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Old 01-09-2011, 08:25 PM   #1
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Strange electrical outage looking for opinions


I have a bathroom circuit that has been having some sporadic issues. The circuit is as follows: 15 AMP circuit breaker...2 light switches 1 has a single 65 Watt ecessed light. The 2nd has 3 recessed lights one is a 65 watt equivalent CFL bulb. 1 regular wall outlet and 1 GFCI outlet ( Bathroom) The first problem I noticed was that the 3 lights were flickering on and off. Before I could get a chance to further investigate they went out completely. I have an outlet tester so I wated to see if any of the outlets were on the circuit. When I put it into the GFCI outlet it should gournd and hot reversed. I checked the outlet which has been install since before I moved in 6 years ago and the wiring was fine. The breaker was not tripped, but when I flipped it on and off everything started to work again with the exception that the CFL burned out.

A few weeks later the lights went out again. This time I checked the GFCI and it was tripped. I reset it and the light ame back on again.

I know it is recommended to hire an electrician, but this is an easy circuit to fix if I cut the main power. My question is Should I replace the GFCI, the breaker, or both just to be safe? I have added a new CFL bulb of a differnet brand, Could that be the problem?
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Old 01-09-2011, 08:48 PM   #2
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Strange electrical outage looking for opinions


Loose Neutral somewhere in the circuit between the breaker and first junction point, or at the breaker panel. The worst that could happen, is that it could cause your house to burn down if allowed to go on much longer, or cause a person to get shocked if it shorts out at the switch, and someone touches a screw on the faceplate. If not confident, call a electrician like today, don't wait any longer.
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Old 01-09-2011, 09:31 PM   #3
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Strange electrical outage looking for opinions


Thanks for the reply. I will check for this, the most likely place would be at the switch since that is the only moving part in the whoe circuit and I have already checked the GFCI. After talking to some others friends who are not experts either, they thought it would be either the GFCI or the Breaker. This person had heard that these parts have a life expectancy and that maybe mine were approching that.
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Old 01-09-2011, 09:39 PM   #4
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Strange electrical outage looking for opinions


Has nothing to do with the switch. The problem is that there is a loose wire in either a poor connection with a wire nut, or just taped together. You can look at it yourself, but turn off the breaker for that circuit, then use a voltmeter to measure for voltage. If you use a non-contact probe, it can pick up stray magnetic field if there is another circuit in that junction box. A for the life expectancy of the GCFI, it would not cause the problem, unless you can not reset the outlet. If the hot feeds into the GCFI, then the Load side of it feeds all other items in the bathroom (lights, other outlet), yes try replacing the GCFI. When they go bad, they will trip, and you can not reset it.

Also, visually look in the breaker panel, because if it was poorly terminated there, or you had a condition that caused the wire to short out, you would be better calling an Electrician at that point to look over the wiring, and fix any problems in the breaker panel.

Keep in mind, that Electricity and humans do not work, and Electricity, and bathrooms because of water especially do not mix with humans.
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