Please HELP! Nothing on one of my circuits works.

sjohn249January 10, 2010

I just recently bought a home and have been doing minor painting repairs and found out that the lights in one of the bathrooms didn't work. After further investigation I found that nothing on that circuit worked. I turned the breaker off and back on again but the breaker seemed not to work because the test switch didn't work so I replaced it with a new one. Still everything doesn't work. At first when I tried to turn on the bathroom lights or plug anything into the wall on that circuit the breaker tripped. The breaker is an arc fault breaker and just as soon as I try to get any electricity out of that circuit the breaker would trip. So next I remembered that there was a GFCI outlet on the outside of the house on that circuit breaker and when I checked it, the black wire was off and the white wire was were the black wire was supposed to be. I reconnected and I still had the problem so I replaced it. Now the breaker inside isn't tripping any more when I try to get power from the circuit but I'm not getting any power from the circuit. However everything on the circuit tests hot when I test it. Whats funny is that when I check the recepticals on other circuits that are working, the tester only reads hot on the right side where the hot wires are (black), but when I test the recepticals on the non-working circuit the tester reads hot on both sides of all recepticals. What could be my complicated problem? Could there be an open neutral? And how would I find it if nothing on the circuit works? The breaker is fine now and the house is only four years old. Most all my recepticals are wired using the back stab method. Can someone please help me?

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kurto

It sounds like there was a short somewhere in that circuit, and so far you haven't identified that problem. Then, you changed some wiring on a ground fault outlet. If that circuit was previously working correctly, then it's highly unlikely that changing the connections would help. In fact, you've probably introduced another problem. If both sides of a receptacle show 120V, then you've substituted a hot wire for a neutral wire somewhere (probably at your ground fault outlet). I'd start over by restoring the wiring connnections the way they were to begin with, and then look for the short circuit by disconnecting segments of the circuit until the short is isolated. If you're not comfortable doing this, I'd call a professional.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 9:07AM
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brickeyee

"The breaker is an arc fault breaker and just as soon as I try to get any electricity out of that circuit the breaker would trip."

Why ius there an arc fault breaker feding a bathroom?

A GFCI is required here, not an arc fault.

While arc faults have some GFCI capability, it is not as sensitive as a GFCI.

It sounds like you have a neutral touching ground in the circuit.

As soon as you try to run power through the neutral by plugging something in the fault trips the device.

It could be as simple as paint bridging from a metal box to the neutral screws on a device (receptacle or switch).

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 9:44AM
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dkenny

did you check the 'load' side of the GFCI..the one that you switched the black and white wires? maybe there backwards as well..

how are you checking the circuit?
multimeter? plug in tester? while this might help fix the problem it does help understand how you're testing..which can make a difference.

in the bathroom..unscrew the light blubs..do you get power now..maybe the light is the problem?

-dkenny

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 3:41PM
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