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DavidNJ

10:52AM | 05/28/06
Member Since: 05/27/06
2 lifetime posts
Bvelectrical
Wife turned a switch in the bathroom, and we lost the bathroom (2 lights), 4-way switch/3-light hallway, 3-way switch/2 light stairway, and 5 outlets.

The circuit breaker wasn't tripped. All of the circuit breakers show power on the output. And I replaced that circuit breaker anyway.

Replaced the switch in the bathroom.

Checked every switch, every lead going into a switch box, and 4 of the 5 outlets. There is no power in any box.

Went into the attic and checked the lights. The hall and bathroom appear to be drawing power from the switch. The stairway lights are not accessable without cutting the ceiling.

There appears to be a power line from the bathroom to the box with one end of the hallway and stairway to the outlets.

So, we have power from the circuit breaker, but apparently no power in any circuit box. The line from the breaker panel is in a bundle with other leads in the basement then goes up in a wall, presumably coming out in the upstairs bathroom.

But no power upstairs.

What could have happened? What am I looking for?

HELP!!!

Billhart

03:20PM | 05/28/06
Member Since: 04/25/05
1918 lifetime posts
"Checked every switch, every lead going into a switch box, and 4 of the 5 outlets. There is no power in any box."

What about the 5th.

In general there are two ways that lights are wired.

One the the power cable comes into the fixture box and will connect to a 2 wire switch leg to the siwtch box. If this is not the end of the run then there will also be a cable to run power to the next box.

There will be only that one cable in the switch box.

The other way is that power is run to the switch box, from there a cable supply power to the next box. And a 2 wire cable connected to thw switch and run to the light fixture. There will not be any other connections in the light (unless there are multiple lights controlled by that one switch).

And there is a combo where a three wire cable is used. Power comes into the switch box, then a 3 wire to the light (neutral, switched power, and power) and then an outgoing cable can be run from the light to the next box.

Those are the basics, there are more variables.

"Went into the attic and checked the lights. The hall and bathroom appear to be drawing power from the switch"

What do you mean "drawing power"? You siad that the lights don't work.

About how old is the house? Does it appear to have had much remodeling?

There might be illegal junction in the walls.

but it is also possible that there is a junction box on the first floor.

Look for any boxes that look like they might be near where the cable runs.

It is possible that box on another circuit also has a splice in it for the upstair circuit.


DavidNJ

03:22AM | 05/29/06
Member Since: 05/27/06
2 lifetime posts
Thanks for your response.

My drawing power I meant that the power seems to be provided to the switch no the fixtures.

The 5th outlet is behind a circuit breakers in a corner that is over a section of garage that doesn't border the basement. It is unlikely anywire could have run there from below. It is also behind some full and heavy bookcases.

The house was built in 1987-88 and we are the original owners. No electical work has been done.

There are no lights or outlets on the first floor that aren't working. After testing the circuits that could draw power from the same circuit, they are on different circuit breakers.

Note that we are using the original electricians marking s to identify the circuit breaker. This one is labeled 'Upstairs hall'. However all of the circuit breakers have power on their leads.

The next step was going to be disconnecting the wire from the circuit breaker and put an acoustic line tracer on it. However, my experience is that the non-powered line tracers aren't powerful enough to trace long power runs.

Still needing help!

Billhart

04:45AM | 05/29/06
Member Since: 04/25/05
1918 lifetime posts
"There are no lights or outlets on the first floor that aren't working. After testing the circuits that could draw power from the same circuit, they are on different circuit breakers."

A box can have a completely different circuit in it from one that feed the devices in that receptacle. You would not realize it until you opened up the box.

For example I was working on a 50's home that had one or two major remodels/additions. What was the living room was not the MBR. Power feed into on receptacle and then on to other parts of the house.

And there where not enough receptacles in the MBR. And some of the walls in the MBR was open, but not the rest of the house.

But before power got to that box it ran to several places in the basement and had been clobbered and badly done.

So all of the basement wiring was removed (to be replaced by a circuit).

The box was replaced with an over sized one. And TWO new cables where run from the CB panel to the box. One feed the receptacle in the MBR and continued on to other boxes in the room.

Then 2nd cable was spliced to the old cable that feed other parts of the house.

However, in a house like yours that is unlikely. But it has been done, specially if after the walls are up a problem was found and they to rerun a line with minimum repairs to the wall.

"My drawing power I meant that the power seems to be provided to the switch no the fixtures."

Just to clarify - you mean the incoming power cable go to the switch box and not the lights. NOT that there was power on the cable at the switch, RIGHT?

By "accoustical line tracer" I am assuming that you are talking about a tone generator and receiver, such as the ones made by Progressive/Ideal and run about $70-90 for the pair.

They are not accoustical, but rather use electrical fields. And they are powered by batteries.

But the range is not real great when trying to go through walls.

Make sure that there is NO LOADS on the wire. That includes any lights that are on.

You will probably end up breaking up the connections. And doing that you can ID each of the cables that feed power from one box to the next.

And my elimination determine which cable feeds power from the breaker panel.


househelper

07:21PM | 05/29/06
Member Since: 03/31/05
265 lifetime posts
Check for a tripped GFCI receptacle. It may be in another bathroom, the garage, behind furniture, even outside.
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