I have been trying to fix a strange electrical problem and am now at a
loss where to look next. My house was built in 1986 and is a two story
with basement. A couple of days ago I came home and found that my
garage door would not work. I assumed that it was a stuck button but
when I went in I found that the garage lights did not work either.
Luckily, the garage outlets (other than the ceiling outlet for the
door opener) are on a separate circuit so my freezer, etc. are still
The first thing I did was go outside and flip all the breakers off and
back on but none appeared to be tripped. Later I noticed that two of
my bathrooms were also without power. I am not sure exactly which
breaker is the correct one but there are no GFCI breakers. Instead,
each bathroom has a GFCI outlet. I checked to make sure that the
GFCI's had not tripped but none seemes to be. I then thought that
maybe the contractor had wired the second bathroom and garage off of
the GFCI output so I pulled out the outlets in both bathrooms.
However, I found that the outlets themselves were the only things GFCI-
protected; the outputs from these outlets just had wire nuts on them.
I then decided to check and make sure the breakers were good. I used a
voltmeter to test the output on each breaker and they all came out at
122 volts. At this point, I am at a loss as to where to look. This
seems really strange. I haven't been working on any wiring projects
and the house isn't that old and doesn't have any aluminum wiring.
Sounds like an open circuit, somewhere. You need to determine if the hot
wire is open, or the neutral, then open all the boxes involved and check for
loose connections, preferably starting with the outlets, switches, etc,
nearest the circuit breaker panel
On 22 May 2007 17:07:55 -0700, email@example.com wrote:
It sounds like your assumption that the outputs of the GFCIs have wire
nuts is incorrect. The outputs of GFCI receptacles (any I have seen)
I would look more closely at the GFCI outlets and take a tester to
verify that there is no power at the outlets.
He found a tripped GFCI in a hidden, out-of-the-way location, shutting off
power to everything downstream (including the next outlet, which was also
GFCI-equipped). Reset the GFCI and now everything works.
He didn't even charge me for a service call.
Yep -- you have another GFCI outlet somewhere, and it's tripped. You just
haven't found it yet.
Check all your outdoor outlets -- they'll have weatherproof covers on them, so
there could easily be a GFCI someplace that you've never noticed before.
Wouldn't hurt to check the basement or crawl space, too, but I think you'll
find a tripped GFCI behind one of those weatherproof covers on an outdoor
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Some folks have indicated that these things may be fed from the load of a
gfcI device, that you haven't found, and this is possible, but easily
determined. With a basic continuity tester, test between the neutral
conductor and ground If you GET continuity, it's NOT fed from a tripped
gfci. If you don't get continuity, check the same thing between the hot and
ground. If you don't get continuity between these either, it's almost
certain, it IS fed from a gfci device
Bear in mind that the OP mentioned wire nuts capping the load side of his
other GFCIs, which means that he has pretty old equipment there. I think the
OP said the home was built in 1986, and I imagine his GFCIs were installed at
that time, and not replaced since.
Having said that... are you sure that the older, first-generation GFCIs opened
both the hot *and* the neutral when they tripped?
I still have one of those old wire-lead GFCIs from the 1980s lying around
somewhere. If I can find it again, maybe I'll take it apart and see....
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
On May 23, 5:53 am, firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug Miller) wrote:
Well, it turned out to be a simple problem. After opening up all the
switch and outlet boxes and finding the connections were fine, I went
up into the attic. There was another GFCI outlet up there that had
been tripped. Apparently it is feeding the two bathrooms and their
GFCI outlets as well as the garage lights. Is this a problem?
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