Troubleshooting Electrical Circuit Problems

We discovered the power was out on one side of our house and that the two over head lights did not work. My husband tried to replace the circuits that he thought belonged to that area and there is still no power. He said the circuits were not tripped.


I am wondering if we should check our outlets to see if one is damaged. If they are piggybacked I was told that could trip one to cause a short and turn off the power. We do have a GCI circuit in our breaker box, but no outlets with the trips. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

By Terrie G. from Dunfermline, Fife

May 11, 20110 found this helpful

I live in Angus! I'm answering your post from the US, where I'm visiting my son. What a small and lovely world it is:)

You really should have a licensed electrician in to sort this. It sounds as though you have a broken, worn, or possibly chewed wire somewhere that has shorted everything between that half of the house and the mains.

A homeowner trying to fix this is looking at actually spending more trying to solve the problem than having an electrician in would cost, and as a shorted wire could be a serious fire hazard, I don't think you have much time to spend trying to fix it yourselves.

Good luck! I'll be thinking of you, please update this when you have the problem solved!

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September 26, 2012 Flag
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Part of our rented kitchen lost its power, but did not trip breaker. We got up in the middle of the night and turned on the hall light. No light. We went to the kitchen and the fridge and microwave were off, but everything was fine in the rest of the apartment. The breaker was not tripped. The breaker for hall way also said bathrooms. The bathroom was on and the fridge and micro are suppose to be on another breaker. What is going on in the newly constructed building? It has 48 units. I am getting nervous. Please help.

By Ethel

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September 28, 20120 found this helpful

I don't blame you, I would be scared too. Apartment fires are all too common these days, and are often due to faulty wiring especially in a new construction.

It does sound as though the wiring is faulty in your unit, if not the entire building. Contact building management-be sure to document the time, date, to whom you spoke, and what that person said.

More importantly, if management isn't on it within 24 hours LEAVE the complex, again documenting everything. You could be in danger of fire.

With documentation you may be able to recoup costs associated with having to leave.

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February 16, 2012 Flag
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A few years ago, for no known reason, all the outlets in a downstairs room stopped working, but one on a different wall. No breakers were flipped. I assumed that the one was on a different circuit. FYI, the outlets are not GFI. The problem was not addressed, I just stopped using the outlets that didn't work.

Recently the same thing happened to a few outlets in an upstairs room. Then a couple weeks later all the outlets downstairs that didn't worked suddenly did and the one that did work now doesn't. Also, at the same time the outlets that didn't work upstairs now do and the couple that did work now don't along with a kitchen light on the ceiling and the hall light on the ceiling, both upstairs.

Remember, no breakers where flipped at any of these issues and no work was done on any of the outlets flip flopping around. Can anything explain this event? Please help.

By Vinny L.

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February 18, 20120 found this helpful

You need a licensed and insured electrician in to look over your house wiring, and you need to do it now. It sounds as though you have lost connections all over your house between the outlets and the breaker-which is why none flipped.

Depending on the age of your home, your troubles could be anything from faulty and/or counterfeit wiring when the house was built (a lot of building materials coming in from China, Mexico, and India have been found to be counterfeit or badly constructed including wiring, circuit breakers, and boxes which were then stamped with a fake UL), worn wires, rodents chewing, or pest infestation in the wall.

Only a licensed professional can tell you what is wrong and how to resolve the issue BEFORE your house burns down.

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December 13, 2011 Flag
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Two of my bedroom's lights went out, but did not trip a breaker. The plug is in one bedroom that still had working lights. The next day everything magically started working. Also, my lamp in the living room dims and brightens and my dryer won't work. Any ideas?

By Tiffany from Hattiesburg, MS

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December 15, 20110 found this helpful

The lamps that went off and on but didn't trip the breaker could have shorts in the cord or plugs. The outlets may have a crimped wire but that usually trips the breaker-usually but not always.

Then I read the part about the living room lamp dimming and brightening, and that you can't run your dryer...

Is there any chance you have portable heaters plugged in on the same circuits as the lamps and then are also trying to run the dryer?

That's an overload, try unplugging everything in the house (including TV, computer, and microwave) except the majour appliances (fridge, stove, washer, dryer), and then adding things back one at a time to see when and where the trouble starts again.

You simply may be trying to run too many things on each circuit. Most American circuits are wired for no more than 1500 watts total PER CIRCUIT-you cannot reasonably expect the hairdryer+the space heater+the microwave+the table lamps+the TV+the stereo+the iron+the clothes dryer to run on the same circuit at the same time.

Your house could be underwired, too-too few circuits feeding too many outlets. The presence of the outlets says to you "Oh, I can plug into all of these and everything will be fine because the outlet wouldn't be here if there isn't proper amps to run all those outlets..." It's a reasonable assumption but sadly a lot of times all those outlets are on a single circuit spread out through the house. And yes, although your clothes dryer and stove are usually 220V/240V and should be on their own special circuits, I have seen homes where the clothes dryer is plugged in as 220/240 on 110/120.

If you look at the plugs of your electricals you should see a wattage listed. Do the math and see if you've got an overload going on. Be sure to check the wattage of your light bulbs too as using too big a bulb in a fixture not rated for that many watts can sometimes cause the problems you describe. And LOL, if you have up Christmas lights on top of all the other stuff, you can really overload a system!

If the problem isn't overload, and if you are renting the house I think I have good news-the landlord needs to have a licensed electrician around ASAP because there is a serious fault somewhere in your house wiring. This is a fire hazard, and a landlord is legally liable for the house wiring. Get this seen to right away!

I'm afraid if it's not overloading and if you are the home owner, you need to get in a licensed electrician to troubleshoot your wiring right away, again, for the fire hazard. Expensive, yes, and at the worst time-Christmas. But replacing everything would be even more expensive, not too mention the potential for loss of life should the wiring cause a catastrophic fire.

Sorry to sound so drastic, but it's the truth. Ask any fire-rescue person.

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