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A Question For Sparkies

 
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Old 06-10-2015, 11:22 PM   #1
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A Question For Sparkies


Background: I am a glass and windows guy with a reasonably rudimentary knowledge of electrical systems, and this one has me stumped.

Scenario: home circuit to bedroom and hallway - four ceiling lights, one ceiling fan, six outlets on the circuit.

Flipped a light switch and the entire circuit goes dead.

Seemed simple, tripped the breaker.

Nope, breaker wasn't tripped.

Bad breaker?

Nope, swapped it with another breaker and the circuit was still dead; however the original breaker worked fine on another circuit.

Short somewhere in the line?

Possible, maybe probable, but why didn't it trip the breaker?

Took a short extension cord with no female end (circular saw + blind cut) and added a male connection on the open end - double male extension cord - to see if it could help diagnose the problem.

With the dead circuit not connected to the breaker, connected the dead circuit to a live circuit using the double-male extension cord resulting in the "dead" circuit fixtures and outlets testing out live.

But here's where it gets confusing to me. While all fixtures and outlets tested live when jumped to the live circuit using the extension cord, so did the unconnected breaker connection wire are the breaker panel - the end that was disconnected from the breaker was hot.

If that wire was hot at the panel, then if seemed to follow that pulling the jump and reconnecting the wire to the breaker would supply power to the bedroom circuit - for whatever reason current was flowing thru the entire line.

So, disconnected the jump, connected the wire to the breaker, and nothing. The line was dead.

So, disconnected the breaker, reconnected the extension cord, and the entire circuit was energized and the wire at the breaker was once again hot.

So, how the heck can current be flowing from the bedroom to the breaker panel (when jumped), but not from the breaker panel back to the bedroom (when connected to the breaker)????

And so there's no misunderstanding, I have a friend who is a master electrician and who I am going to be calling about this one, but in the meantime any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

I am thoroughly stumped.


Thanks!!
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Old 06-11-2015, 04:37 AM   #2
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Re: A Question For Sparkies


It is possible that a neutral is loose or disconnected. Not sure how you checked the circuit out but that is my guess

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Old 06-11-2015, 07:10 AM   #3
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Re: A Question For Sparkies


My guess is there is a high resistance connection between the hot and neutral wires at the said light fixture. But not enough current to trip the branch circuit's breaker.
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Old 06-11-2015, 07:40 AM   #4
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Re: A Question For Sparkies


C'est Moi,

In the bedroom, I checked each outlet with a simple circuit tester and the five ceiling fixtures by leaving them turned on.

At the breaker panel I used the circuit tester.

Nothing is loose at the breaker, but I haven't exposed any of the connections in the bedroom yet, so I don't know if there is a loose connection in there.

Michael,

That fixture will be the place I will be starting to look.
What could cause a high resistance to occur in an existing fixture? That's really interesting.
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Old 06-11-2015, 07:54 AM   #5
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Re: A Question For Sparkies


Quote:
Originally Posted by Oberon View Post

Michael,

That fixture will be the place I will be starting to look.
What could cause a high resistance to occur in an existing fixture? That's really interesting.
Heat
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Old 06-11-2015, 04:08 PM   #6
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Re: A Question For Sparkies


Open Neutral.



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Old 06-11-2015, 04:46 PM   #7
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Re: A Question For Sparkies


Just because there is nothing loose in the panel that does not mean the rest of the circuit is in tact. You may need to start to open all the outlets or call an electrician as they should figure this out in no time. I still think its an open neutral from what you have said.
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Old 06-11-2015, 08:10 PM   #8
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Re: A Question For Sparkies


Quote:
Originally Posted by C'est Moi View Post
Just because there is nothing loose in the panel that does not mean the rest of the circuit is in tact. You may need to start to open all the outlets or call an electrician as they should figure this out in no time. I still think its an open neutral from what you have said.
There was nothing loose in the main breaker panel, however there was an open neutral in the junction box in the back of the kitchen pantry that has now been closed and everything is back to normal.

Thank you all for the inputs!

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Old 06-19-2015, 11:56 PM   #9
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Re: A Question For Sparkies


Yeppers....open neutral....somewhere most likely in a light .....I've seen it many times...somebody twists a wire nut too tight.....the wire breaks....bingo....no sauce....if line goes into a switch and neutral is tied check there too
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Old 06-21-2015, 02:03 PM   #10
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Re: A Question For Sparkies


Oh boy! There is no mention of using a meter for diag here. So none of us know if he even has a loss of power or loss of neutral. Sounds to me like a loss of neutral too but i would test further with a meter to confirm. Is the switch breaking the circuit on the common side or the neutral side? Are any items in the home being effected such as brown outs or not working at all? Your use of this extension cord is rudimentary at best. You were lucky enough to have this extension cord on the same phase or you really would have had some excitement.
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Old 06-21-2015, 03:55 PM   #11
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Re: A Question For Sparkies


Quote:
Originally Posted by woodchuck2 View Post
Oh boy! There is no mention of using a meter for diag here. So none of us know if he even has a loss of power or loss of neutral. Sounds to me like a loss of neutral too but i would test further with a meter to confirm. Is the switch breaking the circuit on the common side or the neutral side? Are any items in the home being effected such as brown outs or not working at all? Your use of this extension cord is rudimentary at best. You were lucky enough to have this extension cord on the same phase or you really would have had some excitement.
The Op already mentioned he found the issue-- an open neutral

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oberon
There was nothing loose in the main breaker panel, however there was an open neutral in the junction box in the back of the kitchen pantry that has now been closed and everything is back to normal.
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Old 06-21-2015, 08:50 PM   #12
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Re: A Question For Sparkies


Please don't make any more double male cords. That's an accident waiting to happen.
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Old 06-22-2015, 12:39 AM   #13
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Re: A Question For Sparkies


Quote:
Originally Posted by C'est Moi View Post
The Op already mentioned he found the issue-- an open neutral
Yeah, my bad on that. I didnt read all the posts and the last one before mine was still trying to diag his problem so i didnt see he had found it.

I am surprised no one mentioned anything about his method of diagnosing, especially this use of the extension cord.
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Old 06-23-2015, 12:39 PM   #14
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Re: A Question For Sparkies


Quote:
Originally Posted by woodchuck2 View Post
I am surprised no one mentioned anything about his method of diagnosing, especially this use of the extension cord.
I used to be very surprised and concerned hearing homeowners methods of diagnosing and "fixing" electrical issues.

Now I just "smile and wave, pal, just smile and wave".



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