An year ago, I extended the branch circuit from an outlet in my garage
to outside the garage (into the open yard) to provide a couple of
outlets to be able to use electrical power tools in the yard. I used
outdoor type sealed boxes for the outlets, however I did not change
the circuit breaker at the main panel to GFI type. I have regular
breakers on ALL the branches in my house. Everything worked fine till
the last week.
There was heavy rain last week and the outlet box in the yard got
water into it. As a result (I think) the outlets in the yard and
garage are not working (no juice). Curiously, the 2 outlets in the 2
bathrooms on the second floor are also not working. I don't know if
this is just a coincidence and if the bathroom outlets are on the same
branch as the garage/yeard outlets. Everything else in the house is
I opened the outlets and checked the wires for connections (they are
OK) and any burnout (none) and checked for juice with electrical
tester and found no juice. Then I checked the cable visually to see if
any part of it has burned and it looks OK. I could not check the cable
that is inside the walls. Then I tested all the breakers and they all
are getting the juice (don't know if they are putting out the
juice....how to I check that?).
Well...this is where I am stuck. I don't know which breaker is for the
branch circuit for the garage and bathrooms and I don't know how to
check for a defective breaker. No breaker was tripped off and they all
seem to be mechanically working.
Can someone provide tips to me as to how I should go about diagnosing
and repairing this problem short of getting an electrician? Thanks in
No offense, but if you don't know how to test if a breaker is hot, then you
shouldn't be doing work like this. Really... it is about as basic as you
can get. I am sure someone will tell you how to do it, but they shouldn't
cause you need an electrician to check over whatever you have done.
BTW, not labeling your breaker box when it was working was your first
mistake; not using a GFCI (assuming for the moment that you really aren't
using one without knowing it) was your second mistake.
Actually, given his description it is a GFCI protected circuit. It was typical
to wire bathroom outlets and garage and outdoor outlets on one single GFCI
protected branch circuit.
Look for a tripped GFCI outlet in either the garage, basement, any bathroom or
I would disconnect the line where you extended it and see if the
problem goes away. If it does then you know for sure that it's the
newer outdoor circuit. You said that it goes to more than one place
then you should be able to reconnect the outdoor circuit and
disconnect the outlets one at a time and leave it that way with one
off long enough to find out if it's the bad one.
On 4 Aug 2004 20:30:03 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org (harry manka) wrote:
OK. Other people have already told you that your knowledge, as of now,
is not up to the task of electrical work. They're right. But I believe
that intelligent people can learn new things. I've been doing a lot of
that in 6 years of home ownership.
So let's start with something simple. Breakers don't generally flip
their toggle switch to the OFF position when they trip. They move a
little bit in that direction. The switch is indeed OFF, but the toggle
looks like it's still on. You need to flip it to the OFF position and
then back to ON to reset it.
Now a harder lesson.
The typical electrical work you might do as a homeowner isn't all that
difficult to learn. Get a good book, ask an electrician friend to show
you a few things and you'll probably be OK with simple jobs.
But the most important thing is to learn to avoid taking the easy way
out. You needed an outlet so you found the nearest available
electricity and daisy chained onto it. After the fact you're finding
out that maybe you'd be sawing some 5/4 oak in the yard while a couple
of 1500W hair dryers were running in your bathrooms.
My house was built in 1949. Electricity was a less integral part of
life then, at least judging by the wiring in my house. The original
wiring was all on four circuits and each one has a random assortment
of lights and outlets from all over the house on it. I can cut the
original builders a little slack though, as they probably could not
foresee the explosion of electrical device use that would happen in
the next 50 years.
But worse than the original installation are the numerous clumsy
additions put in by handymen. I went to change a light fixture last
spring and ended up with a full day's rewiring job. Someone had
decided that it was perfectly OK to daisy chain off a light fixture in
a 3" octagonal box to power two duplex outlets in TWO OTHER ROOMS.
There were 4 BX cables meeting in this box, so it was packed solid
with wire and wire nuts.
