Switch box dead, same circuit outlets working

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Michael Young

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Fitter,

The box feeds 1) a kitchen ceiling can, 2) two exterior deck lights, 3) two exterior patio lights, 4) an under eave security light, 5) another under eave security light, and 6) I'm not sure (see above, could be the three way Michael saw.

I have replaced the deck and patio fixtures; the others are original.
Have you hunted around and located (and reset) all of your GFCI's? I have a house I've been working on that has a similar problem. We never could find the short. So I just went up in the attic and used some glow rods to pull a new home-run.

If you take a piece of 12-2 wire and put an outlet on one side. then take the live end and connect the hot, neutral and ground. What happens when you plug it in and bypass electricity to the circuit? do all the lights come on? does it spark? does it trip the breaker immediately? If you have any outlets in your dead circuit, you could buy one of those Male-Male extension cords and bypass power that way (illegal. but sometimes we use bypass power for diagnostics)
 

diyretirement

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Have you hunted around and located (and reset) all of your GFCI's? I have a house I've been working on that has a similar problem. We never could find the short. So I just went up in the attic and used some glow rods to pull a new home-run.

If you take a piece of 12-2 wire and put an outlet on one side. then take the live end and connect the hot, neutral and ground. What happens when you plug it in and bypass electricity to the circuit? do all the lights come on? does it spark? does it trip the breaker immediately? If you have any outlets in your dead circuit, you could buy one of those Male-Male extension cords and bypass power that way (illegal. but sometimes we use bypass power for diagnostics)
Have checked all GFCIs, no problems.

I brought power from a nearby outlet on a different circuit to problem switch contacts and fixtures did light. No sparks, no tripped breaker.

My only access to wiring is to tear out the wall, something I am hoping to avoid for right now since I am living in the house while rehabbing.

Still haven't pulled the box apart, but should get to that this weekend.
 

Afjes

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If you have any outlets in your dead circuit, you could buy one of those Male-Male extension cords
WRONG IDEA!! - Male to male is a "suicide cord". No one should use one of these - no one! Not even for testing.
Many DIYers have a misconception that 120volts can be played around with "live" but don't you dare do it with 240volts.
120volts or 240volts electricity is dangerous. Messing with a 120volt receptacle circuit can be very dangerous. Amps kill. A coffee pot puts out enough amps to kill a person. Here, read up on the dangers of "Amps" compared to "Volts".

I think I'm not being clear. I have switched the circuit breaker on and off several times and traced the circuit.
If you are absolutely sure that you know the circuit breaker you are working with is the proper circuit breaker then what I suggest you do next (as long as you have actually checked for all possible tripped GFCI receptacles and made sure no other breaker is tripped and that there is no other panel in the house) my next step would be to shut off all breakers with the exception of the breaker you feel is the culprit. Then check every single receptacle and light for power. Shutting off all breakers except for the one that you believe powers this circuit will allow you to find a receptacle that may have an issue. We always say look for the last working receptacle and go from there. If the receptacles are wired in series which most are then if there is a problem with a receptacle it may work but may not feed off to the next receptacle in the circuit. Shut off all breakers except for the breaker controlling the circuit in question and take it from there. There must be a loose connection or a bad connections or even a bad receptacle or light switch. Also know that it can be a light fixture box. Power can go to a light fixture box and then down to a receptacle.

Try this and report back.

Don't be ripping out sheet rock yet.
 
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