Troubleshooting Electrical Circuit Problems

December 23, 2016

I was using a small space heater and didn't think when I went to plug in my hair dryer to the same outlet. When I turned it on, the power to the outlets in the back of the house and bathroom light are now not working.


We tried to flip the breaker switches off and back on, but it's not coming back on. Everything else in the house is fine. Any ideas what it could be?


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December 24, 20161 found this helpful
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You've blown a fuse in the circuit that serves the bathroom and back rooms. You may have to get professional help if there is no obvious fuse system in your meter board.

December 24, 20160 found this helpful
Best Answer

You've probably already done this but I'll restate the obvious. Most bathrooms (and kitchens) have GFI's somewhere in the room.


Did you check all your outlets in the bathroom to see if the little red rectangle thing had popped out? If so just push it in.

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222 More Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

September 30, 2016

In two rooms that share a wall, each light switch will not turn on ceiling lights and the outlet on the shared wall does not work. What could be the problem?

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February 1, 2015

Today my husband and I were watching TV and the lights and plugs stopped working in the living room. We had 2 space heaters plugged in so I'm worried they have messed something up. We tried unplugging everything and letting everything cool down then resetting it, but it didn't help. Please help!

By Lisa


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February 2, 20151 found this helpful
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I would suspect that you have either thrown a breaker or blown a fuse. I am not familiar with fuses, as they have not been used in homes here since the 50's, but I believe they work the same, except you have to replace them instead of just flipping them back. It would not be uncommon to have all of the living room outlets on the same circuit, and you certainly couldn't run two space heaters on the same circuit. When a breaker flips into the off position, there is no need to let anything cool off.


What you need to do is remove some of the things on the circuit, like one of the space heaters, and then reset the breaker. Sometimes the breaker doesn't look like it has tripped, but it will have. You need to flip it back firmly. Also, it may be that the breaker is worn out, in which case you have to call an electrician to replace it. This is very simple and costs very little.

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November 14, 2004

I own a new condo, and have lost power at four outlets. Two of these are in the kitchen, the other two in the dining room. The outlets in the dining area have only been used periodically while vacumming. The two outlets in the kitchen that aren't working have only been used for small appliciances. None of the outlets have burn marks etc. Other outlets in the kitchen are working fine.

I've reset all the breakers and still no juice. The advice given to others about electrical problems has been good. Hoping to get some help as well!


Steve B


November 14, 20040 found this helpful

More then likely, a conductor (wire) has come loose in a junction box, most probably in attic. Another possibility if you have another working outlet (not refrig.) in the kitchen, is that a wire going downstream from it has come loose. You may want to check that first before crawling into attic. If you have no electrical experience, its best to find someone experienced to do it. Unless it turns out to be a nail through the wire behind a wall, it should take less then half an hour to fix.


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November 15, 20040 found this helpful

You could check each fuse is seated correctly - I had this problem and just needed to push one in slightly so it made the correct contact. Otherwise get an electrician - there's no second chance if you make a mistake - electricity can kill. As your condo is new is there any way you can find out who the original contractor was - you may have some redress.




By jeanie (Guest Post)
November 15, 20040 found this helpful

THis recently happened to me, also. The plug was a GFCI and resetting it did not I purchased a new one, had it installed and all is well.

November 23, 20040 found this helpful

I had this problem inside and outside and called an electrician. It turned out that mice were the problem inside, and bees were the problem outside.

By walton electric (Guest Post)
November 29, 20040 found this helpful

look to reset a gfi in one of those are,

December 22, 20040 found this helpful

Do you have a GFCI Receptical Analyzer? If not, get one at Lowes or Home Depot. Should be less than $10.00.If one of the wires is unhocked (open), it will tell you which one and the problem.


Work backwards to a good receptacle. Could be something like a loose wire at a twist nut.

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April 29, 2017

My power flickered when it came back on the stove, the hot water heater, and the AC quit working. There's power and all the spots, but I'm getting no hot water, the stove still doesn't work, and the AC compressor won't come on.

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October 17, 2015

My dad lives in a old trailer and I been staying with him due to heath issues. The other night I turned the bathroom light on and the lights started flickering and making a crackling noise and then the lights went out.

