Electrical Repair Questions? Ask an Electrician for Answers ASAP
This is usually caused by a loose connection. You will need a volt meter to find this.
Do you have access to one?
Use you meter at one of the dead outlets. Set the meter to 250v and test between the hot (small slot) and neutral (large slot). Then between hot and ground, you can use the screw, then neutral and ground.
Let me know what you get.
hot and neutral=nothing
hot and ground=120
neutral and ground=120
These voltages tell me you have an open neutral.
Most of the time this is in the the first outlet that does not work or the last outlet that does work, it can also be in the panel neutral bar.
The easiest way to find this would be to identify the breaker for this circuit and see what goes off with that breaker. If your outlets are using the back stab wire connections, that is where 99% of these problems occur, move the wires to the side screws.
Let me know what you find or if you need more help.
The breaker is working because you were able to provide voltage readings.
By using an extension cord you will be able to plug in to the bad circuit and use your meter, the same way you did at the outlet, without running back and forth.
By finding the breaker you will be able to determine all of the devices on this circuit. This way you can "map out" the circuit without randomly having to check every device.
Does this make sense to you now?
Well at least you have one breaker you can mark.
I would start at the panel, remove the cover and look for the buss bar where all of the white wires are connected. Loo for any discoloration or burn marks at the wire connections.
Becareful there are deadly voltages present!!
Let me know if you see anything suspicious. If all looks good I will take you to the next step.
The next place we will need to check is the first dead outlet closest to the panel. This art gets a little tricky because we need to guess how the house was wired originally. You could end up opening every outlet in this are of the house. Again look for loose connections on the outlets, most of the time we find the outlets are wired using the "back stab" method, this is a poor way of wiring the devices because of problems like this. I highly recommend rewiring the outlets to the side screws as you go along.
Let me know what you find. You might want to shut the power off as you do this. The neutral can give you a shock just as easy as the hot when you have a problem like this.
There is a loose connection. We just have not found it yet.
Like I said it is either the first device that does not work or the last one that does work.
Did you shut the breaker off to see if any outlets that do work went out?
Those connections can seem tight but not be. Move all the connections to the side screws.
I have had homes 2yrs old have failures due to that wiring method. You will not nessisarily see any burn marks on the wire. All it takes is a little carbon build up and the circuit will stop working.
after even swapping out the circuit breaker, it still didnt work.so i looked to the other side of the panel and there was a small buss strip there.Sure enough I saw a melted white wire.i removed it and restripped it and everything was fine.My last question is,what caused that to happen
Thats good news.
That is caused by a loose connection. If the terminal was not tightened down enough when the wire was installed it will loosen up over time. When the connection gets loose enough it will start to heat up, once this happens it causes the terminal to loosen even more. Eventually the wire will either burn through or the connection opens up like yours did.
Like I said, it can drive you nuts trying to find these types of problems. I glad it worked out for you. Let me know if you need more help.