About two years ago, we finished (to be precise, we hired a contractor to
finish) our breezeway, turning it into a room. After the renovation was
complete, we discovered that the outlet on the interior wall, and it's
matching outlet on the garage wall, and our porch light post, are now dead.
It's been two years, obviously this isn't a pressing problem, but geez, I'd
love to have that porch light back. Any suggestions as to how to figure
this out? The renovation consisted of wallboarding over the exterior walls
of the breezeway (e,g, we didn't open up the wall where the fault must lie -
between the interior and the first exterior (garage) plug. We did take the
ceiling down to the studs, but iirc, there was no wiring there.
Can I safely assume that the fault lies in the wall between the
breezeway-cum-office, and the garage, rather than anywhere in the wire
between the breezeway/office and the front porch?
How do I tackle this?
And, erm... considering it's two years after the fact, and realizing this is
a bit late to be asking... is there any risk of fire with the dead wiring in
As always, thanks for your kind assistance. Help me Obi-Wan! You're my
only hope! (Well, my only hope other than calling an electrician and
opening up the finished walls. Eek.)
I don't think you can assume anything. Most likely its a loose
connection in some box which would be easy to fix. Take about 10
minutes for an electrician to find it if that is what it is. (you
could DIY but if i have to tell you how to proceed, you should
probably leave it alone anyway) If you have a cut wire inside a wall
someplace, that's another matter, and you'll need an electrician to
figure that out anyway. Have you called your contractor? That's
where I'd start.
There is no way any of us can tell without seeing the thing. The
source of the power comes from your breaker box. Where is that?
Assume it mosdt likely begins at the outlet or light closest toward
the direction of the box. Of course that is not always the case, but
more than likely.
Shut off the power to the whole house. Then open each outlet and take
off the light fixture. You dont need to remove the wires, just pull
the outlets and light out of their wall boxes and look for a broken
wire. If a wire is off a screw or pulled out of a wirenut, fix it.
If not, the remodelers may have cut a wire inside the wall and unless
you have electrical experience, you be best calling an electrician.
Of course, you can use a tester and all of that, but it dont sound
like you are experinced with wiring and no one wants you to get hurt.
I dont think you have a fire hazzard after 2 years, but anything is
Might you have a relative or neighbor that has done some wiring? You
might be able to get the job done without a costly electricians bill.
But do safely open each of those boxes and look for a broken wire. As
long as the power is off, it's simple to use a screwdriver and look
inside. Each outlet should have a white wire going to the silver
screw and a black (or other color except white or green) going to the
brass (gold) screw. Then there is a bare or green wire going to the
green screw. You COULD have two sets of wires going to one or more of
the outlets. That means these wires go to the next outlet in that
same line. As for the light fixture, it's most likely has wirenuts.
The black and white wires need to match the same color.
Romex is very tough stuff, so unless there was work done with a saws-all or
such after the finishing work, it will be a connection issue. First step
would be to check the outlets that have failed. If you know the most
upstream (first on the circuit from breaker box), check to ensure it isn't a
bad outlet. Get a circuit tester and see if the hot wire has juice. If so,
then the outlet could be faulty and not only is it non-functional, it is
blocking current from travelling to the next outlet on the circuit. If not,
then you need to work upstream from there. One of the junction boxes will
have a bad connection, you just need to pray it's accessible.
This assumes there are other plugs/lights on the circuit that DO work, and
that it isn't a bad circuit breaker in the box. I just figured you checked
for that already.
There are three outlets (counting the porch light as an "outlet" for the
purposes of this post) that have failed. No other outlets in the house are
dead (and yes, to the gentleman who asked, they did work, directly before
From your (your plural that is.) kind responses, it seems that the three
dead outlets are at the end of a circuit, since everything else works. The
interruption must begin at the first dead plug (which is in the office). I
have, actually, pulled the wiring out and looked at it. Everything that I
saw looks to be correctly connected. But as you all have cleverly
ascertained, I'm not an electrician. :)
I'll get a circuit tester. The plug next up the line is also in the
office, and works fine, so I suspect you've figured out the problem.
Something seems to be wrong with the first dead plug, and either there is a
loose connection, or there is an interruption of some kind, and either way,
it's a pretty simple thing for an electrician to fix. Is that correct?
That is a correct assumption. The circuit breaker is fine, and every other
plug in the house works, including the one that connects to the first dead
Never assume. :) But yes, I did check that. Beyond that point, though,
I needed some guidance. Thanks.
