Outlets turn off when light switch is turned on.

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  #1  
Old 05-23-14, 03:56 PM
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Outlets turn off when light switch is turned on.

Found out I had a short in a wire in my bedroom. Long story short...instead of destroying part of the wall and ceiling I decided to run an external wire along the "wall (I know it's not particularly "safe" but I'm broke...gotta do what you gotta do). I capped the old wire and ran the new one no problem. Problem came from this...I'm running a new wire from the ceiling light to an outlet on the wall. The wires for the light switch are (obviously) also running to the light. The source is at the light basically. I re-wired everything the way it was but now when I turn the light on the outlets in the circuit beyond the light go off...I'm befuzzled. Please help!
 
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Old 05-23-14, 04:04 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

How did you decide you had a short in the wiring in the wall ? That is extremely rare unless someone drilled or cut thru it recently.

Without knowing what color wires and in what cables we would be guessing but my guess is the line down to the switch is a switch loop that you cut into.

If you had multiple cables in the ceiling box and the wall receptacle... how did you know which ones to cap off ?
 
  #3  
Old 05-23-14, 04:18 PM
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Hey thanks.
Circuit breaker tripped and would not stay on despite my best efforts.

Originally thought I just needed to replace the breaker...did that...same problem. So I got a magic pen that lights up when you touch a hot wire...took out all the outlets lights and switches but didn't disconnect anything yet. Then one by one I started to disconnect hots and reset the breaker to find the short..."divide and conquer" style.

As for the wires they're all standard 3-wire...black, white, ground.

Thanks for the help.

Oh and I knew which ones to cap of by process of elimination with my magic pen.

Oh again...no recent drills or cuts to the wall...I chalked it up to a mouse.
 

Last edited by dumbluck123; 05-23-14 at 04:38 PM.
  #4  
Old 05-23-14, 09:03 PM
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Can anyone help me please?
 
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Old 05-23-14, 09:21 PM
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So I got a magic pen that lights up when you touch a hot wire.
Or wave in the air. Useless for determining if a wire is really hot. For that you need an analog multimeter.
As for the wires they're all standard 3-wire...black, white, ground.
Actually that is a 2-conductor cable.
Oh and I knew which ones to cap of by process of elimination with my magic pen
Not really. It just shows the presence of an electromagnetic field which may or may not indicate real power.
.instead of destroying part of the wall and ceiling
Good because there is a less than 1% chance the wire in the wall is bad unless you have been driving nails or screws in the wall lately.
Then one by one I started to disconnect hots and reset the breaker to find the short..."divide and conquer" style.
Good basic plan. What you need to do is start at the one nearest to the breaker box. Assuming two cables disconnect both cables.Does the breaker trip.
 
  #6  
Old 05-24-14, 06:35 AM
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Advice to civilians .

Before you start taking wires apart , take plenty of photos .

Then get some masking tape and a sharpie . Make detailed labels as to what each wire was connected to .

A dead circuit usually comes down to a bad / loose connection at an outlet box . Switch box , receptacle pox , lighting box , or , if there are accessible junction boxes in the attic .

This can be loose wirenuts , loose / bad connection at a receptacle or burned up receptacle . Back stab sceptically are OFTEN the culprit . Switches , typically , not so often , they usually do not carry as large a load . But , bad connections can be found in a switch box , too .

Did you check for a tripped GFCI receptacle ? If load is connected to down stream devices , they will go off , too , when the GFCI trips , too .

GFCI's can be found in bathrooms , garages , outside receptacles , kitchens . Anywhere there is a chance of coming in contact with water and electricity .

Outside receptacles , GFCI or not , are suspect . Especially if located near automatic sprinklers .

God bless
Wyr
 
  #7  
Old 05-24-14, 09:19 AM
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I have a multimeter and double checked everything with that before I started tearing things apart.

You're right I should've taken pictures, but all the research I've done is telling me I'm doing it right.

There are no GFCI's in the circuit, I checked.

And I guess I'm using a 2-conductor cable then (I'm sorry I don't know all the terminology) .

And I did start at the closest outlet to the breaker box and I removed both hot...no trip.

Next outlet...same thing...no trip..and so on.
 
