Basic wall receptacle question


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Old 01-08-15, 10:00 AM
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Basic wall receptacle question

We had our den and kitchen remodeled a few months ago. We had wall outlets added in both rooms. I found a wall outlet behind some furniture in a bed room that shares a wall with the remodeled den. The Contractor had pulled the outlet plug out and added a second power cable to the wall outlet box. I know next to nothing about electricity. So my question is basic.

1 wall outlet box. 2 white power cables coming into it. Each cable contains black, white, ground wires.
cable A is the original with larger wires (20 amp plug size I think)
Cable B was run into the box during remodel. Smaller wire size. (15 amp plug)
Outlet tester (non touch pocket pen style) shows black wires in both cables to be hot.

Found breaker for the outlet. When I turn it off, 3 other wall outlets along that wall loose power.
When I turn the breaker back on, all wall outlets I can find have power. So no other outlet seems to be dependent on this unfinished one being hooked up.

I watched youtube videos on replacing wall outlets. I see how to connect the white and black and (pig tailed?) ground wires from both power cables to one power plug. But none of the videos commented on the hot/cold state of the wires before hand.

My question, is it OK to hook both hot power cables to 1 new outlet, or should I NOT connect both cables to new outlet and only connect 1 of the power cables to the new outlet? In my mind, connecting two hot cables together should make sparks fly! :-/

... yes I will turn off the breaker before I start touching wires. :-)

Thanks.
 
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Old 01-08-15, 10:12 AM
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You're not really trying to connect two hot wires, you have an 'incoming' cable (from the breaker box), then it is daisy chained to other receptacles. So connecting the two black wires together is a good thing, you're allowing power to flow from the breaker box, to the bedroom receptacle, AND to the den receptacle too.

What are you trying to do though? Just replace an existing receptacle?


Unfortunately though, there are a few red flags that might show that the wiring was done incorrectly and possibly unsafely.

First, when doing a remodel, it's standard practice to run new circuits as opposed to tapping off existing circuits. It's not that you can't, but most of the time, it makes sense to give you more capacity than adding to another circuit that may already be well-used.

Second, the red flag that makes it sound like your contractor was not an electrician is that he used 14ga wire (what you called smaller wire) on a 20A circuit. This is a definite no-no.
Can you confirm the amperage of this circuit's breaker (engraved on the breaker switch).

(It is possible it's done properly, newer cable is smaller than cable made 30 years ago because of advancements in insulation and such, so it's possibly it's correct... but it definitely should be checked out more closely)

-Mike
 
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Old 01-08-15, 10:24 AM
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The den should not feed the kitchen or vice versa.

It sounds like there are other issues also.
 
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Old 01-08-15, 10:37 AM
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The outlet receptacle in the bedroom was not replaced. It's just the box in the wall with wires in it. I want to install a receptacle.

The house is 40 yrs old. So original wire is that old.

The breaker in question says 20 on it.

What I don't understand is, if this unconnected outlet is part of a daisy chain, should there be another outlet somewhere that is dead because the chain is broken?

Back to my basic question of both black wires coming into the box being hot, that's normal?

Thanks for your help.
 
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Old 01-08-15, 10:42 AM
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If the two black wires are not connected together, it is not normal for both to be hot. It suggests one of two errors: two different circuits have been accidentally interconnected, or a single circuit has somehow been configured into a loop instead of a chain. You could find out which it is by determining if they both go dead when a single breaker is turned off or if one remains live.
 
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Old 01-08-15, 10:43 AM
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I don't think the den feeds the kitchen. There are 4 receptacles (wall outlets) on the den wall. The den shares the wall with a bedroom. When they replaced the sheet rock on the den side of the wall, they added more power outlets in the den. The outlet in the bedroom is part of that circuit. When I turn off the breaker in question, only the 4 receptacle in the den, and two in the bedroom go out. I hope I'm explaining this right. Thanks for you comment.
 
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Old 01-08-15, 10:46 AM
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That is the case. No wires are connected in the box. I have all 6 wires (2 black, 2 white, 2 ground) stripped and individually caped (plastic cone thing you screw on to the end of wires). The tester says both black wires are hot.
 
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Old 01-08-15, 10:50 AM
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Yes, both black wires go dead when a single breaker is turned off.

So it's a loop?
 
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Old 01-08-15, 12:00 PM
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What kind of tester are you using,non contact can give false readings,best to use an analog meter,HOT to Neutral and HOT to ground.
Geo
 
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Old 01-08-15, 12:20 PM
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blackwing,
Do you have a ceiling light in the bedroom?
If you do, is there a switch on the wall and is it working?
 
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Old 01-10-15, 08:36 AM
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Electricians came back this morning and just capped off one cable and connected the other to the receptacle.

Thanks for all your input. You kept me from doing something stupid...at least for today.
 
 

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