zzzztt..oops-fried circuit--please help

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Old 11-29-02, 01:10 AM
J
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zzzztt..oops-fried circuit--please help

Sometimes the genious in me really shines. This homeowner thing is a lot of work!!!!!(first time homeowner)

Alright, So I was measuring my counter space in my kitchen, and had the metal tape ruler stretched out. I did not see the thing I had plugged into the outlet, when the steel tape ruler contact the 2 prongs of the unit I had plugged in. zzzzzztttt!!! a bunch of sparks, black smoke, and burned holes in my tape measure occured in the blink of an eye.

This outlet was to the left of the sink. The fridge plugs into a different outlet about 3 feet away on the other side of the sink right at the end of the counter. The fridge turned off, and I realized both outlets did not work anymore. The main kitchen breaker did not trip, and everything else in the kitchen still worked, just not those two outlets.

I happened to have a bag of new outlets, so I replaced the one that I fryed, hoping that would do the job. Nope. The wires coming from the wall on both outlets look ok, yet get no power. What happened??? did they fry somewhere inside the wall? How does the electrical work behind the wall? do the wires for the two outlets meet at some sort of junction box or whatever inside the wall that could have fryed??? I don't want to burn my house down, and I need to get this fixed!!

thanks,
Jeremy
 
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Old 11-29-02, 02:04 AM
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Most kitchens will have two dedicated kitchen circuits. You might want to check the breaker panel again. And see if maybe one of the breakers has moved just a bit to the center. If you're lucky and have a Square D load center with the QO style breakers they have a red trip indicator on them. Most other breakers don't trip all the way to the off position just about center. This is the trip position. Do you have any GFCI breakers in the rest of the kitchen, you didn't mention any. One of these could just need resetting after your trip. A breaker that has tripped under a fault should be replaced after the fault is cleared. It may not be reliable the next time you really need it to trip. You should contact a licensed electrician to change this breaker for maximum safety. But its your call, most people just flip the handle and go on about life.
 
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Old 11-29-02, 05:36 AM
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Bldaz
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Although i agree with joeh20 that you do have a breaker for this curcuit flipped, i do not agree with the premise that you have to change the breaker this simply is not the case.
 
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Old 11-29-02, 02:16 PM
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I do not believe that I have any other circuit breakers anywhere in the house besides the main panel in the back.

Last night, I flipped and reset every breaker in the box about 10 times, with no change. Unless their is a seperate breaker for those 2 outlets, and some of the other outlets in the house. The only thing that I can think of is to go around the house with an appliance and test all the outlets, see if there are any others that have died, and see if there is a specific breaker that fried. Other than that, could it be something in the walls??

Again, the wires for both of the outlets were not fried. This really sucks.
 
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Old 11-29-02, 02:41 PM
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Bldaz
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Do you have a GFCI outlet in the house(look in bath or outside) and if so is it tripped?Test it (gfci), it could be that this is all it is if the gfci tripped to, if not the fridge is on a curcuit with that outlet that fried, pull the cover off and the outlet out that fried, and using a voltmeter check for voltage there. It could be that the terminal let go of the wire or the outlet broke up inside, if not, your going to have to check each breaker(in the ON postion) for presence of voltage at each wire termination(the screw that holds the wire in at the breaker) at those breakers(should be only four to eight)for receptacles.
 
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Old 11-29-02, 02:50 PM
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Bldaz
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To answer the qustions you have chances are no, the wires did not fry, the dead short you encountered flipped the breaker or gfci, but you say you checked the breakers for the main kitchen, i am curious, What do you see when you look at the panel your looking at(how many and what type are the breakers) and is this house a single family detached home and how old is the structure? have you checked the garage for a panel? usually ten inches high by eight inches wide.
 
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Old 11-29-02, 05:45 PM
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joefixit
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jt,
Does part of this circuit still work? If so, open the last device that still works and check for lost connections there. The heavy amp draw of a short circuit will break the circuit at its weakest upstream link.
 
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Old 12-02-02, 09:02 AM
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I appreciate all the help.

My father and I spent quite some time on it on saturday. Seems that voltage to the one outlet dropped to 50 volts. That 50 volts was carried accross to the other two outlets when connected. AT one point it was 120 again, then 50 again.

The home warranty company sent out an electrician. After some troubleshooting, he finally found that the white wires under the plate in the circuit breaker box were all going to like one screw and they were loose. He said that is why the circuit breaker didn't trip and the the outlet was getting inconsistent voltage.

Thanks for all the advice here, it has taught me quite a bit about electrical systems in the house.
 
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Old 12-02-02, 09:19 AM
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The voltages were phantom. They were not varying. Digital voltmeters can be trusted only when they read 0, 120, and 240. All other readings are likely indications of an open circuit.

People think digital voltmeters are cool. But most would be much, much better off with an analog voltmeter.

Bottom line: Whenever you read less than 100 volts but more than 10 on a digital voltmeter, look for an open circuit on the neutral wire. And completely disregard the voltage reading.
 
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