I think you are assuming that the easiest way to fix it is find where
it is broken and reconnect it.
That will be true if it is just a loose connection in a junction box
that is easily accessible.
But I've run into more of these where it was a whole lot simpler just
to run a new wire out to where you need it.
also, there are ways to put a signal onto the wire and trace how far
it goes. But it takes some equipment and skill.
unfortunately, you have no way to determine how the daisy chain of wiring
runs, but barring a cut cable inside of a closed wall, you want to try to
find the first dead outlet on that circuit, or the last live outlet on that
circuit. A loose conductor on the input of the former and a loose conductor
on the output of the latter
It's not necessarily the first dead outlet on the circuit that is the
problem. The break (disconnected wire) could easily be in the last live
outlet in the chain (power comes in to the outlet, but wire leading out to
the first dead one is disconnected. Turn off the breaker that serves the
non working outlets. Then check in the boxes of the other outlets that go
off with that breaker off. Good chance you'll find a disconnected wire
"RBM" <rbm2(remove this)@optonline.net> wrote in message
You did open the first dead outlet and said it looks fine. Thats a
good start. However, the problem is likely in the outlet BEFORE the
first dead one, unless of course these 3 "outlets" are the only thing
on that circuit. If the first one is on your office, it would likely
be the outlet closest to this dead one, either to the left or right.
I'd open each one of them in that room and check for broken wires,
loose screws, etc. Also carefully look at the sides of the outlet (by
screws) and be sure nothing looks burnt. There is a small piece of
metal between the screws on each outlet (part of the outlet). Be sure
they are not burnt in half. Also, what is on the outside of that
office wall? Could there be another outlet there?
That first dead outlet should have had 2 white and 2 black wires in
the box. One pair comes IN to the box, the other goes OUT to the next
outlet. Sometimes (not always), you can see the direction of the
wires in the wall. That often helps. There are devices that beep to
determine the direction of the wires too, but they are costly.
Keep opening boxes and checking things. Just be safe about it.
I have done wiring for years, and I always find the problem, but even
after years of doing it, it sometimes can take some time to find the
culprit. Be patient, and just open each box and check. Tighten all
wire screws while you are at it.
one other thing, "IF" you have any idea which breaker controlled those
outlets, that would really help, because you could turn that one off
and determine what still works on that circuit. If there are any
labels in your breaker box, that may help.
On Oct 16, 10:51 am, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
It's easy enough to open any box with an outlet. Trouble is there may
be an unknown number of boxes that only contain junctions and don't
Wire nuts, ugh. Might as well swap them all out for chocolate blocks
while you're at it.
Most of the replies are making the assumption that these outlets
worked at some time in the past _after_ the renovation. It doesn't
sound like that to me.
I'm thinking it's a good possibility that the contractor cut the
cable to these outlets because he was going to rewire it to the
new work he was doing, and forgot. Or thought it wasn't serving
anything, and abandoned it.
Yes, checking the new boxes, and the dead ones, to see if anything
is loose or simply not connected is a good idea. If she can figure
out where each cable goes, it'd help too.
Unless something obvious is found, however, I think her best
bet is to get an electrician in who has a good wire tracer. Otherwise,
I very much fear this is going to be a rip off the walls exercise.
Watch out for buried junctions. Code violation, and lead to problems
like you're experiencing.
Simply adding a new feed to the abandoned bit would work, _if_ it's
abandoned. It could be partially connected, and cross-feeding could
cause a lot more problems.
Fire hazard? Probably not.
Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
We recently had a problem in our condo when the upstairs neighbor was
nailing flooring and electricity for one of our circuits went out. It
tripped the breaker twice, but the guy wasn't easy to discourage. He
did it again, and then the breaker would not come back on. I knew
exactly where it occurred the first time, as I was sitting directly
below where he was working when the lights went out. The other times we
were not aware immediately, but when I went up to talk to him, he showed
me where he had been working .. about 8' from the breaker panel. When
the electrician came out, he first took the wire for the dead circuit
and connected it to another breaker to see if it was the breaker. It
didn't work on a good breaker, so he knew it was the wire. He detatched
it again and just pulled it out .. the wire had burned through entirely
and the insulation had numerous nail nicks. It burned through exactly
where the fellow had been working. This is wiring inside a metal
conduit. They had a tough time getting new wire through the conduit due
to the nails, but they did it. I was pretty impressed with the burned
wire and insulation. I kept it as a souveneir.
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