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Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3729
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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Unable to locate the proper circuit breaker bathroom outlet,

Customer Question

Unable to locate the proper circuit breaker for a bathroom outlet, I opened the box, pulled the plug (three wires attached to it) out of the box. In the process, I shorted a wire and went to find which circuit breaker it was. None showed as being tripped. This is a 1984 home and believe the plus was original... loose plugs. It was NOT marked as a GFI (next to a sink) but also killed power to other bathroom counter plug in and 4 plugs in garage. Replaced the old plugs with new from Leviton. Still no power to plugs and have tripped and reset all circuit breakers. Stimied!!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome to Just Answer. My name is ***** ***** I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question.

1) Back in the early 80's, it was a common wiring method as well as NEC code compliant to have the bathrooms, garage and exterior receptacles all residing on the same circuit breaker. Your panel directory should be labeled as either "Bathrooms, Garage or Exterior" for this circuit. If the panel is not labeled correctly, this needs to be corrected to avoid this problem in the future.

2) Personally, I always recommend to place a "stick-on" number label at every wall plate (receptacles and switches) in the home that will readily identify the circuit that controls such devices. Device labeling is done all the time in commercial and industrial applications but is never done on residential applications since customers don't like to visually see the circuit "stick-on" number pasted onto a device wall plate. Say what you want, but having a readily labeled and identified circuit number on each wall plate sure eliminates any guess work as to which breaker controls the circuit:)

See link shown below:

2) If unable to identify which breaker that controls these areas, look for breakers that may be tripped where the breaker handle is semi-loose towards the middle position. A tripped breaker will have flexibility (will slightly move) on its handle.

3) If you swapped out and replaced receptacles, very possible that you have the LINE and LOAD side connections reversed on the GFCI receptacle.

4) Do you have either a 2 wire lead AC voltage tester ( a contact type) or better yet, an AC voltmeter available to confirm the LINE side wires (hot & neutral)?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No power getting to the outlet box... all circuit breakers test OK. Can a upstream plug be stopping the flow?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Believe I need a local electrician to come check it out.
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for the replies.

1) Do you have a voltmeter available?

If so, what is the voltage measurement at the GFCI LINE side as shown below?

A) Hot to Neutral =?

B) Hot to Ground =?

C) Neutral to Ground =?

2) Yes, a loose wire in an upstream box can cause the problem. 1st thing is to measure voltage on the LINE to confirm if the problem is a loose hot or neutral or both conductors. Once we know the voltages or lack of it, then we can proceed to the next troubleshooting step.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
This will take me some time. Thanks for your guidance.
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

No problem, glad to assist.

Measure the voltages at the upstream receptacle box or boxes and let me know what they read?

If you run into any problems, just reply back to me here at this same question. I'm always logged on the website. I will be notified of your reply and I will get back to you.


Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.