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Troubleshooting Electrical Circuit Problems

Category Electrical
When the breaker is not tripped, but your circuit is not working, it can be a serious problem. It may be best to consult an electrician. This guide is about troubleshooting electrical circuit problems.
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January 4, 20171 found this helpful

This is a guide about no power to circuit after changing switches. Replacing electrical switches may best be left to a professional electrician to make sure it is done properly.

Installing a light switch.

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January 3, 20171 found this helpful

This is a guide about outlets in one room don't work. Identifying the various circuits in a room can help you troubleshoot electrical problems when some outlets stop working.

Electrical outlet with a green cord plugged in.

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March 18, 20170 found this helpful

Troubleshooting electrical problems on a circuit can be challenging. This is a guide about using one outlet in a room disables the other.

A hand ready to plug a cord into an electrical outlet.

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March 1, 20170 found this helpful

If half of your home does not have power, you may have a breaker that is getting overloaded. Contacting a certified electrician to troubleshoot and repair your electrical issues is often recommended. This is a guide about half of house electrical not working.

Man checks fuse box in the dark.

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March 1, 20170 found this helpful

If your Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet is not working, you may need to contact an electrician to repair it. This is a guide about GFCI outlets not working.

Black cord plugged into a GFCI Outlet

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January 4, 20170 found this helpful

This is a guide about troubleshooting dimming house lights. When lights get dim or flicker, the trouble may go as far as the power company's lines to your house. It is best to get advice from a licensed electrician.

Dim ceiling lights.

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January 4, 20170 found this helpful

This is a guide about light bulb socket sparked and smoked. Certain electrical problems are more disturbing than others and may require quicker action to determine the cause and make repairs.

Light Bulb Socket

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January 4, 20170 found this helpful

This is a guide about power out in half of apartment. If the power is out is half of your apartment, there is a problem with the loads going through the breaker. Your landlord is responsible for this repair.

Trying to turn the lights on.

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January 4, 20170 found this helpful

This is a guide about breaker arced when installing new wire. An inexperienced homeowner can experience unexpected results when trying to work on a home electrical wiring project.

breaker box

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January 4, 20170 found this helpful

This is a guide about power only works when stove on. Troubleshooting unusual electrical problems can be difficult for a homeowner.

An electric stove turned on.

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January 4, 20170 found this helpful

This is a guide about overhead ceiling fan light not working properly. When an electrical fixture does not work as expected you may need the help of an electrician.

Overhead Ceiling Fan

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January 4, 20170 found this helpful

This is a guide about no power after installing new ceiling fan. Small electrical projects are often done by homeowners, but when there is an issue it can be difficult to determine the cause.

A new ceiling fan being installed.

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January 4, 20170 found this helpful

This is a guide about new garage door opener trips breaker. While many homeowners can complete easy electrical projects in their home, when problems result diagnosis can be daunting.

Newly installed garage door opener.

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January 3, 20170 found this helpful

This is a guide about power goes out when using microwave. If your power goes out when you turn on your microwave the breaker is getting overloaded. It is best to have an electrician look at the issue.

Pushing the start button on a microwave.

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January 3, 20170 found this helpful

This is a guide about lights don't work in hot weather. Changes in temperature can have an effect on your electrical system.

Turning on a light switch.

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January 3, 20170 found this helpful

This is a guide about power out in one room. Trying to determine the cause of a power outage in one room can be confusing especially if the breaker has not tripped.

bedroom light switch

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
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?

Answers

December 24, 20160 found this helpful
Best Answer

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.

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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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By 3 found this helpful
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, 20150 found this helpful

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, 20150 found this helpful
Best Answer

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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By 0 found this helpful
January 28, 2017

Power in my home is lost randomly. Sometimes it happens during the day with no one at home. Sometimes it is at 2am in the morning. Sometimes, it recovers 5 minutes later by itself. Sometimes it never comes back. I need to reset the main breaker to bring power back. It happens randomly, no pattern at all. Sometimes it happens twice a week, sometimes 3 times in one day.
I checked the panel, but no breaker was tripped.

When it happened, I measured voltage in the panel. One leg reads 110v. The other reads zero. This explains why half of house lost power. But what is wrong?

When it happens, if I don't reset the main breaker, I have to reset one of 15A breakers, then it resolves the problem. I replaced that breaker. It didn't help. The power outage is still random.

Some forum mentioned checking the GFCI socket, how does that help?
When the problem happened, it's always the same, the feeding line read zero volt. And I confirmed, when the problem happened, no one tried to use the micro-wave oven, dryer, or any high power device.

What I am doing is swapping that breaker to a different slot in panel, which connects a different leg of feeding line.

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April 14, 20150 found this helpful

I swapped out an old painted over electrical outlet, that is connected to a light switch for a new one. Now, the light switch connected to the top plug of the outlet will not turn off. The lights are on constantly. Please help.

By Lisa L.

