NOT an electrician!

Reply

  #1  
Old 09-23-12, 08:50 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 4
NOT an electrician!

This is my first post to this DIY site. My next stop will be to hire a real electrician as I am NOT and electrician however, I just spent the last four hours thinking I was. Now to ask for help.
My goal was simple - Put an outlet and a light in an outside tool shed. So here is where I should have stopped and hired it done.
I got the light, the switch, the outlet and all the wires installed pretty easily though very slowly.
I have one of these handy dandy circuit testers (the little yellow things with three lights 1 red and 2 yellow) that plugs right into the outlet. I now hate this thing since it tells me I did something wrong and it will not do the re-wire for me.
Anyway, once I hooked outside power to the circuit, I could turn the light switch on and the lights worked. Cool.
Then I plugged this little yellow thing into the outlet and only one yellow light came on indicating an "open NEUTRAL".
So no big deal I thought and into the second outlet opening I plugged a box fan since it was humid and warm in the shed.
OH OH!!
Now the little yellow thing shows that I have a "Hot / Ground reversed" thing going on. Also, the box fan did not come on, but the light still worked.
Once I unplugged the box fan, the little yellow thing went back to "Open Neutral".
I pulled the switch / outlet cover (both in one box) and double checked my wires.
The black wire coming in goes to the brass screw on the outlet and I left the little tab in place. I have the hot (black) wire hooked to the top screw and a separate little jumper wire hooked to the bottom brass screw and then ran the other end of that to the bottom brass screw of the switch. I then hooked a separate black wire from the top brass switch screw and ran it to the light and wire-nutted it together.
Now the white wire coming in went to the wire coming from the light and from that junction I connected a jumper wire to the bottom silver screw on the outlet (again leaving the little tab in place) thereby making a 3 wire twisted connection that is very tight with a wire nut.
So what am I missing??? I just went back out and double checked these connections so I am sure I have described them correctly.
The light turned on as it should because it is so dark outside so I know that at least it is working.
Thank you.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 09-23-12 at 09:21 PM. Reason: Remove un-nessary font formatting so it was easier to read.
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 09-23-12, 09:31 PM
Nashkat1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 8,470
Welcome to the forums!

Plug-in testers can be annoying, but it sounds like yours was giving you sound advice.

To splice the three neutral wires together, you need to strip 5/8" of insulation from each, hold them with the ends of the insulation even, and twist the stripped conductors together, clockwise, at least three times, using pliers. Then you trim the end of the splice to ma ke it even, leaving at least 1/2' of stripped conductors in the twist, and tighten a wire nut onto that to protect it.
 
  #3  
Old 09-23-12, 09:32 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 32,646
Welcome to the forums. I wouldn't put much faith in those plug in testers. If I follow your post (hard to do with no paragraphs) bot the fan and light work correctly and your only problem is the fault reading when you use the plug in tester. Is that Correct? If so go back and check all your grounds. You did connect all grounds together with wire nuts didn't you.?

Put an outlet and a light in an outside tool shed.
Give us the details on how you did that. Was there power to the shed already?
 
  #4  
Old 09-23-12, 09:56 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 4
Howdy Ray2047 and Nashkat1 and thank you for the welcome. Kinda humbling these days.
Anyway, no the fan never did turn on. I know there must be power to the outlet since the little yellow light came on in the tester.
The light on the wall did turn on and stayed on even when the fan was plugged in and the tester showing hot / ground reversed.

I am about to call an electrician tomorrow afternoon but in the morning I will try to change some of the wires around to see if that works.

The wires under the nuts are really tight and were stripped the correct amount before twisting.

I went back outdoors a bit ago and tried the light. It worked fine so I am believing that since the outlet is wired first in line, that it may be the only problem. I hope that is it anyway.
I do not know if I have to break those little tabs out or not. I sure do not want to then find out that it was a mistake.
Anyway, I really appreciate the help since I have no clue what I am doing and really most likely should not be the one doing any wiring. Never could get the hang of it. Now my late father on the other hand could wire anything in his sleep. He tried to teach me but when I was younger I knew everything. Now that I am retired I am a lot smarter by my mistakes throughout life and wish I had listened to him more.
 
