How to Fix an Electric Circuit Problem
How to Locate and Repair Electrical Circuit Problems: Electrical tips for fixing an electrical circuit problem when lights and plugs do not work.
Troubleshooting an Electrical Circuit
Electrical Question #1: I am trying to find a problem with an electrical circuit. Could this be wired wrong?
- I am helping someone out who has a circuit that has 4 or 5 plugs and a couple of lights that don’t work.
- I checked for voltage on the wires. I have a circuit tracer tool that you plug in to the outlet and then you go to breaker box and it tells you which circuit it is.
- I found the breaker and it is showing as not tripped.
- I checked the voltage on the wire leaving it and it has 120 volts.
- I flipped the breaker OFF and some lights go out which must be on the same circuit.
- I checked with my tool and now it says none of the breakers are the correct one.
- I assume the circuit must be complete for my tool to work. So I guess my question is what next?
- To me the circuit is complete because of the reading of my tool. But not all of the circuit has voltage.
- The lights next to me that I didn’t know was on same circuit has 3 way switches. Could someone have wired them wrong that caused this to happen?
This electrical troubleshooting question came from: Brent, from Springfield, Illinois.
Electrical Question #2: What would cause two light switches to not work on two circuits?
This electrical wiring project involves Incorrect Voltage on Two Switches in the Front Porch of a Old Home.
- I have 2 light switches that do not work on two different circuits, that’s right, two different breakers. Within the switch box, the other switches have 120volts but both bad switches only read 50volts. I replaced one switch but that did not fix the problem. The old switch still has good continuity. Both are single-pole switches, single light receptacle. What am I missing?
This electrical wiring question came from Greg, a Homeowner in St Cloud, Florida.
Thanks for your electrical repair questions.
Electrical Tips for Fixing an Electrical Circuit Problem
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, a Voltage Tester or a Circuit Tracer.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with hand tools and electrical troubleshooting skills.
Precaution: Identify the circuit with the electrical problem, turn it OFF and then Tag it with a Note before performing any wiring, inspections or electrical wiring repairs
How to Locate and Repair Electrical Circuit Problems
- The electrical circuit should be traced back to the last known working device.
- Identify and unscrew affected outlets or switches to expose the wiring connections and splices.
- Inspect that device for signs of burnt wiring connections or a deteriorated wire splice.
- If the device is an outlet receptacle then carefully inspect the wiring connections to the screw terminals or the push-in connections.
- Replace any burnt wiring with the same type and size electrical wire.
- Repair burnt or defective splices and replace the device switch or receptacle outlet if needed.
Incorrect Voltage Problems for Light Fixtures
50 Volt Problem – Low Voltage
- The electrical circuit wiring should be checked at each light fixture.
- Incorrect voltage and low voltage conditions may be caused by a neutral wire that has a bad connection.
- This is often the case with ceiling mounted light fixtures that have more than on light bulb.
- The excessive heat from the light fixture can create the electrical wiring to become brittle which can cause a short within the splice connectors.
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The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wiring!The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester, [amazon.com], I use for the detection of Standard Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.
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