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Re #4: When I bought my first house, my first task was mapping out all the breakers. I ended up finding a huge number of urgent fire hazards in the basement remodel (none of the lights on the drop ceiling had electrical boxes, some of the wall switches had large chunks of the electrical boxes sawed off and wood jammed inside the holes, the smoke detector wires were connected with masking tape, etc.)
If you have a house with a DIY rennovation, this is a must-do.
In addition to all the great suggestions there is also this type of tool ...
AC Circuit breaker finder
The only downside to this tool is that you have to have power on for it to work on the outlet you are checking. So not very helpful if you are trying to figure out which breaker a dead outlet is on.
Klein Tools ET310 AC Circuit Breaker Finder with Integrated GFCI Outlet Tester [link]
They sell adapters to adapt the radio transmitter to lightbulb sockets and alligator clips for direct wire hookup
You mentioned you had a non-contact tester that showed you have some voltage. Is there voltage indicated at any of the outlets?
It would be odd for there to be a GFCI that's interrupting power to all outlets in a particular room, other than the garage or bathrooms.
Remember that a tripped breaker may not LOOK tripped. If you know for sure which breaker is associated with those outlets, try turning it off then back on again.
You may need to buy a "fox and hound" type of tester that will send a tone from whatever receptacle you want to test. You then have a receiver that will indicate when you're putting the tip close to a wire or breaker that's tied to that outlet.
Here's one that looks good, on Amazon, but feel free to search around for one to fit your budget & needs.
Aha - ok well since your AC is 240 Volt, you’re running that on a different circuit / different wire from your plugs in the same room. Electricians often use one of these circuit finder tools, you plug one in in the receptacle, and then scan your panel with it. Your AC plug will probably beep on a different breaker than your other plugs, which will start giving you answers. Using this tool helps prevent ripping up walls to see what all’s going on. [link]
1) Get one of these for $40
Klein Tools ET310 AC Circuit Breaker Finder with Integrated GFCI Outlet Tester
2) Wipe off all the old scribble using alcohol or acetone
3) get a friend w a cell phone or use walkie talkies
4) Have a friend walk around the house plugging in the tester to outlets and then you record what outlets every branch circuit includes. BE THOROUGH and SPECIFIC, test every switch and every outlet!
5) Make a nice google sheet / excel, put it inside a plastic paper protector and tape it to the inside of your panel.
Source: Moved into a house where the previous owners replaced the panel and nothing was labeled. FML!
The tool lets you plug it in and then go to the breaker panel and it will beep when you touch the breaker you plugged the other end into. It's not always 100% and doesn't really do much more than tell you what breaker is controlling what outlet.
sounds like the garage outlet was added later, so they just grabbed whatever was close
get a circuit breaker finder, and map out all the outlets in the house.
that map will come in handy in the future
I had some crazy wiring in the house that I’m living in now and didn’t know, living room on the whole other end of the house, half of it is tied into the bathroom breaker on a GFCI and the other half is tied into where the kitchen refrigerator is. When the kitchen refrigerator goes on, the compressor surge was too much, well I just had to move things around, but you just never know. It would be pretty expensive for you to have the electrician map out all of your circuits and you can do that yourself. They have two piece devices where you plug one end out into the outlet in the house can you go back and you touch each circuit breaker and it tells you where that wire is being powered from. You would be surprised what you find out I’m sure.
There are cheaper versions but I am a firm believer that in most cases you get what you pay for.
> I don't know how else you can do it and still be confident you have ID'd the correct breaker(s) on the first try.
I use one of these breaker finders. You plug it in (or use this as an adapter for a light), then wave the wand around the breaker box and it tell you which one it is. I live alone though so it might be more useful for me than others.
Then there’s this:
One of my favorite tools
This, potentially aided by a couple small lamps and/or a wired radio (or some device that makes noise when it has power)
not a electrician but my house is wired super funky so I purchased one of circuit breaker finders.
Circuit breaker finder. Just plug it in and the magic wand will beep over whichever breaker is controlling that circuit. It will also beep when waved over any other outlets on that particular branch. I like to label which breaker controls a particular outlet on the back of the faceplate as well, makes life easier.
My circuit tracer needs a live plug in order to work...?
Its similar style to this one... [link]
[link] ? i see the elechickens use shit like this all the time
Elaborately map and label what every socket and switch connects to on your breaker panel.
A circuit tracer can help with that. This one also shows you whether outlets are wired correctly. Circuit tracers are handy, but not completely necessary. At the very very least, buy a non contact voltage tester like this.
Personally, I think learning about circuits and electricity is extremely useful for homeowners. With a little bit of knowledge and a healthy dose of caution, you can quite easily replace switches, outlets, etc.
This should save you time finding the circuit next time.