This was shortsighted and dangerous. For your sake, and for that of
future owners, do the job right. It usually doesn't even require that
much more work; just a little planning will suffice. I've added 8
circuits to the original 4, which means that pretty much all the heavy
current items are on their own new circuits. The original wiring just
handles the lights and minor items like clocks, the stereo, etc.
1. There are no GFCI receptacles anywhere in the house. No GFCI
breakers either. One hair blower has test/reset buttons.
2. There are 18 branch circuits. 14 were identified/labeled by me
before (but not the ones in garage and bathrooms).
3. The garage outlet and 3 bathroom outlets are not working. My guess
is that they are on the same branch.
Now....I checked all 18 breakers and they all work. but none of the
outlets in the garage and bath have electricity coming to them. I even
checked the hot wires coming to them. I did not see any signs of
burnout. Does this mean that the cable from the breaker to the first
outlet has open/is burnt?
I can get electrician to fix this if I have to, but I like the
challenge and the knowledge I end up getting by doing myself.
(harry manka) wrote:
I have a feeling, especially if your home was built AFTER 1970-ish, you HAD a
GFCI outlet as the first outlet in that garage/bathroom circuit.
Reason being, there would be no reason to put a garage outlet and ONLY bathroom
outlets on one single circuit. Also check any outdoor outlet the GFCI might be
there although that would be really stupid.
It is possible that there is an outdoor receptacle on the same circuit that
may contain the GFI.
The next step would be to open up the problem receptacles beginning with the
one close to the electrical panel. Not only should you check the hot
connections, but you should also check the neutrals as well. Tighten down
all of the neutral terminal screws in the electrical panel.
How old is this house?
(harry manka) wrote:
Didja check "outside" I have 2 GFI outlets out there. This is a new house
so I dont know if they have any other outlets 'downstream' or not. In our
last house, there was one in the laundry room that controlled much of the
garage, two in the kitchen, another in the garage and also one outside on
the patio that controlled other outlets inside.
When something went "off" it was a PITA to find which GFI had popped.
The National Electrical Code at that time required GFI protection on
bathroom, garage, basement, outdoor, and kitchen receptacles. The kitchen
circuits are required to be separate 20 amp lines. The bathroom receptacle
was not required at that time to be a separate 20 amp line as it is now.
Unless your locality did not adopt or enforce the code, it's difficult to
believe there is no GFI protection anywhere.
Assuming that you have already opened up each receptacle and checked for hot
and neutral, your next step would be to open up all non working receptacles
and check continuity between them. Disconnect the receptacles. Draw yourself
a diagram and tag each wire to get a visual image of how the wiring is run.
Determine which wires are supposed to be the feed from the circuit breaker
panel. That should help you decide where you need to look next. If you
don't have continuity between the panel and the first outlet, then your
problem is somewhere in between. In that case you may have to open up some
walls or just refeed the first outlet. Be careful. Since all of your
circuit breakers are hot, you may find your mystery hot wire during your
It is possible that you may have a broken wire in the walls and a continuity
test will help determine that. Disconnect all wires including the bare
grounds and check for continuity on all conductors.
(harry manka) wrote:
I am upgrading my bathrooms and have now an orphaned NM14 cable leading
to an outdoor receptacle, which I upgraded to be a GFCI receptacle.
Now I need to supply it with power from somewhere. I know that
according to NEC 2002 I can't supply it from a circuit that supplies a
bathroom (where it used draw power from). Are there any other
restrictions/requirements regarding outdoor receptacles, or can I
pretty much splice it on to an available cable from a 15 amp circuit
(with a box of course)?
Thanks in advance,
When you said you upgraded your bathroom, did you upgrade it to a
20amp circuit? Plus, does this circuit supply only this bathroom?
If so, then you can fish out the 14awg, and pull in a new 12awg and
you should be able to connect the outside box per, 2002 NEC 210.11(C)3
No as usual, follow local codes, and allow only qualified personnel
work on your house.
tom @ www.ChopURL.com
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.