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Help! No electricity in one room only.


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#1 of 30 ChrisHeflen

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Posted April 22 2005 - 06:09 PM

I was leaving for a rehearsal dinner tonite and went to turn on my system for the babysitter. It didn't come on.
I thought maybe a circuit blew and I'd deal with it later.
So I get home and nothing plugged in works in that room. The celling lights work, but no outlets on just one wall. In the adjoining kitchen, the fridge works but the opposite wall outlets do not.
I went to check the breakers and none had popped. I slowly switched them all off and then back on twice, but nothing each time It seemes to be relegated to six outlets. Most are along an outside wall except for 2 in the kitchen.
Any ideas?

#2 of 30 Philip_G

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Posted April 22 2005 - 06:12 PM

GFI outlet? the wall outlets are probably on the same circuit as the kitchen and the GFI outlet tripped. It might be in a bathroom on the other end of the house..
unless you don't have any GFI's in which case I dunno, bad breaker perhaps.

#3 of 30 ChrisHeflen

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Posted April 22 2005 - 06:21 PM

What's a GFI outlet?

If it's a bad breaker, can that be replaced?
The house is '77 and the labeling on the panel is very poor so I don't really know which is for that area.

#4 of 30 David Williams

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Posted April 22 2005 - 07:08 PM

GFCI = Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter

In layman's terms, it's a special kind of outlet (and now some new breaker boxes IIRC) that has a circuit in it that disables the flow of electricity if it gets 'wet' (like if you should drop an appliance into the bath, the circuit would engage killing the power). You can tell if it's a GFCI outlet because it will have two buttons in the center of the outlet marked 'TEST' and 'RESET'. Find the offending outlet and press the 'RESET' button and all the affected outlets should work again. That is, if it's a GFCI problem. It's amazing what you can learn watching shows like This Old House and Hometime.
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#5 of 30 DonnyD

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Posted April 22 2005 - 08:12 PM

Yeah... what he said....
Some builders around here seem to be boozing or something when they layout some of the wiring for homes. We find circuits hooked to GFIs in the next room, or GFIs placed in strange places. Just last month, I had to track down some dead recepts and found part of a room hooked in behind a GFI that was outside..... and behind a bench on the porch...... When I'm laying out a house, wiring or otherwise, I try to be logical about things, but I find that some really don't give a sh**.....
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#6 of 30 Jeff Loughridge

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Posted April 23 2005 - 12:27 AM

I had the exact problem shortly after moving in to my house. It was built in 1961, but the kitchen was completely renovated two years before we bought it. Turns out they put in a new outlet, a GFI, about 3 feet off the floor BEHIND the gas stove. The stove's clock plugs into it. It had tripped. BTW, they had also upgraded the home's electrical system, putting in a new panel and service. Why they didn't use GFI breakers is a mystery, too.

The people who did it, unfortunately, didn't know much. They had a golden opportunity and squandered it. The entire kitchen counter area only has TWO outlets. They put in a new phone jack, but no outlet anywhere near it, so no cordless phones. BUT, they did put one behind the stove. Jeeze.
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#7 of 30 Philip_G

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Posted April 23 2005 - 01:34 AM

GFI looks like this

Posted Image

My mom's old house had all the bathrooms on one GFI, so if one bathroom popped at the other end, none of them had power, go figure.
Old as that house is you probably don't have any, so I don't have any idea what could be wrong.

#8 of 30 Keith Mickunas

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Posted April 23 2005 - 04:08 AM

To figure out if it's a bad circuit breaker, check everything in the house to figure out exactly what's wrong. Then go and switch off one circuit breaker at a time then figure out which parts of the house are affected. If you find one that makes no difference in the house now, you've figured out which one is tied to the outlets that are out.

Another possibility might be that the wiring has come loose from the outlet or switch that connects to these outlets or perhaps a rodent has chewed through a wire. You can pull the switches and outlets near the non-working ones and see if there's a sign of a loose connection.

We once had a problem in my parents house where a dimmer switch went bad. I don't remember if the breaker kept tripping or if a bunch of stuff on that circuit was out when the circuit was on. But it took an electrician getting shocked by the dimmer switch to determine that it had gone bad.

#9 of 30 ChrisHeflen

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Posted April 23 2005 - 04:19 AM

Well, I have four GFI's that aren't near the problem, but I reset them anyway. I am now gonna go around with a circuit tester and see which ones are out and then check the wiring on them.
I'll let you guys know. I wonder if I've lost all the programming in my equipment by now?

