Possibly series electrical problem.

Old 06-28-10, 12:01 PM
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Possibly series electrical problem.

Hello Everyone,

Let me start off by saying that I'm hoping to avoid hiring an electrician if possible. I've changed many outlet boxes and I'm hoping - in this case - that by simply putting in new boxes I'll correct the problem. However, I'm looking to get feedback from anyone who may have ever had a similar situation in the past.

My bedroom was built into the third floor of a my home a number of years ago and up until a few months ago, I've never had any problems with the wiring. Everything seemed to start going wrong with one outlet, sometimes it would work sometimes it wouldn't. I also noticed that that one outlet would affect other outlets in the room (for example, if a light wouldn't turn on but was plugged in somewhere else, in the same corner, I found that by tapping the troublesome outlet, the light would come one). I knew there was a problem and I've meant to get around to fixing it, but I'm a little behind.

Now I'm starting to think my problem is getting worse.

I have a surge protector plugged into a different area in the room and all of a sudden the red, can't recall exactly what is says but something about building wiring default detected red light has come on. I have my bed against two outlets (I plan on moving it because one of the outlets is coming loose because it rubs against the bed) and -- no, I'm not crazy -- I'm fairly certain that my bed has been vibrating and the vibrations are coming from the outlet that my surge protector is plugged into.

Also, my air conditioning (strangely, only in very hot conditions) trips the circuit breaker (separate breaker box from the rest of the house), consistently. I've felt the plug when this happens and it is extremely warm. I know this is a bad sign, but again I try to not use it and plan on switching all the outlets this week.

Any advice, suggestions? As anyone ever experienced this before? If I do call an electrician, and again I really don't want to, anyone have any estimations and, yes, I know they would just be estimations. One more thing, I live in western mass and if everyone tells me to get an electrician, any recommendations?

Thanks so much,

Old 06-28-10, 12:08 PM
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You probably have a loose connection in this circuit. When you have this problem is usually gets worse over time, which fits your problem.

The solution is to open up every box, switch and light fixture on this circuit and to check all of the connections. A very common point of failure is a receptacle which has a wire back stabbed (wire poked into a hole) instead of wrapped around a screw terminal. The obvious place to start is at the air conditioner receptacle as that sounds like the most likely problem spot.

If you encounter any backstabs, move the wires to the adjacent screw terminals. Also check and remake and wirenut connections as a wire may have burned off inside the wirenut where you can't see it.
Old 06-28-10, 02:09 PM
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Couple things I see at play here.

The outlet to tap to get things running again is likely one of your problems. There is a loose connection there and as Ibpooks mentioned, removing the outlet and checking/replacing the splices is a good start. I agree with moving the backstabbed wires but I suggest going one further and splicing the wires together and pig tailing the outlet to that. This will make it so the device is not making the connection.

Your surge protector showing red could be part of the outlet above or your could have another loose connection. Double check that one too.

Your A/C tripping the circuit consistently is not a good thing. You are overloading the circuit. This needs to be addressed and the only way to fix it is to add another circuit. Depending on your skill level you may be able to do this but being on a 3rd floor can add to the challenges.

Just at stab in the dark since I can't see your home from here I would guess that troubleshooting your outlets would be around $200-400 depending how long it takes. Adding a new circuit would be $300 on up just due to all the variables. Most contractors will give you a set price on adding a circuit. The other issue will most likely be a time and material job.

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