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Phil, Mechanical Engineer
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 8443
Experience:  Retired electrical contractor, 51 years experience.
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Yesterday I had my underground watering system plugged into

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Yesterday I had my underground watering system plugged into my detached garage, then I plugged in my air compressor and lost power. There was no sign of a blown fuse or flipped switch. The ceiling fan in the garage office runs but very, very slowly. There is sign of power in the outlets but it is very weak.

The garage has an underground line running directly from the main power box on the property (we live in the woods).

Based on this description, do you have any idea what I may be dealing with here for repairs?
Welcome to Just Answer!

Tell me if you have a volt meter, or a tester that just glows when you touch a hot power source.

Tell me if you turned the breaker off, ***pushed it off*** then turned it back on... thats what it takes to reset some breakers.

If the breaker is OK, then the problem is either a bad breaker, or a wire splice connection gone bad between the main power box and the garage... I suspect a bad wire connection because the fan runs, but only very slowly.

The biggest expense in having a repair done will be finding the junction box with the bad splice in it... it could be right out in the open in the garage, from there fixing the bad splice using a wire nut is a 5 minute job.

If the wire has been spliced underground that will be a lot more of a difficult situation.

let me know what you find. we can go from there.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


I do not have a volt meter, just a tester that glows and beeps near a power source. Yes, I reset the breaker (pushed off and turned back on). The breaker box is an outside box located on the back of the garage. The garage along with the electrical work is only 8 years old.


Thanks for your advice. Any other ideas?


Mark :D



Hello again,

next you need to find any junction or splice boxes in the garage that may have a bad splice in them.


There are generally 2 or 3 of those in a garage.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hmmm. I have regular outlets (and two gfi outlets...which btw, I can't reset). Otherwise, I don't have any junction or splice boxes in the garage, just regular outlets.



Hello again, any of the switch or receptacle boxes can be used as splice boxes... some of the screws on the switches or GFCI's can be used to attach other wires to... those can be bad or the screws can be touching the metal box.

If none of the GFCI's will reset, you most likely have a shorted wire somewhere, either in the wiring itself, or in one of the items that is running off of it.

Next step; Unplug or turn off every item in the garage and see if you can reset the GFCI's or not. tell me what you find.

We can go from there.


Phil and other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok, I will do that. It will take a bit. I will contact you when I am done.

Good idea, start with the underground watering system. Next look for the problems mentioned inside the box that holds the receptacle you plugged the compressor into.

We can go from there.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I had to be away for a moment. The response before this one was from my wife. I already unplugged the irrigation system and compressor immediately when the problem first arose.


Also, all of the outlets are plastic so probably not shorting out there.



You are correct... electrical shorts will cause the GFCI's to trip and not reset... but the fan running at a slow crawl indicates a bad connection in either the neutral (white) or Line 1 (black hot wire circuit)..or in the fan itself.

If the problem is in the fan itself it can easily be the cause of the GFCI's tripping..


....the problem could be anywhere in the system.

You need a volt meter to go further... start by checking the voltage at the breaker... as long as you get 115 volts between Line 1 and neutral its good.. keep testing until you find that Line1 to neutral reads 0 or less than 100 volts... your problem will be there or further from the braker ( down line) from that.

These things can get tricky to diagnose even for a trained electrician.


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