Thanks for your help.

#10 of 30 LewB

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Posted April 23 2005 - 08:57 AM

Here's an obscure possibility, happened to me once after a big storm took out some power lines. Check to see if the problem is only just in the 1 room and not your whole house. By that, I mean do some things work and not others in all parts of the house. If that is the case, it's possible you lost 1 of the phases that feeds your house. 2 phases of 120V AC come in from the street, giving you the capability of having 240V outlets to feed stuff like stoves, dryers and A.C. units. Your house's 120V outlets are fed by 1 of these phases and the phase that is used for each CB alternates based on the design of the CB panel in the house. If the problem seems to be happening with more than 1 CB, I'd suspect a lost phase and call the power company. You can also ask the next door neighbor if they have the same problem. In my case, a wire had come off a capacitor on a pole. All the houses past that point had problems with SOME of their appliances.

#11 of 30 Philip_G

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Posted April 23 2005 - 09:10 AM

Quote:
If that is the case, it's possible you lost 1 of the phases that feeds your house.

I've had that happen before too, but it was more random, different rooms and not just one or two, one outlet worked, the one next to it didn't.... you never know though.

#12 of 30 ChrisHeflen

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Posted April 23 2005 - 06:40 PM

Ok so I went around with a voltage tester (dinner fork) and
and started testing to see which out lets were out. I got to one that hasn't really been used much and when I put it in, the stuff plugged into the other dead outlets started to work so I took it out and it went out again. Then I put the fork in the upper socket and things came back on and stayed on even after I pulled it out. So I have no idea what that was about, but everything works again. I went to the store and got a new outlet and will put it in tomorrow.

Thanks for the help guys.

#13 of 30 Mike Voigt

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Posted April 23 2005 - 11:45 PM

Eh, you went around with a dinner fork to test your circuits? So you were trying to make a short?

Buddy, when you go to the store, get a real circuit tester. They're not that expensive - a few bucks. Probably less than that outlet.

The fact that it took a short to make the circuit work again worries me... in both cases. I think you need to have an electrician check out your whole house wiring - or at least this branch. Sounds like something is really loused up...

#14 of 30 Leo Hinze

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Posted April 24 2005 - 02:04 AM

Quote:
Ok so I went around with a voltage tester (dinner fork) and

Quote:
Then I put the fork in the upper socket


That's the funniest stuff I've read on the internet. Ever!

#15 of 30 Chris

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Posted April 24 2005 - 03:27 AM

Hmm. The fork, method, eh? So, you did have some life insurance handy, right? Posted Image
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#16 of 30 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted April 24 2005 - 05:28 AM

Er, I'm hoping and assuming that there is a type of voltage tester that is called a "dinner fork", and that this is what he used. I'd also be concerned about the fact that the outlets workes, stopped working, then started working again when something was plugged into a previously unused circuit and would be inclinded to have an electrician check the whole place over.

Regards,

Joe

#17 of 30 Jeff Ulmer

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Posted April 24 2005 - 05:56 AM

Quote:
Why they didn't use GFI breakers is a mystery, too.

Cost. Around here a GFI plug is under $10, a GFI breaker is over $200.

You have to love people's ideas about rewiring. The scary part is that the people continue to live in the house after their work is done!

#18 of 30 Philip_G

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Posted April 24 2005 - 06:07 AM

if that. I used to use them around my saltwater tank so I didn't electrocute myself in the tank should a pump go awry.

though one time before I installed them in an apartment I lived in the tank overflowed INTO the outlet behind the tank and caused a small fire. The range hood on the opposite side of the wall was never the same... even after I replaced the outlet Posted Image

#19 of 30 Steve Berger

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Posted April 24 2005 - 08:15 AM

With lighting circuits it's not unusual for them to be "daisy chained" , using the outlets as a junction to pass the power on to the next outlet, and so on; rather than having a junction box that distributes power to all the outlets simultaneously. It saves a little wire and avoids connection problems in inaccessable places but the last outlet in line often suffers low voltage and surges. A bad outlet can kill power to lots of other outlets and the first one in line can get really hot.

A new outlet will probably fix the problem but you might want to change all of the outlets (they are inexpensive) in the chain while the power is off (you are going to de-power the circuit ?)

#20 of 30 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted April 24 2005 - 09:22 AM

Quote:
(you are going to de-power the circuit ?)


Nah, he's just gonna stick a fork in one of the outlets to block the flow of electricity. Posted Image

Regards,

Joe


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