Need help with electrical outlets


  #1  
Old 10-25-14, 12:10 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Need help with electrical outlets

Hi everyone!

New to the forums after buying our first house, Im guessing we will be much more frequent visitors now haha

Anyways looking to yall for some help.

When we bought our house there were 2 outlets in the living room and a ceiling light that did not work and still don't.

I have tested all 3 sets of wires and none of them are receiving voltage. So I looked to the breaker box , every single breaker besides 2 are accounted for. There are two mystery breakers to which I do not know where they go or what they control. I then switched 2 other breakers with these just to make sure the breakers are good...and they are.

And that's what brings me to yall , where do I go from here. It's very hard to follow the wires and our house has a flat roof with no attic access. Am I doomed to call a professional ?
 
  #2  
Old 10-25-14, 12:42 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 29,711
Upvotes: 0
Received 15 Upvotes on 13 Posts
You normally don't troubleshoot by following the cables. If it came to that as a last resort I'd just run new cables instead. We are a long way from that point though.
I have tested all 3 sets of wires and none of them are receiving voltage.
How did you test them? If you used a non contact tester the results mean nothing.

You need to open the switch box in the room and the receptacle nearest to the switch and tell us all the wiring at each and how it is connected.
 
  #3  
Old 10-25-14, 06:51 PM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 13,970
Received 194 Upvotes on 170 Posts
A toner can be used to follow the cables.
 
  #4  
Old 10-26-14, 05:25 AM
chandler's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 36,607
Upvotes: 0
Received 9 Upvotes on 8 Posts
I am going to venture to say we have a first receptacle with stab backs and the wiring has either pulled loose or is compromised in the receptacle in some way. Buy an inexpensive ($10+) analog multimeter from one of the box stores to help analyze what is happening in your receptacle boxes. Test hot to neutral and hot to ground. Do that at the first receptacle from the panel and I am sure you will find the problem. Let us know what you find.
 
  #5  
Old 10-26-14, 11:01 AM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Sorry if this incompetent of me but a receptacle is just the correct term for an outlet ? If so I replaced those first thing and the wiring is secure.

I used a voltage tester and a two prong light tester , and to my knowledge both the outlets and ceiling light are getting no power. At least when I touch the wires coming out of the wall with the two prong light tester and voltage tester , I get nothing.

Also I can't find any light switch near the living room , only two junction boxes with face plates on them , I opened both of those and all the wiring in there is secure and hot ( or getting power )

Thanks again for the quick replies everyone....sorry I'm not too keen on all the lingo in the electrical world, if this doesn't answer the questions you were asking , would you mind rephrasing them for me.
 
  #6  
Old 10-26-14, 11:14 AM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 29,711
Upvotes: 0
Received 15 Upvotes on 13 Posts
Outlet is anywhere power can be accessed. That includes lights, receptacles, switches, and junction boxes with no device. A receptacle is something you plug things into.

Leave the voltage tester in the toolbox. Not acurate enough. The test light is okay but a $8-$15 analog multimeter is better. (Cheap digital multimeters can be problematic.

Tell us all the wiring in all the receptacle boxes and the ceiling boxes. You do not need to include grounds in the description. It would help to also tell us how many 2-conductor cables (black and white) in each box and if there are any 3-conductor cables (black, white, red).
 
  #7  
Old 10-26-14, 11:34 AM
chandler's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 36,607
Upvotes: 0
Received 9 Upvotes on 8 Posts
If you prefer to pull the receptacles and open the j boxes and send us pictures, all the better. http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...your-post.html
 
  #8  
Old 10-27-14, 11:34 AM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
You guys are awesome thanks again for all the quick help!!

Went out and got an analog multimeter and still not getting any readings on the 2 outlets and ceiling light.

It looks like both outlets and ceiling light have just basic wiring: one set of black and white , and a ground. I've included pictures just in case I'm wrong.

Can't thank yall enough



Outlet A Does not Work pictured below



Outlet B Does not work pictured below



Ceiling Light C does not work pictured below



Outlet D is a working outlet pictured below



Below are the 2 junction boxes that I mentioned earlier that are in the living room wall.


 
  #9  
Old 10-27-14, 06:54 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 29,711
Upvotes: 0
Received 15 Upvotes on 13 Posts
It looks like both outlets and ceiling light have just basic wiring: one set of black and white , and a ground.
First picture of a receptacle is not standard. There appears to be at least three cables. I can't see the wires at the light but there is a lot going on. Lets start with a description of those two and better pictures with the wires all pulled out. Same for the two junction boxes.
 
  #10  
Old 10-28-14, 11:00 AM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Opps, my mistake!

You're definitely right Ray. The first receptacle has actually 2 sets of wires, one pair of white and a pair of black. Pictured Below

Name:  20141028_121748.jpg
Views: 395
Size:  23.9 KB

Next was the ceiling light which upon further investigation had a nice surprise. The ceiling light just like the outlet has 2 sets of black and white wires coming down. However for some reason they had a black wire going no where with a cap on it and also a white wire going no where with a cap on it. The other pair of black and white was connected to the ceiling light...Also not sure if its much but when testing the wires I did get a very small read on one of the pair....

