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kcrossley2 05-10-2009 12:22 AM

Electrical Circuit Isn't Working. Help!
 
A few days ago, I noticed that the ceiling fan in our morning room was off. This is left on most of the time during warmer days, so the fact that it was off seemed odd. When I checked the wall switch that controls the fan, I discovered that a few nearby switches were also not working. This includes one switch that controls four recessed lights, another that controls a remote switched outlet, a third that controls three sets of security lights, and a fourth that controls the back porch light. None of these were working.

I immediately went to the master panel and checked for a tripped breaker. Everything checked out okay. For extra measure, I turned every breaker off and back on, just in case the panel wasn't labeled properly. I even removed the master panel cover and checked the hot wire on each breaker. All breakers were working, but the power to the circuit in question was still off.

Yesterday, I discovered that all the outdoor receptacles were also off. Since I know the outdoor receptacles are connected to a GFCI outlet, I tripped the GFCI outlet and reset it. Still no power. I then tested the GFCI with a GFCI circuit tester. Again, everything was fine and according to the CFGI tester, the GFCI outlet appears to have been wired properly.

Finally, I removed the CFGI outlet from the wall and tripped it. I used a voltage tester to check the lead out voltage. Nothing. I reset the outlet and I immediately got tone, so I checked to see if the circuit had been restored. Everything was still dead. At this point, I'm at a complete loss as to 1. Why the circuit is dead, and 2. Why are recessed lights and a ceiling fan possibly wired to a CFGI circuit.

The house is only two years old and we've never had problems with any of the morning room fixtures or any of the outside receptacles. There has been no recent construction that could be a contributor either. The only thing I can recall is that I attached an air rake to one of the outdoor outlets a few days before I noticed this problem. As I recall, it was the first time I had ever used that particular outlet.

So what am I missing? Please help. This is driving me batty. :)

Thanks,
Kelly

frenchelectrican 05-10-2009 02:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kcrossley2 (Post 271784)

Yesterday, I discovered that all the outdoor receptacles were also off. Since I know the outdoor receptacles are connected to a GFCI outlet, I tripped the GFCI outlet and reset it. Still no power. I then tested the GFCI with a GFCI circuit tester. Again, everything was fine and according to the CFGI tester, the GFCI outlet appears to have been wired properly.

Finally, I removed the CFGI outlet from the wall and tripped it. I used a voltage tester to check the lead out voltage. Nothing. I reset the outlet and I immediately got tone, so I checked to see if the circuit had been restored. Everything was still dead. At this point, I'm at a complete loss as to 1. Why the circuit is dead, and 2. Why are recessed lights and a ceiling fan possibly wired to a CFGI circuit.

What kind of voltage tester did you used to see if the GFCI receptale is working or not ?

What you have to do is check one of receptale[s] to see if you have loose connection there some case you may have to dig little more deeper due somecase the wirenut get loosen up and have a open connection at one of the juncion box so therefore start at the GFCI recpectale and use the true neon test light to see if you got power there and see if you have loose connection on load side after you verify that you have good connection at GFCI then go to first receptale downstream of GFCI the non working recepectale near GFCI is next step check it out and work from there that useally do the trick.

A two year old house is pretty new system in there and it should be pretty easy to pinpoint unless it was a older house with complety rewired in there.

Merci,Marc

kcrossley2 05-10-2009 08:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by frenchelectrican (Post 271810)
What kind of voltage tester did you used to see if the GFCI receptale is working or not ?

It's a GE GFCI tester with a trip button on the top. It looks like this, but it's red: http://www.electronicsnmore.com/images/400-030.gif

How can I determine the NEXT receptacle downstream?

Also, what happens if the neutral wires from a GFCI outlet, which protects and feeds the outside receptacles and flood lights, is crosswired with the neutral of the circuit that feeds the recessed lights and ceiling fan in the morning room. Keep in mind that this wiring configuration lasted for a good two years.

