Odd Dead Receptical

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Old 03-29-15, 05:56 PM
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Odd Dead Receptical

I have a receptacle that is dead in my garage, and it has me very, very confused. The receptacle worked just fine until two or three days ago when it died causing my chest freezer to lose power. Fortunately my wife caught this before we lost everything in the freezer!

[Note: Whoever wired this house was a total moron. Things like switches that don't do anything or turn on the lights in two bedrooms simultaneously exist. As a matter of fact so far I have determined that at least two switches control multiple rooms and there are at least 4 switches that don't do anything. I don't own this house, so for the most part I don't care.]

My first thought was to check the breakers, so I did. Nothing was tripped but just to be safe I shut off everything (and I do mean everything) and then reset all the breakers. This did not fix the problem.

This outlet is not GFCI protected, so I figured there might be one upstream, which I found not to be the case. Neither outlet is outfitted with a GFCI. So I started hunting around and discovered that the only GFCI protected outlet is in the kitchen. Just in case I reset it. This also didn't fix the problem.

So I took the switchplate off to check for loosing wiring at test the wires with a voltage meter. There is no current coming to the outlet or the switch next to it.

Everything else in the garage works, as do the lights outside. So if this thing is wired in line with other stuff it's at the very end.

Does anyone out there have some suggestions before I call my rental agency and put in a ticket for this to get fixed (which might take 3 months)?
 
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Old 03-29-15, 06:03 PM
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Rental is the keyword unfortunately. If you rent you should do no electrical work.
 
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Old 03-30-15, 12:15 AM
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@ray2047

While I generally agree, this particular rental agency can take forever (literally 90 days +) to get someone out here to even look at it. When I called them this evening the lady I talked to was not particularly interested in this problem. When I suggested that perhaps she should take it more seriously due to the potential for the house burning down she literally yawned and called me "overly dramatic". Based on my previous dealings with these people this interaction suggests that they rate this issue as somewhere between a non-issue and "we'll deal with it next year... maybe".

If this is a broken or loose wire (which is what I suspect at this point) it's a potential fire hazard. I'm not particularly keen to risk my life, my wife's life or my dog's lives over their unwillingness to do basic maintenance on their "investment". So if I can fix it, I most likely will, "not owning" the place be darned.

[Further notes on situation follow.]

This evening I did a bit more experimenting with this using a pen-style voltage tester rather than a multimeter, simply due to ease of use. Due to the previously mentioned moronic wiring in this house I started trying things I normally never would consider. This brought me to the discovery that the power to the receptacle is actually intermittent, almost like very, very, very slow nonsensical Morse Code, unless the light to the upstairs hallway is on. If those lights are on, the power becomes consistent. This was not the case before, at least as far as I know.

To me that suggests that someone had an upstairs switch that was originally designed to turn on something like a block heater for their car. However, that makes no sense since it nearly never gets cold enough here to need one, and this problem just occured. It strikes me that if it was a strange wiring configuration to run such a device, it would have been noticed earlier and, much more importantly, the receptacle wouldn't have intermittent power when the switch was off.

Either way, this is rapidly turning into an electrician's nightmare.
 
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Old 03-30-15, 09:50 AM
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This evening I did a bit more experimenting with this using a pen-style voltage tester rather than a multimeter,
If by "pen-style" you mean a non-contact tester, you are just wasting your time. They are very close to totally useless when troubleshooting.
 
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Old 03-30-15, 01:26 PM
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As per your suggestion, this morning I reran all the tests with a multimeter and got basically the same results.

When the light switch upstairs is on the power is consistent, when the switch is off the current is intermittent with fluctuations between 0V and ~95V.
 
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