Lost power to out building - can I "jump" it?

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Old 04-07-15, 08:01 PM
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Lost power to out building - can I "jump" it?

Today we lost power to our separate garage. The garage has a single circuit, with the breaker in a nearby utility room service panel. I've checked the breaker, it didn't blow, and there's 125VAC on the load side, so power is available to the circuit and it's not seeing a short, right? So there must be a break somewhere in the garage circuit. None of the three garage doors respond to their remote controls, and the single external wall outlet is dead. The wiring must be underground, as there's nothing going into the building sides or top anywhere.

There's only one way into my garage, through the electric door, which does not have an externally available mechanical bypass. If my proposed solution doesn't work, I'll have to cut a hole in the door so I can grab the release.

I need access to my garage ASAP and I have no idea how long a permanent fix will take.

Can I run an extension cord from one of the utility room wall outlets to the external garage wall outlet, to power the garage circuit long enough to get my door open? I can find a couple of metal straps to mate the two female AC outlet faces. I assume I need to mate hot-to-hot. The run will be less than 50 ft.

I had thought to shut off the problem circuit's breaker, as well as the one for the utility rm circuit, run the jumper, then throw the utility rm breaker, so I can be right there to listen and observe. If all seems OK, I'll try the remote.
 
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Old 04-07-15, 08:39 PM
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Can I run an extension cord from one of the utility room wall outlets to the external garage wall outlet, to power the garage circuit long enough to get my door open? I can find a couple of metal straps to mate the two female AC outlet faces.
I wouldn't do this unless you have a pre-paid funeral plan. You can run something temporary to that receptacle to try to get the door open, but it needs to be properly wired in and then it still may not work. I hope your next project is cutting a personnel door into the garage as it should have had.
 
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Old 04-07-15, 08:44 PM
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Thanks Joe. LOL, I'm pretty careful around AC. I check everything with a VOM before touching it. This is just to get the door open, then I'll unlink the mechanism for now, and re-install the exterior mechanical bypass the next time the electrical opener is put back into service. I knew I should have done that long ago.
 
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Old 04-08-15, 04:55 AM
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I would check to see if you actually had power to the hot wires to the garage. You may have a compromised neutral. Test between the hot and ground of the receptacle on the garage. Let us know what you have.
 
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Old 04-08-15, 06:09 AM
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if you use the cord remove the outside receptacle and refeed the conductors that are going into the garage,do not backfeed the conductors going back to the panel.
You have checked for GFCI's everywhere?
Geo
 
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Old 04-08-15, 09:35 AM
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if you use the cord remove the outside receptacle and refeed the conductors that are going into the garage,do not backfeed the conductors going back to the panel.
You have checked for GFCI's everywhere?
Geo
There is a sump pump that was recently re-installed, presumably on this service (this is the "landlord's" service for the garages, utility room, and probably the sump pump - there are no other loads on it that I can tell; the two duplex units have their own services). There is the mains and the one distribution panel in the utility room, but I don't know how or where the sump pump is wired in. The pump is powered from a GFCI duplex outlet on a stalk that comes up out of a flower bed, next to a foundation vent. I checked that outlet yesterday, it hadn't tripped and the Test and Reset seemed to be working fine. In fact I got a red LED when checking it. I called the installer to ask if he thought it could be involved in this problem, since our first real rain since pump reinstallation was the night the garage failed, and am waiting to hear back. That I have seen there are no other GFCI outlets anywhere.

I'll take a look behind the face plate of that external outlet, but how can I tell which if any wires are the "backfeed"? I plan to open the breaker for that circuit, prior to adding the "jumper". I replaced that outlet a few years back, but don't recall the wiring.

I would check to see if you actually had power to the hot wires to the garage. You may have a compromised neutral. Test between the hot and ground of the receptacle on the garage. Let us know what you have.
No voltage between hot and ground either, but thanks, it hadn't occurred to me to make that check. AC mystifies me, I'm more comfortable with DC.
 
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Old 04-08-15, 11:13 AM
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Change of plans - just before going out for the extension cord, I pulled the duplex receptacle on the exterior wall out of its box. There's only 25 ohm resistance between the hot wire and the box, so I'm not going to power it up!

About that time the handyman showed up on another issue, and loaned me a handy little Bosch vibrating saw with a semi-circular blade. I cut out a panel in the door and I'm in!
 
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Old 04-08-15, 02:26 PM
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Good. Our next instructions would have been walk away, since you don't own the property. Leave it to the landlord. Too much liability to do things on your own. Glad you got in.
 
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Old 04-08-15, 06:30 PM
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The electrician looked things over but hasn't figured out the issue yet. There are still two garage units to be inspected. He's hoping for a GCFI (on the whole circuit?) or a distribution panel in one of the other garages, but I'm pretty sure there's none of that.

He pointed out my low resistance finding could just be a bulb somewhere. Doh...

So, some sort of make-shift feed may still be in order, depending on the approach the landlady takes to dealing with this issue. My garage is my workshop so I need power at least for lights and light power tools there fairly regularly.
 
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