One of the electrical circuits in the house stopped working, plunging half of one bedroom and all of another into darkness. I finally decided that, one way or another, I was going to fix it. Here’s what I did:
- First, I tried replacing the breaker. To do this, I shut down the entire panel, pulled out the old breaker, then switched the panel back on. Then I went to Home Depot and bought a breaker with the same value of the same type that I pulled out. I went home, installed the new breaker, and it popped exactly like the old one did.
- Next, I started to disconnect things on the circuit, trying to work from things as close to the panel as possible. I used a neon tester to make sure none of the wires I was touching were hot. If everything is to code, only black and red wires should ever be hot. But I generally check white as well, just in case something is funny.
- After each disconnection, I tried to turn the breaker back on. If it works, this indicates that the fault in the circuit is past the last thing you disconnected.
- When I had disconnected almost everything that I knew was on the circuit, all of the lights and outlets that weren’t working, I tried throwing the breaker a couple of times, and it stayed on.
- I found that one of the hot points on the circuit was the overhead light fixture in the downstairs bedroom, which one of the first things I’d disconnected, since it was close to the panel.
- I turned the breaker off reconnected the light fixture, turned the breaker back on, and it didn’t trip. The overhead light was now working once more.