No Power to backyard outlet after replacing GFCI

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Old 02-10-13, 04:26 PM
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No Power to backyard outlet after replacing GFCI

Hi Everyone,
New member here. I am planning to tap into backyard outlet to run power to back of garage. Before I started, I noticed the outlet I was going to tap was quite weathered and the test/reset was sticking barely functioning. I replaced with new GFCI and new Bell Box.

There are 2 rigid conduits coming up into this box with 6 wires in each conduit, however, the outlet had just the 2white, 2 black and 2 green connected. The load was not in use and all other wires, red, brown, and blue were paired with a wirenut. I have power at the panel but none at this outlet or the one upstream. There are 3 outdoor j-boxes (no power, per my non-contact and DMM) that I opened and all wires are color paired and wirenutted. But, the boxes are old and there is moisture in them from the rain a day ago. One more thing, the hot wire leaving the panel is blue which I see in all boxes paired and wirenutted. The hot wire for the 2 outlets is black. The house is old, 1928 and I think this outdoor electrical was done 20 or more years ago probably for some lighting.

Thanks for reading and I have pics of all the wiring in the 2 outlet and 3 j-boxes if tht would help.

One last thing, there was power before I replaced GFCI as I used the circuit finder to locate which breaker the outlet was on.
 
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Old 02-10-13, 05:08 PM
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there was power before I replaced GFCI as I used the circuit finder to locate which breaker the outlet was on
If you used a non contact tester that proves nothing. You could have been getting indications of power way below meaningful levels. To test for voltage use an analog multimeter, test light, or solenoid tester.

Record all the connections at the box then separate the wires. Measure for voltage between each of the wires not colored green or white and ground, Then measure between each of the wires not colored green and white and each white wire.

Tech explanation: Any wire whose color is not white, gray or green (or bare) is a hot. You are trying to find if any of the hot wires are actually live by measuring to ground and neutral.
 
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Old 02-10-13, 05:51 PM
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Hi Ray,

Thanks for the reply. I used my GreenLee non-contact as first check followed with my Digital Multimeter before replacing and there was 120volts. Also, I was able to test and reset the old GFCI, after getting the button unstuck. Is the digital mm not enough? I do have a test light I can use.

Thanks!
 
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Old 02-10-13, 06:52 PM
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Digital meter is fine since it is a Greenlee. Cheap digitals can be influenced by ghost voltages but the better ones aren't. Using your multimeter did you do the checks I asked about in my first reply?
 
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Old 02-10-13, 09:01 PM
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It started to drizzle here in socal but plan to do it later tonite or in the am
I included 3 pics: 1st is the old bell box removed, 2nd pic is the wires coming up
thru rigid conduit, and 3rd pic is 1 of the 3 j-boxes. This one is located about 7ft to the left and another is maybe 3 feet further left with same wiring. Thanks and I'll post the results.
 
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Old 02-10-13, 09:17 PM
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First pic went missing, probably met up with the power thats supposed to be in box. I resized and hopefully not too small.
 
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Old 02-10-13, 09:22 PM
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What else do you think the other wires go to or are those things now gone?
 
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Old 02-10-13, 09:35 PM
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Yes, they are gone now. I was thinking some outdoor lighting? We have a pool and jacuzzi but all power is in a different area and would not be on 20amp breaker. Did I mention the hot wire from panel is blue, but seems as though not used for the 2 outlets and I cannot find anything else that circuit powers???

Any thoughts on what the other wires might been?

Thanks!
 
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Old 02-10-13, 09:46 PM
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Perhaps each box was on a different circuit?
 
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Old 02-10-13, 09:54 PM
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It looks like you have an awful lot of colors in those pipes and only one neutral. It would almost seem that there could be a three way switch circuit hanging out in there.
 
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Old 02-10-13, 10:11 PM
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If your primary aim is power at the garage I'd suggest try to identify the hot and neutral and and see if I could clean up the mess by pulling out the rest of the wires. But that is opinion and might not be possible given the age of the conduit.

Above assumes rigid conduit. If EMT I suggest abandoning it. It is probably past the life span for buried EMT.
 
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Old 02-10-13, 11:54 PM
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I thought I just found the problem, pool light on GFCI controlled switch but light works with breaker on GFCI powered right up. I also traced the GFCI conduit to a small additional pool pump that was installed for a future water feature 3amp 115v 1/2hp I think it read. The switch that powers the pool light has a switch next to it that should turn on the little pump, even though there is not any water running through it, I've done this many times reaching for the pool light and turning pump on by accident. However, the pump does not power up. I wonder if that switch is split, one always hot the other not? Gonna have to see what color wiring is on these to give me an idea of whats going on. So there is power going to somethng.

