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Thread: No power for part of the house

  1. #1

    Default No power for part of the house

    The power went out in part of the house - the living room outlets do not work and the kitchen lights do not work. The kitchen outlets work (but not the lights).

    I have used a dumb tester (plug-in type) and it says the outlets in the living room have a hot/ground reversal issue. I read here in the forums that it meant the wires could be loose and/or a ground is not hooked up somewhere, thus causing a break in the flow of electricity.

    Each of these outlets, light switches, and light fixtures have been tested with a voltage detector - they say that there is voltage going to the outlets. I've also tested the wires with a voltage meter, and they say that there is power going to the wires as well.

    Here's the breakdown on the outlet and switches wires.

    Kitchen overhead light:

    1 red wire, 2 black wires, 2 white wires. It's a simple switch on and off switch.

    Kitchen sink overhead light:

    2 black wires.

    Living room outlets: 1 red, 2 black, 1 bare, 2 white wires. The 2 black and 2 white wires were pushed into the back of the outlet.

    There's also a kill-switch outlet that has 2 red, 2 black, 1 bare, and 2 white wires. The 2 black and 2 white wires were pushed into the back of the outlet.

    The grounds for these two outlets are firmly connected.

    On the living room outlets, I pulled out the two black wires, and applied them to the screws on the left side of the outlet. Didn't work.

    On the kitchen overhead switch, my dad and I disconnected the wires (boy, should have remembered where they went) and tested them. Using a voltage meter, there's power going to the black wires and the red wires.

    It's showing there's power going to the outlets but nothing is working. So, I'm lost as to what to do next.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Kent, WA
    Posts
    8,426

    Default

    You most likely have lost the neutral (white wire) somewhere in the living room and kitchen light circuit. A non-contact voltage tester generally will see no power on a white wire. If it does see power on a white, it could be a switch leg (which should have been taped black) or the other end has become disconnected and goes through a load (e.g. light switched to on, or something plugged into the receptacle). So this can perhaps help you find the white wire that has come loose.

    Most likely place for a bad connection is anything you touched recently (was there a new light fixture installed, or a receptacle tightened or changed)? Next is a receptacle using push in wire connections on the back. I'd pull out each receptacle (unless you suspect where to start) and change from back wired to using the side screws. Black wires to brass screws and white to silver screws in most cases. Make sure to turn the breaker off and check for voltage at the receptacle (could havbe flipped the wrong breaker) before rewiring it.

    A loose ground (bare) won't be causing any of your problems. When you measured voltage with a meter, what two wires were you measuing between? If you measure 120V from black to bare, but nothing from black to white, then that white is disconnected from the source and gives a clue where to look next.
    Mark
    Kent, WA

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    SC
    Posts
    593

    Default

    A loose pushin connection is the most likely culprit, and this may be on a receptacle that still has power. Plug in a lamp that you know is turned on (check on a working outlet) at one of the non-working outlets. Using your plugin tester, move around the room wiggling the tester in each (working and non working) receptacle. If the light flickers on when the tester is wiggled, the loose connection will be at that receptacle.

    Note: This doesn't always work, but is an easier starting point than pulling each device out of its box.

  4. #4

    Default

    I'm testing black to white or red to white. They're all showing 120 voltage on the voltage meters now. I've found all the connected outlets to the series, and they're all showing the same thing "Hot/ground reversal." I replaced one of the light switches that wasn't making consistent contact. I also replaced two of the outlets as well.

    I still do not have power going out of the outlets.

    Any other suggestions what could be causing the problem?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Welland Ontario
    Posts
    4,781

    Default

    Your using a digital meter and it is gving a false reading( phantom voltage). plug something in and measure again with a load on the circuit. Probably a loose connection somewhere.

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by suemarkp View Post
    You most likely have lost the neutral (white wire) somewhere in the living room and kitchen light circuit. A non-contact voltage tester generally will see no power on a white wire. If it does see power on a white, it could be a switch leg (which should have been taped black) or the other end has become disconnected and goes through a load (e.g. light switched to on, or something plugged into the receptacle). So this can perhaps help you find the white wire that has come loose.

    Most likely place for a bad connection is anything you touched recently (was there a new light fixture installed, or a receptacle tightened or changed)? Next is a receptacle using push in wire connections on the back. I'd pull out each receptacle (unless you suspect where to start) and change from back wired to using the side screws. Black wires to brass screws and white to silver screws in most cases. Make sure to turn the breaker off and check for voltage at the receptacle (could havbe flipped the wrong breaker) before rewiring it.

    A loose ground (bare) won't be causing any of your problems. When you measured voltage with a meter, what two wires were you measuing between? If you measure 120V from black to bare, but nothing from black to white, then that white is disconnected from the source and gives a clue where to look next.
    I agree, in my 30 plus years when i ran into a crazy problem like this i would ask the customer if anything electrical had been added or changed first. I would alway look for a neutral that had come loose. 90% of the time it was a new light that went to a box where a neutral had come out of a bundle.

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