Posted by dougp23 View Post
I also think you may have had a loose back stabbed connection, and when you pull the outlet out for testing, it snugged in. when you pushed the outlet back into the box, it unsnugged - breaking the connection.
When I checked the connection I temporarily disconnected the live circuit I tied into and made sure all the breakers were on. If the connection restored, the power and lights would have come on.

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Originally Posted by dmxtothemax View Post
You clearly have a loose connection somewhere,
That has probably finally burnt out completely.
If it is still being fed then this could lead to a fire !
If you cannot find the loose connection,
then call an electricain as they have access to
specialist tools to do things you cannot.
Like tracing wires in walls.
If the connection is completely burnt out then why would it be a fire hazard?

I spoke to a couple of electricians yesterday trying to get someone over there but due to post hurricane Sandy repairs, electricians are very busy at the moment.

Meanwhile I'm going to go back over there tomorrow and see if I can find that loose connection or at least try to determine which breaker feeds the affected circuit. I figure I can pull all the neutrals from the bus bar and temporarily energize the good white wire on the bad circuit and then go back to the breaker and see which white wire is temporarily carrying the power and that will tell me which breaker needs to be off. Does that make sense?

Last edited by zappy12; 12-11-2012 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:37 AM   #18
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Dead circuit, couldn't find problem so tied into second circuit


While you have the panel open, tighten all the screws and set screws. (Flip off each breaker before touching its screw.)

Be sure that the breaker for that circuit (two breakers for a 3 wire red/black/white cable) is off before unhooking a neutral. Otherwise the neutral wire end will be live if there was a light or appliance on that circuit still turned on, and voltage imbalances resulting in damage to appliances can occur on a 3 wire circuit (multiwire branch circuit) whose neutral was unhooked.

The second circuit tied into must also have its breaker turned off since if the broken connection should spontaneously remake itself, then a supposedly dead circuit's neutral could show itself alive if unhooked.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 12-11-2012 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:53 AM   #19
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Dead circuit, couldn't find problem so tied into second circuit


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Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
While you have the panel open, tighten all the screws and set screws. (Flip off each breaker before touching its screw.)

Be sure that the breaker for that circuit (two breakers for a 3 wire red/black/white cable) is off before unhooking a neutral. Otherwise the neutral wire end will be live if there was a light or appliance on that circuit still turned on, and voltage imbalances resulting in damage to appliances can occur on a 3 wire circuit (multiwire branch circuit) whose neutral was unhooked.

The second circuit tied into must also have its breaker turned off since if the broken connection should spontaneously remake itself, then a supposedly dead circuit's neutral could show itself alive if unhooked.
Thanks Allan, some great advice right there. I would not have thought to disconnect the breakers that feeds the whites I will be checking which would of course show a light on the tester if anything is on in that circuit and point me in the wrong direction.

As far as the breaker for the live circuit I tapped into everytime I do any trouble shooting on the dead circuit the first thing I do is disconnect the tie in.

There's a bank of about 10 toggle switches below the circuit panel box. I had asked my girlfriend what those are for, she said it was for a generator her ex used to have and when it was hooked up those switches cut power to individual circuits from the panel.

I never thought to check those switches.. if one of them is bad it would explain why the entire circuit is dead. I'm also thinking that those switches are not rated to carry current to a circuit that carries current to half a basement, a garage and 3 bathroom gfis so there's a good chance it failed.

I'll be over there tonite or tomorrow nite.
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Old 12-11-2012, 12:40 PM   #20
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Dead circuit, couldn't find problem so tied into second circuit


About the toggle switches in a box under the panel -- Each is intended to carry 15 to 20 amps (may be labeled), the same as the circuit connected to it. Selected branch circuits from the panel are routed through these switches, one per.

The toggle switches perform a required function in that any given circuit may receive utility power or generator power but may not be connected to both feeds at the same time. Relying on a person to flip breakers and switches in a particular order is not good enough. Maybe your circuit is dead simply because one of the toggle switches is set to the "generator" position and there is no generator hooked up now. Circuits in your panel not run through the box of toggle switches are not eligible to receive generator power.

It is important that generator power not be able to get out through the service lines and up to the utility pole. Linemen could get electrocuted as a result hence these toggle switches, called transfer switches. One alternative to the bank of 10 or so little transfer switches is a large transfer switch that disconnects the incoming utility power for the whole house, and switches on the generator feed.