  #8  
Old 05-24-14, 09:23 AM
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Everything works fine when the light is off but when I turn the light switch to "on" the light comes on but the 3 outlets past the light in the circuit turn off.
 
  #9  
Old 05-24-14, 09:34 AM
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but the 3 outlets past the light in the circuit turn off
Could you please take a voltage reading at those receptacles with the light on. Can you post a picture of the light connected but pulled out so we can see the wires? http://www.doityourself.com/forum/li...-pictures.html Also a picture of the switch connected but pulled out.
 
  #10  
Old 05-24-14, 01:42 PM
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With the light on I'm not getting anything on my multi at the outlet. I also plugged in another tool into the outlet (don't know the name of it) and it said I had a hot/neu switched, but I know for a fact it's connected right at the outlet.
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Last edited by dumbluck123; 05-24-14 at 02:04 PM.
  #11  
Old 05-24-14, 03:02 PM
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In picture 1 right bottom there appears to be a connection with a wad of tape on it. It appears to be the black of the cable from the switch. Am I correct? If so that black should connect to the light not the one shown.

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  #12  
Old 05-24-14, 03:07 PM
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The switch is wired using a switch loop where the white supplies power and the black is the switched hot back to the fixture.
 
  #13  
Old 05-24-14, 03:55 PM
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The one you circled is the switch cable...the taped off is the old wire to the outlet...nothing is connected to that. On the switch cable I have the neutral (white) connected to the hot coming in then down to the switch and the hot wire(black) from the switch to the black on the light. Neutral from light connected to neutral coming in and the neutral going out to the outlet. All the grounds are connected together.
 
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Old 05-24-14, 04:09 PM
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That sounds right but just a terminology note the white to the switch is not a neutral. It is a hot and should have been remarked red or black or any color but gray or green on both ends.

Is the white of the abandoned cable disconnected? If not disconnect and see what happens.
 
  #15  
Old 05-24-14, 04:12 PM
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Thanks.

Everything on the abandoned cable is disconnected on both ends...I taped each wire individually then taped the bunch together.
 
  #16  
Old 05-24-14, 04:23 PM
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At this point I'd bite the bullet and run a new permanent cable to the receptacle from the service panel.
 
  #17  
Old 05-24-14, 05:00 PM
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But what would be causing the outage in the receptacles when the switch is on? I mean if I have everything wired properly what else could be the issue? I had everything done a couple days ago but then my girlfriend noticed a faint dim light in the bulb when the light was off...then our cell phone chargers started going haywire...I double checked all the wiring and everything seemed solid but now the outlets only work with the light off.
 
  #18  
Old 05-24-14, 05:17 PM
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That I can't answer. Sometimes it is an issue of solve the mystery or fix the problem in the easiest quickest way.
 
  #19  
Old 05-24-14, 09:11 PM
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Ok so I plugged this into the outlet. With the switch turned off it says HOT/NEU REVERSE, but I know it's wired correctly...with the switch on it says OPEN HOT. Any ideas?

Thanks for all the help so far though guys! I meant to say that before but I was at work.
 
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Old 05-24-14, 09:31 PM
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Sometimes the readings on those are wrong. It is best to use a multimeter and an extension cord plugged into a known good receptacle.Measure:
  • Measure extension cord wide slot to receptacle wide slot. Should be ~0v.
  • Measure ground of extension cord to wide slot of receptacle. Should be ~0v.
  • Measure ground of extension cord to ground of receptacle. Should be ~0v.
  • Measure extension cord wide slot to receptacle narrow slot. Should be ~120v.
  • Measure extension cord narrow slot to receptacle narrow slot. Should be either ~0v or ~240v.
 
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Old 05-24-14, 09:50 PM
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Ok thank you so much! I'll do that in the morning and report back.

Thanks again!
 
  #22  
Old 05-25-14, 05:59 AM
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So , after re-reading this thread , I have some questions .

The temporary Romex is going to a receptacle ? From the lighting 4-O box ?

The " bad " Romex is disconnected at both ends and taped together at both ends ?

I think you said you have a multimeter ?

How many other receptacles are giving problems ?