Answers

April 14, 20150 found this helpful
Best Answer

If the top of the receptacle is fed from the switch and the bottom is always hot (fed separately), the bridge connecting the two brass screws on the side of the receptacle, with the power off, needs to be cut.

An electrician can do this for you with pliers, bending it back and forth until it breaks under fatigue.

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March 11, 20150 found this helpful

We live in a newly built home. This morning my wall plugs went out while drying my hair. I went to check the circuit boards, but all the switches for plugs were still flipped up. I then noticed water coming from my dishwasher and when I pulled it away, saw that some water had splashed on the plug, which probably caused the plugs to go out. I unplugged everything. Should I wait for it to dry or could it be more serious in terms of getting an electrician out? Thanks!

By Lise

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March 14, 20150 found this helpful
Best Answer

Call an electrician and consult. Why take chances?

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By 0 found this helpful
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!

Cheers...

Steve B

Answers

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.

Regards

Jo

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

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

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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.

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

look to reset a gfi in one of those are,

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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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By 0 found this helpful
October 10, 2016

I have 2 outlets on opposite sides of the room, neither one has power, however, the light switch (on the same side of the room as one of the outlets) works. Also, there is an outlet in the hallway that does not have power, it is directly on the other side of the one of outlets in the room. I checked and all the breakers are on. I'm lost here, please help, thank you.

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By 1 found this helpful
June 18, 2016

I am asking for a friend. They recently moved into a home built in the 90s which has a recalled Challenger electrical panel, and the company went out of business. Since they moved in, brand new appliances, as well as older ones have been dying at an amazing rate. This included a new electric blanket, a new outdoor extension cord melted, new weed eater, new fan/lights, light bulbs burning out all over the house, 3 bulbs in one fixture burning out simultaneously, fridge chirping and making odd noises, clothes dryer taking way to long to dry clothes, hair dryer blowing circuit, Jenn Aire range needing multiple visits to function and a 'smell' when it finally worked. Those are just the ones I remember she told me.

They have had the electric company check for surging and the results were negative, and an electrician come out and told them the box was fine except it needed one new breaker which was replaced. I have spent the evening reading everything, and it seems to point to a problem with a neutral? That a loose or damaged neutral could be causing all these issues? Problems are happening all over the house, even outdoor outlets. She has never said any outlets seemed hot or burned. Anyone have any ideas what is going on? They are using all their savings on this and are about broke. I worry about a fire, but my reading tells me that is not likely. Help anyone, please!

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By 0 found this helpful
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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By 0 found this helpful
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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By 0 found this helpful
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

Answers

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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By 0 found this helpful
April 4, 2017

I've never had problems, but last night I came home and turned on the light switch in the kitchen and all of the power to the kitchen went out.

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By 0 found this helpful
February 12, 2017

I have a fuse electrical panel. My power went out from the fuse box. I reset it, but part of the house is still without power. I replaced all the fuses except the 50amp main fuse, but that section on the house is still without power. What is happening?
Thank you.

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By 0 found this helpful
January 9, 2017

In my garage are 2 fluorescent light fixtures that suddenly won't turn on when I hit the single rocker switch that controls both fixtures (neither of them turn on now). I checked the circuit breaker, but it's on. There are 2 GFCI outlets in the garage, and they are both working (the red lights are lit). I tried changing the bulbs, but no luck.

Here's the strange part: When I turn off the circuit breaker, then flip it back on, both of those GFCI outlets POP off. I then have to manually push the little button to turn the red light back on. But if I flip the circuit breaker off then on again, POP, both GFCI outlets go out again. In the mean time, the 2 fluorescent light fixtures still don't work.

Anyone have any thoughts on what might be wrong?

Thanks!

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By 0 found this helpful
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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By 0 found this helpful
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?

Answers

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.

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March 24, 20150 found this helpful

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

By Tom F

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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.

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January 9, 20150 found this helpful

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

Answers

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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November 12, 20130 found this helpful

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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By 0 found this helpful
July 16, 2017

My 220v side circuit is dead. There is voltage at the breaker, but none at the A/C, stove top oven range, and dryer all 220v. The landlord is having better pros. I know you can't tell what is the cause, but can someone give me an idea?

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By 0 found this helpful
June 5, 2017

The power suddenly went out on us last night for our kitchen and entry lights. I checked the breaker and it did not trip. We do not have a GFCI receptacle on this run.

Last month I replaced the light fixtures in the kitchen, they were showing charred wires when I took them down to paint. Today I took them down and it looks like I have wired them correctly. Nothing looks pinched, burned, or loose.

The voltage from black to white is 20 volts. However from either the white or black to neutral is 126 volts.

House was built in 1968, aluminum wires. On a side note it looks like at one time the outside lights were spliced into this run, but I am not sure where?

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By 0 found this helpful
May 13, 2017

I am having trouble finding the root cause of my problem. I have voltage in my breakers and in all my receptacles, but when I go to connect something it won't turn on. I do have 120 v in the receptacles and the breakers. What could be my problem?

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