Switch box dead, same circuit outlets working

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diyretirement

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Rehabbing an older home and, in a room I haven't started yet, all six switches in a double box (!) have stopped working. Breaker was not tripped.All outlets on the same circuit still work. Non contact tester shows no power in switch box. Very full box, but no loose wires that I can identify in box or nearby outlets.. Really don't want to tear out sheetrock yet. Thoughts? Ideas for where else to look?
 

Afjes

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Double check for a tripped breaker. Many brands are hard to tell if they are tripped just by looking at them.
You can push the breaker handle hard to the "off" position first and then to the "on" position, This is the proper way to reset a breaker. You can also try wiggling each breaker gently side to side and get an idea of the play that they havve when doing so. If you find one that has far more play in the handle more than likely that breaker is tripped.

Also, I would double check any and all GFCI receptacles in the home no matter where they are located. Test them all (which should really do on a monthly basis anyway). Very tip of your finger push the "Test" button and then the "Reset" button firmly. I have found GFCI receptacles in the basement of homes that control circuits in an upstairs bathroom etc so don't go by the location of the GFCI.

Also, double check that there is no other panel in the house where there may be a tripped breaker.

After you do this let us know your findings and we can take it from there.
 

diyretirement

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I think I'm not being clear. I have switched the circuit breaker on and off several times and traced the circuit. When the circuit has power, the outlets on the circuit have power, but the lights controlled by the one switch box on the same circuit do not have power and a non contact tester shows no power in the box. I have checked all GFCI outlets and there are no other circuit panels in the house. Again, I have checked for loose connections in the box and nearby outlets. Hope someone can help.
 

Michael Young

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Rehabbing an older home and, in a room I haven't started yet, all six switches in a double box (!) have stopped working. Breaker was not tripped.All outlets on the same circuit still work. Non contact tester shows no power in switch box. Very full box, but no loose wires that I can identify in box or nearby outlets.. Really don't want to tear out sheetrock yet. Thoughts? Ideas for where else to look?
take the cover plate off and use your meter to walk across every switch. If the house is old, I suspect that replacing all those switches is going to solve your problem. (touch the black and the ground) you should get 120v. (touch the black and the white(neutral). you should get 120v. In the panel, touch the pins on your breaker and touch the other lead to your ground. If you don't get 120v, the problem is in the panel.

The house is old. As long as you have the cover off, walk the entire panels with your meter.
 

diyretirement

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No readings on the six switches, no power at all in the switch box, but 120 on the breaker.

Again, all the outlets on the same circuit are working.

Have not checked all the fixtures on the switch box. None of them are getting power. Could a loose wire there cause everything in the box to lose power?
 

Michael Young

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No readings on the six switches, no power at all in the switch box, but 120 on the breaker.

Again, all the outlets on the same circuit are working.

Have not checked all the fixtures on the switch box. None of them are getting power. Could a loose wire there cause everything in the box to lose power?

go buy yourself a tone and probe kit. that's going to help you follow those wires. the most common place for problems is in the switches and the outlets. Because its an older home, we have no idea of how wiring was done previously. If you have zero power inside the box with the switches, it's time to start checking out those outlets. Good chance they wired the outlets first and then pulled power from the outlet to the switch and then from the switch to the light fixture. I think a tone and probe kit is going to help you make sense of what's happening inside the wall. READ THE DIRECTIONS or you'll be chasing phantom chimes all over the house.

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diyretirement

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Thanks for the advice. Neither HD or Amazon can get me one for at least a couple weeks. Others are kind of pricey for a (hopefully) one time use, though certainly cheaper than an electrician. Thinking about sending a DC current through the wires to see if I can trace it with a multi meter.

Still open to other ideas, clues...
 

Michael Young

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Thanks for the advice. Neither HD or Amazon can get me one for at least a couple weeks. Others are kind of pricey for a (hopefully) one time use, though certainly cheaper than an electrician. Thinking about sending a DC current through the wires to see if I can trace it with a multi meter.

Still open to other ideas, clues...
call you local electric supply company. They should have one for under $50 bucks
 

Michael Young

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Not sure it helps much, but here's a pic of the switch box.View attachment 98728

I'm seeing hot wires; some of those hots are capped. I'm seeing some neutral wires. I'm not seeing any ground.You mentioned it was a project house. Has this switch EVER worked since you've owned the house? What kind of access do you have? can you get to the wire overhead or underneath? Mark the black wires that are capped. put your black lead on the black wire and touch your red lead to the ground.
Take good pictures and make clear marks so it's easy to put everything back where you found it. But you have at least two hot wires and one sending wire that was capped at some point. This means you either have or had a 3-way switch at some point. Take some nail polish and label things where you can get them put back the way you found them. Disconnect everything in that box and pull it all out where you can see what you're fighting with. You have some wire that was jumped across to the other switch.

how many outlets do you have on this one circuit? ou said the outlets are working. If the house is 70 years old, you're going to be replacing those outlets anyways. So go ahead and mark the outlets that are on the shared circuit. Pull the outlets and replace them. Good chance you have a loose wire on one of the outlets where they pulled power for the switches and overhead. You can't necessarily tell just by looking at them. but if you just replace the outlets (at a dollar each), that may end up fixing the problem without having to do a lot of crazy trouble-shooting.
 

diyretirement

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Thanks for sticking with me, Michael.

The switch box is in the kitchen, a room which I have not got to yet. The outlets on the same circuit are in the family room (open floor plan), which I have mostly finished, and two additional exterior outlets. All of these outlets have been rewired and replaced within the last couple years. I do decent wiring (no back stabbing, etc), so I am relatively confident they are okay.

The switch box has worked since I started on the house, although there is one switch that I have never been able to identify. It could be the three way that you see.

I will take the wires apart, figure out what I can, and post any discoveries with another pic.
 

diyretirement

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Fitter,

The box feeds 1) a kitchen ceiling can, 2) two exterior deck lights, 3) two exterior patio lights, 4) an under eave security light, 5) another under eave security light, and 6) I'm not sure (see above, could be the three way Michael saw.

I have replaced the deck and patio fixtures; the others are original.
 
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