What's going on with my electrical?


Old 02-05-13, 06:26 PM
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What's going on with my electrical?

I just purchaed a home that's about 40 years old. I decided to replace the range hood, so I turned off the breaker supplying it. The neutral was hot so I flipped the main to finish the job. Today, I installed a GFCI outlet near the sink. When I pressed the test button, fire shot out of an outlet across the kitchen. I cut power, completely removed the GFCI outlet and discovered that I have continuity between the hot and ground wires. I'm thinking there is a short to ground somewhere, but why wouldn't a breaker throw as soon as the main is turned back on? I'm trying to decide if should go back to the seller or is this something that might be easily fixed by an electrician?
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Old 02-05-13, 06:39 PM
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Welcome to the forums! An electrician worth his salt can fix it, if that is what you want done. Not sure if you can go back on the seller at this point. You should have stopped when you determined the neutral was hot. There are few instances you should have to turn a main breaker off. With that said, yes, you have a nail or screw driven into a cable, wires crossed and touching inside a box, or a badly wired breaker panel. It needs attention.
Old 02-05-13, 06:56 PM
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It's not easy to troubleshoot from here, but my first thought was that you have a multiwire branch circuit you are dealing with, that would account for you finding a hot neutral conductor. Something on the other circuit sharing the neutral must have been on and running, but it could also just be a bad neutral connection somewhere between the kicthen and the main panel. Continuity between the hot wire and ground is a little trickier and needs examination by a good diagnostician. Anything we may suggest for you to check would just be a guess.
Old 02-05-13, 07:13 PM
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I also suspect a multi wire circuit in the kitchen. Was there a red and black wire going to the receptacle?
Old 03-11-13, 09:47 AM
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Thanks for your input folks. I'm sorry for the late reply, I've been really busy. I'm sure I've found the source of the problem. I turned off the main and all the breakers. Then, I checked for hot to ground continuity on each circuit. I found the problem circuit and discovered that it's only shorted when 1 of 3 living room light switches are on. I don't see any obvious problems at the switches, so there's probably a nail in a wire somewhere. I turned that circuit off until I can get it fixed.
Old 03-11-13, 09:55 AM
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Thanks for the update, please do so again when this is resolved.

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