Ceiling light Pictured below

Name:  20141028_122459.jpg
Views: 368
Size:  28.7 KB

And as for the junction boxes Im clueless but hopefully these pictures will help if you need better ones dont hesitate to ask

Name:  20141028_122956.jpg
Views: 239
Size:  23.2 KB
Name:  20141028_122934.jpg
Views: 288
Size:  29.9 KB
 
  #11  
Old 10-28-14, 11:23 AM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 29,711
Upvotes: 0
Received 15 Upvotes on 13 Posts
they had a black wire going no where with a cap on it and also a white wire going no where with a cap on it.
That indicated probably there was originally a switch loop.

This is not going to be a quick or easy troubleshoot. I'd recommend an electrician because it is difficult to give specific instructions. The instructions may change with each test result. If you are ready for the long hall though one question and one requirement.

Your last picture this almost lost looks like conduit. Is it conduit (pipe like with individual wires) or cable (AKA Romex or BX, two or more wires in a metallic or non metallic sheath.

For testing you will need a multimeter. A cheap analog ($8-$15) dollars is recommended. Cheap digital multimeters can be problematic.
 
  #12  
Old 10-28-14, 11:57 AM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Again Ray I really appreciate all the help !

I bought a cheap analog yesterday ~$10 from home depot its a small box with AC/DC dial up to 300 and has a black and red wire for direct testing... is this what you keep referring to? Because I do have this and it's what I've been using. Link: Commercial Electric Analogue Multimeter M1015B

As far as the last picture , looking into the hole it definitely looks like the wires are coming out of the cable you mentioned like Romex

I'm willing to try and continue forward but if it does get over my head I guess I have no choice but to call a professional.

Thanks
 
  #13  
Old 10-28-14, 12:42 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 29,711
Upvotes: 0
Received 15 Upvotes on 13 Posts
That was a good choice in meters.

First step mark the wires and write down what wire is connected to what wire. Small piece of tape with a number written on it is a good way. You may never need this information but good to do just in case.

I know you did a voltage check already but just to be sure disconnect all wires and check each cable:
  • Black to white
  • black to ground
  • White to ground
Name:  Triangle.gif
Views: 149
Size:  1.1 KB You need to do the tests with all breakers on and since you can't identify a breaker for these circuits handle the wires like they are live at all times.

Set your meter to 250 volts AC. That would be the 250 on the left side of the meter you posted. That way the approximate 120 volts you are looking for should be about mid scale.
 
  #14  
Old 10-28-14, 03:45 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Okay awesome cant thank you enough... here are the results.

On outlet A

1st pair of the white and black get nothing on the analog
The same pair when touched to the ground get a very very small reading.
The 2nd pair of black and white get nothing touching each other and also nothing to the ground.

On the ceiling light

I get nothing all around, however I remember earlier I was getting a small reading touching the ground to the black and white...but maybe since I disconnected the wires at outlet A now it broke the path ?

Do you need me to test the junction boxes ? and if so the one has like 4 wires twisted to one cap , would I need to untwist them like I did with outlet A ?

Also Ive tested the analog on a normal working outlet and the meter jumps to about half way, so when I mention a very small reading the meter moves just a few notches
 
  #15  
Old 10-28-14, 03:55 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 29,711
Upvotes: 0
Received 15 Upvotes on 13 Posts
Very good so far. Yes, the same needs to be done at the junction boxes, disconnected and measured. Also when disconnecting at the junction boxes take a quick look around to see if anything goes dead.

Question: Are the two junction boxes on opposite sides of the room near doors?
 
  #16  
Old 10-28-14, 05:16 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Alrighty... quite a bit information overload coming your way haha

When I took apart junction box 1 ( the one with only 2 pairs of black and white) I noticed an outlet in the living room that is behind our couch stopped working. It was the only thing I could find.

Name:  20141028_184046.jpg
Views: 331
Size:  20.7 KB

Here are the results of the test, wires are labeled 1234

Also not really sure what numbers I'm supposed to be reading, these are the green numbers at the very top.

1 to 2 - ~30
1 to 3 - ~50
1 to 4 - ~10
2 to 3 - ~ Nothing
2 to 4 - ~100
3 to 4 - ~ 300

The second junction box there is a total of 8 wires 4 white and 4 black I noticed 3 outlets stopped working , 2 right near it in the dining room and 1 in the living room. I numbered the wires 12345678.

Name:  20141028_184056.jpg
Views: 394
Size:  29.0 KB

1 through 5 - I got nothing
1 to 6 - ~80
1 to 7 and 8 - I got nothing

2 touching 3 through 8 - I got nothing

3 touching 4 and 5 - I got nothing
3 to 6 - ~10
3 touching 7 and 8 - I got nothing

4 to 5 - nothing
4 to 6 - ~50
4 to 7 and 8 - Nothing

5 to 6 - ~50
5 to 7 and 8 - Nothing

6 to 7- 500
6 to 8 - Nothing

7 to 8 Nothing

Also the location of the junction boxes... earlier I posted a picture of the living room, if you are facing the tv the junction boxes are directly to right on the opposite side of the wall. Look at the picture.

