Home Electrical Circuit (partial) Failure

I have an electrical problem I need help solving. I have a light plugged into a wall outlet, and two ceiling lights (w/2 3 way switches)... which go off and back on again intermittently. The circuit breaker doesn't trip, I just lose of power in that part of the circuit. Today I replaced the outlet, and one of the switches at the botom of the stairs... although both looked fine, other than a little dirty.
I thought this had solved the problem, but then much to my suprize the table lamp, and ceiling lights went out again. They cam back on again about 10 minutes later, but i've turned off everything wired to the affected area until the problem is fixed.
Tomorow I plan to pull the light fixtures down and check for any loose wires, and possibly look into the circuit box, but to be honest working with electricitymakes me a little nervous.
If I turn off the main circuit breaker does that cut power to the inside of the fuse box, and if anyone has any other suggestoins any help would be appreciated.
Thanks, Tony
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Yes the main circuit breaker turns power off to the rest of the panel or the entire panel if the main is in a separate box. When the circuit is open to the various lights, try banging on the walls and ceilings next to each outlet that's on that circuit, both alive and dead ones. If you bang next to an outlet and the lights flicker back on, look at the connections in that particular box

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In an old house 70yrs, once I hit a wall plate, it was enough to knock insulation off wiring requiring running all new wire to the lights and switch. Your problem could be anywhere
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:I have an electrical problem I need help solving. I have a light : plugged into a wall outlet, and two ceiling lights (w/2 3 way : switches)... which go off and back on again intermittently. The circuit : breaker doesn't trip, I just lose of power in that part of the circuit. : Today I replaced the outlet, and one of the switches at the botom of : the stairs... although both looked fine, other than a little dirty. : : I thought this had solved the problem, but then much to my suprize the : table lamp, and ceiling lights went out again. They cam back on again : about 10 minutes later, but i've turned off everything wired to the : affected area until the problem is fixed. : : Tomorow I plan to pull the light fixtures down and check for any loose : wires, and possibly look into the circuit box, but to be honest working : with electricitymakes me a little nervous. : : If I turn off the main circuit breaker does that cut power to the : inside of the fuse box, and if anyone has any other suggestoins any : help would be appreciated. : : Thanks, Tony : Yes, the main breaker will kill power to the whole house and the bars the breakers connect to will have no power on them.
BUT! The Main Break will STILL have power to it! So, don't get around it and you should be fine. Usually the input side of main breakrs is well away from anything else and staying away from it is easy but don't go poking around that area with anything conductive. From experience, I'd bet your problem is in the light fixtures or the wiring though, not in the fusebox or breaker panel. It would really be best ot have someone who knows what they're doing in if you think you need to go into the breaker box for any work. Once you take the panel off, there isn't a whole lot holding the breakers in place - you could accidentally have a bunch of breakers fall out into your lap. so to speak, or offset them so you can't get the cover back on. They won't really fall out, but you see what I mean I think.
HTH,
Pop
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Hello again, I appreciate all the good advise I've recieved here, Thanks
I opened up some more outlets, and fixtures, and as suggested I tried banging around some outlets and light fixures in the hopes of tracking down the source (loose connectoin) of the trouble, but with no luck.
I've decided to take pop's advice and not to go snooping around in the circuit breaker box. I guess at this point I better call a professional electrician...hopefully he'll be able to find the sorce of the trouble and it doesn't ccost me an arm and a leg. Tomorow's christmas eve, so I think I better wait until tuesday.
I'll post back once it's fixed and fill you in on the details. Have A Merry Christmas!
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I did not see the original post, but I'm guessing you think there is a loose connection. You can stick your nose into the breaker box if you do it with care. The buss bars the breakers are mounted on are very much alive, as are the terminals above them.
The white or neutral wires are pretty safe. There is a black wire to each of the breakers. That is hot where it is connected and there is often an exposed screw.
Note what breaker affects the circuit in question. Remove the cover. Keep one hand in your pocket. Using a pair of needle nosed pliers with insulated grip, gently give each wire for that circuit a tug. The black on will be found on the breaker. Follow that wire up and see where the white from and where it is connected and then check that. May or may not find your problem.
Keep in mind, electricity is not going to spill out or jump out at you. BUT, you may get bit if you stick your hand in the wrong places across two wires. Use care.
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