PLEASE HELP Strange Wall Outlet Problem

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  #1  
Old 09-26-00, 11:38 PM
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Angry

OK history and an idea of my knowlage.

1)Moved into an older house with bad wall outlets. Functional but they don't grip the cord when plugged in and the plug drops out

2) Decided to replace the ones in my room. Replaced one in the kitchen to test and no problem.

3) Replaced 3 in my room, 2 on one circut breaker 1 on another. The 2 on the same breaker work with no problem. The last one is not working. There are 3 outlets on that circut, 1 outside the house, one inside, one inside my roomates bedroom. None of the 3 now work, the circut breaker looks ok and has been reset.

4)I removed the new, now not working, wall outlet and I used a Fluke 70 III multimeter to test the wires on the now open wall outlet. I am getting between .1-.4 volts.

5) When I took off the old wall outlet, there where 4 wires, 2 black, 2 white, no grounds. they are the solid copper wire about the thickness of twice a toothpick. I placed the wires into the holes in the back of the wall outlet(not the screws) now nothing on that line works, I have tried 2 different wall outlets on it to no avail. HELP ME I AM SO FRUSTRATED AND HAVE ONLY SLEPT 2 HOURS THE PAST 2 NIGHTS TRING TO FIX THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ME- I work with computer and am fairly comferable with electricity and wiring, however I don't know terms (besides the basics), I have a good tester with me and can report anything you need to fix this. You can e-mail me at [email protected] if that will speed this up. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE.

Lenny
 
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  #2  
Old 09-27-00, 12:47 AM
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Lenny,
I'm not an electrician, but as you probably know, your black wires are the hots and they go on the brass screws, and the whites are neutrals and they go on the silver screws. (Test all to make sure.) You should have replaced the two-prong receptacles with two-prong receptacles only, since you have no ground.
Your problem, I bet, is a tripped gfci outlet (most likely the one outside, since it is supposed to be gfci by code). Hit re-set on a gfci outlet somewhere in that circuit, and all should be well. If not, just come back in here, and one of the pro electricians can help you. Good Luck!


[This message has been edited by OldGuy (edited September 27, 2000).]
 
  #3  
Old 09-27-00, 05:35 AM
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First off thank you soo much for responding quickly. Even though there is no ground, there where 3 prong outlets in all of the wall outlets, so I replaced them with 3 prong. They are 15 amp the double recptical. Also would I find that reset inside the outside outlet (did that make sense.....kind of) or is it outside of the outside wall outlet.

Thanks
-Lenny

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  #4  
Old 09-27-00, 12:47 PM
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Not knowing the knowledge of the electrician that wired this structure it is hard to guess the location of a gfci control. I suspect it to be a receptacle style that has a test button on it and a reset button on it. It may be on any one of the locations required to be GFI protected. It may be a receptacle in the bathroom, kitchen over the counter, under the breaker panel, in the garage, or in an outside receptacle. It also may be a GFI breaker in the panel. You might want to check the receptacles nearest the ones that are dead where you may not have made a good connection, also. The 1 to 4 volts your are reading leads me to believe that this receptacle is a part of a circuit that has a GFI in the middle of the circuit. The low voltage reading leads me to beleive that this voltage has the source from the grounded white leg leading me to believe a load is currently on that circiut. Check for the GFI control first then check for a wire not making connection in an receptacle close to the dead receptacle whether on the same side or on the oppisite side of the wall where you receptacle is. Your prblem is most likely one of the two options.

Good Luck

WG
 
  #5  
Old 09-27-00, 01:22 PM
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Lenny, Just so you can sound like a pro:

The double outlet you described is called a "duplex receptacle". Wiring thickness is described in terms of gage. This number is nearly always printed on the insulation of each conductor, followed by "AWG", which stands for American Wire Gage. (Practically every other nation on the planet uses milimeters, but not us of course.) Two toothpicks thick sounds like about 12 gage, or #12 AWG.

Also, before I get into your problem, I would always put a hook on the end of my wire and use the screws. I have found the "stab" connectors to be less reliable even though they are permitted. In this case faster is not better. Also, when replacing a 2-prong receptacle with no ground with a 3-prong, you must replace it with a GFCI, and it must be labeled as such (stickers come in the package).

Now, as far as the GFCI reset that Old Guy referred to, on any duplex receptacle that is a GFCI, there are two small rectangular buttons between the two individual outlets. One says "test" and the other says "reset". The test button simulates a ground fault to see if the protection works. This kills power to that receptacle and all others that are wired after it (downstream) on the same circuit. That will also happen if there is a true ground fault on that circuit from the GFCI on downstream. GFCIs are also conspicuous because they are square faced (instead of the traditional oval that's flat on the top & bottom). But if it doesn't have the two buttons I described it's a "decorator" receptacle, and NOT a GFCI. Anyway, the GFCI reset pops out very slightly, and when it's pressed in you can feel it "click". If it doesn't click it either won't reset because a ground fault condition still exists, or because it never tripped in the first place.

With any luck Old guy is correct in his diagnosis and there's a GFCI on that ciruit that has kicked off, and hopefully you don't have a true ground fault. Then resetting it will bring back the whole circuit as he said. I'm gonna check back in tomorrow and see if you've been back, and what happened.
 
