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Old 10-12-2010, 04:09 PM   #1
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trying to find electrical fault in house

I am usually good at diagnosing problems, but this one has me stumped. A friend called me up and told me that three closets and one bathroom have no electricity. I did the obvious and checked both boxes of circuit breakers. All circuit breakers were on. I turned each one off and on because sometimes it is hard to tell when one trips. My friend's wife told me that she saw one of the lights go out. She did not do anything out of the ordinary. I have to assume there is only one problem. Where would people suggest I start to look for the problem?



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Old 10-12-2010, 04:31 PM   #2
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Hopefully the panel is labelled and you know which breaker controls this circuit. Try to guess how the cable might routed. Then check the last working and first not working junction box in the series for a loose or open connection. If you can't figure the cable routing then just start opening the dead devices and look for an open connection.


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Old 10-12-2010, 04:51 PM   #3
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Sounds like you lost a neutral. Did they plug anything into the recep's if so start banging outlets. Most likely a backstabbed recep and the wire snapped.
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Old 10-12-2010, 05:03 PM   #4
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The breakers are not labeled. The closets and bathroom without power are the rooms around the master bedroom. The master bedroom itself does have power, but at least one of the outlets is dead. From my reading on the Internet, this problem could be a bad connection behind one of the working outlets.
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Old 10-12-2010, 05:08 PM   #5
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I would find a table of common symbols used on wiring diagrams, then map out the house and mark down the location of every electrical component in the system. Then, I'd turn everything on, and plug things in outlets (both sides since an outlet might be "split"). Then I'd turn on just one breaker at a time and mark the map to show what works on what breaker.

After you have done all that, you should have a much better grip on where to look next and what might be wrong.

In addition, the map will become a valuable resource for the future. (one of first things I do when I move)

Do you have one of these?

If you find an outlet that seems to work on the same circuit as the dead ones, and it has power but another outlet on the other side of the wall in the same place doesn't, that's where I'd look first.

Last, I'd be careful about how far I went helping someone else in their house unless I had a license as an electrician. Even if you trust your friends, you might not be able to trust their insurance companies attorney if there should be any kind of disaster, for which the insurer would rather not pay.

Steve El

Last edited by steveel; 10-12-2010 at 05:17 PM.
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Old 10-12-2010, 05:11 PM   #6
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Since a washroom is concerned, I'm sure you've confirmed that there is no GFCI in the cct, that has tripped? Often closet lights have power taken from wherever is easiest to access.
Thought I'd post just in case.
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Old 10-12-2010, 05:32 PM   #7
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Have fun with that one, tracking this down could take a while. I would turn off the circuit to see what plugs and lights are on the circuit then try to guess how the wire is run. Go to the first plug that works before your first dead one and see if something is off the plug or a loose joint.
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Old 10-12-2010, 07:18 PM   #8
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I will make it simple with the dead recetaples and switches { if they are on that circuit } double check all connection for any backstabbing that is the most common cuprit once you check that on affected circuit and I know majtory of the pretty modern bathroom even with older home with updated wiring in there.

You have to look around for a GFCI it will be hidden in oddspot which you generally never noticed like in crawl space or attached garage or in basement behind the stuff you pile up over the years.

once that clear then you may have to go up in attic or go in crawl space or basement depending on which way the conductors were ran and find a junction box and few case you may find them in the ceiling luminaire as well.

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Old 10-13-2010, 09:34 AM   #9
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There is a GFCI in the bathroom that is dead along with the lights. Would an electrician connect three closets to the load of a GFCI? That is another place I could look for the fault.
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Old 10-13-2010, 10:06 AM   #10
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They aren't supposed to connect unrelated stuff to bathroom circuits, at least not under modern codes. That said, anything is possible.


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