07:00PM | 07/29/06
Member Since: 09/18/00
3 lifetime posts
The circuit breaker blew and the power went out on only one circuit. I switched the breaker back to on but nothing went on. I changed the breaker and no change. There isn't a GFCI outlet on the circuit. I turned on the power and checked the outlets to see if they were live. The light on the tester lights up but it is dim compared to outlets on other circuits. So it seems there is current in the outlets, but not enought to power anything. Wondering what could be wrong. What can I try? I've only changed one of the outlets on this circuit. The ones in place are all the 3 prong kind. Supposedly the wiring is all in conduit. House is almost 100. I would appreciate any advice.


07:54PM | 07/29/06
Member Since: 04/25/05
1915 lifetime posts
I assume that you are using one of the $1.79 neon testers.

They draw very little current and can be lite with "phantom voltage". That is voltage that is capacitively coupled from another circuit. Or it could be a high resistance in the circuit.

If the light is not as bright and both wire in the bulb lite then you don't have a complete circuit.

My guess is that there was a short in the wiring but it burnt the wire as the breaker was tripping.

You have to identify the first receptacle in the circuit and see if it is getting power. If not the problem is between that receptacle and the panel.

If it is getting power then check the next receptacle.

No guarantee, but most likely the problem is in one of the receptacle boxes.


08:32PM | 07/29/06
Member Since: 09/18/00
3 lifetime posts
Thank you for your quick reply. You're right about the tester. Can you tell me how to check each recepticle? Is there a special tester I should pick up at the depot? I've tried pluging in a small lamp in various outlets to see if they work, but I got nothing. I unscrewed the cover plates on most of the outlets to look for signs of a short but I didn't see anything. I was planning on switching the outlets anyway. There are 3 lights on the circuit too. I'm assuming that the short happened by an outlet. I thought by switching each outlet I would solve the problem, if the problem lay in one of the recepticles. I can use some more feedback before proceeding. Thanks.

Joe Tedesco

04:16AM | 07/30/06
Member Since: 07/27/02
140 lifetime posts
Stop and Hire a Qualified Person before you kill yourself or burn down the house!

ELECTRICAL SAFETY should always be a primary concern when working on electrical devices. Always seek the advice or assistance of a professional whenever you feel unsure. Learn from the experiences of Qualified Persons, and Do-It-Yourselfer's. This forum will not give you instructions on how to perform like a journeyman electrician. If a task is too complicated for a novice or requires too detailed of an explanation you will be referred to the Experts Area of or to find a local professional. Remember, some electrical jobs are best left to the Professionals.

Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant


05:21AM | 07/30/06
Member Since: 04/25/05
1915 lifetime posts
Plugging in a small light is as good a tester as you need, for determining if the receptacle is dead.

When I said that the probably was most likely at a receptacle I was was under the impression that they where the only thing on the circuit.

It could as well be at the lights, or any junction boxes.

But with a house of that age it is hard to tell when and how many times the wiring has been worked on. So it is possible that will you have seen conduit that some places it is transistion to BX, sheathed electrical cable, or even knob and tube wiring.

And if there is any transistion then it is good possibility that the problems are in those. But it can also be in the conduit.

But if the problem is at a receptacle, most likely it will not be obvious where the problem without removing the receptacle and checking the wiring in the back of the box.

If that does show show a clear problem that you can fix it is time to call the electrican.

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