Electrical weirdness - pl

Hi Jane!
J > My folks live in a home 50 years old, they bought when new. This J > morning a circuit tripped off, so Dad flipped all of them off then J > back on again. All seemed fine *except* none of the ceiling fixures J > works now (in any room of the house), nor does the outlet wired from J > the ceiling in the garage. All outlets *not* wired to the celing are J > fine.
If they labelled the circuit breakers this might be easy. One of the preferred ways to wire is to have the part of the room wired to one breaker and another part t a different breaker so when one breaker trips it only kills part of the room. Appears all ceiling lighting is on a common breaker.
First check would be the "ceiling lights" breaker was properly reset. Assuming it was I'd get a voltmeter and check for voltage out of that circuit breaker. (Quite frankly I'm a chicken when it comes to the service panels and have someone nearby just in case.) If there is no voltage then the circuit breaker failed. If there is you need to start tracing the wire to find the failed junction.
I had a similar situation a while back: friend's aunt called - her refrigerator wasn't running. Circuit breakers OK. Power coming out of the breaker. Ended up a wire connection in a junction box failed -- when they rewired the house electrician failed to twist the wires together before screwing them into the wire nut -- the wire to the refrigerator outlet had worked itself out.
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