Any Idea What's Wrong?

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Old 05-24-10, 10:14 PM
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Any Idea What's Wrong?

An 85 year old friend has an electrical problem I am trying to help him with, but it has me baffled.

Referring to the sketch below:

Outlet 1 works properly. Outlet 2 does not work and nothing downstream works. It has only small (7v?) voltage between A & B. It has 122 volts between A & G and 114 volts between B & G.

Does anyone have an idea whats wrong?

 
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Old 05-24-10, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by i_am_jim View Post
An 85 year old friend has an electrical problem I am trying to help him with, but it has me baffled.

Referring to the sketch below:

Outlet 1 works properly. Outlet 2 does not work and nothing downstream works. It has only small (7v?) voltage between A & B. It has 122 volts between A & G and 114 volts between B & G.

Does anyone have an idea whats wrong?

Ok For letter A is white while letter B is black and G is ground.

Now what you have to do is start at first receptale where you have verifed power source and look at the connections all the black conductor will go to brass colour screw while white conductors will go white screws do the same with next one and when you get to the RCD{GFCI } make sure you have line side you will see line and load so hook up to line side unless you have anything downstream you will have to indentify which one it is.

the other quick tip the narrow slot is hot { black } while wide slot is netural { white }

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 05-24-10, 11:24 PM
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I'm sorry, but I don't follow.

It sounds like you're suggesting I check to see if the circuit is hooked up properly. I should have explained, the circuit had worked properly for many years. It suddenly stopped working a few weeks ago.

The major thing that confuses me is how both the hot and neutral can have voltage on them.
 
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Old 05-25-10, 05:37 AM
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Circuit

Are #1 and #2 connected down-stream to the load side of the GFCI? If so, the GFCI could be bad.
 

Last edited by Wirepuller38; 05-25-10 at 05:38 AM. Reason: Added statement
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Old 05-25-10, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Wirepuller38 View Post
Are #1 and #2 connected down-stream to the load side of the GFCI? If so, the GFCI could be bad.
If by #1 and #2 your mean the two ordinary outlets -- they are both upstream of (nearer the breaker than) the GFCI. There is no load down-stream wired to the GFCI. It's only used as an outlet.
 
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Old 05-25-10, 06:25 AM
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A little more complete wiring sketch:



All measurements in my original post were made at Outlet #2
 

Last edited by i_am_jim; 05-25-10 at 07:52 AM.
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Old 05-25-10, 07:39 AM
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At the GFCI are the black and white both on the line side? It won't work if either is on the load side.
 
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Old 05-25-10, 07:48 AM
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You have a loose connection in the neutral portion of the circuit. Move all the connections to the screw terminals on the sides of the receptacles.
 
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Old 05-25-10, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
At the GFCI are the black and white both on the line side? It won't work if either is on the load side.
Remember, it was working fine until a few weeks ago and nothing has been changed. It just stopped working.
 
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Old 05-25-10, 08:47 AM
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PC has the right idea. You have a loose or broken wire at either outlet 1 or outlet 2. It is probably the white neutral wire. A heavy load like a vacuum cleaner could have caused a weak connection to finally burn through. It is very common.

To fix the problem, check both outlets. If there are any backstabbed wires (poked into back of receptacle), move those connections to the adjacent screws. Open and remake any wirenut connections as they may be burned inside the wirenut where you can't see.

The voltage you are measuring is a phantom voltage effect detected by digital meters. If you add a load to the end of the circuit like a switched on lamp, the voltage measurement should drop to zero.
 
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Old 05-25-10, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by ibpooks View Post
To fix the problem, check both outlets. If there are any backstabbed wires (poked into back of receptacle), move those connections to the adjacent screws. Open and remake any wirenut connections as they may be burned inside the wirenut where you can't see.
Thanks, I'll check Outlet #1. All the measurements I've made were done at Outlet #2. It's connected using the screw terminals and since this circuit was all wired at the same time I assumed #1 was done the same way, but I will check -- also any wirenuts.
 
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Old 05-26-10, 05:41 AM
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Okay, it is an open in the return somewhere between Outlet 1 and Outlet 2. I checked this by running an extension cord from 1 and ohming the return. But, the open is not located at outlet 1. The connections are on the screws and there are no wirenuts in the box. The open must be somewhere in the walls .

