Find faulty wiring

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  #1  
Old 11-20-13, 03:59 PM
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Find faulty wiring

Hi, umm.. a few short days ago I plugged a new vacuum into a receptacle and then it sparked and the power went out for that outlet and several house lights (total = 4) in 2 different rooms and yah, also power went out in "one" of that 2nd rooms outlet too..

This is pretty weird cause I believe I've ran that vacuum in that outlet before with no problems.. there has been a rat spotted in my house (not sure if we killed him yet) but it's possible maybe the wiring was damaged by rats so the question is how do you trace/figure out what electrical wire in what outlets/walls is functional or bad without ripping it all up??

We plan to rip the panel off the fuse box and just double-check the wirings in there but this house was re-wired for power no less than 6-8 months ago but the wire that has gone out is old/original 50-60's wire all of our new sockets/wire are of course still 100% fine

Also sorry forgot to mention this detail when the vacuum sparked in that socket, 0 BREAKERS tripped in the fuse box.. aka it was not tied to a breaker or didn't trip one.. which is very WEIRD.. but again that's what happened.

Also occasionally.. once in a while the lights that are now non-functional.. start flashing like power is getting through.. we don't know what triggers just a guess some sort of physical vibration in the house
 
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  #2  
Old 11-20-13, 04:23 PM
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Is this a single family home or a multi-unit? How old is the house? Sometimes a breaker may be off when it is really tripped, Turn all the breakers all the way off and then back on.
 

Last edited by Tolyn Ironhand; 11-20-13 at 04:42 PM.
  #3  
Old 11-21-13, 08:13 AM
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Also occasionally.. once in a while the lights that are now non-functional.. start flashing like power is getting through.. we don't know what triggers just a guess some sort of physical vibration in the house
You probably have a weak/loose connection at a receptacle, probably at the one that sparked. Breakers trip for two basic reason; an overload or a direct short. You probably had neither.

0 BREAKERS tripped in the fuse box
Fuse boxes generally don't have breakers in them.
 
  #4  
Old 11-21-13, 08:58 AM
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Is this a single family home or a multi-unit?
House is a duplex

How old is the house?
House is 1958

Sometimes a breaker may be off when it is really tripped, Turn all the breakers all the way off and then back on.

Read more: http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...#ixzz2lIQdyYGQ
Already tried that but likely going to try as I said taking off the panel and just checking the wires to breakers too..
 
  #5  
Old 11-21-13, 09:02 AM
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Fuse boxes generally don't have breakers in them.
Umm.. yah, I meant breaker box.. I have a 200 amp breaker box.. less than a year old...

You probably have a weak/loose connection at a receptacle, probably at the one that sparked. Breakers trip for two basic reason; an overload or a direct short. You probably had neither.
Okay will check that plug/socket out thoroughly than..
 
  #6  
Old 11-26-13, 08:59 PM
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Hmm.. well we ripped the socket apart.. it seemed like it was possible the 4 wires going into the back of the outlet were "maybe" fused to the socket.. (as this is the original socket that sparked when I ran the vacuum on it) but we put in a new outlet and that didn't seem to fix anything..

The outlet was connecting 2 sets of wires passing them through.. as one set of wires came in from the wall and the next set of wires passed through to a light..

We got a voltage light thing that tells you if there's power in the wires/socket so far null reading for most of the effected lights/outlets.. and positive readings for everything that's working..

We also got a GFCI tester and a trace tool with the fuse box and that seems to be working fine.. however given the lines are dead/no power.. not much help with those
 
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Old 11-26-13, 09:23 PM
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the 4 wires going into the back of the outlet were "maybe" fused to the socket..
One of the first things we always advise with these sort of problems is move any back stabs to the screws. Now you know why. They are unreliable. They loosen. In this case your lucky they didn't start a fire. You need to move every backstab in the house to the screws.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 11-27-13 at 07:07 AM.
  #8  
Old 11-27-13, 07:04 AM
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Just curious, this house being wired in the 50's or 60's is it aluminum wire?
 
  #9  
Old 11-29-13, 09:50 PM
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Just curious, this house being wired in the 50's or 60's is it aluminum wire?
Umm.. nope looks like copper..

One of the first things we always advise with these sort of problems is move any back stabs to the screws. Now you know why. They are unreliable. They loosen. In this case your lucky they didn't start a fire. You need to move every backstab in the house to the screws.
Okay, I'll try but this wiring is old and was working.. and has been this way since the houses construction or least since the 80's.. I think..
 