If the toggle switch position really was the reason for the dead circuit, then your tying into a second circuit introduces another danger, if you had a power failure and brought in a generator. The generator would energize the "dead" circuit and also energize the tie in to the second circuit. If the second circuit had not been switched to generator power, it would, in a back feeding fashion, energize the panel and the lines going out to the utility pole.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 12-11-2012 at 01:06 PM.
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Old 12-11-2012, 12:53 PM   #21
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Dead circuit, couldn't find problem so tied into second circuit


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Maybe your circuit is dead simply because one of the toggle switches is set to the "generator" position and there is no generator hooked up now.
I'm certainly going to check the position of the switch as well as the connections inside the box but it wouldn't explain the lights going on and off and then staying off unless we've got a gremlin in the closet playing with the switches.
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:38 AM   #22
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Dead circuit, couldn't find problem so tied into second circuit


* Problem Solved *

However it raises one last issue.

The bad connection was in fact in one of the switches that alternates power between the circuit panel and a generator. The switch was actually frozen in position.

There are six switches and one of them fed a TV room so I swapped things around and removed the TV room from the generator feed and used that switch for the garage/boiler/basement/3 bathroom GFI circuit that had lost power.

All ok now and it's not critical that I replace that one bad 3 way toggle but if I should decide to replace it, how do I go about doing that? I don't see how to remove the switch from the box. There are two cardboard "sleeves" that run through each switch and it appears that if I remove them I can then squeeze the tabs and pop the toggle out of the box? But that cardboard strip is tight in there and it seems like it will be difficult to slide it back in.

Or does the entire box have to be replaced?

Please refer to the pictures for clarification.
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Old 12-13-2012, 01:02 PM   #23
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Dead circuit, couldn't find problem so tied into second circuit


Quote:
If the toggle switch position really was the reason for the dead circuit, then your tying into a second circuit introduces another danger, if you had a power failure and brought in a generator. The generator would energize the "dead" circuit and also energize the tie in to the second circuit. If the second circuit had not been switched to generator power, it would, in a back feeding fashion, energize the panel and the lines going out to the utility pole.
Translation -your jury rig repair may one day kill a lineman.
You need to get an electrician in to fix the panel and your repairs.
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Old 12-13-2012, 01:31 PM   #24
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Dead circuit, couldn't find problem so tied into second circuit


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Originally Posted by zappy12 View Post
There's a bank of about 10 toggle switches below the circuit panel box.
Those are rocker switches not toggle switches.
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:17 PM   #25
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Dead circuit, couldn't find problem so tied into second circuit


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Translation -your jury rig repair may one day kill a lineman.
You need to get an electrician in to fix the panel and your repairs.
No, you didn't read my last post.

I found the bad rocker (not toggle) switch in the generator switch bank box, and bypassed it by removing the circuit that feeds the TV room from the generator switch circuit, so I could use that generator switch for the circuit that feeds the boiler, garage, basement, and 3 bathroom GFIs.

The TV room circuit breaker now feeds directly to the TV room circuit, and the formerly bad circuit (garage, boiler, basement, bathroom GFIs) are now routed through the working generator switch that was formerly used for the TV room. The formerly dead circuit is no longer energized by another circuit.

Everything is working, safe, although there is now one less circuit routed through the generator switch box, and the unused wires from the generator switch box are capped off inside the circuit panel and everything is now clearly labeled.

Last edited by zappy12; 12-13-2012 at 05:19 PM.
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Old 12-13-2012, 10:38 PM   #26
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Dead circuit, couldn't find problem so tied into second circuit


Provided that you know how a generator transfer switch works and how the rocker switches are hooked up* you can replace the bad rocker switch yourself.

However you may have to order the replacement switch from the maker of the switch box since it may have a custom shape and size to fit the screw holes and opening in the switch box front.

The switch probably has its amperes rating engraved or stamped on it, and you need a replacement with the same or greater rating. There has to be breaker (or fuse) protection for each circuit routed through the transfer switch box since the panel breaker is not in the picture during generator operation. Each rocker switch could well be a circuit breaker, you will have to verify that when ordering a replacement.

*As a 3 way switch, its common terminal is connected to the load (the branch circuit hot wire). One "traveler" terminal is connected to the generator feed (should be through a circuit breaker) and the other "traveler" terminal is connected to the wire going to the panel breaker for that branch circuit.

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Last edited by AllanJ; 12-13-2012 at 10:42 PM.
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