God bless
Wyr
 
  #23  
Old 05-25-14, 12:58 PM
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Yes...the new cable is going from the light to the outlet.

The old wire has been disconnected and taped off at both ends.

I do have a multimeter.

2 other receptacles (making it 3 total) are cutting off when the switch s turned on. All 3 are in the same circuit past the light.

I did the extension cord test with my multi With the switch off...results:

Cord wide slot to receptacle wide slot: ~121v
Cord wide slot to receptacle short slot: ~0v
Cord wide slot to receptacle ground: ~0v
Cord short to receptacle short: ~121v
Cord short to receptacle short: ~0v
And everything else was ~0v

I know the receptacle is wired correctly and the other 2 receptacles in question are showing the same results and I never touched those except to remove the hot in my "search and destroy" campaign.
 

Last edited by dumbluck123; 05-25-14 at 01:15 PM.
  #24  
Old 05-25-14, 01:46 PM
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Your first two readings confirm you have reversed white/black. At the light disconnect the power in cable and again using the extension cord measure the ground of the extension cord to the black of the power in cable.
 
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Old 05-25-14, 07:15 PM
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I believe you have simply reversed the two cables in the ceiling. The one you think is the switch loop is actually the power in and the one you believe is the power in is actually the switch loop. Switch all the connections appropriately (put black and white from cable A where black and white from cable B are in the picture and black and white from cable B where black and white from cable A are in the picture) and your problem should be solved.

Doug M.
 
  #26  
Old 05-25-14, 07:57 PM
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Are you talking about the cable from the light to the outlet?
 
  #27  
Old 05-25-14, 08:21 PM
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No, he is referring to the cables at the light. He is saying you misidentified which cable is the power in at the light. You may have hooked the receptacle to the switch loop. Separate all cables and use the multimeter to determine which cable is hot.
 
  #28  
Old 05-25-14, 09:07 PM
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Just disconnected everything at the light...used your extension cord method With my multimeter and y'all were right! The cable I thought was power in was actually the switch cable! Got it re-wired THE RIGHT WAY this time and everything works PERFECTLY now!!

I hate to say it but I made a HUGE rookie mistake lol, but thanks for hanging in there with me and thanks for all the advice! Couldn't have done it without you guys!

Now I have to put all the receptacles back in the walls and put our room back t together before my girlfriend kills me! Haha!

Thanks again guys!!
 
  #29  
Old 05-25-14, 09:33 PM
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Excellent! Thanks for letting us know the outcome.
 
  #30  
Old 05-26-14, 06:20 AM
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There have been various discussions about using # 14 Romex to a switch , on a 20 amp # 12 circuit .

Not saying it is right or wrong ( other than our AHJ allows it on Romex jobs ) .

Mod Note: The NEC requires all the premise wiring on a 20 amp circuit to be #12 or greater.

But , this illustrates one advantage to doing it that way . You can visually identify the # 14 going to the switch .

This also illustrates why I also highly recommend that DIY'ers take photos and use something like a sharpie & masking tape to label each wire , before they take the wires apart . Helps save a lot of grief .

Does your plug checker show all is correct ? Do you have a good earth ground at the receptacles ?

Now that you have all the receptacles working , it is time to think about how to actually fix the problem .

Did you say you have no access room / space in the attic or small / little space ?

Is it a concrete slab floor or pier and beam floor ?

God bless
Wyr
 

Last edited by pcboss; 05-26-14 at 07:04 AM.
  #31  
Old 05-26-14, 11:02 AM
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Plug checker shows all is well in all outlets in the room. I also used the extension cord method over EVERYTHING in the room (all lights, outlets, and switches) just to double check.

I do eventually want to look into permanently replacing the cable but I gotta save some money first.

I know there's no concrete slab. Its a single-wide mobile home. No attic to speak of...and the whole thing is a small space lol (well for a 6'3" 255lbs guy like me anyways)

I'm a mechanic by trade and I remember ALWAYS taking pictures before hand when I first started working on cars (still do sometimes). But after 10 years and a head injury after a motorcycle wreck I forgot about that step lol.
 
  #32  
Old 05-27-14, 03:42 AM
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For a mobile home , re-wiring it from underneath is just about the only practical option .

God bless
Wyr
 
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