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Old 11-29-13, 10:12 PM
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I'll try but this wiring is old and was working.. and has been this way since the houses construction or least since the 80's.. I think..
If backstab connections failed immediately they would stop making them. They don't. They fail over time. Years. You'll be well served by changing every one you find to connect on the screw terminal.

I plugged a new vacuum into a receptacle and then it sparked and the power went out for that outlet and several house lights (total = 4) in 2 different rooms and yah, also power went out in "one" of that 2nd rooms outlet too..
It sounds like you have a loose connection. The problem is most likely in the first failed receptacle or the last working one, counting outward from your panel.

See Troubleshooting a dead receptacle or light, Basic Terminology & Other info.
 
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Old 11-30-13, 08:06 AM
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Also occasionally.. once in a while the lights that are now non-functional.. start flashing like power is getting through.. we don't know what triggers just a guess some sort of physical vibration in the house
Bad connection, probably a backstab.
 
  #12  
Old 12-01-13, 12:36 AM
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Bad connection, probably a backstab.
According to my sister who changed the "Receptacle" that I plugged the vacuum into.. there was "no room" to get the wires onto the screws.. only the backstabs were feasible based on the wire and the size of external metal box..

So how does one deal with that.. use a $5+ GFCI plug or something?

It sounds like you have a loose connection. The problem is most likely in the first failed receptacle or the last working one, counting outward from your panel.
By my count.. power is out, in 3 living room outlets (the 1 that the vacuum took out is in the living room exteriorly mounted.. but the other 2 are in the wall)

And there are 2 internal/in the wall outlets that are in the bedroom upstairs/above..

I too suspect that the main power is likely running through the living room light.. (in my 2nd unit (which also has old wiring too I had someone put in a kitchen light and a whole lot of wiring was going through that "receptacle" and when this guy put in this light.. I saw him take out about a huge amount of power for the upstairs and lights for the house.. possibly just the same configuration of lights I have down now) anyway I had him rewire that receptacle with the light and he restored all the power for that side.

So it is quite possible that my living room light maybe has that spider web described or really it's headed toward the breaker box.. even though patches we made between "old wiring" and new wiring is behind sheetrock.. we actually were able to use the electrical tester/electrical field detector tool and confirmed that they all still had power in them..

Anyway.. I will proceed with a re-wiring of the 4 other outlets not looked at some point.. let me know if you have a idea for my small external box problem?
 

Last edited by theemaster; 12-01-13 at 12:56 AM.
  #13  
Old 12-01-13, 07:29 AM
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only the backstabs were feasible based on the wire and the size of external metal box..
So how does one deal with that.. use a $5+ GFCI plug or something?
You could use back wired or side wired (commercial grade) receptacles. Of course if it is a GFCI it already is back wired or side wired usually and that is a good connection.

What is a small external box? Do you mean a surface mounted box?
 
  #14  
Old 12-01-13, 08:22 AM
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there was "no room" to get the wires onto the screws
More wires than screws? I belive you'll need to pigtail the blacks with one black tail and do the same with the whites, this will give you 2 insulated and one ground wire per device.
 
  #15  
Old 12-01-13, 02:04 PM
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Do you mean a surface mounted box?
Yes, and I mean a metal mounted small one or slim..

More wires than screws?
No there was only 4 wires as decribed.. 2 from the wall.. 2 headed to the light
 
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Old 12-01-13, 02:33 PM
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Yes, and I mean a metal mounted small one or slim..
Then use a larger box if needed.
 
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Old 12-01-13, 02:43 PM
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The connections between old and new wiring should never have been buried behind the drywall. The splices need to be in permanently accessible junction boxes.
 
  #18  
Old 12-04-13, 04:02 PM
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Holy crap.. all the downstairs lights fully turned on today.. (there switches were left on) so I turned them off.. and headed upstairs to check the bedroom.. when I flipped on the bedroom it.. (it was off) it fizzled.. and died.. (killed them all!) makes me wonder if the bad outlet is in the bedroom..??

But ahh.. it's too bad I didn't have the GFCI breaker trace thing.. I would have traced it back to the electrical box breaker (as it makes me nervous to have it's breaker on in case of electrical fire or something)

Anyway I haven't had a chance to replace the outlets "as suggested" but I will get to it in a week I think....
 
  #19  
Old 12-15-13, 10:25 AM
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Found the wire that burnt out in a chain link of electrical outlets/fixtures.. ironically it burnt out between the 1st room that didn't have power and the 2nd room that did and living room didn't get power cause it couldn't cause it wasn't coming from the 1st.. (somewhere under the floor I think within a 4 feet run it's been completely isolated and left unused) run a new 20 amp circuit to feed some of it's circuits.. but may do a few more..
.
apparently it had nothing to do with "taps"
 
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