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JCSlaughter

Electrical Circuit Problem

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I have an electrical circuit with 4 plug-ins.  They are all on one breaker. The breaker did not trip but I lost all power to the plug-ins.  So I replaced the circuit breaker (20 amp double breaker).

Okay, I plugged the Keurig back into the circuit with the new breaker, and it started powering up.  Yippee, looks like it is fixed...  Well, about 30 seconds or a minute into warming up the water for coffee the circuit went dead again.  The breaker did not trip, but the 4 plugins are completely dead...

Kind of at a loss of where to go from here...  Do I start replacing plug-in receptacles?   or????

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks

John Slaughter

913 461 3801

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Possibly  a bad connection in the circuit some where,  as current flows through the circuit excessive heat will be created at the bad connection and it opens up.   Do any other outlets go out or is it just the 4 plug-ins, if so I would start at the 4 plug-ins .   Turn the breaker off and pull the outlets out and look for blackened wires or loose connections, if that looks good with the  breaker off see if anything else goes out and that will give you another place to look even if the outlet works when the breaker is on the power might not be going past that outlet to the 4 plug-ins.  You might want to get a no contact voltage tester (from any hardware store) they light up when put next to live voltage

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I always check the easy stuff first.  Check to make sure all of the wiring including the neutral is tight  and clean in the breaker box.  If that is all good pull the plugs and check each of the connections.  If there are wire nuts check those also.  I would also check the grounds since I had it apart but that is probably not a problem.  If all of the easy stuff is good then it will be time to use a tester and systematically test for power at each point to determine where the problem is.  Since this could be a problem that only appears under load it may require a meter and testing a live circuit.  

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JC, here are my thoughts:

1) Four receptacles on a single 20 amp branch circuit is in no way too many. I have seen as many as 10 I seldom specified over 7

2) Are you sure you used a 20 Amp "double breaker" ???? A two pole (double) breaker is generally used on 240 volt appliances as its 240 from L1 to L2. Sure its still 120 from EITHER Leg L1 or L2 to Neutral. I NEVER specified multi wire branch circuits in residential only for some commercial.

3) If there's no power yet the breaker isn't tripped, here would be one order of troubleshooting: THIS ASSUMES THERES GOOD VOLTAGE AT THE PANEL ITSELF ?????????????????? and its ONLY that one branch circuit served by that one breaker that has a problem RIGHT ???

    A) With breaker switched OFF, check the black hot wire connection on the breaker itself. I have seen the breaker screws loose and even the insulation wasn't striped back and I have seen breakers that weren't plugged in tight and fully causing a problem  CHECK ALL THAT

    B) Check the White/Neutral connection to the Neutral/Ground buss bar (where Bare/Greens and/or Whites attach) for that particular branch circuit plus all other circuits

   C) If BOTH the Hot/Breaker and Neutral connections are good work back through that branch circuit to see if ANY of the four receptacles have power ????????????

   D) If NONE, even the first in that branch circuit string, has no power, revert back to A and B above. Insure the wires on every connection screw on the receptacle are good and tight and free of insulation under the screw and if any splices like twist on wire nuts are used CHECK ALL OF THOSE they may not have been installed properly or the wires are broke open or there's heat damage and carbon   

  E) If you locate a hot receptacle in that string but the next is NOT again check for loose screws and broke wires or the insulation wasn't stripped back or splices or wire nuts are bad     LOOK FOR BURNED OR BROWN WIRES FOR EVIDENCE OF OVERHEATING

  F) Often those four branch circuit receptacles are wired daisy chain, In and Out, one to the next and if so of course ALL connections need to be good and tight 

  G) Insure the connection tabs on each side of the receptacles HAVE NOT BEEN BROKEN OFF thereby separating the circuits

 NOTE heat and carbon and poor loose resistive connections might allow voltage to appear under a no load condition but as soon as you plug in a coffee maker etc it can open and fail.

