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Electrical Wiring in the Home/Light Switch and Wall Socket won't work


The bathroom light/fan switch has no power, neither does the master bedroom wall socket. No breaker is tripped. There is no power coming to the switch or socket. This happened all of a sudden. The GFI works at the bathroom sink. The wires at the switch and socket are all secure. Seems to be the only 2 areas where there is no power. I went ahead and reset the circuit breaker just to see, but it made no difference.

Robert Wilber
Philadelphia Licensed Electrician
Philadelphia License # 3516 - 16765
(610) 299-0452
Electricity is dangerous!
You can be injured or killed!
Improper installations can cause fire, injury and death!
Are you qualified to do this work?
National Electrical Code definition, NFPA 70 2008 Article 100: Qualified Person. "One who has skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of the electrical equipment and installations and has received safety training to recognize and avoid the hazards involved."
Electricity is fire in a box! Death on a leash!
Always check with the local “Authority Having Jurisdiction” for an official interpretation before making installation decisions.
In Philadelphia, it is unlawful for anyone except an individual licensed by the City of Philadelphia to install electrical equipment and wiring.
Homeowners are not allowed to install wiring.
The owner of any property wherein any such installation is discovered shall be issued a violation by the Department of Licenses and Inspections.
The limited exceptions include replacing devices and fixtures at existing outlets.
Contact the Department of Licenses and Inspections for more information.
You are more likely to be killed by 120 volts than any other voltage [120 volts creates the PERFECT fatal current through the human body's electrical resistance!]
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) [downloadable GFI safety pdf]
This information is provided for the use of parties as they see fit!
I am not responsible for the application of this information by any party, including those lacking sufficient skill or knowledge to perform these steps safely and any hazard created is the SOLE responsibility of the user.
So much for the fine print....
Standard troubleshooting problem...partial circuit failure.
Since the problem isn't at the first dead spot, it is at the last live spot [unless you are unlucky enough to have somehow cut the wire or you have squirrels].

Consider what does and doesn't work, where your panel is and think about how you would wire the circuit such that the receptacle and bath lights are fed from the same place or the receptacle feeds the bath lights [or vice-versa].

Draw out your receptacle outlets and lighting on a floor plan. Turn off circuits one at a time and note what is on what circuit. It is likely that the most thinly loaded circuit has your dead devices on it. Where would you have fed the dead items from on that circuit? You will likely find a bad splice or a burned-up speed termination at that receptacle, maybe a bad wire-nut at a lighting outlet.
Send me your drawings. Keep me posted.

Recent inquiry and answer - similar


There is no voltage recording on meter,  outlets not working, breaker didn't pop. Easiest way to find place of no power?


..very funny...I have been doing this for over forty years and endlessly receive calls from people who have had numerous repairs attempted by electricians who can't solve the problem.

General troubleshooting like this at an unfamiliar property requires a thorough understanding of electrical wiring practices [both proper and improper] and sufficient experience in widely varied structures to allow an intuitive appreciation of the wiring systems in a particular building.

I will presume that it has been verified that the breakers are still providing power and are not tripped internally.

Unless there has been some damage caused by a recent activity like hanging a picture by putting a nail in the wall or such, the most likely location for the cause of the circuit open is at the first place that doesn't work or the last one that does. [That may sound obvious and possibly a simplistically stupid thing to say, but it is true.]

Unfortunately, most people do not trouble themselves to discover what outlets are on which circuit when they are working properly and only become curious when a failure like yours is experienced. I will assume that this is your case. It will help to know which outlets no longer work, which ones still work and where your electrical service panel is located.
Is there a basement?
Is there a habitable second floor [bedrooms]?
Does everything upstairs work?
If no second floor, is the attic accessible?
When was the house built?
Are these the original outlet locations or additions?
A quick drawing of the rooms affected showing working and dead outlets will help. Photos  
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Electrical Wiring in the Home

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Robert Wilber


Licensed Philadelphia electrician serving Delaware, Chester, Montgomery and Philadelphia County in Pennsylvania. I install and repair residential, commercial and industrial wiring and lighting. Troubleshooting and repair of problems that stump other people is my favorite. I am willing to help people figure out why things don`t work. I understand motor controls, transformers and machine wiring. I do not teach basics to novices or do free design work.


Experience in the area I have 44 years experience in residential, commercial and industrial electrical construction and repair, 480 volts and below. This is not to be confused with one week repeated two thousand times.

44 years experience in residential, commercial and industrial electrical construction and repair

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