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UPDATE: Household Electrical Help - Circuit Out

Old 06-22-2019, 07:11 AM
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Default UPDATE: Household Electrical Help - Circuit Out

I have an old fishing shack that has a maze of electrical circuits that have been cobbled together over the years with no rhyme or reason. One is a series of outlets, switches and lights that has worked fine as recently as last week, however it is now out and the breaker it's on will not reset.

I tested the breaker (2 pole 20) by switching sides and even breakers (to another 2 pole 20) and the breaker works fine with other circuits AND the circuit in question does NOT work on any breaker.

I also chased down every outlet, switch and fixture on the circuit I can find and one by one have disconnected and tried to reset the breaker. Nada.

Finally, as a last resort I even changed the breaker to a brand new one. Same issue.

Can anyone think of anything I haven't tried? Luckily this is a circuit with nothing major on it like AC - it's just driving me crazy to find the culprit!

Last edited by nicecast; 06-24-2019 at 06:18 AM.
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Old 06-22-2019, 07:13 AM
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If the old breaker and new breaker won't reset then there's a problem ,short, downstream
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Old 06-22-2019, 07:29 AM
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Are you sure you've identified everything on that circuit? Is it possible there is another outlet, maybe on an exterior wall, that it also serves? Do you know what the first device is in the path, and have you disconnected that totally?
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Old 06-22-2019, 07:46 AM
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At this point get a toner tool and follow the sound to where it stops.
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Old 06-22-2019, 07:50 AM
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Ground fault receptacle tripped?
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Old 06-22-2019, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by billinstuart View Post
Ground fault receptacle tripped?
Or the GFI has gone bad. That happens way too often.
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Old 06-22-2019, 09:24 AM
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There is a short somewhere in the circuit. could be wires touching ground or each other in a device, or shorted as the enter a box or even a nail or screw driven into a wall that pierced a cable. Any work done there recently?
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Old 06-22-2019, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Buoy Scout View Post
There is a short somewhere in the circuit. could be wires touching ground or each other in a device, or shorted as the enter a box or even a nail or screw driven into a wall that pierced a cable. Any work done there recently?
Yep. Troubleshoot the short. Isolate each device and outlet on that line.
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Old 06-22-2019, 09:37 AM
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absolutely a short in the circuit. Given that it's a shack, I would start by pulling the receptacle covers and look for ants or termites or something that has filled the box with debris that is shorting out the side terminals.
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Old 06-22-2019, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Buoy Scout View Post
There is a short somewhere in the circuit. could be wires touching ground or each other in a device, or shorted as the enter a box or even a nail or screw driven into a wall that pierced a cable. Any work done there recently?

This^ process of illumination...
Locate first outlet and disconnect downstream , then on to the next .
You will need to ring out with a meter.
Or break all splices and one by one add back to circuit.
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Old 06-22-2019, 10:12 AM
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Thanks, Guys. Yes, it's an old (1959) shack that has been added on to over years and electric grabbed off whatever is close to feed the next thing, and not necessarily in any order. I may take this as an opportunity to make some sense of the circuits and rewire the kitchen outlet (the only thing on this circuit that's inside the house) to the kitchen wiring.

Appreciate the suggestions and will report back once I find the culprit.
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Old 06-22-2019, 12:45 PM
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I went through something similar on an old house. Was not tripping breaker though, just a bunch of receptacles and lights not working in a second floor area.
Turns out it was the feed out of one of the few working receptacles. Since it did not seem to be part of the "bad circuit" I only checked it at all because I had taken apart every other possible light and receptacle.

Since you mentioned kitchen and outdoor stuff I would check and see if it has a gfi receptacle and replace it. They go bad pretty often. Bet a mouse has chewed something though causing the short.

Just replace the breaker with a penny and look for sparks and smoke. Just kidding.
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Old 06-22-2019, 12:57 PM
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Outlets themselves will also go "bad" for no apparent reason, at the most inopportune times. Take a table lamp (not a tester) and go outlet to outlet until you find one that doesn't work and look there for the issue.
I had one in the hallway that the housekeeper used every week with her vacuum that had been "worn out" and that's where I found my problem.... Replaced outlet, problem solved.....
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Old 06-24-2019, 06:18 AM
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I always hate when people ask for help but never update, so here goes...

It was the GFCI outlet on the dock where I plug in my boat charger - completely smoked. I removed and capped off the wires and the breaker flipped on no problem!

Now, why the outlet on my dock is on the same circuit as a single outlet in the kitchen and two rooms under the house (including the outlet the washing machine is plugged into) is another story! Seems like a lot for a 20 amp circuit.

It's an old house and the tendency is to just grab power from the closest thing when adding outlets. Over time circuits can get overloaded and make no sense at all!
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Old 06-24-2019, 06:50 AM
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Might see how much a gfci breaker is and then put a regular receptacle/outlet at the dock. Probably the environment at the dock will fry another one eventually. Plus the whole circuit will be protected. Glad you figured it out.
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Old 06-24-2019, 06:54 AM
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Gut & rewire! Otherwise make sure there's good smoke detectors in your bedroom! An electrician is expensive but cheaper than a funeral.
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Old 06-24-2019, 07:09 AM
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Glad you got it figured out and happy to see you come back on here and update.

If the kitchen outlet isn't GFCI then I would also recommend going to a GFCI breaker to protect the whole circuit.
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Old 06-24-2019, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by nicecast View Post
I always hate when people ask for help but never update, so here goes...

It was the GFCI outlet on the dock where I plug in my boat charger - completely smoked. I removed and capped off the wires and the breaker flipped on no problem!

Now, why the outlet on my dock is on the same circuit as a single outlet in the kitchen and two rooms under the house (including the outlet the washing machine is plugged into) is another story! Seems like a lot for a 20 amp circuit.

It's an old house and the tendency is to just grab power from the closest thing when adding outlets. Over time circuits can get overloaded and make no sense at all!
Jeebus. That would make me wonder what else is a hack job.

Depending on proximity to sink and kitchen countertop, the receptacle in the kitchen might need to be GFCI.
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Old 06-24-2019, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by nicecast View Post
I always hate when people ask for help but never update, so here goes...

It was the GFCI outlet on the dock where I plug in my boat charger - completely smoked. I removed and capped off the wires and the breaker flipped on no problem!

Now, why the outlet on my dock is on the same circuit as a single outlet in the kitchen and two rooms under the house (including the outlet the washing machine is plugged into) is another story! Seems like a lot for a 20 amp circuit.

It's an old house and the tendency is to just grab power from the closest thing when adding outlets. Over time circuits can get overloaded and make no sense at all!
Just had a to replace a gfci outside by the pool equipment that failed. I didn't realize that there are weather resistant versions that may last longer in damp conditions.
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Old 06-25-2019, 04:47 AM
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Originally Posted by nicecast View Post
Now, why the outlet on my dock is on the same circuit as a single outlet in the kitchen and two rooms under the house (including the outlet the washing machine is plugged into) is another story! Seems like a lot for a 20 amp circuit.
That was probably very purposeful. I'm not an electrician but those other receptacles were using the CFI for ground fault. Here in NC, code where I live will allow (I believe) up to 6 outlets on one breaker. Your GFCI was providing for the one in the kitchen (now GFCI), under the house (damp, I get it), and the shed. It really might make sense especially when most of those probably are rarely drawing any power.
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