Trouble with Grounded Receptacle

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  #1  
Old 03-01-06, 01:39 PM
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Question Trouble with Grounded Receptacle

I'm doing some bathroom remodeling in a condo built in 1970;
receptacles are grounded, but not GFCI (wiring is copper).

(Anytime I say something incorrect / unclear, please jump in with
questions / comments.)

I'm currently in the planning and thinking stage of the project. I'm
ideally not planning on rewiring the whole place, but I'm looking for
high bang-for-my-back safety upgrades.) My idea is to upgrade the
bathroom receptacle to GFCI, and put the exhaust fan (and overhead
light... the recessed light is used as a junction box, and that's
where the fan gets its power) on a GFCI protected circuit.

From looking at how the wires are running in the bathroom (some
drywall has been removed for mold remediation, different story...) it
seems like the feed to the exhaust fan most likely comes from the
receptacle in the hallway. (The bathroom, hallway, one bedroom, and
half the living room are on this (15A) circuit.) In order to find out
for sure, I did the following:

0) Used receptacle tester --- reports OK.
1) Breaker - OFF.
2) Open receptacle... look at wiring (2 hot, 2 neutral, and
ground). Potentially confirms hypothesis that (some part) of the
bathroom is fed trough this receptacle?
3) Close receptacle.
4) Breaker - ON.

4b) Breaker - NOT ON, uh-oh...

It seems that by just opening the receptacle and looking, something
has gone wrong.

Now, with the breaker still on the OFF position, the resistance
between hot and neutral is 0. Am I correct in concluding that there
must be a short somewhere?

Any ideas? I just want to make sure I'm not missing something really
obvious before I call in a professional electrician.

On a different, but related note: Is there any disadvantage to
changing out all the grounded receptacles in the condo to GFCIs? (At
the very minimum I'll end up doing this in the kitchen and bathrooms.)

Thank you for any help / ideas.
 
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  #2  
Old 03-01-06, 02:10 PM
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You should already know what is on each and every circuit. You should have figured that out shortly after you moved in.

If you do anything more than replace a receptacle with a GFCI receptacle then you probably need to bring the bathroom up to code. This is especially true if you have drywall removed.

Put away your meter. Go and buy a plug in tester and a two wire tester. Your meter will fool you every time. Taking resistance measurements is only useful if you do so properly. You did not.

If you have a problem as a result of opening and looking at a receptacle, then you most likely caused it. The most likely problem is a wire that you disconnected. All the wires may look connected, but they may not be. Check all the connections and redo them.
 
  #3  
Old 03-01-06, 03:15 PM
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You should already know what is on each and every circuit. You should have figured that out shortly after you moved in.
I know what is on the circuit --- bathroom, hallway, bedroom, 1/2 living room.

What I was trying to figure out is the sequence, and if it would be possible to provide GFCI protection to the exhaust fan by upgrading to a GFCI receptacle and connecting the fan-feed to the load side.

If you do anything more than replace a receptacle with a GFCI receptacle then you probably need to bring the bathroom up to code. This is especially true if you have drywall removed.
Thanks for pointing that out. This is my first major DIY project, and I have three goals: (1) to get it done right, and up to code as necessary; (2) learn something in the process; and (3) keep cost down (but definitely not at the expense of safety / necessary code compliance.)

As I mentioned in my initial post, I'm still planning, thinking, and (obviously) looking in order to figure out what I want to do, what I can do myself, and what additional things need to be done. Once the planning is done I am going down to the county office to get the appropriate permits, etc.

Put away your meter. Go and buy a plug in tester and a two wire tester. Your meter will fool you every time. Taking resistance measurements is only useful if you do so properly. You did not.
Noted. Will do.

If you have a problem as a result of opening and looking at a receptacle, then you most likely caused it.
Sure, no argument there.

The most likely problem is a wire that you disconnected. All the wires may look connected, but they may not be. Check all the connections and redo them.
Sure will do.

Thank you!
 
  #4  
Old 03-01-06, 04:07 PM
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Current code for bathrooms requires that the bathroom receptacle be a 20 amp circuit and that only serve the bathroom(s). It can serve receptacles only in multiple bathrooms OR it can serve anything inside one bathroom.
 
  #5  
Old 03-01-06, 04:40 PM
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Current code for bathrooms requires that the bathroom receptacle be a 20 amp circuit and that only serve the bathroom(s). It can serve receptacles only in multiple bathrooms OR it can serve anything inside one bathroom.
Sigh... So the bottom line is that I would have to run a new (20A) circuit to the bathroom in order to bring it up to code; this combined with the fact that the breaker box is full makes it sound like an expensive project (and definitely not a DIY project for a novice.)
 
  #6  
Old 03-01-06, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by diy_fixit
Now, with the breaker still on the OFF position, the resistance
between hot and neutral is 0. Am I correct in concluding that there
must be a short somewhere?
Dont know.

More then likely your measuring all the light bulbs and whatever maybe connected and turned on, in that circuit.
Unplug everything and turn off every item on that circuit.
 
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