J > I have a house that is 3 years old and recently I discovered that 6 or 7 of
J > the outlets and a couple of light switches no longer have current. One of
J > the outlets and one of the light switches is near the main electrical box.
J > It is actually inside the garage directly behind the box. I opened the
J > electrical box on the outside of the house and tested each circuit against
J > the common and all circuits seem to have power at least at the box.
J > Additionally, it appears that my electrical fireplace is also impacted by
J > that circuit.
J > I have opened each outlet and switch to see if there is a loose wire and I
J > haven't found a problem.
J > I'm not sure where to go from here.
J > Any suggestions?
Worse comes to worse you'll have to call in an electrician. Can we
assume all the outlets, light switches, and fireplace are on the same
circuit? Wiring is relatively straight-forward: if connected it
works, if not connected it doesn't work. It requires two wires to
complete the circuit, generally the black is "hot" and the white is
"return". (For the electricians, I'm really simplifying on purpose.)
If the black is open the circuit stops working. If the white is open
the circuit also stops working.
Outlets are usually wired in (relatively) straight line: if there are
four outlets on a wall they're more than likely going to be wired in
sequences (A, B, C, D), not random (A, D, B, C). Outlets in two
different rooms sharing a common wall can be on the same circuit and
wired in sequence.
A light switch can be tapped (connected to) the same circuit powering
the outlets. So..., if there isn't any power to the outlet there
might not be power to the switch either.
So let's say we have a circuit like this:
If Outlets 3 and 4 don't work then the problem is probably at either
Point A (the output of Outlet 2) or Point B (the input to Outlet3).
The problem could also be in a junction box located somewhere between
the two, or possibly Outlet2's output goes into the switchbox and
there is a bad connection there:
C ^ |
Circuit | |
Breaker ----->Outlet1---->Outlet2 v-->Outlet3-----Outlet4
An open at A or C would cause the switch (fireplace) and Outlets 3 and
4 to not function.
Check for a broken wire at the screw terminals or loosened from the
pigtailed leads (wirenutted together).
There is another strange 'quirkie' to look for. There is a piece of
metal between the top and bottom outlets, on both sides. Removal of
the link will open the circuit -- generally done on purpose for
switched outlets (one outlet is on constantly, the other of the pair
is controlled by a switch, such as for turningon/off lights from a
wall switch). If this link is accidentally broken it will open the
circuit. You may think the duplex outlet is fine because you happen to
have something plugged into the working outlet. So..., test _both_
the top and bottom outlets. (To test you can use an incandescent
lamp. I use a $5-10 outlet tester because it is more portable and
also tells me if the outlet has been wired correctly [tests all three
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