Fuse blows when I turn light switch on?

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Old 07-04-11, 07:47 PM
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Fuse blows when I turn light switch on?

I just moved into an older apartment building in Chicago, and one of the rooms was equipped with only 2 pronged outlets. I decided to replace these outlets with 3 pronged outlets because it was cheaper and more economical than buying the 2-to-3 prong adapter. "How hard could it be?" I thought... Evidently not as easy as I thought.

Most forums tell you that there is usually a black wire, a white wire, and some sort of grounding wire in the electrical box. You connect "black to brass (the brass connector on the 3-prong outlet", "white to white", and ground to ground. My outlets, however had black, white and red wires. Also, instead of being endwires, they were connected to the outlet screws by stripping the middle of a wire off and wrapping it around the screw.

I'm not sure what the red wire does, but I thought that it might be the ground wire, so I hooked up black to brass, white to white, and red to ground on the 3 prong outlet. My outlets work fine when I have the light switch off, but when I flick it on, the fuse to the room blows.

Any thoughts on what I did wrong or how to fix??? THANKS!!!!
 
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Old 07-04-11, 07:58 PM
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update: a quick skim of other forums tells me that the red wire is also hot...and that it should also be connected to brass screws, but that that the screws connecting the black and red wires should not be connected... correct? So, am I out of luck with a grounding wire then?
 
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Old 07-04-11, 08:06 PM
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Especially in Chicago it is illegal for a tenant to do any wiring. You need to call your landlord.

Most forums tell you that there is usually a black wire, a white wire, and some sort of grounding wire in the electrical box.
They are talking about houses out in the hinterland wired with cable. In Chicago you have metal conduit that serves as a ground. Wiring schemes can be very different.

I'm not sure what the red wire does, but I thought that it might be the ground wire, so I hooked up black to brass,
A red is never a ground. You created a dead short. In the mean time disconnect and cap any red wire you used as a ground now.

You need to call the landlord so he can hire an electricians to correct the dangerous mistakes you made.
 
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Old 07-04-11, 08:09 PM
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Update: Another quick skim has informed me that what I am doing is potentially illegal and hazardous....whoops...time to call an electrician...thanks!!
 
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Old 07-04-11, 08:14 PM
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If you'd do more than a quick skim you'd know Chicago codes usually require conduits which may be and probably are used as the ground. You'd also know it is illegal for you to be messing with the wiring in an apartment building. I'd suggest you put everything back like you found it and put in a request with the landlord to have grounding outlets installed.
 
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