I have an electrical puzzle I can’t figure out. I bought a house last winter and it turns out the electrical circuitry and wiring is a mess. There is a mud room, bathroom, garage, some GFI outlets in 2nd floor bath, and basement lighting all ran through a single 15 amp breaker in the MDP. Yup- a mess. When I get some cash and time I’ll tackle some new wiring projects.

Anyways, my office is currently in my mud room. I never had a problem until I plugged in and turned on a unit heater into one of the outlets. It ran fine for a few minutes, but I then noticed my ceiling light (hooked to the same circuit) blinking on and off. Then everything on the circuit went dark. All GFIs on said circuit will not reset after test.

What I’ve tried:

  1. replacing circuit breaker with new- no change
  2. removed all gfis and standard outlets, and temporarily connected all wiring (hot to hot and neutral to neutral at line outlets, and hot to neutral at any end of line outlets) throughout circuit to bypass any broken GfI outlets - no change
  3. disconnected light fixture which gave me blinking and connected hot to neutral- no change

PS. Strangely, when breaker is on my multimeter reads only 30-40v

Any ideas?

  • 1
    Can you trace out where on the circuit that blinking ceiling light ties in, and which outlets are dead? (This sounds like a failing/failed connection somewhere) Nov 3 '21 at 1:31
  • 1
    I will try to do that, thanks! Actually, I forgot to mention that some of the basement lights, which I believe are upstream of the mud room, on the same circuit, still function just fine.
    – Jake Wynn
    Nov 3 '21 at 1:49
  • 3
    Hot and neutral should never be connected together, they can be capped off separately with wire nuts. Edit your question if you meant something else.
    – crip659
    Nov 3 '21 at 10:00
  • 2
    The circuit always has power/load on it(black/live wire). It uses the power when you plug in something or touch black and white wires with your hands(or your tongue if you want a real buzz). Connecting neutral and live together should trip breaker unless something else is wrong.
    – crip659
    Nov 3 '21 at 13:19
  • 1
    either a connection popped open (more likely) or the current overload caused by your heater melted wiring (insulation) enough to cause a short somewhere. After you find the fix, double-check the heater's rating and don't use it if there are too many other items running on the same 15-Amp breaker. Nov 3 '21 at 15:22

If you connected hot to neutral, and nothing went "bang", then there must be a break in the wiring somewhere. If the wiring is as bad as you say, then the chances are that plugging in the heater burnt out a joint somewhere. You're going to have to trace through all the wiring from the breaker panel to all the outlets, to see where the fault is.

In future, don't connect hot to neutral. Things are likely to go "bang".

  • Thank you all for the info. I will keep searching and update, and I’lol keep in mind not connecting neutral to hot again.
    – Jake Wynn
    Nov 3 '21 at 21:26
  • Update- found dead outlet directly after panel. Tested line wiring with multimeter- showed some voltage, but actually got power running in mud room OnLY when connected to multimeter. Assume multimeter acts as alternative ground somehow…tried bypassing outlet with wire direct from breaker to next load, but did not help…will keep trying! Trying to trace item directly following outlet…
    – Jake Wynn
    Nov 4 '21 at 23:03

Found it, busted switch in a restroom upstream from my mud room. Thanks!

  • 1
    Not necessarily, @r13. This is an answer to the question, not an update with additional details to the question. If someone else had suggested it, it would have likely garnered several up votes.
    – FreeMan
    Nov 5 '21 at 13:49
  • How does this explain an entire circuit being out?
    – isherwood
    Nov 5 '21 at 16:46

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