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I know very little about housing electrical systems....

mantispf2000

Turbo Monkey
Aug 9, 2001
1,747
194
Nevada, 2 hours from Mammoth
So a couple days ago, part of our house lighting goes out. I check various switches and outlets, check the GFI breakers, and the main breakers outside. Do the off/on of the breakers, and the test/reset of the GFI's. Call the electric company, and they tell me to check what I've already done. Call an electrician, and get the same response. Went to Ace and was told to check the internal breaker box. What? An internal box? Well, wife and I can't find it,even when I check in the attic (don't ask why, I just did). Talk to a couple of maintenance guys at work, as was told to check the circuits at the breakers. I was given a volt meter, just now checked them, and all show power from the breaker. Since I am now frustrated to the point of doofusness, I will rely on the wife to call an electrician to come out and have this fixed.

Oh why didn't I take some form of maintenance training at school?????????????????
 

SloMoJo

Monkey
Dec 17, 2002
379
0
New England
Hmmm ..Tricky one ..you did the obvious with no luck.

Here's one thought.
I might take a closer look at how the outlets were wired.

So I'd open an outlet box (power off to house).
Check if it's wired properly such that if an outlet went bad would the power continue down the circuit.

Correct wiring would connect the load and line, then a 3rd short wire to power the outlet. This way if outlet fails power continues. If wiring is only to the outlet and the outlet fails (it happens) then could produce your symptoms.
 

mantispf2000

Turbo Monkey
Aug 9, 2001
1,747
194
Nevada, 2 hours from Mammoth
Hmmm ..Tricky one ..you did the obvious with no luck.

Here's one thought.
I might take a closer look at how the outlets were wired.

So I'd open an outlet box (power off to house).
Check if it's wired properly such that if an outlet went bad would the power continue down the circuit.

Correct wiring would connect the load and line, then a 3rd short wire to power the outlet. This way if outlet fails power continues. If wiring is only to the outlet and the outlet fails (it happens) then could produce your symptoms.

Well, here's one detail (ok, several)-- outlet and switches in kids' bathroom. Replaced both in September. I know I wired them correctly. Outlets still work (hair utensils heat up). Switches were the lighted kind, and they do not light, nor turn lights/fan on/off. Also, to continue with what works/doesn't, switches to their hall and part of living room do not work, though outlet for computer (obviously) does. I replaced the bath outlet with a non-GFI kind, and can't for the life of me recall if the original was a GFI, thinking maybe that's the hiccup??? Also, outlet to run coffee pot in kitchen works, outlet for microwave oven does not.

Sure hope wife watches when electrician comes over so she can train me like a, um, monkey............

(And yes, I feel like my wang's been eaten at this point, and not pleasurably)
 

C.P.

Monkey
Jan 18, 2004
547
8
SouthEastern Massachusetts
Could be a whole host of issues, but as with all electrical problems, start from the source, work your way out from the main electrical service panel.

At the panel:
Failed Breaker? (especially if it's one of these newer arc fault types)
Breaker installed properly?

at the load(s)
Sub-panel somewhere? (more breakers)
Failed switch? (or in some cases: Correct switch installed, and wired properly (single pole vs 3way).
Failed GFI/improperly wired GFI in same circuit?

edit, I just saw you posted as I was typing. Get that Bath recept replaced with a GFI ASAP. Unless you like being stung with 120VAC while wet. Switch issue sounds like the typical confusion that arises with 3 way switching. The tip is "hallway" where usually more than one switch controls the same load, typical for a hallway lighting circuit.

This guy does a good 3 way switch wiring explanation:

 
Last edited:

SloMoJo

Monkey
Dec 17, 2002
379
0
New England
Hiya CP.
(local guy)

We're no electrician ... just fellow home owners.
Well, Chris may be, but I'm not.

I concur on the need for GFI in bath room.
That's a definite.