  #6  
Old 09-27-00, 04:06 PM
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Yet again I want to thank everybody for taking the time to help me (I know how much an electrician can cost an hour) and to let you know it is apprecated. I got home and have examined the outlets on the line. I belive there are only 3. NONE are gfi, not even the extior one. NONE have a ground wire, they all only have 4 wires and are connected to "duplex recepticals" with a 3 prong. On the wall outlet that I had tried to chjange in the first place (my room) the diode test returned a result of open for all white to black test it also returned the same on all white to white and black to black tests. I am recieving voltage of less then 1 volt from all the wires that I test. I have run an OHM test and recieve no reading. Is it possible that the circut breaker on that line went bye bye and is not flowing electricity even though it was not triped? If so how whould I know? As far as the gfi thing, I don't think it is on this house and if it is it is not on any of the wall recepticals. Please I have the equipment to test if you need more info. HELP ME.

Thanks Again
Lenny
 
  #7  
Old 09-27-00, 04:12 PM
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In what year was the house built?

I can't tell you how many people in this forum have said that there is no GFCI in te house, only to find it later. Outlets have a way of showing up in the most amazing places, and many homeowners have never even seen all the outlets in their home.

I ask the above question only in order to determine the likelihood that you really have no GFCI. Almost anything is possible, but we always like to go after the most likely causes first.
 
  #8  
Old 09-27-00, 07:01 PM
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Your question as to whether the breaker is bad is a good place to start. Take off your panel cover and test voltage beteen the neutral bar and the breaker that serves that circuit. If you have voltage the breaker is ok. Then go to the first receptacle that you think the electrician ran from the panel to this first receptacle. If you have a multi meter as I suspect then touch your red test lead to the black of the receptacle. Touch the other test lead black to a long wire that goes back to the neutral bar in the panel all the way through the house. If you have normal voltage then switch the test leads to your white wire and then the breaker serving the circuit. This will tell you what color that has a break in it. Keep going with this test until you find a wire that does not test right. This should be the wire causing the problem. Then set back look and think how would the electrician run this circuit at the time of original installation and start playing sherlock holmes. Not an easy problem but process of elimination is the best remody step by step following the circuit until you lose the power or grounded return path.

Good Luck

Wg
 
  #9  
Old 09-27-00, 07:30 PM
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Here's a crazy thought....Sometimes receptacles are wired in such a fashion as to have one half controlled by a wall switch somewhere. From your original post, it sounds like you had power at least until you replaced the receptacles. There is a tab that is removed when receptacles are wired as stated above. Removal of the tab is done to facilitate each half being wired to a separate circuit. This is just a shot in the dark, but maybe when you replaced the existing receptacles, maybe one of them was wired in the above fashion, and by not removing the tab in the new receptacle both halves would be on the same circuit, and possibly controlled by a wall switch. You should also try another new receptacle. It doesn't happen often, but sometimes you get a new one that doesn't work.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by MrHappy:
OK history and an idea of my knowlage.

1)Moved into an older house with bad wall outlets. Functional but they don't grip the cord when plugged in and the plug drops out

2) Decided to replace the ones in my room. Replaced one in the kitchen to test and no problem.

3) Replaced 3 in my room, 2 on one circut breaker 1 on another. The 2 on the same breaker work with no problem. The last one is not working. There are 3 outlets on that circut, 1 outside the house, one inside, one inside my roomates bedroom. None of the 3 now work, the circut breaker looks ok and has been reset.

4)I removed the new, now not working, wall outlet and I used a Fluke 70 III multimeter to test the wires on the now open wall outlet. I am getting between .1-.4 volts.

5) When I took off the old wall outlet, there where 4 wires, 2 black, 2 white, no grounds. they are the solid copper wire about the thickness of twice a toothpick. I placed the wires into the holes in the back of the wall outlet(not the screws) now nothing on that line works, I have tried 2 different wall outlets on it to no avail. HELP ME I AM SO FRUSTRATED AND HAVE ONLY SLEPT 2 HOURS THE PAST 2 NIGHTS TRING TO FIX THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ME- I work with computer and am fairly comferable with electricity and wiring, however I don't know terms (besides the basics), I have a good tester with me and can report anything you need to fix this. You can e-mail me at [email protected] if that will speed this up. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE.

Lenny
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

 
  #10  
Old 09-29-00, 01:52 PM
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After reading all of the postings as of 4:37PM 09/29/2000, I would seriosly consider replacing all of the wiring on this circuit for many reasons.
1) Not functional wiring
2) Repair is time consuming with no positive results being yeilded
3) No ground wires
4) New wiring that meets the 1999 NEC will be much safer.

Consider this option of rewiring.
1) How many of these receptacles are on the exterior walls of this house other than the outdoor receptacle?
2)Is there access to the top or bottom of these walls from a attic or basement?
3) if there are receptacles on the exterior walls, are the next to the outdoor receptacle?
4) The Code requires receptacles in habitable rooms to be located on any fixed wall 2 ft or wider, no more than 6ft away from a doorway, and maximum 12ft apart.
Use 12 AWG wire, and make the receptacles on the interior a 15A circuit, and the new GFCI receptacle on the exterior have its own 20A circuit. The interior receptacles may also have a 20A circuit breaker if the wire is a minimum of 12AWG and in some areas, the inspector will be fussy and require 20A faces on the receptacles on a 20A circuit even though the code only reqires 15A faces in most instaces.
I would abandon the ond wiring and remove as much as possible.
If having access to walls from above and below are a problem, and you do not want to tear into the walls to have access and then patch them, surface wiring using a somewhat prefabricated conduit system may be the answer.
Do respond with any futher results and questions in reguard to what to do next.
Rewiring is the best option.

gj
 
  #11  
Old 10-01-00, 12:53 AM
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I am having an electrician (friend of mine check this out tommorow or monday) and I will tell you his findings.

MrHappy
 
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