 QUESTION do you mean there are four individual receptacles orrrrrrrrrrr there's a multi four outlet device in which NONE of the receptacles are working????????? REGARDLESS check connections and look for heat or burning or carbon at the circuit breaker terminal,,,,,,,,,,,on the Neutral/Ground Buss Bar where the White Neutral and Bare/Green wires attach,,,,,,,,any splices

BOTTOM LINE Im thinking a loose or broken wire or a loose connection or bad splice or heat damage (look for evidence of burning). It may be in the panel or one of the receptacles or a junction box or a plug in ?????? Get a non contact voltage tester  or else a simple volt meter and start tracing BACKWARDS from the failed outlet to and through all the others upstream to the panel and breaker and Neutral TO FIND ANY GOOD VOLTAGE !!!!!!!!

PS If there are any of those pinch/push connected RV receptacles that DO NOT use connecting screws like residential receptacles I HAVE SEEN MANY OF THEM GO BAD  Look for lose and burned connections in those causing a problem.

 

John T

 

Edited by oldjohnt

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Be aware that there could be light fixtures on the same circuit or if it's a GFCI circuit basement or outside outlets.      Greg

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Welcome JC!

Every reply is great information. Now we await your return with results from the advice and suggestions.

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40 minutes ago, Big Greg said:

if it's a GFCI circuit

That sounds like the problem to me also. In case you aren't familiar with them, here is a picture. Typically they are wired so that if one trips it takes them all out. You may have a small current leak in your Keurig that is causing the problem, especially if it should turn out to be a GFCI problem.

                      51GUXIDlMhL._AC_SY450_.jpg

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11 hours ago, Big Greg said:

Be aware that there could be light fixtures on the same circuit or if it's a GFCI circuit basement or outside outlets.      Greg

 

  Following up on Greg's post.  Speaking of GFCI's, I have seen many RV's that used a single GFCI as Kirk pictured above in perhaps the bathroom (some in kitchen) with 2 or more other downstream regular (NON GFCI) receptacles located for example in the kitchen area. In that wiring scheme any regular/normal receptacles located after and downstream of the first GFCI (PROVIDED THE DOWNSTREAM CIRCUIT IS WIRED TO THE LOAD (NOT Line) TERMINALS) also have Ground Fault protection such that any faulty/leaking appliance  (Coffer maker or microwave etc) plugged into them will still cause the initial GFCI (maybe in bathroom or elsewhere) to trip WHICH ALSO KILLS POWER to any of those downstream receptacles, like maybe one in the kitchen where a coffee maker etc is plugged ????

Look around (especially in a bathroom) for ANY GFCI's to see if they are tripped ??   There may or may not be an indicator lamp to indicate tripping. They generally have Test and Reset buttons like the picture Kirk posted LOOK FOR GFCI'S,,,,,,,,LOOK FOR ONE TRIPPED,,,,,,,,,,TRY TO UNPLUG OTHER LOADS AND RESET see what happens ?????

 I have seen RV exterior GFCI receptacles, but often other downstream (like kitchen or  bath) outlets DO NOT connect through them, but sure anything is still possible 

PS just because a GFCI trips (ONLY requires 0.005 or 0.006 Amps of leakage fault current, and that's NOT MUCH) the branch circuit breaker in your panel does not also trip..Be aware of that for safety sake 

If that's not the problem go back above for suggestions regarding bad connections ……….. 

 John T

Edited by oldjohnt

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I wonder how our new friend has made out after seeking info in his first post to correct his electrical problem?    It's been 6 days since he checked the forum and 8 since his post.  This has happened more than once and makes me question if I should respond to future first timers.      Greg

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A lot of folks seek help, fix their issues, and never report back. Odd that the OP put a phone number in his post, wonder if anyone called them.  Even though the OP may not have responded others may find your input helpful now or in a future search.

The only response you can control is your own.

Edited by palmeris
spelling

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I am still working on this.  I am on the 2nd Circuit Breaker... and replaced three of the five Plug-ins... I did find another outlet in the basement (added by the previous owner) but it was GFCI which was not tripped so it cannot be on the same circuit...

