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Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3528
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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I live in an older home, maybe 30 years old. The problem is

Customer Question

I live in an older home, maybe 30 years old. The problem is this, my daughter's bedroom, when you flip the light on it trips the breaker. I have tried replacing every outlet and the light switches with no results. Also, half of the outlets in my dining room do not work. I was told to check the connections in the junction box in the attic. How do I go about doing that? What does it look like? I am somewhat knowledgeable about electricity in the fact that I am not afraid to swap light fixtures, install ceiling fans, the basics.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

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

1) Replacing the devices was a waste of time and money. Somewhere in the circuit, there is a short and you need to locate it.

2) In order to troubleshoot the problem you will need a multi-meter that also has a built-in continuity tester.

3) Does the bedroom and dining room reside on the same circuit breaker or different breakers?

4) The junction box will either be a metal or a PVC box and may contain a blank cover plate.

5) Have you backed out the switch from the wall box and performed a visual inspection if there is a bare copper ground that is coming into contact with a device side screw and may be causing the short?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thank you for replying, I'm unsure of the 2 rooms being on the same breaker. The way the box is labeled is crazy! And no I haven't checked for bare wires. I assumed that would mean cutting sheetrock out and I am trying to avoid that, unless of course that is my only option.
Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

1) Removing sheet rock is not required. Back the devices out from the wall boxes. They are screwed into the metal or PVC wall box. No need to remove any drywall.

2) You need to create a circuit diagram map if the panel directory is not properly labeled. Once the diagram map is created, then update the panel directly accordingly.

See attached for an example on a circuit map:

Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

1) Do you have a multi-meter that has a built-in continuity tester?

2) The dining room and bedroom circuits typically reside on separate breakers. However, you will need to confirm this. The circuit map can help.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I have one I can get from my dad, not a problem there. Looks like I will be spending my Sunday mapping the circuits and backing stuff out to check the wiring. Going to head out and get the meter and get started on this.
Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

OK, very good.

1) Once you create a circuit map and obtain a multi-meter which also has a built-in continuity tester, reply back to me and I can instruct you on how to locate the short circuit. Make sure you have a continuity tester as this is a must have testing instrument for this type of problem:)

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thank you! I will do!
Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

Sounds like a plan.

1) When you are ready, just reply back to me. I am usually logged on the web site from 0700 hrs till around midnight (CST) each day and we can take it from there.

2) For the dining room receptacles, I suggest trying the attached Wiggle Procedure. I would think the dining room would reside on a separate breaker than the bedroom. Also double check if the dining room has any GFCI receptacles which may have tripped.

Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

1) Here is a diagram showing how to measure voltage at receptacles. Once you have a meter, measure a few of the dining room dead receptacles. We need to confirm if the problem is a loose hot wire or a loose neutral wire.

Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months 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.


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