Satya's blog - Check the breakers

Jan 23 2010 18:32 Check the breakers

I was working on the nest of wiring behind my desk. I pulled a plug and everything went dark. It was just that room and a few other things like the front hallway. So naturally I checked the breaker. It hadn't tripped. I reset it anyway. No joy.

Deciding it might be a bad breaker, I opened up the panel and tested with a multimeter. I got 30 volts across the switch and 100 volts, I forget which was open and which was closed. Heck, the meter (a decent Fluke, for gosh' sake) was reading some tens of volts with the leads not touching anything.

So I figured, replace the breaker and see what happens, or at least have Lowe's (my new hangout) test it. Too bad I couldn't get the screw to move. So I put the breaker back in and decided to see if anyone on the internet had insight. (Alright, so the wife was telling me to go check the internet.)

Now the room with no power is the study. That means I had no modem nor router. I simply ran an extension cord from another room and plugged in the master surge strip. I have a couple devices hanging off that, and the UPS. The modem hangs off the UPS's surge-only side, and the computers and monitor hang off the un-interruptable side. So I now had enough power for modem and router. If I felt like running two Amperes of current through this extension cord, I could run the computers. Another amp or two and I could have light! I declined.

Getting on the wife's wireless computer, I looked for something like "power loss in one room" and found the first hit. That described a situation exactly like mine, and the first response said to check for a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interruptor) in the downed circuit. This is often an outlet panel with a couple of pushbuttons labelled "Test" and "Reset" (that site didn't say this, I already knew what a GFCI panel looks like).

That's when a light went off in my head. The breaker panel is in the garage, and the garage lights (and the rest of the house) were on. So I didn't even think of the outlets in the garage wall. The front hallway runs next to the garage, and is part of the downed circuit. The garage wall outlets are not on the garage circuit. They're on -- wait for it -- the hallway circuit. And those outlets include a GFCI. So I went and hit the reset button on it. Still no joy, because -- I had left the breaker off after the previous round. I flipped it, and.

Last updated: Feb 08 2010 19:07

Tag: house diy