office electrical--1/2 works:1/2 doesn't!!!

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  #1  
Old 01-02-06, 09:05 AM
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office electrical--1/2 works:1/2 doesn't!!!

I have a classic ,"he said she said problem". My basement was contracted between 2 different people--1 year apart. 1st part: 12x12 office with 2 circuits. One circuit--20 amp breaker runs all the wall receptacles and second circuit--15 amp breaker runs all the lights. 2nd part: remainder of basement completed on a separate sub-panel.The problem is on the 1st part, office wall receptacles. Half of the outlets work and the other half does not work. All of the outlets were working before second contractor started working. I have tested the non-working outlets with a wall receptacle tester and a non contact tester with no positive results. The second contractor swears he did not cut any wires. How do I trouble shoot this problem. I have pulled all receptacles and tightened all connections--white to silver and black to brass.
 
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  #2  
Old 01-02-06, 09:11 AM
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Does your receptacle tester read "open hot" or "open neutral"?

You might also ask the second contractor if he tapped into any existing circuits.

Do you have any GFCI receptacles in the basement?

Is it possible that the non-working receptacles are switch-controlled?

When you pulled all the receptacles and tightened the connections, did you do the working as well as the non-working receptacles? If not, you should do so now.
 
  #3  
Old 01-02-06, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by John Nelson
Does your receptacle tester read "open hot" or "open neutral"?

You might also ask the second contractor if he tapped into any existing circuits.

Do you have any GFCI receptacles in the basement?

Is it possible that the non-working receptacles are switch-controlled?

When you pulled all the receptacles and tightened the connections, did you do the working as well as the non-working receptacles? If not, you should do so now.
There was no reading of lights for the receptacle tester.
The second contractor did not tap in to any receptacles.
There are no GFCI receptacles on this circuit.
The non-working receptacles are not switched controlled.
I tightend all receptacles--working and non-working.
Thanks for your trouble shooting--anything else?
 
  #4  
Old 01-02-06, 09:38 AM
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What sort of circuit breaker controls these receptacles? Is this perhaps a multi wire circuit? Have you opened any or all of the receptacles and checked for power at the wires themselves?
 
  #5  
Old 01-02-06, 09:47 AM
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Bob's running down a good track. Are there any red wires in any of the receptacle boxes?

Or perhaps you really have two receptacle circuits, and one of the breakers is tripped (even though it doesn't look like it visually).
 
  #6  
Old 01-02-06, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by racraft
What sort of circuit breaker controls these receptacles? Is this perhaps a multi wire circuit? Have you opened any or all of the receptacles and checked for power at the wires themselves?
I don't know what type of circuit breaker it is. It looks just like all of the other breakers in the panel. Multi wire circuit--don't know? I have opened all of the receptacles and checked for power--1/2 work and 1/2 don't
 
  #7  
Old 01-02-06, 09:52 AM
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Why don't you describe the wiring at one of the receptacles. Please be very specific. How many cables enter/exit each box, how are they connected to the receptacles, to each other, etc. Also, are the tabs broken on the sides of the receptacle (check both sides).
 
  #8  
Old 01-02-06, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by John Nelson
Bob's running down a good track. Are there any red wires in any of the receptacle boxes?

Or perhaps you really have two receptacle circuits, and one of the breakers is tripped (even though it doesn't look like it visually).
There are no red wires in any of the boxes. All of the receptacles were placed on one circuit and it is not tripped. I have tripped and untripped just about all breakers that are close in proximity in the panel.
 
  #9  
Old 01-02-06, 10:00 AM
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Describe the wiring at each receptacle as I have requested above. Also, use a two wire tester and test the wiring with the box open and the receptacle pulled out from the box.
 
  #10  
Old 01-02-06, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by racraft
Why don't you describe the wiring at one of the receptacles. Please be very specific. How many cables enter/exit each box, how are they connected to the receptacles, to each other, etc. Also, are the tabs broken on the sides of the receptacle (check both sides).
In all but 3 of the 9 receptacles there are 2 cables coming in to the boxes-each consist of a black, white, and copper wire. They are predominately back wired to the receptacles and/or side nut wired directly. I didn't notice the tabs. What is the purpose of the tabs?
 
  #11  
Old 01-02-06, 10:04 AM
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The other 3 receptacles have one cable coming in to the box.
 
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Old 01-02-06, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by racraft
Describe the wiring at each receptacle as I have requested above. Also, use a two wire tester and test the wiring with the box open and the receptacle pulled out from the box.
I have used a 2 wire tester and I get a light on the working receptacle and a NO light on the non working receptacle.
 