Name:  20141028_184024.jpg
Views: 289
Size:  20.5 KB
 
  #17  
Old 10-28-14, 05:49 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 29,711
Upvotes: 0
Received 15 Upvotes on 13 Posts
Really need the chart on the voltage of each cable. Example cable A voltage black to white voltage black to ground.
When I took apart junction box 1 ( the one with only 2 pairs of black and white) I noticed an outlet in the living room that is behind our couch stopped working. It was the only thing I could find.
Reconnect and button it up for now. Give me the individual cable voltages on the other junction box.
 
  #18  
Old 10-28-14, 06:03 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Sorry I am a little lost.

Earlier you asked if wires are coming through in a cable? If I understand correctly, you want me to test the voltage of the wires that are only coming out of the same cable correct ?

What numbers are you looking for because there are quite a bit on the analog interface.

I think I gave you the OHMS ( resistance ) , am I suppose to be looking at the black numbers which say V.mA
 
  #19  
Old 10-28-14, 06:24 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Okay it was a little difficult to see but I managed to split apart all 4 sets of wires and grounds and traced them all back to the cable they were coming from.

All but one pair gave me nothing.

That pair of wires read

Black to white - 125 volts
Black to ground - 25 volts
White to ground - 25 volts

Does that seem right ?
 
  #20  
Old 10-28-14, 06:58 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 29,711
Upvotes: 0
Received 15 Upvotes on 13 Posts
So now you have found power. Put wire nuts on the black and white so you can work safely.

You can use the ohm setting to check for continuity. Set the meter to X1K. Touch the two probes. Use the ohms adjuster on the side if needed to zero the meter. Now you see continuity.

In the junction box you want to see if either of the cables with 0 volts are one of the cables at the light or dead receptacle. You will need a wire long enough to reach from the junction box to the cables at the light and receptacles. You will chose one of the black wires of one of the 0 volts cables, attach the wire then check each of the black wires at the light and dead receptacles. Do not test any wire that didn't show 0 volts.

The wire can be what ever have. If you have to buy just buy a length of #18 wire. Voltage rating doesn't matter. You could even use wire from the auto parts store.
 
  #21  
Old 10-28-14, 08:34 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Awesome I'll go out tomorrow and grab some wiring.

And just to double check... Im checking for continuity on the dead black wires from the junction with the dead blacks from the dead receptacles and ceiling light, right?

Also I don't know if this matters , in this junction box there are 4 cables total, 1 is the main power like you mentioned and the other 3 went to working receptacles I realize this because they stopped working when I untwisted all them.Could that mean one of those cables still goes to the ceiling light or dead receptacles?

Thanks so much again, what a learning experience this forum is awesome!
 
  #22  
Old 10-28-14, 09:14 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 29,711
Upvotes: 0
Received 15 Upvotes on 13 Posts
3 went to working receptacles I realize this because they stopped working when I untwisted all them.
If they all went to working receptacles then no sense checking them to the light. Just put it back together.

I think we have went as far as we can go. You are going to need an electrician to figure this out. Sorry I couldn't help more.
 
  #23  
Old 10-28-14, 09:47 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Thanks again Ray I really appreciate it.

Just throwing this out there not sure if it matters, but I just realized I do have one "light switch" in the kitchen/dining room that doesn't control anything in the house. Could this be connected to everything not working?

Also when testing receptacle A I noticed I got a reading from black to ground of 25 volts. When I turn the breaker off for the living it kills this reading as well as the junction boxes.

Does that help at all ?
 
  #24  
Old 10-28-14, 10:14 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 29,711
Upvotes: 0
Received 15 Upvotes on 13 Posts
Just too many possibilities to troubleshoot by remote control. There are things like the junction boxes that almost certainly were done by amateurs. Trying to second guess amateurs who don't follow expected wiring conventions is very difficult.
 
  #25  
Old 10-29-14, 08:28 AM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Hahah I hear you on that! Let's just say who ever renovated the house wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed.

One last question before I go ahead and surrender to call the professionals.

Looking at my breaker box I noticed there is a cable which runs from the living room wall to the breaker box but this cable is left unconnected to the breaker box. It is just hanging there.

Would it be worth a try to test continuity from this cable to the dead receptacles and ceiling light ?

Maybe this idiot thought he connected the cable but never did and thus the reason for no power or voltage at the dead ones?
 
  #26  
Old 10-29-14, 08:47 AM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 29,711
Upvotes: 0
Received 15 Upvotes on 13 Posts
Or when he connected the cable things went boom and he couldn't figure out why so he disconnected it. I'm just not going to guess.

One final note. The junction box with four cables may exceed the box fill allowed by code.
 
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: