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Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3601
Experience:  30 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License
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Lights went out in part of my home.

Customer Question

lights went out in part of my home.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 years ago. name is ***** ***** I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question. My goal is to exceed your expectations on Just Answer!
1) What areas or rooms of the home where the lighting is not working?
2) Have you checked for any dead wall receptacles in those same areas and do they work or also dead?
3) Do you have any 240 volt appliances such as a Central Air Conditioner or an Electric Dryer that you can try and confirm if these appliances are working correctly? Confirmation of this will help determine if you've lost half of the power in the home?
4) Has there been any recent electrical work performed in the home such as replacing light switches or lighting fixtures or wall receptacles?
5) Do any of the circuit breakers have a "test" button such as a GFCI or an AFCI type of breaker?
6) Have you checked if any GFCI receptacles may have tripped and the lighting may be wired to a GFCI?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Kevin
The lights are out on the staircase leading upstairs as well as one bedroom and laundry room right next to the bedroom as well as the passage leading from the staircase to the master bedroom. So it's one section of the house. The washer dryer in the laundry room are working although the lights in the laundry room are not.
No recent electrical work performed in the house.
The breakers don't have the word test on it.
The receptacle that says test/ reset are probably what a GFCI is . I have pressed test and reset on the two thst are in the house.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
So to clarify about 1/4 of the house does not have light. The rooms area that do not have light are all connected right next to each other.
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 years ago.
OK, very good. Thanks for the replies.
1) Yes, the receptacles with a test and reset button are GFCI type of receptacles. As long as you can hit the test button and then the reset button, those are working correctly, so that's not the problem.
2) Do you know if the bedroom and the laundry room lights both reside on the same circuit breaker or different breakers?
Take a look at the directory label located on the main electrical panel and hopefully, it is labeled correctly and will provide a layout of which breakers control which rooms in the home.
3) What about the wall receptacles in these areas? Are they working or also dead?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi KevinIf I plug a small night lamp in the laundry receptacles it works. If I plug this night lamp in the bedroom or the passages with no lights it does not. So i think the laundry receptacles work but not the other ones in the no-power rooms.
I think the breakers for lights are separate than the ones for washer dryer.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I took pictures of the breakers outside. I will try send by email to you.
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 years ago.
OK, once again, thanks for the replies and the pictures:)
1) Let's try the following Wiggle Procedure and see if that can pinpoint the problem. It appears that the dead receptacles are also on the same circuit as the lighting. Wall receptacles are often used as major splice points, especially when tied together with lighting. It is possible that one of the receptacles has a loose wire connection or a faulty splice. Loose wires are somewhat common over time inside a receptacle box due to the constant plugging and un-plugging of cords. Over time, the wires can become loose. Sometimes the Wiggle procedure works and other times it does not, but worth a shot at trying.
Wiggle Procedure:
You have a circuit with dead outlets and maybe some dead lights on it or you’re experiencing flickering on a circuit. You will need a 2 wire voltage tester to check the outlet. A Multimeter or a Volt/Con are suggested. I prefer the Volt/Con because there are no settings to make, it does continuity and is audible. Success begins with knowing what you’re looking for.
1] No voltage reading between the hot and the neutral or ground indicates an open hot.
2] No reading between the hot and the neutral but 120V between the hot and ground and 120V between the neutral and ground indicates an open neutral.
3] No continuity between the neutral and ground – Check for tripped GFCI device first
4] If all the branch circuit breaker are on you have a bad connection on the hot or neutral wires. The usual cause is a bad connection, either a termination on a device or connection in a wire nut. Over the years I’ve found the easiest way to locate the opening needing examination and correction is to wiggle the devices.
5] The first step in this exercise is to get a lamp to act as an alert. Make sure the lamp works and in the on position. You may also use something like a vacuum cleaner or blow dryer, for an audible alert. Don’t use anything electronic, like a radio.
6] Plug it into a dead outlet.
7] Now with a cube tester or any plug you will need to go to all the dead outlets and any live outlets in the area, insert the plug and wiggle the device side to side slightly. Watch the test lamp or listen for the other alerts as you wiggle the devices. If the loose or bad connection is present the wiggle action may make it contact briefly and the lamp or the other things will alert you . Having found the suspected outlet all that is left is to correct the bad connection.
If the device is a push back wired device, this probably is the cause of the circuit failure. All wires must be terminated under the screws. Also you should never put more than one wire under a screw. This troubleshooting procedure works in most cases and won’t have you open boxes un-necessarily.
Keep in mind that the problem is in one of two places in the circuit, either in the first dead outlet or the live outlet just ahead of it.
2) If the Wiggle Procedure does not identify the problem, then an AC voltmeter will be required to troubleshoot. The use of a voltmeter can quickly identify which wire may be a hot wire or a neutral wire. Once the problem wire is known, then the circuit needs to be isolated to troubleshoot and locate the problem.
I suggest to 1st try the Wiggle Procedure and let me know how you make out and we can take it from there......Thanks.........Kevin!
Expert:  Kevin replied 2 years ago.
If you have any additional questions, let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.
Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.