Don't try to send me off to rec.homerepairs; I don't know anybody over
there. I've seen enough good electrical advice here to know somebody
will have the answer.
Yesterday I noticed that neither of the bathroom lights worked.
Knowing that the lights are on the same circuit as my wife's hair dryer
(because the lights dim a little when she fires it up), I deduced that
the GFCI breaker had probably tripped. It didn't look tripped, but I
flipped it back and forth to be sure.
Still no lights.
I checked the hair dryer receptacle to be sure; no power there either.
Back out to the breaker box with my handy-dandy digital electric
tester. The wire lug on the suspect GFCI breaker reads 121.6 volts to
the neutral/ground buss.
But still no lights.
I snapped the breaker out of the panel and looked for corrosion or
evidence of arcing. Found none. Snapped it back in, but forgot to
check the results before moving on to the next step. Left the breaker
One of the receptacles has gotten old and tired from
plugging/unplugging and doesn't grab the prongs good anymore. It seems
to be closer to the panel box than anything else, so I pull that
receptacle out of the box to check the feed wire for voltage. Flipped
the breaker on and . . . voila! Voltage . . .and lights . . . and hair
dryer! Everything works!
Since the receptacle was old and tired and I already had it out of the
box, I replaced it and two other elderly and infirm receptacles on the
same circuit. Everything works.
Bragged to SWMBO about how much I saved by not calling an electrician.
She was unimpressed. Expected no less. Said that's why she keeps me
But I don't know what the problem was!
I'm about to go out of town for 2 months, and I know she's gonna flip
the switch and find the bathroom stays dark. Then I'll have to pay a
repairman for the first time in about 10 years because I won't be there
to troubleshoot it.
When our kids were young, SWMBO used to tell them that Dad can fix
anything but a broken heart. My reputation is on the line.
What was wrong?
"In theory, theory and practice should be the same. But in practice,