Some outlets in the living room also don't work and the lights and outlets in the small bedroom don't work. We thought it may be the switch in the bathroom so we changed it and still nothing. Can anyone help?

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October 14, 2015

I seem to be the only one in the world with this issue. My house was built in 1921. It has all original wiring. Due to the expense, I can't afford to completely rewire the house. I just fix an issue as it arises. Here's my latest: I hired contractors to completely remodel a bathroom. When all was said and done, everything was good. However a few months later, the overhead light and ceiling fan in the living room and the front porch light will only work when it's cold outside. During the winter, the work just fine. During the fall and spring, they work some days (if it was cold the night before) and when it warms up, they shut off.

I bought one of those pens with a light, that when you tap an outlet it lights up and beeps if the wire or outlet is hot. They are hot all the time, even when not working. We had a cold spell a few days ago, they worked fine. Just now, I'm sitting in my living room and the ceiling fan starts slowing to a halt. Now I've got to wait till the next cold spell for them to kick back on. I've had 3 electricians say, "Dude.....that makes no sense. But I'm looking right at it. So I know you're not lying." Anyone have any idea what the hell is going on?

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April 16, 2015

I went to bed at night turning out all the power in my master bedroom, lights, etc. I woke the following morning to have no power in my master bedroom, in the master bathroom, and in the front bathroom which connects to my bathroom in the master.

I was told that something had to have happened, however the only thing that happened between my having power in my not having power is a utility company was running a cable up next to my house and had a machine that was thumping and vibrating sending the cable up under the ground.

I have searched for the problem, and had an electrician out searching for it until I ran out of money for him to search, so I just had him drop a line across from one bedroom over to get power to my master bedroom.

What I want to know is, is it possible that this vibration shook something loose in my house such as a wire? I feel fully that the cause of my outage is due to their construction of next to my home.

By Carol L.


April 17, 20150 found this helpful

I am sorry that the electrician could not find the issue. I would consider another electrician when funds become available.

What I am curious to know is how many circuits (breakers in your panel) are effected. If it is only one circuit, it is something in your house.

It could be that you lost a leg feeding your house. The cable feeding your house may have been damaged with the utility work. If this is the case, every other breaker in your panel would have no power. Also, you would have no 240 volt power, causing your electric range, electric clothes dryer and electric water heater to not work.

It is possible that vibration knocked something loose, but I suspect you would have had issues with your electric prior to this if that were the case.

April 17, 20150 found this helpful

I had no issues prior to this incident, I just went to bed and had no power the next morning and that was the only thing that was going on. My guess is that they shook something loose which may have been loose in the first place but they knocked it completely out but the company is telling me that there's no way that they caused it and I believe that that's exactly what happened. I have had other electricians tell me that they have had to do repairs where someone was playing electric guitar and the vibrations knock the wire loose within the outlet.

It does appear to be one line my electric company checked my box as my first thing was to do was to change the breaker but the electric company came out and they checked it and says all the power to my house is fine and there's nothing wrong with any of my breakers.

April 17, 20150 found this helpful

Electricians have a device that connects to a wire and puts a signal on that wire. They then use a device that senses the signal to track the wire through ceilings and walls. If an electrician does that in your panel to the hot wire on the breaker (or the neutral wire on the bus) and follows it, it will take them to the first device on the circuit (light, receptacle, switch...).

They would then check to see if that device is working and continue to follow the circuit through to each device until the break is found. Without such a device it is harder.

Does turning off the breaker still kill power to anything or is everything already dead? If anything is still alive and the cable goes to a device that is dead, then your problem is at one of those two positions.

If everything is dead then the problem is either at the breaker, the neutral bus connection or at the first device on the circuit. Unless you are able to visually track the wires, it will be hard to tell what the first device on the circuit.

The bad connection could be either the hot or the neutral.

I wish I could be of more help.

April 17, 20150 found this helpful

Thank you Bruce for trying to help. When the electrician jump the wire from the back bedroom over to the master bedroom right across the hall he came in behind the problem. So the master bedroom, the bathroom and the hall bathroom and the outlet in the back room work these are all on the east end of my home coming across to the west.

