I'm fixing up a bathroom, and have run into a couple of puzzles. In removing a ceiling light fixture, I had a short. (Yes,I'd left the power on. Tsk, Tsk.) Now I get no current at the wires; no breakers tripped, switch on or off. Breakers are ~40 years old. Would a short "kill" a breaker without tripping it? Also, (similar problem, power on, and spark) with a GFCI, same result: no power, breaker not tripped. I deduced I'd ruined the GFCI breaker, so bought a matching brand CAFCI, and installed it. Now I have no power with breaker energized. What am I missing? I am about ready to admit that I am no longer qualified for home electrical work. Does anyone have answers for me, besides cutting the power before my next attempt?

  • What make/model are your breakers? Mar 11, 2017 at 18:02
  • If it's a federal pacific (FPE) panel, turn the breakers off and call an Electrician!
    – Tester101
    Mar 11, 2017 at 23:10
  • ThreePhaseEel, they are GE thqp 1/2" wide in my mobile home. Most breakers are 40 yr. old originals.
    – tomsota
    Mar 12, 2017 at 20:51

2 Answers 2


A visual inspection of a tripped residential breaker is not likely to reveal that it has tripped. Tripping happens internally and does not usually move the lever visibly.

Instead, feel the breaker handles by giving each lever a slight nudge toward the "off" position. Those that are "on" will resist being moved. A tripped breaker lever will easily move. To reset it, turn it all the way "off" and then "on".

  • Thanx, Wally, I'll given
    – tomsota
    Mar 12, 2017 at 20:43
  • @tomsota: Eh? Given what?
    – wallyk
    Mar 12, 2017 at 21:13
  • 1
    Sorry, Wally, fumblefingers...I'll give that a try.
    – tomsota
    Mar 13, 2017 at 22:02

Look for another GFCI with the affected circuits attached to its load terminals.

Or perhaps just hire someone who knows enough to turn the power off first to do that... Twice in a row on the same job seems like you have a problem learning from your mistakes.

  • Guilty there, Ecnerwal! Can't decide if I'm stubborn, or stupid. Got an electrician friend coming over to straighten things out.
    – tomsota
    Mar 12, 2017 at 20:48

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