Last night when I left work I got a text message from my neighbor (damn, this is an exciting way to start off) asking where I was. Apparently the lower level of his house had power in about every other opening. I tested to see where had power and where there was none; next thing I did was to make sure something inductive worked there.
After removing the nearby plate covers, I found several bundles of wires that looked awful. The people who lived there before must have had a fear of neat electrical junction boxes. After 2 hours of testing plugs and re-doing the neutral bundles, we found one that when you jiggle the box, the lights come back and BAM! There is the missing neutral….
We opened up that plug, which this guy has never used in 2 years at the house and found a ratty job, a crushed up box and a small burn mark on the wire nut as well as the loose wire. So, there must be monsters who go around loosening wire nuts just slightly. That is all I can figure, so it must be the answer.
Anyway, after just over two hours of re-doing every outlet in the garage and about half those in the downstairs living area, it works. I finally went in my place at about 9:15 and made food (which is actually breakfast) and went to bed.
Here is one example, though not the culprit) of the wiring in the house.