So, how do I figure out where in the walls it is? The room has no attic.
 
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Old 05-26-10, 05:52 AM
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Before you go tearing into the walls, have you checked the connections at #2?

Also, if properly installed all junctions should be accessible which would negate the need to tear out drywall. Doesn't mean it can't happen tho.
 
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Old 05-26-10, 06:03 AM
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Originally Posted by pcboss View Post
Before you go tearing into the walls, have you checked the connections at #2?
Yes.

Also, if properly installed all junctions should be accessible which would negate the need to tear out drywall. Doesn't mean it can't happen tho.
There's no access to the wiring in this room except at the outlet boxes.
 
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Old 05-26-10, 08:24 AM
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Wires very rarely fail between junction boxes unless you know there has been some penetration into the wall like nailing, screwing, or drilling. Another possibility would be if there are rodents in the wall.

Finally, are you certain about the path of this circuit? Could it go through another box like a light fixture or switch?

Failing any of those options, it sounds like opening up the drywall is the next step.
 
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Old 05-26-10, 09:05 AM
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Trouble Shooting

Are there any receptacles or switches on the other side of the wall (as in another room)?
 
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Old 05-26-10, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by ibpooks View Post
Failing any of those options, it sounds like opening up the drywall is the next step.
But, where? (this filler to lengthen message to 25 characters)
 
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Old 05-26-10, 11:05 AM
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Start at the last good box (which I believe is outlet 1) and cut out a channel until you either find the problem or reach outlet 2. The cable is usually pulled through stud walls at about 2' off the floor, so start at the box and see which way the wires go. Cut out a few inches in that direction and continue. If you get to outlet 2 you can pull out the old presumably bad cable and install a new one. If the problem is in the middle of the run, you can install a blank-face junction box to repair it and only replace the section of wire from outlet 1 to the damage.

This is the last resort option, so make sure you haven't missed another j-box or bad connection before cutting.

I would ohm and continutity test both ends of the presumed bad wire completely disconnected before taking out drywall.

Also, you said no attic, but is there a basement or crawl? If so, you could just cut out a small square beneath each j-box and run a bypass cable down through the basement ceiling. The old cable could be cut off, pushed into the wall and abandoned.
 
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Old 05-26-10, 11:16 AM
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Mind if I add something? Before cutting into the walls...I would check every switch and outlet in the house for proper operation. Esp anything in the same or adjacent rooms. And I mean both top and bottom plugs on outlets, light fixtures, etc.

My last house had the outlet in the garage, the bathrooms and the deck all on the same circuit. Talk about a PITA when I had a problem....who would have thought they would have run all that wire in 4 widely separated areas.
 
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Old 05-26-10, 11:17 AM
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Or if you have access below and are as bad as I am at patching Sheetrock instead of cutting a hole below the box you can remove the existing box to give you a hole to work in then replace with an old work box.
 
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Old 05-26-10, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by ibpooks View Post
Also, you said no attic, but is there a basement or crawl?
This is Houston and all houses built in the last 50 years are slab.

Oh yes, the room was wired before it was sheetrocked. There is a patio door between the two outlets and they are on two walls at right angles, making it unclear how the wire was run. It could have been run across the ceiling as that would be the shortest distance.
 
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Old 05-26-10, 01:32 PM
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Any chance this circuit powers a receptacle or light on the patio?
 
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Old 05-26-10, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by i_am_jim View Post
This is Houston and all houses built in the last 50 years are slab.

Oh yes, the room was wired before it was sheetrocked. There is a patio door between the two outlets and they are on two walls at right angles, making it unclear how the wire was run. It could have been run across the ceiling as that would be the shortest distance.
Jim, If you want to make sure that it goes from 1 to 2 outlet, unhook your white wires and your black wires from them. Now ohm out the black and then the white. It sounds like your white is bad so your black should ohm out. If this is the case get a light and look hard where the wires come in box 1 & 2. It could be broken where it comes in the box. Move the wire around some to see if you can get a ohm reading from it. This could be a good starting point.

Jim


 
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Old 05-26-10, 02:56 PM
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Patio door? Single story? Get up in the attic...

If there was a door there originally during the building phase..they most likely went up through the top plate then back down the other side.
 
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