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Old 04-19-2007, 10:22 PM   #16
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I'm not going to tell you to do that, but if you decide to that's your own decision as a homeowner. I am going to tell you however to call an electrician to figure it out. It could be any number of things. Melted wirenut, melted line that is open and hot in your attic/walls, etc. I would get it checked out as soon as possible. Sorry I couldn't be of any more help.

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Old 04-19-2007, 11:41 PM   #17
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Does anyone else have any other suggestions? Thanks to those who have replied thus far. I've tried everything that has been suggested so far. No luck. I'm positive that a breaker didn't trip. I'm positive that it wasn't a GFI that tripped. I don't have any GFI's on that circuit. If a GFI tripped it would have to be on that same circuit wouldn't it? As you can see I'm trying not to call an electrian. I know it has to be something simple.
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Old 04-20-2007, 12:41 AM   #18
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A few questions...how are you getting a receptacle tester to work on two prong outlets? Did you cut the ground pin off? Or are you using an adapter?

If the non-contact tester is showing power at all points on this circuit and the multimeter is showing 124 volts at a working outlet what would make you think the breaker is bad?

You have an open neutral, you will need to locate where it is open or poorly connected.

Since you replaced all non-working outlets you either did not find every box on the circuit or you have something going on inside a wall.

If I was called to your house to find this problem and it wasnt an obvious problem I would start by turning off the breaker, (double check the boxes for power) then removing all the receptacles and light switches and light fixtures on the circuit. I would cap all the wires (except fixture wires) with wirenuts.

NOTE: you must take careful notes of how the original wires are terminated and of any switched receptacles. A digital camera is a great tool to keep track of the connections.

I would then turn on the breaker. Take a non-contact tester and find the box that has power. This will be where power first enters the branch circuit devices. I would then turn off the breaker reconnect all the wires in that box. If it is a receptacle box that power first enters then plug something in after you reconnect and see if it works. If not then problem is on the white neutral wire somewhere between the panel and the first device. Turn breaker off and locate the open. If ok then turn the breaker back on and find the next box with power present in it by using the non-contact tester. It is possible depending on how things are wired that more than one box will get power as you reconnect wires. So check all boxes on the circuit everytime you do this. As soon as you get to a box that does not work properly when reconnected you have isolated the cable that has the open neutral. (between that non-working box and the last working one). On lights both the switch and the light fixture wires will need to be connected.

Hope this helps

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Last edited by Stubbie; 04-20-2007 at 12:44 AM.
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Old 04-20-2007, 06:03 AM   #19
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Yep. All breakers have been turned on and off. Could it be a bad breaker? I have 2 empty breakers. Should I switch with one of them and try that?
If the two recs that work are on the same circuit it is not a bad breaker, but it would not hurt to check. Measure voltage from the breaker screw to the ground buss.

What type of wireing system do you have? Describe the wires that run in the walls.

The problem is between the last place or recepitlce that works and the first recepticle that does not work. It could be a broken line in the wall.
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Old 04-20-2007, 07:15 AM   #20
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I was used a 3 prong adapter to test the plugs. I didn't necessarily think it was a bad breaker, I was just tossing it out there because I was at a loss. I'll try your suggestion stubbie and see what happens. Thank!
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Old 04-20-2007, 08:18 AM   #21
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A few questions...how are you getting a receptacle tester to work on two prong outlets? Did you cut the ground pin off? Or are you using an adapter?

If the non-contact tester is showing power at all points on this circuit and the multimeter is showing 124 volts at a working outlet what would make you think the breaker is bad?

You have an open neutral, you will need to locate where it is open or poorly connected.

Since you replaced all non-working outlets you either did not find every box on the circuit or you have something going on inside a wall.

If I was called to your house to find this problem and it wasnt an obvious problem I would start by turning off the breaker, (double check the boxes for power) then removing all the receptacles and light switches and light fixtures on the circuit. I would cap all the wires (except fixture wires) with wirenuts.

NOTE: you must take careful notes of how the original wires are terminated and of any switched receptacles. A digital camera is a great tool to keep track of the connections.

I would then turn on the breaker. Take a non-contact tester and find the box that has power. This will be where power first enters the branch circuit devices. I would then turn off the breaker reconnect all the wires in that box. If it is a receptacle box that power first enters then plug something in after you reconnect and see if it works. If not then problem is on the white neutral wire somewhere between the panel and the first device. Turn breaker off and locate the open. If ok then turn the breaker back on and find the next box with power present in it by using the non-contact tester. It is possible depending on how things are wired that more than one box will get power as you reconnect wires. So check all boxes on the circuit everytime you do this. As soon as you get to a box that does not work properly when reconnected you have isolated the cable that has the open neutral. (between that non-working box and the last working one). On lights both the switch and the light fixture wires will need to be connected.

Hope this helps

Stubbie
Okay I've removed all receptacles, switches, etc. I cut the power back on, use the non contact tester and got results from the box which happens to be the only one that actually worked in the first place. Could this be the one causing the problem?
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Old 04-20-2007, 08:49 AM   #22
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If the two recs that work are on the same circuit it is not a bad breaker, but it would not hurt to check. Measure voltage from the breaker screw to the ground buss.