  #13  
Old 01-02-06, 10:10 AM
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This is a topological puzzle. If you have 9 boxes, and 6 have two cables, and three have only one, then it is physically impossible for them to all be on the same circuit unless there is at least one other junction box somewhere. There's more to this puzzle than has been revealed so far. Time to do some more hunting.
 
  #14  
Old 01-02-06, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by John Nelson
This is a topological puzzle. If you have 9 boxes, and 6 have two cables, and three have only one, then it is physically impossible for them to all be on the same circuit unless there is at least one other junction box somewhere. There's more to this puzzle than has been revealed so far. Time to do some more hunting.
Thats a fair analysis. Let me see if I can be more descriptive. The power from the panel goes to one box which in turn feeds 3 boxes to the right-- the 3rd box stops with the 1 cable coming in to the box. Going back to the original box with the power-- this box has 2 cables, 1 in and 1 out. This is where the power outage begins. This outlet goes to another box to the right that has 3 cables, 1 in and 2 out. One of the wires that goes out goes to an outlet in the closet. The closet box has only 1 cable coming in -- this is the 2 of 3 boxes that have 1 cable coming in. Now go back to box that has 3 cables--the 3rd cable feeds 3 other boxes with the last box of the 3 has only 1 cable going in. There, that is 3 boxes that have 1 cable going in. Remember, all outlets were working before 2nd contractor started working. He swears he didn't cut anything.
 
  #15  
Old 01-02-06, 10:29 AM
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roger 529,

I just reread your original post and it is beginning to make more sense. Originally I read that one half of each duplex worked and the other half of the same duplex did not work. Upon further reading I get the impression that some of your receptacles work and some do not. Please clarify.

If some of your receptacles work and some do not then the problem could be a failed connection. You state that you checked the non-working ones. You also need to check the working ones.

It is entirely possible that the construction work (banging on the walls and ceiling or the use of the existing circuit (running high current tools) caused a weak connection to fail and that you have an open hot or open neutral wire.
 
  #16  
Old 01-02-06, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by racraft
roger 529,

I just reread your original post and it is beginning to make more sense. Originally I read that one half of each duplex worked and the other half of the same duplex did not work. Upon further reading I get the impression that some of your receptacles work and some do not. Please clarify.

If some of your receptacles work and some do not then the problem could be a failed connection. You state that you checked the non-working ones. You also need to check the working ones.

It is entirely possible that the construction work (banging on the walls and ceiling or the use of the existing circuit (running high current tools) caused a weak connection to fail and that you have an open hot or open neutral wire.
Yes, 4 receptacles work and 5 receptacles do not work. I checked the working receptacles and all conncections are tight. I have checked every connection every screw and every wire with no luck. Also, when I use the receptacle tester I get no reading -- no lights, open hot or open neutral.
 
  #17  
Old 01-02-06, 10:57 AM
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The other possibility is that a nail accidentally damaged a cable and created an open. However my bet is still with a bad connection.

Find the location of the open. In other words, find the last working receptacle and the first non-working one. Either that cable is bad or one of the connections at either end is bad.
 
  #18  
Old 01-02-06, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by racraft
The other possibility is that a nail accidentally damaged a cable and created an open. However my bet is still with a bad connection.

Find the location of the open. In other words, find the last working receptacle and the first non-working one. Either that cable is bad or one of the connections at either end is bad.
I've thought about the nail--possible not likely. I've gone back to the 2 outlets, the one that works and the one that doesn't. And everything is sound. I even switched out the potential bad outlet with a good one with no luck. Thanks for the trouble shoot. I know someone has the answer--keep the trouble shooting going.
 
  #19  
Old 01-02-06, 12:35 PM
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mice?

Do you have any signs of mice in the basement? I have had several clients where mice have chewed through cable in the wall between outlets. If there is voltage leaving on a cable out of a box, but it is not arriving at the next box, then disconnect the white and black at the source end. Then short the white, black and ground together at the next box. Check ohms or continuity from the source end white/ground and black/ground. You will probably read open on the black/ground pair if the wire is broken.
There is also the possiblity of a hidden box. I have found them more than once.
 
  #20  
Old 01-03-06, 06:21 AM
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I had a friend come over to the house last night and he came to a conclusion that there must be a CUT WIRE from the source box to the next box. My question is how do I pinpoint the location of the cut wire behind drywall.
 
