My GFCI outlets in the master bath stopped working...

Reply

  #1  
Old 12-19-04, 06:32 PM
kdonnel
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
My GFCI outlets in the master bath stopped working...

My wife thought her hair dryer was broken because it would not work in any of the four plugs in the bathroom. One is a GFCI outlet that is feeding a second outlet on the other side of the mirror.

She bought a new hair dryer and it did not work either.

I checked and the GFCI outlet was not tripped. I tripped it and reset it but the outlet still did not work.

I went to the basement and found the 20 amp breaker that serviced the bathroom outlets and tripped and reset the outlet.

She was able to start drying her hair but it went out again.

I dug out a volt meter and I could get 120v from hot to ground but only about 45v from hot to neutral.

I pulled the cover off the electrical panel and found:
picture of inside of breaker box

The screw is tight. I am guessing the wire is loose. I am a little afraid to go poking around in the box with the power on. Why would they cram bundles of neutrals into one screw terminal when there are 15 or so empty ones below?

To fix this can I remove the chared wire, cut it back to where it looks fine, pigtail on an extension and run it to its own screw terminal?

There is no sign of arcing at the receptical end. The only thing on the circuit is the two bath room recepticals. The wire appears to be 12 gauge wire.

The house is 7 years old and all the wiring and breakers are original.

Am I right that the only cause would be a loose neutral wire at the bus bar?
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 12-19-04, 07:32 PM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: NA
Posts: 1,065
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
kdonnel my first advice is to call in a electrician to take a look see at his obviously overheated wire. Second....no way should 3,4, or 5 neutrals be in the same hole. More than likely this neutral came loose and over heated when under load. Not sure who would have grouped this many neutrals together. This certainly needs to be changed to one neutral per hole. Some panels will allow up to 3 10's for equipment grounds (bare wires) in one hole but must be same size wire. Could be something more serious but since things have been ok for 7 years my best guess would be the neutral came loose. Why dont you wait for some of the other electricians on this site to give you their opinions. Not sure if wire nutting that many neutrals to make them reach a hole by themselves is going to be acceptble in a main disconnect enclosure.

One last thing can you tell us if that burned white wire comes from a cable that contains three conductors (black, red and white)? If so can you then tell us if the black and red wire of that cable go to a double pole breaker or to two different single pole breakers.
 
  #3  
Old 12-19-04, 07:35 PM
ampz's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 536
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
WOW!!! What the contractor did to the neutral bar is a serious code violation.NEC states "Terminals for multiple conductors must be marked for this purpose".What you did to correct the problem was the right thing, but if I were you I would correct the wiring in the rest of the panel or the same thing will happen on another circuit.If you dont feel comfortable about working in this situiation call a pro.
 
  #4  
Old 12-19-04, 08:01 PM
kdonnel
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Originally Posted by Roger
One last thing can you tell us if that burned white wire comes from a cable that contains three conductors (black, red and white)? If so can you then tell us if the black and red wire of that cable go to a double pole breaker or to two different single pole breakers.
The large black and red wires in the foreground run to the stove breaker on that side of the box. They have nothing to do with the problem outlets.

The problem circuit is just a regular 20 amp circuit. Lucky number 13 in the panel.
 
  #5  
Old 12-19-04, 08:49 PM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: NA
Posts: 1,065
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
Sorry, I should be more clear, my concern wasnt the two highly visible large red and black cables but the cable the damaged white wire came from. If it came into the panel in a NM-B type cable containing a red and black wire. This would mean this white wire was part of a multiwire circuit usually #12 awg. Though unlikely, but after seeing this panel wiring, it would be possible that someone terminated this multiwire circuit on two single pole breakers that were clipped to the same phase and consequently doubling the load on the shared neutral. I wouldnt think though if this was the case the damage would be limited to the termination point. Who can be for sure though? You have answered the question however and it is no longer a concern.
 
  #6  
Old 12-20-04, 03:52 PM
kdonnel
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
I am done and everything works great.

I had enough slack in all the neutrals to put them on their own screw terminals. I did miscount and ended up with 2 14 gauge wires in one screw terminal.

At least all my 20 amp circuits have their own screw hole now.

I did find one other wire that showed signs of heat in another bundle.

Here is a picture of my new panel.
 
  #7  
Old 12-20-04, 04:27 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
Posts: 6,814
Received 87 Votes on 80 Posts
Looks much better. The 2 #14 under one screw is still a code violation. If this is the fisrts disconnect after the meter the ground a neutral are connected and you can use the bus on the left side for neutral wires as well as ground wires.
 
  #8  
Old 12-21-04, 12:07 PM
hornetd's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Maryland
Posts: 695
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by kdonnel
I am done and everything works great.

I had enough slack in all the neutrals to put them on their own screw terminals. I did miscount and ended up with 2 14 gauge wires in one screw terminal.

At least all my 20 amp circuits have their own screw hole now.

I did find one other wire that showed signs of heat in another bundle.

Here is a picture of my new panel.
Each grounded current carrying conductor (i.e. neutral) must have it's own terminal because as the loads vary up and down they will heat and cool and thus expand and contract at different rates. That is what caused the connections to loosen, arc, and overheat the nearby insulation.

That would appear to be a GE panel. The bar across the bottom of the two buss bars just below the bottom breakers connects the two buss bars together. It is called the main bonding jumper. If there is no disconnect between this panel and the service drop then alls well. If there is another disconnect ahead of this panel then you need to keep the white wires separated on the right hand buss bar and remove the main bonding jumper.

Since the main bonding jumper is still in the panel I will hope that that panel's main breaker is the service disconnecting means. If that is true then you can use the holes on either side for your white (neutral) wires because that main bonding jumper makes both buss bars serve as a single grounded and bonded buss bar. That would allow you to move the white wires that come form the left side of the panel to the buss bar on the left side.

Some place in that panel or on it's cover is a label telling you how many wires of what gage are permitted in those buss bar terminals. I don't know the specific limitations for GE but more than two Equipment Grounding Conductors per terminal for grounding conductors is seldom allowed. Separate the bundled Equipment Grounding Conductors into the number of connections allowed by your panels listing and labeling.
--
Tom H
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: