Switched outlet keeps tripping breaker


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Old 08-29-06, 07:31 AM
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Switched outlet keeps tripping breaker

I'm doing some remodeling and have added a switch using 14/3 with the two blacks pigtailed to the switch and the red wire hooked to the switch, at the next outlet , I removed the metal tab on the hot side hooked the red to the outlet and then pigtailed the two blacks to the other side of the outlet.

Everything works fine with the switch off (power throughout the run, even in the outlets after the switched outlet), but when I turn the switch on, it blows the circuit??

I thought I had this wired properly, but perhaps not...any diagrams out there on this setup??

Thanks!!!
 
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Old 08-29-06, 07:49 AM
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Tell us ALL the wiring you did at the recepacle and at the switch and we can sort it out.

The basics are as follows, assuming that power comes into the switch:

At the switch the two black wires should be pigtailed to one terminal of the switch. The red wire should be conected to the other terminal of the switch. The white wires should be connected together with a wire nut.

At the receptacle the white wires get connected to the silver screws. The red wire gets connected to one of the brass screws and the black wires get pigtailed to the other brass screw, and the tab gets removed between the brass screws.
 
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Old 08-29-06, 07:58 AM
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I'm confused...

Why are you using 14-3? Is this a three-way switch? Is this particular light or outlet controlled by two different switches in different locations? Otherwise, regular old 14-2 is fine.

Describe in more detail what you're trying to do here. Are you replacing old work, or adding new features? It kind of sounds like you're turning a regular outlet into a switched outlet (for controlling a floor lamp maybe?)

Your switch is somehow causing a direct connection between a hot wire and neutral, or two hot wires on opposite legs of the main panel. Explain what you're trying to do, what wires are coming into the box, etc. Pictures are always good too!
 
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Old 08-29-06, 08:41 AM
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racraft,

You nailed it...that's exactly what I've got...arniebuteft, I'm trying to create a switched outlet with constant power beyond that...that's why the 14-3

"power comes into the switch:

At the switch the two black wires should be pigtailed to one terminal of the switch. The red wire should be conected to the other terminal of the switch. The white wires should be connected together with a wire nut. -- and the grounds are pigtailed to the switch --

At the receptacle the white wires get connected to the silver screws. The red wire gets connected to one of the brass screws and the black wires get pigtailed to the other brass screw, and the tab gets removed between the brass screws." -- and the grounds are pigtailed to the outlet --

Now, I'm using the insert holes in the outlet, not the brass screws...should that matter?

Thanks!!
 
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Old 08-29-06, 09:07 AM
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Using the "insert holes in the outlet" which are called back stabs is a bad thing to do, but it should not cause the problem you describe, as long as you use the right ones.

I say it's a bad thing to do because they are unreliable and prone to failure over time. I strongly suggest that you use the screw terminals instead.

If your wiring is correct, look for the red hot wire shorted to ground at either the switch or the receptacle.
 
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Old 08-29-06, 09:58 AM
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I think I understand now. You say you wanted to create a switched duplex receptacle, while still having unswitched receptacles 'downstream'. You don't need 14-3 for this. The only reason you'd need 14-3 is if you wanted one receptacle (say, the top one) to be switched, and the bottom one to remain hot always. I think I've drawn what you're trying to do.

http://img228.imageshack.us/img228/9033/basictopreceptacleswitchedonlycl1.jpg

The forums won't allow attachments, IMG code, or imbedded images, so just cut and paste that link into another browser window.

In my drawing, you've got standard 14-2 NM cable coming into the switch box (providing power), and two NM cables leaving. One cable leaving is 14-3, and it goes down to the duplex receptacle you're going to switch. The other cable leaving is 14-2, and it goes on to the next series of receptacles, which will be unswitched.

The neutral wire coming into the switch box should be wire-nutted to the two neutrals leaving the box. The black wire entering the box (powered) should be wire nutted to the black wire leaving the switch box for the downstream unswitched runs, to the red wire of the 14-3 leaving the switch box, and to a short pigtail of black. That short pigtail of black will connect to one side of the switch. The other side of the switch connects to the black wire of the 14-3 leaving the switch box and going down to the switched receptacle.

In the receptacle box, you should connect the white neutral to the neutral side of the duplex receptacle (silver screw), the red wire to the bottom dark brass screw, and the black wire to the top dark brass screw. Make sure to break the tab between red and black wires on the hot side of the receptacle, or else the receptacle will always be powered, regardless of the switch position. Leave the tab intact on the neutral side.

This creates a duplex receptacle where the top receptacle is switched (black wire), and the bottom receptacle is always hot (from the red wire). Grounding wires are omitted for clarity, but don't forget to hook those up too.

If you don't care about having one switched and one hot receptacle (i.e. you want them both to be switched), then just run 14-2 down to the receptacle box.
 

Last edited by DIYaddict; 08-29-06 at 10:23 AM. Reason: Edited derogatory word
  #7  
Old 08-29-06, 11:02 AM
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arniebuteft,

Your diagram is correct, except I've got the live run coming into the switch, going to the switched (yep, just one side) outlet and then continuing from there on to the next outlet...

Thanks for the initial diagram, would it be the same for what I'm referring to??

Thanks!!

Also, I'll check the grounding to see if something is touching...
 
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Old 08-29-06, 12:01 PM
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Yes, it's basically the same whether you take the 14-2 wire going downstream from the switch box, or from the receptacle box. In your case, you'd tie the unswitched conductor wire from the 14-3 with the black wire going to the downstream receptacles, running a pigtail to the unswitched receptacle. The receptacle being switched would still look the same.

If throwing the switch is tripping the breaker, you've got a short somewhere. If all of your hots are wired to the dark brass screws, and your neutral is wired to the shiny nickel screw, and you don't have any neutrals and hots wired together accidentally, then you'll be looking for a grounding wire-to-hot short. It could be in the switch box or the receptacle box, just disassemble and look for a loose grounding wire. A much less likely scenario could be a bad receptacle, that's shorted internally. With the power OFF, test for resistance amongst the hot, neutral, and grounded prong holes. You should see high (infinite) resistance between Hot and ground or neutral, and very low (less than an Ohm) between ground and neutral. Anything else, and it's a bad receptacle. Theoretically, the switch could also be broke, shorting internally when energized and creating a ground fault.
 
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Old 08-29-06, 12:10 PM
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Here, I drew up the diagram with the feeder for the downstream receptacles coming from the box that has the switched receptacle. Basic idea still the same.

http://img234.imageshack.us/img234/343/basictopreceptacleswitchedonlyv1sj5.jpg
 
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Old 08-29-06, 12:14 PM
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Great! Thanks! I'll try it when I get home and let you know!!
 
 

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