  #21  
Old 01-03-06, 06:23 AM
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You don't. Replace the wire.
 
  #22  
Old 01-03-06, 07:36 AM
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My second contractor is disputing the point that they never interferred with the wiring in this room. I am saying that the electrical worked before he arrived and now it doesn't work. I am trying to prove to him that he accidentally cut the wire so he fixes it with his money and not mine. Is there any way that I can locate the cut wire?
 
  #23  
Old 01-03-06, 07:46 AM
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If you want to find it yourself, tear off the drywall. If you're right, the contractor will also pay for the drywall repair. But I think the alternative in the next paragraph is better.

You've done all the correct analyses and haven't located the problem yet. Talk to the second contractor. Tell him that you're going to hire an electrician to come in and fix this. Get him to agree that if the electrician determines that the problem was caused by the second contractor's work, that the contractor will pay the electrician's bill. Otherwise, you pay the electrician. Seems fair.
 
  #24  
Old 01-03-06, 07:51 AM
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The only reasonable thing you will be able to do is to open the wall and find the damage. Then it will be your word against his. You will say he caused it. He might say that you cut the wire after removing it to get him to replace it and repair the damage.

I suggest that you use a multimeter to verify that the wire is in fact damaged and that you determine which conductor is (or which conductors are) damaged. If the cable is cut completely through it will be all three conductors. if it is simply damaged it could be one, two or all three conductors.

It can't be too long a section of cable. Was he working on the wall where this cable runs?

You will have to think about how to proceed. Is the contractor finished? Do you want to get him mad at you before he does finish? Is it worth the aggravation of making him mad at you?
 
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Old 01-03-06, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by racraft
The only reasonable thing you will be able to do is to open the wall and find the damage. Then it will be your word against his. You will say he caused it. He might say that you cut the wire after removing it to get him to replace it and repair the damage.

I suggest that you use a multimeter to verify that the wire is in fact damaged and that you determine which conductor is (or which conductors are) damaged. If the cable is cut completely through it will be all three conductors. if it is simply damaged it could be one, two or all three conductors.

It can't be too long a section of cable. Was he working on the wall where this cable runs?

You will have to think about how to proceed. Is the contractor finished? Do you want to get him mad at you before he does finish? Is it worth the aggravation of making him mad at you?
All three wires do not have any reading. He was working on the wall . The contractor is finished.
 
  #26  
Old 01-03-06, 08:10 AM
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Have you tested the continuity of the wires? Voltage is one test, continuity is another.
 
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Old 01-03-06, 08:15 AM
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yes, I have tested for continuity
 
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Old 01-03-06, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by John Nelson
If you want to find it yourself, tear off the drywall. If you're right, the contractor will also pay for the drywall repair. But I think the alternative in the next paragraph is better.

You've done all the correct analyses and haven't located the problem yet. Talk to the second contractor. Tell him that you're going to hire an electrician to come in and fix this. Get him to agree that if the electrician determines that the problem was caused by the second contractor's work, that the contractor will pay the electrician's bill. Otherwise, you pay the electrician. Seems fair.
I've done everything that I know how to do and/or ask questions. I was thinking of your suggestion and that seems the most fair of them all. Thanks
 
  #29  
Old 01-04-06, 07:07 AM
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Cut Wire!!!

I have a cut wire in the walls from a remodeling job. 2 question's. How do I locate the cut and how do I repair the cut?
 
  #30  
Old 01-04-06, 07:12 AM
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The cut must be repaired in a junction box. Since the wire will probbly be too short the get 6 inches of wire from both ends in the box you will most likely need two junction boxes and a piece of wire between them.
Or you could just replace the entire length of cable. If you know where both ends of the cable are you could abandon it in place a fish a new cable.

How do you find it? Look in the areas of the wall where you were working. Not likely to be cut in an undisturbed area.
 
  #31  
Old 01-04-06, 07:13 AM
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Roger,

Please don't start a new thread for the same topic.

We have gone over and over your problem and answered your question repeatedly.

You must open the wall and find the problem. To repair it, replace the cut cable.

If you don;t want to open the wall and find the problem just replace the cable without opening the wall and abandon the cut cable.
 
  #32  
Old 01-04-06, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by racraft
Roger,

Please don't start a new thread for the same topic.

We have gone over and over your problem and answered your question repeatedly.

You must open the wall and find the problem. To repair it, replace the cut cable.

If you don;t want to open the wall and find the problem just replace the cable without opening the wall and abandon the cut cable.
Thanks Bob for your help.
 
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