Electrician types, home circuit question/issue - Solved

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john doe by choice
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Electrician types, home circuit question/issue - Solved

Post by john doe by choice » Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:06 pm

I know more than a few of you in here are (more than) pretty knowledgeable about this stuff, so I figured I'd ask here:

Power went out on one circuit in my house, nothing heavier than a TV on this particular circuit. Anyway, the power goes out on the circuit, but it doesn't trip the breaker - switch is completely on, just no power. No funny smells (like electrical burning), just no power. I bust out a circuit tester and check other good lines in the house, everything is kosher on those, but no signal from any of the plugs on the dead circuit, and the bathroom wallplate with the tester installed doesn't respond, either. Also, the circuit "flashed" earlier in the day, meaning that everything shut off for a minute then came back on. Everything on that circuit is unplugged now, and still no response.

From those symptoms, does anyone have any ideas? I'm thinking that I should just replace the breaker switch, since it's the cheapest remedy I can get away with myself - mostly, I want to save money, but not at the expense of a possible fire hazard.

Any help would be appreciated.
Last edited by john doe by choice on Sat Jan 23, 2010 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

McQ714
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Re: Electrician types, home circuit question/issue

Post by McQ714 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:16 pm

i smell a rat!

cbentley
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Re: Electrician types, home circuit question/issue

Post by cbentley » Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:25 pm

It wasn't mentioned so my apologies if you've already tried this. Make sure you flip the breaker completely off and back on. Sometimes it can trip ans still appear to be on. Is there a GFCI installed in the circuit somewhere? If this malfunctions, it will kill the power to anything wired beyond it. Oddly enough, I noticed my master bedroom has ground fault protection at the breaker itself.

*edit* just noticed you mentioned the bathroom outlet. Did you push "reset" in above where it said "test" and check for power?

dj_huck
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Re: Electrician types, home circuit question/issue

Post by dj_huck » Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:47 pm

all new construction has to have gfci breakers on almost all circuits.

john doe by choice
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Re: Electrician types, home circuit question/issue

Post by john doe by choice » Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:16 am

I did hit the test and reset buttons, reset button will not latch back, so no power to that receptacle. As for the construction on this house, it's in the 40 year range, but was updated some before me and my girl bought the place. I don't know much about GFCI's, but it sounds as though that's the receptacle with the "test" button on it, and I'm getting nothing from it.

Tone Deft
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Re: Electrician types, home circuit question/issue

Post by Tone Deft » Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:23 am

john doe by choice wrote:I don't know much about GFCI's, but it sounds as though that's the receptacle with the "test" button on it, and I'm getting nothing from it.
I didn't know either.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Residual-current_device
first paragraph is a nice explanation.

nice advice. someone suggested you make sure the breaker flipped all the way off and back on, did it? my guess would've been a bad breaker. maybe swap in one from another circuit OF THE SAME RATING (you know that, but...)

have you had lighting storms?
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cbentley
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Re: Electrician types, home circuit question/issue

Post by cbentley » Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:26 am

john doe by choice wrote:I did hit the test and reset buttons, reset button will not latch back, so no power to that receptacle. As for the construction on this house, it's in the 40 year range, but was updated some before me and my girl bought the place. I don't know much about GFCI's, but it sounds as though that's the receptacle with the "test" button on it, and I'm getting nothing from it.
If reset will not latch back, you'll need to replace the outlet. If your other outlets are in series beyond that one, they won't receive power. Or... you have a problem in the wiring (ground fault). The easiest thing to try yourself would be to kill the breaker and replace the GFCI outlet and flip it back on to see if that solves your problem. I've seen more bad GFCI outlets than bad wiring in my limited experience.
Last edited by cbentley on Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

john doe by choice
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Re: Electrician types, home circuit question/issue

Post by john doe by choice » Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:29 am

No storms today, clear weather all day long. I did flip the breaker on and off completely, no sign of life. I'm going to try swapping the breaker out tomorrow. I will also replace that receptacle in the bathroom - the only thing I love about lowes, you can take anything back, anytime, if you don't need it.

