So, I have had a buddy lead the way on wiring my basement of a basement finish in a home built in 2017. The builder ran two wires from the panel in the garage to facilitate the finishing of the basement. Of course, now my buddy is on vacation for 2 weeks and I'm at the point of hooking up all my receptacles (so I thought). We spliced the two wires coming in I've attached a picture of that. When testing for power in boxes, I've only got about 60% with power. I'm assuming this has to do with the way the hots are together. Is it about just playing around with them and figuring out the best match? Any insight is much appreciated.

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  • Ummm.. what? Can you provide another picture that clearly shows how many cables enter that box? I can see 2 in the top and it appears that there's one in the bottom, is there a 4th? Also, what are you attempting to accomplish here? Is there supposed to be a switch or two? Outlets? Some of each? Is this just a junction where you're not going to put anything into this box, just have the power flow through to other places? MOAR DETAILS!!!
    – FreeMan
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 17:36
  • There are 5 cables entering the box. The 2 that the builder put in running to the panel, and there are 3 going out to the basement. This is just a box to splice as the 2 cables the builder put in are only long enough to reach this area. Hope that makes more sense, sorry.
    – EGrant23
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 17:45
  • The builder didn't put 2 cables in running from the panel just because he had some spare cable lying around. Look at where those cables connect in the panel - they're almost certainly on 2 separate breakers, and those breakers may well be on different phases. Those wires should not ever be connected together!
    – brhans
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 18:40
  • They were not connected to the panel. Simply ran into the basement for future use.
    – EGrant23
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 19:36
  • 2
    Don't experiment. There are many combinations that you'll stumble upon, that will work (mission accomplished, button it up) but will kill you. Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 20:01

2 Answers 2


First off, all the grounds should be joined.

Second, you should verify that both of your input cables are hot (presumably they go to different breakers - they should.)

If both input cables are hot, and are joined to your other cables, (in any array - which should not matter if all loads are 120V, so long as you keep the hots and neutrals together for each set) then not having power on some outlets is not likely to be in this box, unless you have a phenomenally bad wirenut connection here. [that's not unheard of if you have little experience using them.]

There's a bad connection or no connection somewhere, though.

  • They are both hot - just confirmed. Going to different breakers as well.
    – EGrant23
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 18:20

Stop. Now!

Honestly, the follow up questions you've been asking lead me to believe you really don't understand how this works and I'm growing concerned that you could seriously hurt yourself!

I'm all for you learning to do this yourself, however, electricity can be deadly if you don't know what you're doing, and I don't want your family coming here after you're gone to blame us.

Wait until your buddy gets back from vacation and learn from him with hands on experience. Have him explain things to you, show you how to do it right, and how to avoid doing it wrong.

Waiting 2 weeks is far better than being dead or burning down your house. When he gets back, have him read this (and other answers) to your question, and show you how it works.

Seriously heed Harper's advice from a comment on your question:

Don't experiment. There are many combinations that you'll stumble upon, that will work (mission accomplished, button it up) but will kill you.

You've got 2 circuits in (A and B) and 3 outbound "circuits"* (1, 2, and 3).

Assuming that you want:

  • lines 1 and 2 to be on breaker A
    • put one wire nut each on all 3 White, all 3 Black and all 3 Ground wires from each of the 3 cables
  • line 3 will be on breaker B
    • Put one wire nut each on the 2 White, 2 Black and 2 Ground wires involved

If your desired connections are different, then rearrange them to match to suit your needs.

You should not need any pig-tail wires anywhere in this box. In no case will you need more than 3 wires nutted together, so, using the correct size nuts, there is no need for pig tails at all. It appears that there's a white pig tail from the nut at 12 o'clock connecting to the nut at 4 o'clock (though it may just be the angle causing confusion). If you can find ANY path between breaker A and breaker B you've done it wrong.

While you have the box open and things are fresh in your mind, I would strongly urge you to label the cables so you know which is which next time you open this up for repairs/modifications. A Sharpie applied to the white cable housing (Breaker A, Ceiling Lights, etc.) or a fancy label maker will do the trick.

* No, they're not really circuits - a circuit is based on the breaker and you only have 2 involved - but you're probably thinking of it as 3 "circuits".

  • 1
    You won't get power magically jumping from one cable to the next. Actually, sometimes you do - it's called a spark, and in home wiring it's a Bad Thing™. It will run to whatever devices are wired, but no further. Once you've got the splices made in this box, go to the next box on line 1, wire your outlet, make sure that line 2 has no stripped, exposed copper (other, perhaps than the ground) and flip the breaker on - check for power. If you've got it, breaker off, go to the next box, otherwise figure out what you missed here.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 18:47
  • As you gain confidence, you can do multiple outlets before checking for power. Test the last one in the line, then work your way backwards if it's not working. The problem is in the first one without power or the last one with power. But that's a whole nuther question...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 18:48
  • Yeah, everytime you hook up a hot-neutral pair, that should only extend power to one outlet. Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 20:03
  • Wait, what? You're growing concerned I may hurt myself? The box was spliced exactly how you said it should be - that didn't solve my problem. I posted other questions I had without doing a single thing with the electrical - just wanted clarified answers/possible solutions.
    – EGrant23
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 14:52
  • Your comments, now removed, have me concerned that you're groping in the dark, @EGrant23, potentially to be lit up by a spark. If you've done what I suggested and are still having issues, I would suggest that you open a new question to ask about the new issues. Include what's happening at the panel, what's happening in this box, and what's happening at the next box where you're having the new problem. I don't want to be the one responsible for you possibly getting hurt, so I'm going to back out of any further advice/discussion on this one.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 15:59

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