lights and plugs have died in 3 rooms of my home. None of the Circuit Breakers were tripped and they all test fine with my multimeter. I have turned the circuit switches on and off (all the way OFF so the switch is completely reset) and no luck.

I have checked the GFCI outlets throughout the house and they all test and reset fine. (Those GFCI outlets are all working fine anyway).

I do have two or three other receptacles in other bathrooms and in the kitchen that read: LEVITON GFCI PROTECTED but these do not have any reset buttons at all... (They are also all working and testing with the multimeter shows they are pushing 120).

Just before the power went in those rooms... I noticed the light fixture in the bathroom was flickering. As a precaution, I've NOW disconnected that light fixture from the wall and capped the exposed wires. I also want to point out that the bathroom with no lights has full power to the GFCI plug but no power anywhere else.

Should I replace all my receptacles and light switches?

  • 1
    When you say "circuit switched on and off" what switches are you referring to? SPST Light siwtches, GFCI Test/Reset, Breakers, Other? A revised clarification to your post will help.
    – noybman
    Sep 26, 2017 at 23:50
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    Thanks for the assistance! No new electrical wiring or appliances to change anything I had before. It just went out. The 'switches' I turned off and on again were the ones on the circuit panel. The actual breakers. Not just the switch on the Master but each and every individual switch as well.
    – Porgish
    Sep 27, 2017 at 20:58

3 Answers 3


No, do not replace everything.

Do you have a proximity based AC detector?

Do you have a signal-toner? (wire finder)?

What has changed (if anything) recently with respect to light fixtures, wall outlets, switches, extension cords, etc? Especially and obviously on this circuit specifically? Did you add/remove anything new? (a heater, an AC...)

The flickering for the bathroom light fixture that no longer works was probably your indication of a problem where somewhere a splice is detached (wirenut, backstab, wall sagged and tore some romex)

Has there been any new work activity in an attic or a basement?


As/If necessary, isolate all power and either use a toner or a detector with the goal of identifying all points of wire junction on the circuit in question. Positively identify anywhere there could be a BOX (switch, outlet, light etc.).

Using the above, make a logical path from the circuit panel to each room. Where would you run the wire FIRST if you were an electrician and didn't want to waste money on wire? Focus more on any common points near the affected area. NOTE: common sense doesn't always apply with how they run the wire, but it's a good guide.

Mark off any items that had "a lot plugged in" or that people bump/wiggle a lot.

Secure power to the circuit in question if not already.

With your list of suspects, (key suspects are ones that were not working) take a wall plate, or light fixture off and pull the wiring out. Ensure all wirenuts are secure, nothing is loose, burned, or dangerous looking. If so, repair it.

Pay close attention to any non-ground wires under a wire nut (more than 2) or in a backstab (more than one, or better yet, NONE!) or double upped on a screw.

If backstabs are used, take the time to correct this.

If wires are more than one to a screw, correct this.

If there are more than 2 wires on a wire nut, inspect it. One of these wires may be the suspect causing the outage.

Do not resume use of the circuit until you identify the bad connection. It is a fire hazard.

Depending on what you find from the guidance above, you might want to do the whole home. The issue you are having "should never happen"

Lastly, and this could have been first - do you have aluminum wiring? If so, there is a completely augmented list to follow.

  • No new additions electronically.
    – Porgish
    Sep 27, 2017 at 20:53

You had a wire fail. I just had one myself (someone insisted on shoving 12AWG stranded into a 14AWG backstab, nope, nope).

It's very likely, especially if you don't have 30+ breakers, that all the failed receptacles are on the same circuit. It was common to have several bedrooms on 1 circuit before every bedroom had a TV, cable box, PC, printer, etc.

Circuits are wired in a "tree style" topology, but usually this is more of a "vine" with a long linear run and few branches. By law, every splice or connection must be inside a listed "junction box" which must be accessible without disassembling any part of the building. You must not need to lift away boards or cut into drywall. Now, the junction box cover doesn't count, and a fixture (lamp or fan) can count as a cover. Between the boxes, there are only wires. Failures in wires are extremely rare, and usually connected with someone doing construction of some kind.

The problem is either at the first point of failure, or at the junction box before the first point.

There's no substitute for making some guesswork as to the likely route, and closely inspecting each of the wire connections. The problem is likely to be fairly obvious.

While you're in there...

This is a great time to

  • correct any wiring defects, if you know how to spot them
  • upgrade your receptacles and switches to ones of a different color
  • upgrade to better than 50-cent builder-grade junk
  • eliminate any of the unreliable "back stab" connections. Don't cut the wires off, poke an awl into the release lever and pull it out, or just pull it straight out while twisting the device. Once a backstab is released like this, it is done - it must not be reused. Someone reusing a backstab would explain a failure. So use the screws.

If you want to get fancy, some manufacturers make "screw-and-clamp" type receptacles which are vastly superior to back-stabs and allow attaching more wires.

Also get a book and read up on what you are doing, the key to switches and receptacles is

  • color of the screws matters a great deal more than position... that designates the common on 3-ways and the hot/neutral on receptacles.
  • receptacles have a "tab" that can be broken off to separate control of the two sockets. Watch closely for any of those tabs being missing, especially if any red wire is in the box.
  • Harper, just asking here, didn't I cover this point for point in my response and provide all the same content with a plan of attack? Hmm.
    – noybman
    Sep 27, 2017 at 14:56
  • Thank you for the recommendations. I guess I've got some work ahead.
    – Porgish
    Sep 27, 2017 at 21:06
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    @noybman only partial overlap and I structured it differently for readability. These things happen. Sep 29, 2017 at 2:24
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    Oh I noticed that lol. @Porgish please let us know what you found as the problem... or.... problems to be. For future readers too it would be telling of some of the issues we may encounter when others have the same issue.
    – noybman
    Sep 29, 2017 at 2:29

I had the same issue. I had no power to the outlets in the garage, outside wall plug or second bathroom plugs. The GFCI in the main bath worked but nothing down the line did. The GFCI was not tripped and appeared normal with the little green light on and everything. I replaced the GFCI with a new one and the issue was fixed.

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