Sometimes troubleshooting is easy and extremely obvious – like a switch that was forgotten about or the darn light bulb was just burnt out. You may even discover that a GFCI receptacle or breaker was tripped. There have been times when the tripped GFCI Plug was behind a pile of boxes in the garage and no one ever knew there was a plug there. Well, I could go on and on with stories about troubleshooting electrical wiring, but lets get to a method that could save you a lot of time, frustration and a bunch of money.
The method I’ve learned is an easy one, and you’ve probably already used it several times on other applications, here it is: The Process of Elimination Which Starts With Identification
Quick Checks just to make sure:
Is the Switch “On”?
Is the Light Bulb burned out?
Is a GFI Receptacle or GFCI Breaker tripped?
Is a Circuit Breaker tripped or a Fuse blown – If so find out why!
Be sure not to work with energized wires or circuits. Identify the circuit and shut it off, then tag the circuit to keep it off. Very Important: If you don’t feel comfortable working on your electrical problem, please don’t take chances – call a professional electrician.
Here are some simple troubleshooting steps you can follow to try and narrow down your problem:
- Positively identify all the cables – what cable goes where. Check all devices served by each cable. Disconnect any devices that may be connected to any associated cable. Check these devices to see if they are malfunctioning. Isolate or remove any device in order to eliminate a failing component.
- Is a Switch involved? – Check the switch with an OHM Meter. Is it a fixture that doesn’t work? Safely test the fixture with a spare cord to see if it works. If it does not – check the fixture wiring, bulbs etc.
- Checking The Wire Connections – Make sure your connections are well made. A loose connection will also cause shorts and create burnt wires which could result in a potential fire hazard. Twist wires together using pliers before screwing on any wire nuts, this ensures a good connection. Don’t over tighten wire nuts, but make sure they are on tight.
- As the circuit and all the components are checked you should identify the problem. Most of the time it is something very obvious.
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