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Old 05-31-2014, 01:23 AM   #1
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Dead Wires in outside boxes


I have lived in my home for 16 years ( house is 26 years old). When I moved in, both of the outside outlets worked correctly, one in the front of the house and one in the rear . Now neither of them work. I'm not sure when they stopped working. Over the years I have been able to label all of the breakers in my circuit panel, but never labeled which breaker the outside lights are connected to. All of the breakers in the panel are on, nothing is tripped, I have checked all of the GFCI in the house and garage and reset them. All other outlets work but the two outside and 1 in a powder room (no GFCI in that room either). The outlet box in the rear of the house has two wires coming into it and the one in the front only has 1 romex going into the box. I assume the live would have come into the outlet in the rear of the house since there are two romex wires there and then it was ran to the front exterior outlet in a string. The basement is finished with drywall ceilings and walls so I can't trace the wires.

How can I determine where the wires in the outlet boxes are coming from? I have thought about sending power into one of the two wires in the rear outlet and see if I then get power to the outlet in the front of the house. My concern is if I send power into the line, can it damage something else if the outlets are strung together? Any other suggestions to finding where the original live feed would be coming from?


Last edited by chestertim; 05-31-2014 at 01:26 AM.
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Old 05-31-2014, 02:06 AM   #2
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Dead Wires in outside boxes


Don't despair yet !
Hidden / unknown gfci's are s common problem.
Search high and low everywhere
They are commonly found behind cupboards / shelfs
Or behind piled up boxs
Or anywhere you least expect it.
People quite often find gfci's they didn't even know they had
Believe me its more common then you think
Look and look again

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Old 05-31-2014, 06:40 AM   #3
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Dead Wires in outside boxes


Any of the breakers look different then the others.
EG One has a red button in the middle that says reset?
Are the outlets back stabbed? If so one loose connection in anything down line from there's not going to work. Change them to under the screws.
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Old 05-31-2014, 08:12 AM   #4
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Dead Wires in outside boxes


When your house was built, (copper prices were relatively low, and GFCI prices were very high) it was common to have one GFCI circuit breaker or GFCI receptacle to protect all of the downstream GFCI required locations. This included outdoor receptacles, garage receptacle, bath/powder room receptacles. Not sure if unfinished basement receptacle was involved yet. So the best place to look is those locations as all those receptacles probably share one circuit.

It is possible that the feed-through at any of these locations has failed, and the problem lies behind an existing WORKING receptacle that is not properly connected to the rest of the downstream circuit. So if you've ruled out all the locations where the receptacles don't work, you need to start checking behind the locations mentioned that DO work.
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Old 05-31-2014, 11:10 AM   #5
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Dead Wires in outside boxes


Are you sure the outlets haven't gone bad? Did you check the wires for juice? Not likely the problem but you have to exhaust all options.
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Old 05-31-2014, 01:52 PM   #6
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Dead Wires in outside boxes


All signs point to a failed or tripped GFI.
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Old 05-31-2014, 11:46 PM   #7
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Dead Wires in outside boxes


I have checked ALL of the outlets in the house and there are no GFCI outlets that are tripped. I checked the wires with a meter in the boxes in question and am certain that there is no power going to them. Is there any way to back feed a wire to see which string it may be connected to (tripping a breaker if I send power back into it). I can't determine what outlets or connections may be sending the live feed to the boxes so I don't know where to start and don't really want to tear about all of the outlets in the house looking for a loose connection ( I have already looked at all of the outlets in the house closest to the ones in question).

Any other idea's???
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Old 06-01-2014, 12:28 AM   #8
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Dead Wires in outside boxes


Depending how old the gfci's are. I have found some that were not tripped and still had power, but would not pass power.

You may have to pull each gfci and check the load wires for power.

Granted this is rare, but if you can not find any gfci tripped, this may be the problem.
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Old 06-01-2014, 08:18 AM   #9
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Dead Wires in outside boxes


Quote:
Originally Posted by chestertim View Post
I have checked ALL of the outlets in the house and there are no GFCI outlets that are tripped. I checked the wires with a meter in the boxes in question and am certain that there is no power going to them. Is there any way to back feed a wire to see which string it may be connected to (tripping a breaker if I send power back into it). I can't determine what outlets or connections may be sending the live feed to the boxes so I don't know where to start and don't really want to tear about all of the outlets in the house looking for a loose connection ( I have already looked at all of the outlets in the house closest to the ones in question).

Any other idea's???
here is what i would do , i been in radio and tv repair 50 yrs so know about elect. get a analog meter not a digital , neasure voltage in the main power box, now if you arn't good with that , stop and get a lic. electrion than, if you are measure on each breaker and see if voltage is their . if so than their must be a outlet feet to the other outlets ? i wouldn't do a back feed of power in their , if you got the pos and neg wrong , things mite be worse than they are now, if you could make up a testing rig so that you could test and see if the ground is missing or the postive is missing, if you don't what i am talking about don't do it call a lic, electrion and don't get hurt, i have been doing this stuff for yrs and know how. good luck
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Old 06-01-2014, 08:48 AM   #10
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Dead Wires in outside boxes


Go to every GFI in the house and press the trip button first. If the GFI doesn't trip, it either has no power or it is bad. Then reset the GFI.

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