Thanks again for all your comments any suggestions would be great!
 
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Old 02-11-13, 01:07 PM
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So I just tested all wires hot/neutral, hot/ground and neutral/ground. The only reading I got was .1 when measuring the primary black and white, not the load the line wires everything else is nil??? My multi meter was set for 200v. There has to be a GFCI somewhere I don't see or remember, but the other GFCI on same circuit works fine so I just don't know.

Thanks again!
 
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Old 02-11-13, 01:46 PM
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I'd say time to cut your loses, button it all up, and run a new line to the garage. You don't have power to the garage now, do you? Because if you do you can't add to it.
 
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Old 02-11-13, 04:07 PM
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Hi Ray,

Thanks again for your help. The garage is split in two, my wife has her studio in the front and I have a small space in back separated by a wall with separate outside entrances, it is definitely an add-on done previously as the outside is wood vs. garage is plaster/stucco I borrowed power from the front so I could have a light but did not want to use that 20amp circuit for my stuff. Can I do this with the separate areas? Is there a safety issue for not having 2 circuits in the garage maybe a grounding consideration??

I am going to button up this no power box and if Its ok to bring power in I can get it from GFCI that sits about 8 feet from my door.

Thanks,

Devlin
 
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Old 02-11-13, 05:01 PM
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Even if you could get power from that box it would not be code compliant to run it to the garage since the garage already has a power source. The partition doesn't change that.

You have two options. In either case the existing power to the garage would be abandoned. You can run a multi-wire 20 amp circuit. That would give you two 120 volt 20 amp circuits at the garage. Or you can put a 30 amp subpanel in the garage. The subpanel would also give you 240 volts should you need it.

The multi-wire circuit could be run with 12-3 UF-b direct burial cable or four #12 individual THWN wires in PVC conduit connected to either a 20 amp 240 volt breaker or two handle tied 20 amp 120 volt breakers on opposite legs of the 240.

A 30 amp subpanel would require 10-3 UF-b or four #10 THWN conductors in conduit on a 30 amp 240 volt breaker.

Above assumes a distance of one hundred feet or less. There are additional installation requirements not mentioned. Tell us how you want to do it and we will give you the details.
 
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Old 02-11-13, 06:48 PM
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Hi Ray,

Wow, I'm so glad I asked first. I will have to think about this, my main panel is up the driveway 60 feet and the sub is in basement further away. It would be a big job to run a new circuit from the panel, lots of concrete. Why is it against code to add to the existing electrical in the garage. It is detached. However, the existing conduit to the garage might be big, like over an inch for just this reason. I'll have to check.

thanks!
 
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Old 02-11-13, 07:10 PM
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You can usually use the old wires to pull new wires if the conduit isn't too gunked up inside. That would be the easy solution to this. If the conduit goes to a subpanel or main panel that would be a relatively easy solution.
 
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Old 02-11-13, 09:25 PM
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Is your garage a separate structure?
 
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Old 02-11-13, 10:49 PM
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Hey Nashkat1,

Yes, the garage is separate from the house, built in 1928 so it is a narrow fit for even 1 car. My wife uses the garage as a studio and there is a shed-like addition at the rear which is my work in progress shop.

Thanks
 
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Old 02-12-13, 11:27 AM
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Update if anyone interested. I took an extension cord from a good outlet to test for an open and sure enough with black lead of multimeter stuck in the hot slot of extension cord and red lead clamped to primary neutral of the no power backyard good intentions bit me in the a*# stupid 15 minute changeout my a#% outlet, I get a solid 120v. So its an open hot which means something came loose during the bell box change out. I just dealt with an open hot inside that took forever to find. Anyway just wanted to share what I found.

Thanks
 
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Old 02-12-13, 12:29 PM
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Yes, things can just sneak in on you and you just don't realize. Happens most often trying to button up a full box. All the stress pops a not so perfect connection that seemed perfect.
 
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Old 02-12-13, 02:00 PM
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Glad you found the nature of the problem. Good luck hunting it down.

Yes, the garage is separate from the house, built in 1928 so it is a narrow fit for even 1 car. My wife uses the garage as a studio and there is a shed-like addition at the rear which is my work in progress shop.
Thanks. How many circuits do you have going to the garage?
 
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