Flipped the light switch for my laundry room, bulb flashed and now I lost partial power in that room and in the garage. No breakers tripped. Cycling them doesn't help. Panel and all switches is 2 years old. There are no GFCIs involved anywhere.

My laundry room is sort of a "bonus room," with a light switch in an adjacent room. When you flip the light switch it turns on the light for the laundry room and the garage. The laundry room has x3 wall outlets, the garage has a couple as well. Power to the wall outlets is not controlled by the light switch.

However, now the laundry room light, garage light and one laundry room outlet no longer have power. Just to repeat, this outlet is not controlled by the light switch. The other outlets in the laundry room still have power, as do the ones in the garage. None of the breakers in the box have tripped. I've cycled every single one anyway, with no effect, still not getting power to the lights or that single outlet.

What happened here? Some sort of a short? Why wouldn't the breaker have tripped? Why would it be affecting an outlet not tied to the switch? Panel

  • 1
    The fact that a garage is involved points to a GFCI that you haven't discovered yet. When was the home built?
    – isherwood
    Oct 24 '18 at 16:26
  • @isherwood "Panel and all switches is 2 years old." - So there should be GFCI and AFCI in there somewhere. Oct 24 '18 at 16:27
  • Otherwise I'd suspect a poor connection exacerbated by the flash/surge. You might have to start checking devices for loose screws and cheap backstab clamps.
    – isherwood
    Oct 24 '18 at 16:28
  • @isherwood Home was built in the 60s, no GFCIs anywhere. House came this way.
    – Teddy
    Oct 24 '18 at 16:28
  • 1
    As isherwood stated the flash may have been caused by the filament in the light creating a direct short. Many times daisy chained circuits use back stabs the push in connectors on the outlets or switches if just 1 of these connections failed in the chain on the hot or neutral everything after that point would no longer work. The problem can usually be found at the last working device in the line or first non working device, this is very common with back stabbed circuits that have been overloaded and the stab may have failed prior to the breaker tripping.
    – Ed Beal
    Oct 24 '18 at 16:40

This is getting two long for comments.

I usually figure out the location using the main panel as a starting point, we normally run as little wire as possible so if the chain in this case went to a fan/light there could be a pig tail that failed but this would be rare thogh possible.

One of your outlets that was not controlled by the switch is now dead (this may be the failure point) With the string of outlets on that circuit one probably feeds the light but the problem may be 5 outlets closer to the main panel - it just depends where the connection was lost.

I usually start closest to the breaker panel and start checking until I find a dead outlet. I pull that outlet and check it for damage. If I don't see any damage then I pull the one prior, just realize that if a common wall between 2 rooms there are outlets in the other room that are probably on the same circuit.

Once I find the last working outlet and the first dead one, the problem is almost always there. Now if you don't find any damage to the wires in those 2 locations, turn the breaker back on and if the circuit now works the back-stab reconnected and since you don't know the flakey outlet, replace both or at least rewire them using the screw terminals (with the power off ).

To tell the truth, I hate back stabs but they have made me thousands of $ to repair this exact problem some times caused by hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, electric heaters, and yes shorted light bulbs. So go back and find the first dead outlet, if not there it could be the feed from the last working outlet.

This will pinpoint the failure since some outlets are working. No fancy equipment needed, just observation and a screwdriver. So yes this makes total sense because the weakest back stab in the link failed and it could be the hot or neutral.

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