Latest Discussions : Electrical & Lighting


04:39PM | 10/07/08
Member Since: 10/06/08
3 lifetime posts
What would cause some of the outlets and ceiling fan/light fixtures in 2 seperate bedrooms to quit working? It started happening about February. They normally come back on after a few days but this time they have been off for weeks. I have used a voltage meter to check them and there is nothing. All the breakers have been reset and checked. Only 1 GFI in the bathroom and it was reset and has no problems. What should I do?


12:35AM | 10/08/08
Member Since: 01/09/07
199 lifetime posts
One possibility is a loose wire in the circuit that supplies those bedrooms.

In an older house, it's not uncommon for both the lights & outlets in a bedroom to all be on a single circuit, and to share that circuit with a neighboring bedroom. Are these 2 bedrooms next to each other?

This is something that should be fixed, because if it goes out then comes back on again, the wire is loose enough that something (people walking heavily down the hall, bumping into the wall, plugging/unplugging something from an outlet with a loose connection, or even just temperature changes) is causing it to connect or disconnect. A loose connection like that will heat up, and could possibly start a fire.

To find the problem, you need to trace the wiring from the main breaker box out toward these bedrooms, or trace backwards from the bedrooms toward the breaker box. In either case, look for a spot where it switches between live (powered) and dead (unpowered) circuit. Then look around at that point for a loose connection. (Backstab terminals on receptacles are notorious for becoming loose after a few years.) And sometimes the loose connection will actually be in the previous box.

It's possible for this to be a broken wire in a cable inside the wall, but that's pretty unlikely (especially as it goes on & off at times). It's much more likely to be a loose connection somewhere. And that's easy to fix; it's finding where it is hard (or, at least, that takes time).

But this is a situation that should be fixed! Until then, you should consider finding the circuit breaker that powers these 2 rooms, and leaving it turned off for now. Sounds like these rooms aren't used that much anyway?


04:01PM | 10/12/08
Member Since: 10/06/08
3 lifetime posts
By Process of Elimination

1.Check breaker by moving the bad circuit breaker wire to another breaker and no change.

2.Moved outlet wire to side connections instead of backstabbing, no change.

3.Direct wired wires coming in 120v to wires going out to next outlet eliminating the outlet check voltage going in the next outlet and only got about 60v.

4.Jumpered 120v wires coming from the last good outlet to wires going out of the next outlet eliminating the wire between the last good outlet and the next outlet. I GOT POWER TO THE REST OF THE OUTLETS AND SWITCHES IN THE CIRCUIT.

5.Checked continuity of black and white wire on wire going from last outlet with power to next outlet without power.

Black wire had continuity, white wire DID NOT have continuity.

I'm not sure I know what happens to this wire. I see no visual reason for this to happen.

We would still get power through these wires off and on.

I'm not sure what my options are to fix this problem.

Thanks for any help you can give me.


08:08PM | 10/12/08
Member Since: 01/09/07
199 lifetime posts
So basically, you have located the problem as being a bad white wire between the last good outlet and the bad outlet. Probably a broken wire in the cable -- sometimes it makes enough contact to carry the voltage, sometimes it doesn't. Bad situation -- a poor connection like this will heat up, and could possibly start a fire.

The most common place for wires to break is where they are bent and pulled & worked on -- right there in the box. So you might try straightening out that white wire at each of those boxes, then grasping the copper wire (not the insulation) with a needle nose pliers, and pulling on it. If a short piece of wire slides easily out of the insulation, you have located the break in the wire. If there is enough extra cable, cut & strip the wires there, and connect it to the outlet. Or you might wire-nut a short jumper wire to that white wire, and connect the jumper to the outlet.

Otherwise, the break is somewhere in the cable inside the wall, and the fix is to replace the cable between those two outlets with a good one. The electrical part of that is simple, it's getting it through there without too much messing up the finished walls that is the problem. How you do that depends on the layout of your house & the walls.

Remember that the new cable does not have to run in the same path as the old one. If it's easier to run it from the last good outlet down into the basement, across the basement ceiling, and back up again to the other outlet, that's fine. Or route it through the attic. Whatever path works for your house.


02:02PM | 10/16/08
Member Since: 10/06/08
3 lifetime posts
Thanks for all of your suggestions. I tried several different things before I finally realized what the problem was.

Last time I replied I had tried jumpering the outlets and that worked. At first I thought I had a bad wire inside the wall that connected these 2 outlets, but after disconnecting the 2 wires between the 2 outlets I thought was bad , I realized I no longer had power to an outside outlet.

I decided to try replacing that outlet

when I reconnected the wire that I thought was bad between the 2 bedroom outlets. I got 120v

in the outlet that I thought was a bad wire. Not realizing there was an (outside) outlet between the good and bad outlets.

Thanks again!

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