I had to order two more receptacles that just came in... will replace the last two and see if that fixes the problem.  

If not I guess it will be time to get a professional.  Thanks for all your help. 

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It is possible that the GFCI that you found is on that same circuit as they can be wired to protect an entire circuit or they can be connected to only protect that one outlet. The best way to check is to open the problem circuit breaker and then try plugging a light into the outlets to see if they have power. 

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17 hours ago, JCSlaughter said:

I did find another outlet in the basement (added by the previous owner) but it was GFCI which was not tripped

If the GFCI wasn't tripped and still has power (assuming all is wired correct and working??)  that means no device plugged into it

NOR any downstream receptacles (and their loads) that were fed off its LOAD terminals encountered a ground fault OTHERWISE it would have tripped killing it PLUS any downstream receptacles fed from its LOAD side terminals.

HOWEVER if other downstream receptacles were effectively wired off its LINE supply side they are NOT protected nor would they go dead if the GFCI tripped.   The GFCI always protects itself PLUS it can be wired so it also protects any regular receptacles wired to its LOAD side terminals.

A receptacle cant work unless the branch circuit  (consists of a black hot a white neutral and a bare/green ground) is hot with 120 VAC Line to Neutral,, no tripped or open circuit breaker,, and all wires are continuous (no bad wire nuts or other splices) intact and properly connected including where the black hot attaches to the circuit breaker and the white neutral attaches to the panels Neutral Buss

Use a light or meter to SAFELY insure the black hot and white Neutral have 120 VAC, if not a receptacle wired to it cant work.

NOTE if the circuit breaker is OPEN there's no voltage getting out to that circuit nor any receptacles wired to it, any test for voltage to the circuit and its receptacles needs to be done SAFELY AND PROPERLY FULLY PROTECTED AGAINST CONTACT OR SHORTS with the breaker CLOSED... Open breaker = no voltage on that circuit.....  

If receptacles are daisy chained together all the connections and wires must be good and continuous.

If no even new receptacles are hot (yet panel has sufficient voltage)  I suspect the circuit is the problem maybe caused by a bad or tripped breaker,,,,,,,,,,,,,non connection of the hot or neutral in the panel,,,,,,,,,,,,,,bad/open wire nut or butt or crimp connection of wires together,,,,,,,,bad connections in a receptacle,,,,,,,,,,a tripped GFCI which kills it plus any load side wired receptacles downstream.

There may be a hidden GFCI that's tripped which would kill it PLUS any load side wired downstream receptacles. Look in bathrooms and kitchens and outside storage compartments and outside receptacles and check the breaker and neutral connections in the panel and any junction boxes and receptacles...…….   

You can do this just BE SAFE

John T

Edited by oldjohnt

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John, welcome to the fun!

You've gotten some great advice here, the best being "BE SAFE." If you don't have a wiring diagram, or at least a chart of what is on what circuit, you may want to start creating one. Since you are dealing with this issue, I'd start by figuring out exactly which lights/outlets are on that circuit. The wiring will generally run from your breaker panel to the first outlet, then the second, then the third, etc., so that the first outlet is closest to the breaker panel and the last one is farthest away.

As was mentioned above, it sounds like a GFCI is tripping. If that is the case, though, you should be resetting it at the GFCI. The breaker itself may not trip. The other possibility is that the panel breaker is actually tripping, but the handle is not moving enough to be obvious. When the circuit trips, how are you resetting it - at a GFCI outlet or at the panel?

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JC, from your description it sounds like a GFCI is tripping.  GFCI's are used to power outlets in bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and outside.  This is where water can be near electricity. 

In your first post you mentioned replacing the circuit breaker and then the circuit had power for several seconds after the coffee pot started to work.  I assume this means you had the pot plugged into a kitchen outlet, likely on a GFCI outlet.  It's not unusual that a GFCI circuit will work for a short period of time when a device like your coffee plot is plugged in and starts to work. 

