Re-wiring household outlets


  #1  
Old 08-01-02, 11:52 AM
KyleStaggs
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Re-wiring household outlets

I am currently in the process of re-wiring the outlets in my condo and have come across a problem I can't seem to solve (despite having no electrical knowledge or experience--go figure!). The problem is that one of the outlets (before I removed it) had one plug that was constantly in use and one plug that was activated/deactivated by a light switch. When I removed the old outlet, I did not pay attention to how it was wired (D'oh!).

There are two separate feeds coming into the back of the electrical box. Each has one black, white and ground wire inside. I assume that one of these feeds is from the light switch and one is a general electricity supply.

I attached the black and white wires from one feed (which I assumed was from the light switch) to the bottom plug and the black and white wires from the other feed to the top plug. I twisted the ground wires together and attached them to the ground screw. I used a standard outlet. The result of this wiring configuration is that both plugs are now constantly in use when the light switch is in the off position. When I turn the light switch on, the circuit breaker trips and I am left in darkness.

So...any tips? Is it a wiring problem or do I need to purchase some sort of special outlet to install in this situation instead of the standard $.99 model?

Please help...My wife assumes I know what I'm doing and I don't want to blow it!
 
  #2  
Old 08-01-02, 12:22 PM
S
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You need to figure out whether the switch is a switch loop. You need a small ohm meter and connect to the wire that you think go to the switch. if the needle moves when you turn the switch on ( with the breaker off) then there is continuity thru the switch. Was there a pigtail wire in this setup before? fig this out and post back.
 
  #3  
Old 08-01-02, 12:22 PM
mikatrex
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Take the outlet back out and look carefully - between the screws on each side. You will see a little tab that connects them together. BREAK THIS OFF. You said that there are 2 white and 2 black wires? Then break off both tabs (one each side). What is happening is one IS the feed from the panel and the other is the feed from the switch, with those tabs in you connect them and blow the fuse.
Also - the black wires go to the brass coloured screws and the white wires go to the silver screws. If you look carefully at the outlet the black will be on the side with the smaller slot. This very important for newer things that rely on "polarized plugs."
 
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Old 08-01-02, 12:24 PM
M
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Sounds like you have one cable with constant power and one cable for a "switch loop" to control one half of you outlet.

(1) First you have to determine which cable is the one with constant power. This is easy. Turn off the power at the breaker. Disconnect one of the cables from the outlet. DON'T LET THE BARE END OF THE DISCONNECTED CABLE TOUCH ANYTHIG. Turn the power back on. Is there power at the outlet? If so, the cable connected to the outlet is the one with constant power. If not, it is the other one. Label the cable with constant power "P" and the other cable "S" (for switch).

(2) Disconnect the outlet completely (I will assume that you will cut the power wt the breaker at every step, so I'll stop repeating it). Look at the outlet. One side will have brass-colored screws (as opposed to silver-colored screws). If you look carefully you will see a small metal tab connecting the two screws. You need to break off this tab to electrically isolate the two halves of the outlet. Leave the tab connecting the silver screws alone.

(3) Now connect white from cable P to one of the silver screws on the outlet (it doesn't matter which one).

(4) You need a short (4") piece of black wire the same gauge as the other wires in the box. You will connect one end of this "pigtail" to the black from cable P and to the white from cable S using a wire nut. Connect the other end of the pigtail to the brass screw on the side of the outlet that you want to have constant power.

(5) Connect the black from cable S to the brass screw on the side of the outlet you want switched.

(6) Connect the bare grounds together and to the green screw of the outlet, using a wire nut and a short bare pigtail.
 
  #5  
Old 08-01-02, 12:25 PM
S
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Mika is right,, if the other one had both tabs broke out do the same,,, if it had one side ( the brass side) broke out and a pigtail in this assembly then there was a switch loop.
 
  #6  
Old 08-01-02, 12:55 PM
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Open the connections so that you have 4 "loose" wires,2 Blacks & 2 Whites. You must seperate the wires into the 2 cable "pairs" which enter the box seperately. Each of the 2 cables has 1 Black and 1White which are the "pair"-2 wires in the same cable. You must determine which pair has voltage across the Black and White wires-use a simple test-lamp socket. The cable with the pair that lites the test lamp is the "Voltage" cable, VC. The other cable pair is the "Switch" cable,SC.----Connect the White of the VC to one lead of the test-lamp socket and connect the Black of the VC to the White of the SC and connect the Black of the SC to the other lead of the test-lamp.The switch should operate the test-lamp. Remove the test-lamp leads and wire-nut a Black lead together with the Black VC wire and the White SC wire. You now have 2 Blacks and 1 White for the receptacle connections.The White VC wire connects to one of the silver terminals and the 2 Blacks connect to the 2 brass terminals which must be seperated by removing the link between the terminals. The terminal connected to the Black SC wire is switch-controlled.----Good Luck!!!
 
 

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