Latest Discussions : Electrical & Lighting


08:56AM | 01/29/07
Member Since: 01/28/07
2 lifetime posts
I have a head scratcher of a problem. I was using a power tool in the workshop in my basement. poof, the power to that outlet, and lights in the area went out. I naturally assumed that I had tripped a breaker. Went over to the panel, nothing noticeable, so I tripped them all off and on just to be sure. No luck. So I checked other areas on the same circuit, they all still had power. Checked the outlet, open lines, checked the junction box that feeds the lights and the outlet in that area, still open wires. Since the other lights and rooms on that circuit are still functioning, I can only assume that there is junction box in between somewhere that suddenly decided to disconnect. To figure out where that would be I would need to tear down walls and ceiling to trace the wires. Does anyone have an suggestions on a better way of diagnosing and finding where the problem is? Also I was curious if this is a common occurrence, it seems odd that there is suddenly no power to that wire.

Thanks for your responses.


09:27AM | 01/29/07
Member Since: 03/31/05
265 lifetime posts
Since this is in a basement, you may have a GFCI receptacle (rectangular receptacle with "test" and "reset" buttons) protecting a portion of that circuit. This could be hidden behind something, so look carefully. If you find one, press the reset button and see if things work again.


09:42AM | 01/29/07
Member Since: 01/28/07
2 lifetime posts
I have checked for that, we have 2 GFCI receptacles in the basement and 2 upstairs, I checked them all and reset them all. But they're all on different circuits than this one.

But thanks for your response, a great suggestion.

Tom O

11:42AM | 01/29/07
Member Since: 09/17/02
476 lifetime posts
If you're lucky enough to know exactly which receptacles and lights are on the circuit that is causing the trouble, you will have to start examining connections at outlets and lights that are still working. Most of the time, wire is run from device to device or light to light in a daisy chain fashion. A bad connection could occur at a device or light that is still working.

Wire going bad in a middle of a run is extremely rare and buried junction boxes do happen, but not very often. Try checking connections as I said before busting open walls & ceilings.



07:29AM | 02/10/07
Member Since: 08/03/05
20 lifetime posts
what has happened to you is very common, about 1 out of 15 residential service calls I get are caused by exactly what happened to you. Your devices (switches and receptacles) are "speed wired" or "Back stabbed", a very poor wiring practice that is used by many electricians to save time.

Insted of putting the wires under the terminal screws, they are shoved into the back of device where they are held by two very thin strips of metal. After time these connections give up. What you need to do is TURN OFF YOUR POWER !!, remove each outlet ( its almost always outlets) in the vicinity of the problem ( find them by turning off just that circuit and dealing with whats dead) and either replace them using the screw terminals on the new outlets, or remove the wires from the back by pulling and twisting at the same time, and put the wires under the screws of the old ones. If you don't know how to do this or dont feel comfortable doing it at least tell you electrician when you call him that you are pretty sure its a back stab problem. This should save you a pretty good bit on your bill as he will think that if you know what the problem is you also know how easy it is to fix.


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