  #5  
Old 09-23-12, 10:05 PM
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: KS
Posts: 1,896
Where did you take power from for your main feed? And very importantly is it GFCI protected?
 
  #6  
Old 09-23-12, 10:20 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 4
Took it from a GFI protected (2 GFI's) outside wall of the house access. There was an outlet there that I liberated and hooked into.
Now when I hook that little yellow tester onto that line, it shows a perfect system. So based on that, I am guessing that I did something wrong in the blue plastic box inside that shed. If the light works but not the outlet which is ahead of the switch in the circuit I believe maybe it is a bad outlet fixture.
Is that possible?
 
  #7  
Old 09-23-12, 10:51 PM
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: KS
Posts: 1,896
Ok.. Another very important question.. Did you hook into the 'Load' or the 'Line' terminals of the GFCI? It should be hooked to the 'Load' side. If that is where it is hooked to, then if the shed were wired improperly with an open neutral, the GFCI would trip the second you turned the light on or plugged in the fan. This leads me to believe that you hooked it up to the 'Line' (unprotected) side. Please check to make sure.
 
  #8  
Old 09-24-12, 06:40 AM
Member
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 6,276
Connections

Check your connections to the receptacles and make sure the insulation was stripped from the wires before the wires were connected under the screws. This is not a common mistake but it does happen. Believe me. I know from experience.
 
  #9  
Old 09-24-12, 07:35 AM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 4,059
I'd double check the wiring at your switch and light. I'm wondering if you may have inadvertently tapped into the switch loop and/or running the outlet in 'series' with the outside light.

Can you make a drawing about how the wires are connected in each box and wired together? Chances are, it's something simple...
 
  #10  
Old 09-24-12, 11:25 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 4
Update

Ok... After staying up late last night reading every internet advice column I could find in addition to all the fine information and suggestions you folks gave me, as well as studying schematics that I did not even know were on the internet, I went out and tackled this again early this morning.
I checked all the GFI's to my ability, followed the line from the house, again to my ability and then landed in the shed again. Everything checked out to that point.
I started to tear apart everything I did yesterday recalling all the words of advice and experience I had been given by you folks.

That part about "neutral" finally sunk in late last night and this morning also. That is not the "ground" rather the "WHITE" wire. It took me a long time to get that to soak in for some reason.

Well, as I was tearing all the wiring down this morning, I came upon the wire nut that was holding the three "WHITE" "neutral" wires together.
When I unscrewed it, (after taking out the switch and outlet amongst pulling the wire staples from the wall in frustration I guess) guess what?
One of the wires was missing its end as it finally "fell" into my hand. Knowing that I had correctly stripped them yesterday, I continued to unscrew that nut. Then it happened... the stripped piece of copper wire fell into my hand from inside the nut.

I decided to stop there and re-strip the wire and hook it all back up loosely. After I did that, I re-attached the main power line and I was amazed!
IT ACTUALLY WORKED! And correctly!

I am now going back out (had to come in for a coffee to celebrate) and finish putting it all back together.

I just want to tell you all how much I really appreciate all your help. I just did not understand that "neutral" and "ground" are not the same. Even using the color codes did not jar my brain. I knew I had stripped them all correctly the first time too. Apparently when I stripped them, I must have also cut the copper a little deeper than I should have making a weakened section of wire. That was almost a clean "break" I found this morning which indicates that to me.

God Bless You All, and again... Thank you.

Now back to my car restoration project which I am a little bit better at.
 
  #11  
Old 09-24-12, 12:15 PM
Nashkat1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 8,470
Glad you found and fixed it, and thank you for the feedback.

There is one thing we're still curious about, Earlier, Ray asked
Originally Posted by ray2047
Originally Posted by thirt4
Put an outlet and a light in an outside tool shed.
Give us the details on how you did that. Was there power to the shed already?
When you said
followed the line from the house, again to my ability and then landed in the shed again.
it brought that back to mind. What wiring method did you use to run the power to the shed?
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
'