So I've narrowed it down to somewhere between that back room and the garage, laundry room and computer room which are on the west end of the house. (This is where my breaker box is located outside the garage) The cable pushing was going on right there.

Unfortunately I still believe that the company that ran the cable shook something loose, on the west end of my home that's the end that they were working on right outside that garage. They refused to help me because they feel "they didn't do it". In the meantime I guess I'll just search for every outlet or switch open them up and see if there's a wire loose in them. I'm not sure what will happen if I find the loose wire and connect it with the wires coming from the east end of the house and running back to it (if that makes sense)?

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July 18, 2015

Earlier today I unplugged a vacuum cleaner from a socket in my hallway. After unplugging it, the lights would not work and the sockets would not work. I checked the breaker, nothing tripped.

I replaced bulbs. Nothing. When I plugged the vacuum back in, everything worked. Any ideas of what may have happened?


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July 19, 20150 found this helpful

What a mystery!! Does the vacuum have to be plugged in constantly for things to work? This must be inconvenient, if so. I suspect you have a short or something. Bruce is an electrician who posts on here occasionally. Perhaps he can explain what's going on. If not, I'd call and electrician.

July 27, 20150 found this helpful

This could be explained by the loss of a shared neutral wire, which takes an electrician to fix. Example:

--breaker 1--------------|
Load 1
-- neutral ---------------|
Load 2
--breaker 3--------------|

If the neutral wire gets broke, it takes two loads to complete the circuit. It is 120 VAC from breaker 1 to neutral and 120 VAC from breaker 2 to neutral and 240 VAC from breaker 1 to breaker 3.

Loss of neutral on a shared neutral will result in lights burning either brighter or dimmer than normal because the voltage drop may not be 120 VAC across the load anymore.

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March 24, 2015

The outlet in my kitchen has to have something plugged into it for the outlet in the livingroom to work.

By Tom F


March 24, 20150 found this helpful

This is an interesting case. It sounds as though the receptacles are on the same circuit. It also sounds like they may be in series instead of parallel. If this were the case, neither would work unless something were plugged in both and even then both would be at a reduced voltage.

March 24, 20150 found this helpful

It also may be that the neutral and ground are bonded in the family room and that the ground circuit, which connects the two receptacles does not go back to the panel. A further assumption must be made that the Neutral wire opened to the family room circuit. This means no neutral would be available in the family room. If whatever is plugged in the kitchen allows a ground path back to the panel for the ground pin in the kitchen, it would also allow a ground path for the receptacle in the family room and the neutral would then use that path.

This is dangerous because the case of whatever 3 wire device plugged in the kitchen becomes a current carrying conductor and touching it could cause shock or electrocution!


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March 28, 20150 found this helpful

What Bruce is saying is that this is dangerous and you should call an electrician. (Bruce would be a good guy to hire if you were anywhere near!)

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January 9, 2015

I had electrical work done on my home because we are selling it. Several different areas needed work done. The electrician did the work and then my dryer didn't work. They came back and did some wiring that was not even connected to my dryer, but now it works. Later that day after they left we noticed how cold it was in the house.

Now the heater was not working. We went to the breaker box and flipped the breaker for the heat although it had not tripped and then the heat worked for about fifteen minutes and quit again. Now the heat will only come on when we do this at the breaker box, but will only run for a few minutes. Any idea what is going on?

By Gina


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January 10, 20150 found this helpful

You may need to call in a reputable electrician to check on your problems. Unfortunately you will have to pay a new electric repair bill but, hopefully, the problems will be resolved.


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January 10, 20150 found this helpful

I would also advise calling an electrician, but maybe not the same one you had before. He doesn't seem to be doing a very good job for you.


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January 10, 20150 found this helpful

I just had another thought. The breaker may actually be tripping out every time. Sometimes a breaker will trip out without actually flipping into the off position. There may be something wrong with the heater that it keeps throwing the breaker, or the breaker may be defective. Breakers do wear out. Is the heater wired in directly, or is it one that you plug into an outlet? If it is wired directly, you need your electrician, or another electrician, back. If it is plugged into an outlet, try plugging it into a different one, as perhaps there are too many things running on this circuit and that is why the breaker keeps flipping.