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Re: Electrician types, home circuit question/issue

Post by Tone Deft » Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:32 am

cbentley wrote:If your other outlets are in series beyond that one, they won't receive power.
if the other outlets were in series they'd only work when the bathroom devices were on and unless the devices were transformer coupled they'd act very very strangely. how could GFP work if the return path has devices in serial with it?

AFAIK they're all in parallel, but I've never wired a home.
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cbentley
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Re: Electrician types, home circuit question/issue

Post by cbentley » Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:11 am

Tone Deft wrote:
cbentley wrote:If your other outlets are in series beyond that one, they won't receive power.
if the other outlets were in series they'd only work when the bathroom devices were on and unless the devices were transformer coupled they'd act very very strangely. how could GFP work if the return path has devices in serial with it?

AFAIK they're all in parallel, but I've never wired a home.
A neighbor replaced a GFCI outlet in his garage where additional outlets received their juice through it. While I didn't inspect the wiring (only helped troubleshoot and he wired it in) I believe the hot fed through the outlet instead of it being "pigtailed" off the hot lead therefore stopping power from reaching the additional outlets because he couldn't reset it. Not even sure why one would do that instead of using a GFCI at the breaker or each outlet. Just a hunch anyway and without getting an electrician involved it could be the easiest thing to check out and since the breaker isn't tripped but the outlet won't reset it could be a plausible explanation... or not.

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Re: Electrician types, home circuit question/issue

Post by Tone Deft » Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:25 am

nice explanation, makes sense. I read your post as an outlet being in series with other outlets. it's the GFC which is in series with the outlets. makes sense, it would have to be.

/ramble ramble
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dcease
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Re: Electrician types, home circuit question/issue

Post by dcease » Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:55 am

...
Last edited by dcease on Sat Apr 24, 2010 2:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bodhi71
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Re: Electrician types, home circuit question/issue

Post by bodhi71 » Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:58 am

If the outlets are wired in parallel you wouldn't see power loss downstream. The best way to know this is to pull one out of the wall, look to see if the wires are all wire nutted together with a "tail"(Black White Green) going to the outlet.
In series, you'd see power coming into the receptacle landing on the brass (black) silver (white) green (ground) and another wire tied to the remaining screws.
Before replacing breakers and outlets it's best to isolate and half step the circuit ,sometimes in doing so you might find a loose screw or worse. Always best to check.
Check right at the breaker for power. If nothing check at line coming in to make sure you have 120/240. Also check power coming into the GFCI. I've replaced enough of em'.

bodhi71
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Re: Electrician types, home circuit question/issue

Post by bodhi71 » Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:05 am

With GFCI, you can add up to 3 "normal" outlets to the load side, effectively giving those outlets the same protection where the GFCi would trip out in 4-6 ms. This would be in series.
Saves in cost to wire this way.
The arc fault breakers which are even more effective are now being used as part of the updated electrical codes, which are found in all bedrooms ect.

tromo
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Re: Electrician types, home circuit question/issue

Post by tromo » Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:35 am

Yeah, since you think the GFCIs arent tripping and the breaker hasnt tripped, it sounds like a wire nut came apart or popped out of a push terminal towards the very beginning of the branch circuit. if there are NO receptacles functioning on the circuit, look at the very first. turn the breaker off and pop off the plate to a few closest receptacles in the direction of the panel... (although junction boxes are suspect... plugs are a bit more questionable just due to the stresses they see over the course of time) if you dont see anything fishy you could VERY CAREFULLY pop the dead front off your panel and see if you're getting voltage on the breaker (I'd start there, personally... but I'm comfortable with electricity)... if not your breaker is probably cooked... if you're not comfortable with any of that... call a professional.

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