Sometimes the CFCI is in the circuit breaker, it's quite visible and you'd know it when looking at the breaker.  When the circuit has no power turn the breaker off then back on.  Sometimes a breaker will open but it looks like it's still closed.   You can feel it click when you solidly turn it back on.

I'd  also unplug the coffee pot and anything else plugged into any outlets in the bad circuit and reset the breaker and check it for power.  Appliances can cause GFCI's to open and lose power.  I have seen a light fixture wired into a GFCI circuit cause the GFCI to open.  It can be difficult to discover what is on an electrical circuit, manufacturers don't have diagrams and wire RV's for ease of manufacturing.  When I what to know what's on a circuit I turn the breaker off and then check all outlets (inside, outside and basement) and light fixtures.     Greg

edit....I'd be surprised if an outlet itself was bad. 

Edited by Big Greg

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A non-contact voltage tester is your friend, they are quick, inexpensive and good for making a cursory test to see if voltage is present.

When you locate where voltage disappears, then it's time to actually test with a direct contact voltmeter, before laying hands or tools on any wiring.

If a break in a wire that is hidden is suspected, a tone generator wire tracer can be useful.

 

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Hello All. Just a problem I had last year that had me chaseing my tail and I'm a retired hvactech/electrician . I had the kitchen GFCI start tripping on our 2011 5er. Being 8 years old I just checked appliances and simply replaced GFCI. Worked about a week then started tripping again. I pulled the panel cover and started checking connections etc. pulled the Romex for circuit looking for Damage when the light bulb over my head went on. Since new, this circuit had the green ground attached to the neutral bus and the white neutral on the gnd bus. Only this GFCI wire done this way. RV's use a split bus neutral/gnd . Swapped wires and haven't had a problem since. I've had several conversations with other electrician and so far it's stumped all.Maybe the some corrosion had formed or slightly loosened on the neutral wire.

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10 hours ago, Poohbear said:

RV's use a split bus neutral/gnd

Poohbear, Indeed you're correct, an RV Panel is configured as a SUB PANEL, therefore, the Neutral and Ground Buses are electrically insulated and isolated from each other, UNLIKE a typical homes main distribution panel in which two buses (G & N) may be bonded together (cross tie bar) or even only one common Neutral/Ground  buss where BOTH Neutrals and Grounds are attached.

 A GFCI works by having Hot/In and Return/Out current conductors (whatever they may be) pass through a Torroid Coil and if both currents are the same (as should be unless there's a leak/fault) it doesn't trip, HOWEVER if there's as little as 0.005 to 0.006 amps difference (due to a leak/fault) a voltage is induced signaling it causing a trip.   

 John T

Edited by oldjohnt

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Yep, totally understand GFCI operation but never have figured out how this circuit worked for close to 8 years with the hot side feeding the GFCI gnd/neutral reversed in the panel then GFCI starts tripping until put on proper bus. I have figured that back EMF on the green gnd wire suddenly " fooling " the GFCI. Just an example of potential circuit failures that fall in the abnormal .

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9 hours ago, Poohbear said:

how this circuit worked for close to 8 years with the hot side feeding the GFCI gnd/neutral reversed in the panel then GFCI starts tripping until put on proper bus

  Hey not being there absent any testing or data whatsoever I CANT PROVIDE THE ANSWER EITHER ???? The GFCI still functions as it ONLY measures the current in versus current out of the two conductors inside the toroid coil. When it started tripping the current in one conductor had to have been at least 0.005 amps different then the other, so it must have been leaking/flowing elsewhere  BUT DARN IF I KNOW WHERE AND WHY LOL

 Nice chatting with you

 John T

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Two suggestions is there a ground Fault  in the circuit could be weak or check wires to breaker could be lose......always check for tight connects once a year at breaker....

Ground faults go bad a lot about 20 bucks to replace one.......

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1 hour ago, Rusty Harrison said:

Ground faults go bad a lot

Rusty AMEN TO THAT I've seen several that way. HOWEVER I will say the more expensive spec grade sold at our local electrical supply houses last longer then the cheapies sold at big box store...….Just sayin

John T  

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