Question:
You saying that you can't find any outlets that are without power?
Only the switched lights\fan are issue? Try new switch?
A 15 amp switch could be a circuit's weak point during a short.
 

mantispf2000

Turbo Monkey
Aug 9, 2001
1,747
194
Nevada, 2 hours from Mammoth
Could be a whole host of issues, but as with all electrical problems, start from the source, work your way out from the main electrical service panel.

At the panel:
Failed Breaker? (especially if it's one of these newer arc fault types)
Breaker installed properly?

at the load(s)
Sub-panel somewhere? (more breakers)
Failed switch? (or in some cases: Correct switch installed, and wired properly (single pole vs 3way).
Failed GFI/improperly wired GFI in same circuit?

edit, I just saw you posted as I was typing. Get that Bath recept replaced with a GFI ASAP. Unless you like being stung with 120VAC while wet.


Checked to make sure all wires/screws were tightened (they are), and used volt meter checker for power (lit up with each wire), so it appears breakers are good. All switches wired properly, though thought of bad switch may be possible. GFI may need to be installed to correct? No sub panel (wife and I looked throughout house and didn't see/couldn't find one). So at least it appears I'm doing all I should be with my limited knowledge, and yes, the bath will be replaced with a GFI this week.....
 

mantispf2000

Turbo Monkey
Aug 9, 2001
1,747
194
Nevada, 2 hours from Mammoth
The electrician came over, after I gave him all the details you folks read, and bingo!! Started from the breaker box, thought about how the house would be wired, checked the garage overhead outlet, and found a loose white wire. Reattached, and now we have our power.

If only I had a brain.................


p.s. Thank you all for your input. Though I ended up with an outside source, I do appreciate your time in responding.
 

valve bouncer

Master Dildoist
Feb 11, 2002
7,791
36
Japan
Amazing how many threads start with "I tried to fix it myself" continue through multiple episodes of advice from people who may or, more likely, may not know what they're talking about, interspersed with the OP saying "nuh, didn't work" and then finally end with "I got the (expert on particular problem) in and it's working now"! How about that then, the expert fixed it, who'd a thunk?
 

stosh

Darth Bailer
Jul 20, 2001
22,143
281
NY
Glad it all worked out, the best way to learn (though not the safest) is doing the electrical work yourself. Luckily my dad is a great electrician (not his profession) so he was able to guide me a long when doing a major renovation at my house. It's a great skill to have.
 

eric strt6

Resident Curmudgeon
Sep 8, 2001
15,823
5,106
directly above the center of the earth
as a fire fighter and a home owner there are two things I tend not to mess with, Gas [Natural or Propane] and electrical [aside from changing ceiling light fixtures IE replacing a light with a ceiling fan or track lights]. I much prefer to have someone with a contractors Lic do the work and have the liability insurance to cover the consequences of doing it badly. Plus I really don't want to blow myself up or start a fire as it's really bad form to have to respond to your own home.
 

stevew

unique white person
Sep 21, 2001
33,251
3,890
Amazing how many threads start with "I tried to fix it myself" continue through multiple episodes of advice from people who may or, more likely, may not know what they're talking about, interspersed with the OP saying "nuh, didn't work" and then finally end with "I got the (expert on particular problem) in and it's working now"! How about that then, the expert fixed it, who'd a thunk?
because everyone who doesn't post on a mtb board is a thief and can not be trusted.

mtb boards...the last bastion of honest people.....except for nemesis...
 

bizutch

Delicate CUSTOM flower
Dec 11, 2001
15,923
9
Over your shoulder whispering
as a fire fighter and a home owner there are two things I tend not to mess with, Gas [Natural or Propane] and electrical [aside from changing ceiling light fixtures IE replacing a light with a ceiling fan or track lights]. I much prefer to have someone with a contractors Lic do the work and have the liability insurance to cover the consequences of doing it badly. Plus I really don't want to blow myself up or start a fire as it's really bad form to have to respond to your own home.
Working in insurance taught me the same. I don't mess with electricity.;)