Circuit crossed?


Old 11-03-09, 05:23 PM
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Circuit crossed?

I was recently doing some wiring in my basement, and I think I made a mistake over 10 years ago in some wiring in one of the rooms I built back then..

Here is the issue.,..]

I added a breaker to my box and ran the power into the room I built to feed a few outlets and (I knew less then) the light.

Today when I was re-configuring some lights in other areas of the basement.. I realized that the light in the room mentioned above was using the common from the circuit that the rest of the basement has the lights on.. and the Hot from the new circuit I installed 10 years ago! I found this out the hard way as the common that flows through that room sparked on me even tho I had the breaker for the rest of basement lights off (not the new circuit from 10 years ago) so it seems that the power back tracked through the light in the room added 10 years ago through the light switch and through the common to the other circuit (rest of basement lights)

I hope I did not confuse anyone too much!

now my question is.. after all the paneling and etc.. has been hung so many years ago etc.. how do I trace the wires so I can see exactly what goes where (now that I know more than I did back then) I would like to either get the common from the rest of basement out of the rooms light circuit, or get the power from rest of basement to be the power feeding the light...

Thanks in advance for anyones input

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Old 11-03-09, 06:39 PM
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I am thinking you would need a tool commonly called a fox and hound. It is a toner that injects a signal onto the wiring and a receiver that follows the toner. One of the Ideal brand testers will also follow the wire allowing you to trace the circuit.
Old 11-04-09, 08:38 AM
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Any and all Branch-Circuit connections SHOULD be "acessible" in an approved outlet-box. If there are two Neutral conductors , each one extending from the Neutral terminaton block in the panel, and these two Neutrals and connected together beyond the panel, then the faulty connection should be acessible in an outlet-box.
Old 11-07-09, 07:47 PM
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Ok.. first I want to thank those that replied...

I am not sure if I was more stupid 10 years ago, or recently!

But as I started to investigate the issue.. I realize... All the COMMON wires are connected together in the fuse box anyways, and I did NOT need any special COMMON for this circuit!

Now after speaking to a few ppl, we also think the small sparks I seen were the discharge from the florencent lights balist

So I finished the rest of my light wiring with not a single issue.. and everything is working and testing perfectly!

Thanks again!

Old 11-07-09, 09:56 PM
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Yes you are correct that all the commons are connected to the same spot in the panel but that doesn't mean it is alright to do that elsewhere before it gets to the panel. The reasons can get a bit technical if your not an electrician but simply put if you use one common to tie multiple circuits together you may eventually overload that wire, and circuit breakers and fuses only monitor the hot wire, not the common. While you may be drawing less then 10 amps on each circuit if they all share the same phase of power that neutral could go well beyond the 15 or 20 amps it is rated for and start a fire. Now seeing it has been done 10 years ago and you haven't had any issues you may never have any but as we all know as time goes on people inevitably buy new things and change things around and one day it may be a problem. I suggest you have an electrician check it out and fix anything if need be. I have never seen a ballast cause a neutral to arc like that unless the neutral already had a load on it. Most likely there is something else sharing that wire and you took its path back to the panel away resulting with and arc when the connection seperated. And FYI allot of people think the white wire is safe but you can get an even worse shock from the white wire if you get between it and a ground source so be careful when messing around with it if there is a chance it still has power on it.

Best of luck, let us know if you have any more questions.


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