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Old 11-05-2011, 07:56 PM   #1
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Find a circuit


In data communications we have this device that we plug into an phone outlet. It generates a tone and we use a wand to find where it is on the other end. Very handy when you might have thousands of cable runs.

In my house I have an outlet that is dead. Wiring looks fine. No tripped breakers. No light switches nearby change its behavior. All GFCIs are working.

Is there something similar for electric? Where do the pros start troubleshooting with something like this? If I could find the other end (maybe unconnected in another outlet box, maybe a cut wire somewhere, etc) I could move forward on this.

Thanks everyone!

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Old 11-05-2011, 08:56 PM   #2
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You can use those tone generators and inductive pick-up's for any type of electrical wire except grounded shielded wire like coax (kills the signal).

For electrical wire, best if main power is off and the breaker for that circuit is also off. Then trace the hot black wire. White neutral and bare ground is connected to every other wire in the house, so you would pick that up everywhere!

Also unplug or switch off anything which might be on that circuit. These would connect that black hot to the neutral and in turn everything else!

But I would not use one of those wire tracers for your situation.

I would check the breakers/GFCI's. And if in living room look for a switch which might control that outlet.

Then look at the outlet. If old replace it just because.

And pull out the outlet. Sometimes wires are run into the back holes of cheap outlets. These wires come out or will have a poor connection. Move wires to side screw terminals.

If aluminum wire and you see corrosion like a car battery has, call a pro.

Then if that outlet is ok or fixed and still does not work, then I would check the outlets right next to that one and do the above. Outlets are wired in a row. If you have...

working outlet - working outlet - not working outlet

The problem could be with a loose wire at the 2nd or 3rd outlet.

There can be all sorts of other problems, but the above are the most common.

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Old 11-05-2011, 09:01 PM   #3
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Here is a inexpensive tool that will help you
http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1...atalogId=10053
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Old 11-05-2011, 09:10 PM   #4
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I have used data tracers to trace electrical wiring. You just need to be sure the power is off.
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Old 11-05-2011, 09:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joed View Post
I have used data tracers to trace electrical wiring. You just need to be sure the power is off.
I believe he said the outlet is dead
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Old 11-05-2011, 09:29 PM   #6
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I believe he said the outlet is dead
What if its an open neutral??
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Old 11-05-2011, 09:31 PM   #7
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20 bucks says it's not and that he missed a GFCI
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Old 11-06-2011, 06:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dSilanskas
20 bucks says it's not and that he missed a GFCI
I used that tool to identify a dead wire that ran from one floor then appeared within a large bunch in the basement where I had access. It showed me the live ones and gave me the dead by exclusion. Trick is to ensure the reset have power so if you have any three or four way switches connected that may have a wire in the bunch you should flip it to be sure you didn't get a false positive on your search for a negative

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Old 11-06-2011, 07:45 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dSilanskas View Post
I believe he said the outlet is dead
YES but he doesn't know why and if it is a loose connection it could come back on at any time.
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Old 11-06-2011, 05:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joed View Post
YES but he doesn't know why and if it is a loose connection it could come back on at any time.
riiiiight

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