Thanks,
Kelly

220/221 05-10-2009 12:53 PM

First, don't assume anything about the wiring configuration. The fan/light circuit may not be on the GFCI but the GFCI may be on the fan/light circuit. You also may have two different issues.

The wiring in your circuit goes from the panel to point A (the closest light or recep pehaps) then out to point B, C and so on.


(recep= duplex receptacle...I always misspell it so.....)

You have a open/loose/broken/burned connection in one of the wires (black or whte) somewhere in that circuit. It will either be in the first outlet that isn't working or the last one that is.

The most common culprit is a backstabbed recep. The wires on receps are stabbed into the back and rely on the recep to make the circuit continuous. These often fail but are easy to fix.


1) Always start at the source. Test power at every breaker and test phase to phase if it's a 3 wire circuit (red/black wires). Then check the neutrals to make sure they are connected at the bus terminal.

2) Determine if part of the circuit is still working properly.

This can be tricky unless the neutral is the failed conductor. Test power to GROUND at the affected switch box. If you have power to ground but not to neutral, the issue ios in a white wire somewhere. bThe god news is that, if you have power, the circuit will be easier to map. When the power goes off, check everything else close by.

If the circuit is open on the hot side, you will need to turn off breakers and map the circuits. If you find a breaker that seems to contol only a couple of receps/lights and they are in close proximity to the affected circuit, look in the closest working recep for loose/bad wiring.

kcrossley2 05-10-2009 03:24 PM

So how can I determine the order of the outlets when the entire circuit is down? Also, how specifically do I test the hot, neutral and ground wires on each outlet? And finally, does stabbed into the back refer to the push in holes commonly found in the back of the outlets?

Thanks!

jamiedolan 05-10-2009 03:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kcrossley2 (Post 272049)
, does stabbed into the back refer to the push in holes commonly found in the back of the outlets?

Thanks!

Yes.
Don't use them.
jamie

kcrossley2 05-10-2009 03:57 PM

Unfortunately, this wasn't an option for me. I typically use the screws when I'm adding new outlets. I just don't trust those push in things.

220/221 05-10-2009 04:17 PM

Quote:

So how can I determine the order of the outlets when the entire circuit is down?
Use logic and remember what it looked like pre drywall. Rooms with shared walls will often be on the same circuit. A switchbox upstairs may be right above a switchbox downstairs an on the same circuit.

If I wired it, it would go from the panel to a switch box, between sw boxes, from sw boxes to recep and recer to recep. I use more wire but troubleshooting in switch boxes is easy because the are always easily accessible.


Quote:

Also, how specifically do I test the hot, neutral and ground wires on each outlet?
Test hot to ground. One lead on the hot, one on the ground.
Hot to neutral, one lead on hot, one on neutral.

Think of it as power coming in from the breaker on the black and going back on the white. The ground goes to the same place as the neutral. That's why it will read voltage if the neutral is open.

kcrossley2 05-10-2009 05:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 220/221 (Post 272071)
Test hot to ground. One lead on the hot, one on the ground.
Hot to neutral, one lead on hot, one on neutral.

Think of it as power coming in from the breaker on the black and going back on the white. The ground goes to the same place as the neutral. That's why it will read voltage if the neutral is open.

So, when I do this what should each of my voltage readings be?

220/221 05-10-2009 08:53 PM

220/221



:rimshot


Appx 120 volts

jogr 05-11-2009 05:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 220/221 (Post 272165)
220/221



:rimshot


Appx 120 volts

Or whatever it takes. LOL I've been wondering when you were going to use that line ever since I first saw your user name.

kcrossley2 05-21-2009 05:22 PM

Gentlemen, I want to thank all of you for your help. As it turns out, one of the outside receptacles was either loose or faulty, so I replaced it and secured the hot and neutral wires to the screws, instead of using the quick connect. Everything is fine now. :)


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