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November 12, 2013

I tried changing a light fitting in the room, then put all the wires back how they were. There was a bang and now the lights won't work at all in the room. Can someone help?

By Viki


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November 13, 20130 found this helpful

Sounds like you blew a fuse but that doesn't happen for no reason. Please get someone in who knows what they're doing. Electricity can kill!


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November 14, 20130 found this helpful

I agree with Jehosaphat (sorry if I spelled that wrong!), you need a professional in there - until then flip the circuit breaker feeding that fixture because you could have a fire waiting to happen.

It sounds as though perhaps you didn't check the wattage-voltage as being compatible. It's a marking on both the old and new fixtures and they have to match. For example, let's say the old fixture was rated for 3x40 watt bulbs which the existing wiring handled just fine. But now you've just installed one using 4x60w. Ooops. The wiring wasn't rated to handle that load...

Get a pro in there and turn off the juice to that fixture!


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November 18, 20130 found this helpful

Yes, an electrician can help you. Call one.

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August 23, 2015

I turned off a circuit breaker to replace a ceiling fan. The outlet box has only 3 wires, black, white and black. The house was built in 1987. The old fan had the green ground wire connected to the black wire on the right. I hooked the new fan up the same way. When I tried to turn the breaker back on it would not go fully into the "on" position and there is an orange bar showing.

It it the 2nd breaker from the bottom in the photo. I tried changing the ground to the other black wire but that didn't change anything. Does anyone have any suggestion I can try before calling a electrician?Circuit Breaker/Ceiling Fan Issues

Thank you!


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August 24, 20150 found this helpful

If you are lucky, Bruce, an electrician, will reply. He always has good advice, and can solve many problems, although often the best advice he has, at the end, is to call in an electrician. Me -- I'd call an electrician. But hopefully, Bruce will help you out!

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August 17, 2015

I live in an old building on the 3rd floor. It is summer and I have the AC on in my dining room and living room. I came home and felt the apartment was unusually warm and realized the AC in the dining room was not on and the lights did not work in that area of my apartment. I looked outside in the backyard and my 1st floor neighbors were having a party and lights were strung up. I went outside and saw they had the lights plugged into an outlet to the building.

I went into basement and saw my electric switch had been tripped. This same thing happened last year when they had an outdoor party. My landlord is very old and doesn't seem to care about this, but I would like to know why this is happening to my apartment when others are not affected. Thank you.


August 18, 20150 found this helpful

If the lights outside were on and your breaker was tripped, they are on a different circuit.

Talk to the neighbors to see if they had plugged into a receptacle that did not work or stopped working. That receptacle, if it exists, is the culprit.

If talking does not reveal anything, inspect outdoors. If you were having a party, where would you plug in lights? Is there a receptacle outside your 3rd floor apartment that is accessible? Are you on the top floor with a receptacle on a flat roof?

Once the receptacle is found, the landlord could have it unwired so that it does not overload your circuit again.


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August 18, 20150 found this helpful

Perhaps you have several things on the same circuit as the AC and the lights, and the outdoor party lights are a co-incidence. My kitchen breaker would flip if I was making coffee or toast, and micro-waved something, but not every time. Finally I realized that the TV and the fridge were also on the same circuit, and that if the TV was on, or the fridge running a cycle, the breaker was overloaded. However, it was the microwave that caused the problem because it was the biggest draw. It may be that the problem is totally within your own apartment, and the AC and something else that is plugged in are causing the problem.

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August 2, 2015

My dining room ceiling fan won't turn on unless my kitchen light switch is on. A friend ran some new wire prior to the problem.


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August 4, 20150 found this helpful

It's obviously wired incorrectly. Time to call in a friend who is an actual electrician, perhaps, rather than a handyman. I doubt that it is a difficult problem to solve.

August 5, 20150 found this helpful

The power to the fan is now switched, so it is on the same "switch leg" as the light.

If you want the fan to be controlled by the pull chain and not a switch the power feeding it must be a "hot" and not a "switch leg".

An electrician can fix this for you.

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