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Old 01-17-2013, 09:24 PM   #1
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Lights/outlets stopped working


In a bedroom, I have a ceiling fan/light, a ceiling light fixture, and two outlets that lost power today. Other outlets in the room still work. I am unable to determine the cause or to fix the problem. At the time of the loss, I was using minimal electricity: 4 bulbs in the ceiling fan, a laptop and a phone plugged into one of the outlets. Nothing at all unusual based on what I've done for years.

I figured a breaker had flipped but soon saw that all breakers were still On. My breakers aren't labeled, and I don't know which breaker these items are tied to. So I flipped all of the breakers Off and then back On again, but nothing has changed. I believe the 4 items are all on the same circuit, but I don't know if they are the only items on the circuit.


When the lights/outlets lost power, there was a slight sound from the ceiling fan/light (sort of a "pop" like a bulb burning out). One of the 4 bulbs I had in the unit is now burned out. It is a CFL bulb.


Any suggestions? Thanks for your help!

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Old 01-17-2013, 09:55 PM   #2
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Lights/outlets stopped working


I take it the ceiling fan still works? or you tested each of the four CFL's in another lamp?

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Old 01-17-2013, 10:00 PM   #3
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Lights/outlets stopped working


Possibly a bad connection in fan junction box or a poorly wired back wired receptacle somewhere that lost connecting.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:02 PM   #4
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Lights/outlets stopped working


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Originally Posted by fltdek View Post
I take it the ceiling fan still works? or you tested each of the four CFL's in another lamp?
I tested the 4 CFL's in a different lamp. Neither the lights nor fan work on the ceiling fan.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:06 PM   #5
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Lights/outlets stopped working


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Possibly a bad connection in fan junction box or a poorly wired back wired receptacle somewhere that lost connecting.
That could be, but how likely is that to show up after many years of having no issues? We've lived here 13 years and haven't done anything electrical for at least 5 years

Regardless, how would I go about diagnosing this? I'm a newbie, so should I just call an electrician?

Thank you for the input.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:16 PM   #6
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Lights/outlets stopped working


Outlets, switches - dont last forever. Continuos plugging of things in an outlet will overtime wear them out. It would most likely require pulling out those outlets that aren't working for inspection of the outlet itself, and the wiring. Inspect to see that no wires have seperated, come loose, and no indications of burn marks. Also, another question, when you plug anything, whether it be a three prong or just two prongs, does the connection feel loose, or snug? If nothing indicates there, move on to the next thing, the ceiling fan. But really, if you feel uncomfortable, probably worth it to call a professional, or someone very familiar with electrical.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:25 PM   #7
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Lights/outlets stopped working


If you have no experience and don't feel comfortable may be best to call an electrician. Somewhere in an outlet you lost power. You will have to turn the breaker off feeding this and check with a meter to make sure everything is dead before touching anything and check the connections in all outlets in this area.

My parents house 15 years after it was built had a back wired receptacle that came apart and I just pulled the remaining wires from the back and put them all under the screws and all was good. Will take some searching.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:37 PM   #8
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Lights/outlets stopped working


I agree with rrolleston! But I'll include a couple of photo's

My customer claimed her outlets in the dinning quit working. The first one I pulled out to look at, this is what I found:

Burn mark on blue portion of the outlet, along with where the ground wire came in touch with the hot wire (black)

All because, it, the receptacle and wiring, packed into a very shallow box.
Attached Thumbnails
Lights/outlets stopped working-img_1482a.jpg  

Last edited by fltdek; 01-17-2013 at 10:45 PM.
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Old 01-18-2013, 02:56 PM   #9
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Lights/outlets stopped working


I appreciate the guidance. I've done some minor electrical work in the past so I'm comfortable doing some of what you've suggested.

I've opened up & inspected the two outlets and the two switches that control the lights; everything looks fine in there - nothing burnt. My next step is to inspect the wiring for the ceiling fan. I'll keep you posted.
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Old 01-19-2013, 07:15 PM   #10
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Lights/outlets stopped working


I've now removed the ceiling fan and now have the three wires (black, white, and uncovered) coming out of the opening. The other light fixture and the two outlets still don't have power.

I will remove the other light fixture to make sure that it isn't toast. If that doesn't solve the problem, I plan to call an electrician.

How likely is that I've had a breaker go bad?
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Old 01-19-2013, 07:19 PM   #11
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Lights/outlets stopped working


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Originally Posted by kh541 View Post
I appreciate the guidance. I've done some minor electrical work in the past so I'm comfortable doing some of what you've suggested.

I've opened up & inspected the two outlets and the two switches that control the lights; everything looks fine in there - nothing burnt. My next step is to inspect the wiring for the ceiling fan. I'll keep you posted.
Take a voltmeter to the outlets. Did either of the outlets have in AND out wires? Check the other outlets in the room because the one that is presenting the problem may still work but nit pass it on.
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Old 01-19-2013, 07:29 PM   #12
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Lights/outlets stopped working


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Take a voltmeter to the outlets. Did either of the outlets have in AND out wires? Check the other outlets in the room because the one that is presenting the problem may still work but nit pass it on.
Neither of the outlets had in AND out wires. If I check the other outlets in the room, what am I looking for?

Thanks!
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Old 01-19-2013, 08:01 PM   #13
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Lights/outlets stopped working


It might require checking all the connections on the other outlets to ensure they are secure. As referred to in an earlier post, outlets are tyoically wired from one to another, so if a connection goes bad on one, will affect the rest on down the line.

To answer your question regarding a bad breaker, yes, they do go bad. Sometimes you may even have a breaker that "appears" to be in the on position, but the only way for sure to tell is by resetting it, turning to to the off position and back on.

Re-check all your breakers. If your uncertain as to which one feeds which area, start one by one, feel free to skip over the "double" breakers, anyone over 20A rating.
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Old 01-19-2013, 08:02 PM   #14
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Lights/outlets stopped working


Quote:
Originally Posted by kh541 View Post
Neither of the outlets had in AND out wires. If I check the other outlets in the room, what am I looking for?

Thanks!
All the wires coming to the outlest are looped and secured with a terminal? None are just stripped and pushed into the back? How about the light switch, have you examined that as well?
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:28 PM   #15
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Lights/outlets stopped working


Quote:
Originally Posted by fltdek View Post
It might require checking all the connections on the other outlets to ensure they are secure. As referred to in an earlier post, outlets are tyoically wired from one to another, so if a connection goes bad on one, will affect the rest on down the line.

To answer your question regarding a bad breaker, yes, they do go bad. Sometimes you may even have a breaker that "appears" to be in the on position, but the only way for sure to tell is by resetting it, turning to to the off position and back on.

Re-check all your breakers. If your uncertain as to which one feeds which area, start one by one, feel free to skip over the "double" breakers, anyone over 20A rating.
I've reset all the breakers, and have mapped almost all of them to their circuits. There are 3 breakers whose circuit I can't locate, including the circuit that contains the lights/outlets that have no power. Based on the layout of the breakers and the circuits, I'm pretty sure I know which breaker leads to the circuit in question.

Is testing this breaker a good next step in troubleshooting the problem? I see numerous online instructions for testing a breaker. Your thoughts?

Thanks!

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