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2. What should you do if lights and outlets do not work, a circuit is out and the breaker is tripped?
It appears you have a short circuit somewhere in one of the outlets that are not working and this is the reason the breaker will not reset. 1. What can you do if all or half your power is out? (If you do not know the what the term half power is see #1. in loss of power.)
A. Your first check should be is to check your with your neighbors. If their power is out the problem is most likely is a Utility Company problem. Call your Utility Company, JEA, FPL or Beaches Utility.
If your neighbors power is on, but your is out, the next step would be to check your main breaker, or main breakers, if you are in an apartment or condominium.
In older homes the main breaker is located at the top of the panel inside the home. In apartments, condominiums and newer homes the main breaker is at the outside adjacent the meter, or at the meter center for multiple occupancy type units.
In some multiple occupancy units, such as apartments and condominiums, there is one main breaker outside and one inside at the panel. If you do have two main breakers you will need to check both of these.
B. To check your main breaker try to turn this main breaker, or these main breakers, off and then back on.
D. If this does not get a response, try to bump the meter with the palm of your hand. If the power comes on then, you have a bad meter jaw and this requires an electrician to repair.
E. If neither of the two above attempts provide results go to number 2 and proceed down, or call your Utility Company, JEA, etc; as this still may be on their side of the service. And, this is a free service provided from your utility company.
A. First, I would turn off all light switches. Then, try to reset the breaker. If the breaker holds, at this point turn on lights one at a time until the circuit trips again. This will allow you to determine if it is a light fixture or ceiling fan causing the problem and which one is the problem. If it is one of these, then simply leave this switch off, reset the breaker and all else will operate safely until you get this replaced.
B. If the breaker still trips with all light switches in the off position, then I would unplug all equipment, lamps, clocks, etc. from all of the outlets on the same circuit. After you have done this, then try to reset the breaker again. If the breaker holds at this point, it was one of the appliances or equipment you had plugged into the outlet.
C. Now, at this point, I highly advise you not just start plugging things in without knowing which was causing the short. You will be in for a scare if it shorts out while you plug the damaged piece of equipment in while energized. Turn the same circuit breaker off, start plugging in one at a time and check the breaker after each plug is installed into the outlet. Repeating the process until you have determined the problem device.
3. What if you do not know which circuit breaker, or even if, a circuit breaker has tripped?
A. Try re-setting all the circuit breakers. And, do not try to just turn the circuit breaker in the ON position or forward. Turn each circuit breaker OFF then back ON, as this is the only way a circuit breaker will reset.
3. What should you try next if there still is no power and it appears there is no circuit breaker tripped?
At this point it most likely is a loose connection at one of the receptacle outlets. This often occurs due to stab-lock wiring into the back of the receptacle outlet, instead of taking the time to wrap the wires around the screw terminals of the receptacle.
To locate this problem, with all of the light switches in the on position, look at each outlet and then bump the outlet with the palm of your hand. Try starting from the closest outlet to the panel which is not working first, then work outward until you have checked all of the outlets.
A. First, if you can see an outlet burnt, then simply turn off the circuit breaker and replace the receptacle outlet. Though make certain to wrap the wires around the terminals rather than stab-locking.
B. If you cannot see anything suspicious, then bump the outlet anyway with an insulated handle. If there is a loose connection at one of these stab-locked receptacle outlets, when you bump the outlet you will see the lights flicker or even start working at this point. If this is the case, turn off the circuit breaker and replace the outlet you bumped to get the lights working.
4. What if your garage, outside and bathroom receptacle outlets do not work, but all other lights and outlets work? Or the kitchen outlets do not work?
If any or all of these outlets are without power you have a GFCI outlet or GFCI circuit breaker either tripped or inoperable.
These outlet are easily distinguishable as they have a test and reset button on them.
While conventional circuit breakers are designed to protect wiring only, these GFCI devices are intended to protect humans from electricution.
So, while they offer added protection, they are also more sensitive to failure. This is why they should be tested from time to time.
But, they may just also be doing there job when found tripped. An outlet on the outside maybe getting water in it from the spinkler system or rain.
In older homes all of these outlets share the same protection, GFCI outlet or GFCI circuit breaker, so there may be only one device for all of these.
In newer homes the bathroom outlets are separate from the garage and outside, so there will be more than one of these GFCI devices.
In all homes with GFCI protection the kitchen outlets should always be on a separate GFCI, located at a countertop receptacle outlet or by a GFCI circuit breaker.
The GFCI circuit breaker is also distinguishable from all other circuit breakers with a separate test button right on the circuit breaker.
In the newest homes all living areas will also have arch fault circuit breaker protection with a test button on the circuit breaker to protect these areas.
Back to what you need to do for the lack of power to one of these wet location areas:
A. Locate the GFCI device on one of these outlets and try to reset the device. If the GFCI resets, try to locate which outlet may have caused the trip. An outlet on the outside maybe getting water in it from the sprinkler system or from rain, especially if one of the covers is left open.
B. If the GFCI device will not reset, it nay be damaged, At this point the GFCI device needs to be replaced.
If it is a GFCI receptacle outlet one must have a meter to check for power into the outlet. The power wires feeding the circuit must go to the line side of the device, while the other wires, or wires feeding the next outlet, terminate on the load side of the GFCI device. These line and load side terminals are clearly marked on all GFCI outlets.
Incorrect wiring of these devices will prevent these outlets from operating. So, if you are unsure of the hot to line side terminals and supply wires to load side terminals, do not attempt this repair.
Liberty Electrical Contractors, Inc.