I was replacing an outdoor light and couldn't find which circuit my garage was attached to. Tripped main breaker and garage still had power. I touched the "hot" to the ground to trip a breaker. Power went out in garage, no breaker tripped on the main panel. Replaced a gfci in garage where the power comes into garage, still no power. Went through main breaker a few times tripping individual breakers, still no power. House was built in early 2000s. Cant locate a sub panel in garage.

  • Post a picture of your main panel. That might help. Or it might not. Jan 5, 2020 at 23:09
  • Slim hope, but any chance of another gfci in the garage? Jan 5, 2020 at 23:45
  • 3
    ...or you've been "borrowing" power from a neighbor (not as uncommon as you might expect, particularly where "the house next door" was built by a relative of the house you are in at the time.)
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 6, 2020 at 2:04
  • Can you post photos of your main panel please? Is your meter located on the house, or on a pole somewhere? Is the garage attached or detached, for that matter? Jan 6, 2020 at 2:39
  • Do you have a meter combo? Check outside Jan 6, 2020 at 2:52

1 Answer 1


Never intentionally overload wires. It can have very serious unintended consequences.

Two possibilities.

You tripped a breaker, but it's not where you think it is.

So, you shut off your "main panel's" main breaker, and your garage didn't trip. That tells you something. It means if you overloaded the garage circuit (say, running a saw and dust collector and the saw hangs up on a knot), then the breaker that would trip is not in your "main panel". It's somewhere else. At the risk of stating the obvious.

So, hypothetically suppose your stunt did trip a breaker. We know it's not in the panel you know about.

Since you didn't describe a further exhaustive search for other panels, it sounds like you did not do one. Guess what you need to do :)

If the garage is an outbuilding, it's common enough to have service at the pole, a meter and distribution board at the pole, and power branched separately to the house, garage and other outbuildings.

Or you overloaded your wiring with that stunt

As you may know, wiring is typically done daisy-chain, with power being brought to a receptacle, switch or splice, then onward to the next one.

You intended to blow a breaker. But somewhere between where you intentionally shorted it, and the service panel, you blew something else instead.

This is especially common with "backstab" connections on switches or receptacles. Now, the problem will be at the last good outlet in the circuit, or the first dead outlet... but if backstabs are involved, it's probably a good idea to go through them all and convert them either to screw-and-clamp or side screws.

  • 4
    Even if a connection was overloaded by the short, if shutting off the "main" breaker did not shut it off, (which seems to be stated in the question) its feed still comes from somewhere else.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 6, 2020 at 2:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.