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Troubleshooting dead electrical circuit

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  • #46
    Re: Troubleshooting dead electrical circuit

    Originally posted by blue_can View Post
    Thanks although I got the impression that the probe needs to be close to or in contact with the wire for this model. The Amprobe model specifies a max range of 1' - 3' from the wire which means the signal can be traced through the drywall. The Amprobe is a lot more expensive of course.
    It will receive a signal through drywall. I use one of these frequently.


    • #47
      Re: Troubleshooting dead electrical circuit

      Okay guys - problem finally solved. So after I saw killavolt's post on a hunch I checked the Harborfreight website and saw the following tool -

      I thought I could chance it at $20 so I called my local HF and they had 8 in stock so I went down this morning and bought one. Brought it home and it seemed to work well. I started troubleshooting inside the house but could not draw much conclusion except for the fact that the one side of the GFCI did not seem to go anywhere I could identify. The other side of course contained the bunch of non-working stuff.

      I then switched to testing the first known working item in the circuit which was one of the front outdoor lights. I hooked up the tone generator to that and using the probe traced the signal through the drywall. It got to a point and then I could not get anymore signal. This was in the garage. Went indoor and confirmed the same issue on the inside drywall. Came back into the garage and pinpointed the spot where the signal disappeared. It was behind some tools sitting on a shelf (shelf installed by previous owner). Removed my tools and guess what I find. A GFCI outlet! Opened it up and confirmed with the probe that the line was connected to the outdoor light circuit. Now I connected the tone generator to the load side (there were 3 circuits going out of the load) and confirmed that all of the non-working outlets were on one of those 3. This GFCI also had frozen, had tripped and could not be reset.

      That explained why I had lost continuity on the hot as well as the neutral between the breaker panel and the indoor circuits. Finding this GFCI was surprising enough but to have some indoor lights connected to the load side of the GFCI???

      More testing with the tone generator and probe showed that the load side of the bathroom GFCI went to an outlet outdoors at the back. This had stopped working some years ago but I never investigated. Replaced both GFCIs and everything is now working.

      I wired the first GFCI a little differently so that the indoor lights and outlets are not on the load side of the GFCI - that way if it only protects the outdoor and bathroom outlets.

      Highly recommend this tool to have in an electrician's toolkit. The only thing is that it does not seem to be able to pickup signals through stucco (which is what we have on the outside). For that you will probably need one of the Amprobe models.


      • #48
        Re: Troubleshooting dead electrical circuit

        Also forgot to add in my previous post but a big thanks for everyone who replied and helped me out with this


        • #49
          Re: Troubleshooting dead electrical circuit

          Nice to hear issue resolved.