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Old 12-11-2010, 04:12 PM   #1
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Partial Power outage in house


Hi All,

Last night, I turned on a light in my house and the light bulb popped and went out. I then replaced it but it still didn't come on.

I then went into one of my bathrooms and noticed the light fixtures in there did not work. The outlets are ok, just none of the light in this one bathroom.

I reset the "bathroom" circuit breaker a few times but that didn't work. (oh, and even with the circuit breaker 'off' the outlets in the bathroom still work so they must be on a different feed).

I then shut power to main and took off the circuit breaker panel and moved the wire in the bathroom breaker to another known good breaker. Still doesn't work

I then moved the wire back to its original breaker and put a voltmeter on it. I don't get a either 120 or 220VAC with the switch on or off. (I do get a slight voltage reading but I assume this is some kind of phantom voltage or something).

I looked all over my house for GFCI outlets and found none popped but went ahead and reset them anyway.

Any idea what this could be???

Thanks in advance.

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Old 12-11-2010, 04:19 PM   #2
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Partial Power outage in house


If your incoming voltage is not present/proper, then the problem is not within your inside wiring or devices.

Check the voltage at the line side of your main breaker, if it ain't there, then call the power company and report a partial outage.

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Old 12-11-2010, 04:26 PM   #3
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Partial Power outage in house


I assume there would be voltage at the main breaker since everything house in my house is ok...maybe I'm misunderstanding you. :/

Doesn't the main breaker only feed out two wires to the circuit breaker box?

EDIT: I called the electric company and they're sending a guy over. They said it is possible to have a partial outage and it be something from me to them. Thanks for the advice sparky!

Last edited by tekksan; 12-11-2010 at 04:42 PM.
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Old 12-11-2010, 05:48 PM   #4
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Partial Power outage in house


Ok, I was reading it wrong on the circuit breaker. There is juice on all circuit breakers (post to neutral bus).

Since I've already moved the breaker to another known good and even replaced the suspected breaker, what could it be?

I checked for voltage at the light switch of the light that won't come on but don't see any.

Are things wired serially, e.g.:

breaker---light#1---light#2---light#3?

How in the world would I know where the fault could be?
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Old 12-11-2010, 07:52 PM   #5
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Partial Power outage in house


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Originally Posted by tekksan View Post
Ok, I was reading it wrong on the circuit breaker. There is juice on all circuit breakers (post to neutral bus).

Since I've already moved the breaker to another known good and even replaced the suspected breaker, what could it be?

I checked for voltage at the light switch of the light that won't come on but don't see any.

Are things wired serially, e.g.:

breaker---light#1---light#2---light#3?

How in the world would I know where the fault could be?
It's hard to say exactly how the wiring is laid out without a map. Are there other fixtures/receptacles on the same circuit as the dead lights? If so, are they working?

You mentioned that your bathroom lights are dead, but that the outlets work. Are the bathroom lights on a general lighting circuit independent of the GFCIs?

If you don't have any tripped breakers, but several light fixtures are dead (and no voltage measured on the switches), my suspicion is that you have a bad connection somewhere in that circuit. If you have a map of the wiring in the house, you should be able to trace the branch back from the service panel from junction to junction and check the connections at each junction. You might have a failed receptacle between the service panel and the end of the branch.
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Old 12-11-2010, 09:46 PM   #6
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Partial Power outage in house


Did you measure the voltage at the incoming mains? Do NOT measure to neutral or ground here, what is the reading across the 2 incoming lines?

You should be reading 240 Volts or so ...
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:38 PM   #7
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Partial Power outage in house


Yep, 240 incoming measured.

Yeah, if I had a map, it might make it a bit easier but I don't think they included one when I bought the house.

I tested all the outlets downstairs (where the lights are out) and found one that read 0V on both outlets. Should I replace this one or is it possible this one is also suffering from something downstream?
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Old 12-12-2010, 11:38 PM   #8
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Partial Power outage in house


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Originally Posted by tekksan View Post
Should I replace this one or is it possible this one is also suffering from something downstream?
Don't you mean upstream??

If you can determine that the problem is on just this circuit, then we need to start working from where we know there is power and work along down the circuit until we find the point which things go bad and our problem will be there. Also if it is easier you can do the reverse, work from bad to hot.
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Old 12-13-2010, 10:44 AM   #9
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Partial Power outage in house


You probably have a loose wire at one of the receptacles, most likely wired with the push-in connectors and on one of the working receptacles. Using a plug-in tester or a portable lamp, test each receptacle by plugging in the tester (or lamp) and wiggle the plug. If the lights that are out flicker on, you have found the receptacle with the loose wire. If that test doesn't work, you will have to start removing each receptacle. Start with one that is closest to the one with the 0V reading.
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Old 12-13-2010, 08:15 PM   #10
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Partial Power outage in house


Yep, it was a loose wire on a light switch. Thanks for all the excellent tips guys!

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