Outlet illiterate


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Old 06-05-14, 06:13 AM
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Unhappy Outlet illiterate

I am in the process of changing out outlets & switches in my home. One room, however, has presented a challenge...

Detail #1: Outlets were all changed and presumed working.
Detail #2: Switch installed. Additionally, ceiling fan installed. Working fine for at least a couple of weeks.
Detail #3: Suddenly, switch quit working and nearest outlet stopped presumably (or it never was working).

All other outlets & switches are working nearest these two side-by-side culprits. The outlet itself has some extra wires in it. Can someone look at the pic and identify a problem? Or do I need a special outlet for this set up?

Thanks!
 
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Old 06-05-14, 06:16 AM
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Outlet illiterate (cont.)

The outlet pictured is the new one. There is power when touching the screws connected to the outlet, but no power when tester is inserted into it. This is the 3rd outlet we've tried.
 
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Old 06-05-14, 06:26 AM
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I'll let the experts verify or correct my remarks, but something doesn't look right.

Those gray (white/nuetral) wires should be tied together with a wirenut and one pigtail coming out to the outlet. Same with the black (hot). But unless my eyes decieve me it looks like a black and white are tied together in the upper right connection.
 
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Old 06-05-14, 07:02 AM
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Yes, there are 2 black and 1 white connected (pigtailed?). And then, 2 additional white in the box.

Before the change out (old outlets to new outlets), everything was working fine. So, something was misunderstood during the swap.
 
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Old 06-05-14, 07:11 AM
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OK. Lets from scratch.
Remove the outlet.
Identify the power feed cable. I'm assuming they are all two wire cable (black, white and bare ground).
Tie all the black with pigtail together.
Attach black pigtail to the gold side of outlet.
Do the same to white and connect white to silver side of outlet.
Same with ground bare wire to ground green screw.
Apply power and test.
 
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Old 06-05-14, 07:16 AM
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Was this outlet switched from a light switch - ie for a desk lamp in bedroom in the past ?

It looks like you have the live wire coming in from the bottom from the panel or wherever.
Then the wire on the right of the picture is to a switch (to switch the outlet) and then there is a branch off to another outlet thru the top.

I think you need to identify which is live wire from the panel first. Remove all of the connections and test with a meter to see what is live and what isn't.

Then workout what the two wires out the top are (if the bottom is live). I'm going to guess that perhaps the outlet used to be switched and its been changed so that the switch now controls the overhead light in the room. But rather than running the overheard direct to the switch its been run thru the outlet junction box.
 
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Old 06-05-14, 07:27 AM
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Mick999 is correct. Using just the power cable, connect to outlet and verify the outlets work. Label that as the power cable in. Then using a VOM meter you should be able to determine what cable is being switched. Label accordingly.

What you want to do it provide continuous power to the outlets and switched power to the fan/light.

Again using pigtails, provide power to the outlets and power to the switch. Switch will power the fan/light when tripped and outlets will always have power.

I had this same set up in both my houses. Most homes do not have bedroom ceiling lights but instead the first outlet nearest the door is switched. I added ceiling lights and tapped power from the first outlet.
 
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Old 06-05-14, 07:29 AM
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If you used a non contact tester the results are meaningless. Test to determine if a cable is hot must be made with a multimeter, (preferably analog), test light, or solenoid tester. Norm's advice assumes it was not a switched receptacle. If it is switched then mick 999's advice is correct for your situation. You will need a multimeter set to ohms to determine which cable is the switch loop. Post a picture of the wiring in the switch box with the switch pulled out so we can see all the wiring if it is switched.
 
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Old 06-05-14, 08:13 AM
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Outlet illiterate (cont.)

This house was built in 1989. When we bought the house in 2012, the bedroom (where the outlet is) had a simple ceiling light in it. The light switch operated this light already. I recently changed out the ceiling light for a ceiling fan, which was working fine for at least a couple of weeks.

Light Switch (which is nearest the outlet): In the light switch, there are 2 wires: 1 black & 1 white (marked black). The tester indicates 110v between ground and both wires separately.

Outlet: I moved 1 white wire to the brass side of the outlet. The tester indicates 110v between the ground and both wires separately on the brass side. The tester indicates 0v between the ground and the white wire on the silver side.

See both pics.
 
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Old 06-05-14, 08:38 AM
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Outlet illiterate (cont.)

I went ahead and removed the outlet completely. When I test it now, it measures 0v. What am I missing?
 
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Old 06-05-14, 08:43 AM
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Outlet illiterate (cont.)

Okay, so I am an idiot...when I turned the switch ON, I received the same measures I mentioned below:

Ground to brass side wires (each separately) measures 110v.

Ground to white wire on silver side measures 0v.

Remembering I'm an electrical idiot, can someone spell out what I should do at this point?
 
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Old 06-05-14, 08:48 AM
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Ray, Mick, if I'm giving poor or erroneous info please tell me to step aside.

Red, Have you determined the incoming power line at the outlet? OR is the power coming into the switch box then to the outlet box? Could be the switch has the power source first then going to the outlets. In that case the outlets will be on or off according to the switch position.
 
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Old 06-05-14, 09:00 AM
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You have a switch loop. Here is a basic switch loop. Where the diagram shows a bulb is where your receptacle would be.

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In your case at the receptacle you also have a losd cable so this is yours.

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Old 06-05-14, 09:49 AM
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Outlet illiterate (cont.)

Okay....if reconnected properly, should any of this be affecting my outlet & switch? Or my ceiling fan usage?
 
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Old 06-05-14, 10:00 AM
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Outlet illiterate (cont.)

Ray, so in looking at the diagrams, does it mean the power could be coming from the ceiling fan?
 
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Old 06-05-14, 12:29 PM
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Reread your post. Is the switch for the ceiling fan not the receptacle? If so disregard what I have previously written.
 
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Last edited by ray2047; 06-05-14 at 01:23 PM.
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Old 06-05-14, 02:31 PM
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Outlet illiterate (cont.)

The switch is for the ceiling fan AND the outlet (unbeknownst to me til today).

I went to Lowe's today and spoke with an electrician that works there. After explaining my situation to him, I realized ONE of my problems was I lost my neutral. Additionally, I had to pigtail my whites and my blacks, except for the white marked black & the black for the fan (which was tied into the outlet); I had to connect those 2 directly.

Probably not explaining myself too well, but, bottom line, I have everything up and running.

Ideally the outlet would no longer be tied into the switch, but for now, that's beyond my patience level.

Thanks so much for all the help and for pointing me in the right direction!
 
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Old 06-05-14, 02:43 PM
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Excellent! Thanks for letting us know the outcome.
 
 

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