What type of wireing system do you have? Describe the wires that run in the walls.

The problem is between the last place or recepitlce that works and the first recepticle that does not work. It could be a broken line in the wall.
I have 4 outlets with 2 white wires and 2 black wires. The rest have 1 of each. Is that what you were looking for?
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Old 04-20-2007, 08:58 AM   #23
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Maybe I should mention this. I have 6 outlets in my living room. Of the 6 outlets only 1 works. The 1 outlet that does work is on a totally different circuit than the rest of the living room. The other 5 living room outlets and 2 switches are on the same circuit as the 2 outlets and 1 switch in the bedroom. Does this make any difference?
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Old 04-20-2007, 09:19 AM   #24
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Okay I've removed all receptacles, switches, etc. I cut the power back on, use the non contact tester and got results from the box which happens to be the only one that actually worked in the first place. Could this be the one causing the problem?
Could be if you didn't replace that receptacle earlier. I would replace it with a new one. Don't use backstabs use the side screw terminals. Reconnect the new receptacle to all the wires then turn power back on check and see if power shows up in another box/boxes. If it does then reconnect the wires in that box (turn power off of course) Test to see if it is working. If not then problem is in the cable bringing power from that first working receptacle. If it does work then replacing the receptacle fixed your problem. Understand that power can be present in a box but if the neutral (white wire) is open nothing is going to work.
Post back.

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Old 04-20-2007, 09:39 AM   #25
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Maybe I should mention this. I have 6 outlets in my living room. Of the 6 outlets only 1 works. The 1 outlet that does work is on a totally different circuit than the rest of the living room. The other 5 living room outlets and 2 switches are on the same circuit as the 2 outlets and 1 switch in the bedroom. Does this make any difference?
You are not concerned with outlets controlled by a different breaker. These have nothing to do with the branch circuit that has the open neutral. Forget the one outlet on another circuit that works.

Are you sure you have correctly identfied the branch circuit breaker that controls the outlets that dont work?

You mentioned earlier that one of the outlets on the problem circuit works....this isn't the outlet on the other circuit is it?

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Old 04-20-2007, 09:50 AM   #26
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Okay I reconnected the outlet that works (this outlet had 2 blacks and 2 whites). I tested the other boxes and I found 3 with no power. I haven't reconnect those with power just yet. I wanted to mention the 3 that still had no power. Also the ones with no power have the 2 blacks and 2 whites.
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Old 04-20-2007, 09:50 AM   #27
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Could be if you didn't replace that receptacle earlier. I would replace it with a new one. Don't use backstabs use the side screw terminals. Reconnect the new receptacle to all the wires then turn power back on check and see if power shows up in another box/boxes. If it does then reconnect the wires in that box (turn power off of course) Test to see if it is working. If not then problem is in the cable bringing power from that first working receptacle. If it does work then replacing the receptacle fixed your problem. Understand that power can be present in a box but if the neutral (white wire) is open nothing is going to work.
Post back.

Stubbie
Okay I reconnected the outlet that works (this outlet had 2 blacks and 2 whites). I tested the other boxes and I found 3 with no power. I haven't reconnect those with power just yet. I wanted to mention the 3 that still had no power. Also the ones with no power have the 2 blacks and 2 whites.
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Old 04-20-2007, 09:55 AM   #28
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You are not concerned with outlets controlled by a different breaker. These have nothing to do with the branch circuit that has the open neutral. Forget the one outlet on another circuit that works.

Are you sure you have correctly identfied the branch circuit breaker that controls the outlets that dont work?

You mentioned earlier that one of the outlets on the problem circuit works....this isn't the outlet on the other circuit is it?

Stubbie
Yes I'm sure. I went through every breaker and relabeled them. The original label from the previous owner was horrible. I had a friend switch the breakers on and off while I went through every light and outlet in the house to find out what was on which circuit. That was one of the first things I did when I moved in a year ago.
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Old 04-20-2007, 10:15 AM   #29
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Okay I reconnected the outlet that works (this outlet had 2 blacks and 2 whites). I tested the other boxes and I found 3 with no power. I haven't reconnect those with power just yet. I wanted to mention the 3 that still had no power. Also the ones with no power have the 2 blacks and 2 whites.
So your saying that power showed up in other boxes. Now take each box one at a time that has power and reconnect them (power off and recheck the wires for power before touching). Test to see if they work whether light or receptacle. Test to see if power is in any of the boxes with the 3 receptacles that dont work. If you have more than 2 whites and two blacks in a box post back.

When you see two blacks and two whites in a receptacle box this usually is power in and power out to another receptacle or switch.

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Old 04-20-2007, 12:36 PM   #30
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Okay I reconnected all outlets and switch. I still show power with the non contact tester but still nothing works when I plug them in or turn on switches except for the 1 switch and 1 outlet that had already been working. However, I did forget to check the porchlight fixture that is on this circuit controlled by one of the nonworking switches. I finally checked it and I noticed a green wire that wasn't connected to anything. What is that and what does it mean? Does it have anything to do with this?

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