electricity going out on one circuit

electricity question here... one of my breakers (20amp) keeps losing electricity, and when I go to check the circuit box, the breaker isn't tripped. there isn't a lot of Wattage on this circuit, just a bunch of ceiling fans/lights and a couple of outlets that aren't being used for anything. so I have replaced the breaker with a new one but the problem is still occurring. Today when I came home for lunch the circuit went dark, then came on again before I could even get out to the box to check it again. All I did was turn one of the ceiling fans up a notch when I got home as it was hot in the kitchen. Does this mean that I have a short somewhere and/or bad wiring? If so, is there a danger of fire? How do I go about resolving this issue? For now, the circuit is staying off when I'm not at the house.
Thanks in advance for any and all advice, TB in Austin remove NOSPAM to reply via email
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T.B. wrote:

No, if the breaker isn't tripping you don't have a "short".
What you most likely have a loose connection somewhere in that circuit, start looking for it, starting from the breaker box and go forward along the circuit.
Since you replaced the breaker it prolly isn't where you reconnected the hot (black) wire to the output of the breaker, 'cause you likely tightened that well. But, check the neutral (white) wire for that circuit where it attaches to the neutral buss bar in the breaker box, that clamp screw might be loose.
Then, with the breaker OFF start checking every switch and outlet on that circuit looking for a loose screw or one of those awful "back stab" connections. Also look for poor connections in any wirenuts you may find in the device boxes. (I suggest redoing any back stab connections you find by releasing them and securing the wire ends under the screws or screwed clamps on the devices.)
Betcha you'll find your problem that way.
And yes, there is a possibility that a loose connection could change into one which could heat up enough to cause something to ignite. Not a very big possibility, but not worth taking chances with.
HTH,
Jeff
--
Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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Follow Jeff's instructions, they are correct. Additionally, plug lamps or work lights or radios into the 'unused' outlets. Do the outlets stay on when the lights brown out? This will help pinpoint where your likely loose connection is. The loose connection will be at or after the last 'working' AC load. Remember that the loose connection may be at a light switch, also.
lee
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If it was a short circuit, the breaker would trip. Sounds like a bad wiring (open circuit) somewhere in the circuit. And yes it is a fire hazzard.
First, identify every outlets and lights on that circuit. This can be done by turning off the breaker and see which lights/outlets that normally work has stopped working.
Then when the power goes out by itself, observe which one of those outlets and lights lose power. This gives you a clue of where the bad wiring is. If all the outlets and lights on this circuit lose power, then the bad wiring is either at the panel or at the first outlet/light of this circuit. If the first outlet has power but the second one doesn't, then the problem is in one of these two junction boxes, etc.
You should be able to find the bad wiring by opening at most two junction boxes (and wiggling the wires inside).
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