wiring fault question

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  #1  
Old 06-02-15, 07:46 PM
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wiring fault question

I have five outlets which are on the same circuit which show a wiring fault on a power strip. All other outlets are fine. Is there something I could fix myself? Could one outlet not be connected to ground ( copper wire) and cause all to show fault? Could the circuit in breaker box be bad? This is all I could think of. What else could cause this?
 
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Old 06-02-15, 07:55 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

You have five receptacles and when you plug the power strip into each one..... one at a time.... the power strip shows missing ground.... have I got that correct ?
 
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Old 06-02-15, 08:01 PM
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Yup. I tried to plug a power strip in each outlet, one at a time, and it showed a wiring fault in each one. The rest of the house is fine.
 
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Old 06-02-15, 08:13 PM
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Since receptacles are wired in a loop...... your problem will be at the first receptacle that is missing ground or at the last receptacle on that circuit that does have ground.

You need to determine what type of cabling you have. It could be BX (metal clad) and the ground is carried on the outer metal jacket. This jacket makes connection in the box via a clamp in the back of the box. A clamp may have loosened up.

Or.... you have type NM (romex) cable and the grounds were not properly connected or it broke at one of the boxes.
 
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Old 06-02-15, 08:22 PM
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"Or.... you have type NM (romex) cable and the grounds were not properly connected or it broke at one of the boxes."


When you say "boxes", you mean outlets (receptacles)?

I am thinking you mean a circuit breaker box. Although I am not sure which cable system it is. I did just open the box up located inside apartment and found all copper ground wires were tightly screwed in. If there is a main box outside I do not have access to it. I have opened two of the receptacles (outlets) and they looked fine, one of the boxes had pig tailing of the copper ground. I do not know if that could cause this.
 

Last edited by urban1; 06-02-15 at 08:39 PM.
  #6  
Old 06-02-15, 08:37 PM
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What wiring fault is the strip showing?

By boxes they are referring to the device box, not the breaker box.
 
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Old 06-02-15, 08:37 PM
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You need to determine what exactly is on that circuit. Some receptacles on that circuit may be ok and are grounded while the five that are in question are not. The cable goes from the main panel to each receptacle.

You have actual 120v power so you don't have a breaker issue. You could have a broken ground wire in the panel although that isn't likely.

The diagram illustrates better what I'm talking about. It says.... working and not working. Sub in for that grounded and not grounded.

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Old 06-02-15, 09:02 PM
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pc boss I have two different power strips showing problems with these outlets. One is marked "Wiring fault" and is lit red. The other power strip has a light that says "grounded" which should be lit but is not.
 
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Old 06-02-15, 09:06 PM
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I think I found the problem! I will update..
 

Last edited by urban1; 06-02-15 at 09:26 PM.
  #10  
Old 06-02-15, 09:28 PM
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Since you have two cables in the box..... that's two whites, two blacks, and should be two bare grounds.... the whites are connected together with a short tail to the neutral (silver) side of the receptacle and the two blacks are connected together with a short tail to the hot (brass) side of the receptacle. The same thing should be done with the bare grounds.

Pushing the wires into the backs of the devices is called backstabbing and is not a reliable way of connecting them. Using the side screw is preferred.
 
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Old 06-02-15, 10:51 PM
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update ! I have not found the problem yet.

PJmax ..Thank you for your reply. I not knowing a whole lot about electrical did not realize that the extra wires in the box were from the switch nearby that connects to the outlet to use with a lamp or other stuff. The black and white that were bound together were both "live as one was from the switch but not marked. Learning as I go here.

YEs! Backstabbing! So a piece of wire is stuck in the back of the receptacle plug cause I broke it
Can I leave it there and just strip and wrap the wires around the screws? I tried and tried to get it out to no avail.

So I decided to check two light switches that are in the mix with these outlets in question and neither are grounded. I am thinking this could be my issue. I will have to wait til tomorrow to cut off power and check.

Also I have an outlet where the copper wires are tired together without the little plastic cone protector thing that you should have to pig tail properly. Is that an issue?


Thank You
Thank You for sticking with me!
 

Last edited by urban1; 06-02-15 at 11:23 PM.
  #12  
Old 06-03-15, 03:37 AM
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The grounds should have a crimp or wire but to hold the splice..
 
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Old 06-03-15, 03:18 PM
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ok
I checked 8 plugs and two light switches which are on the same circuit.
I grounded the two light switches that previously were not ground.
I changed all the plugs from being backstabbed to wrapping the wire around the
screws.

All this and I still have the same problem.
Oh and by the way the wire is pvc romex.
I think I understand a previous post better now. when you said the wire could have broken. I would have to unscrew and pry the box in the wall and look behind them to see if the copper wire broke. I have not done this.
 

Last edited by urban1; 06-03-15 at 04:23 PM.
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Old 06-03-15, 03:50 PM
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I would have to unscrew and pry the box in the wall and look behind them to see if the copper wire broke. I have not done this.
No, that is not the way. You need a multimeter, preferably analog to test the ground wires. Do you have a multimeter?
 
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Old 06-03-15, 04:14 PM
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No I do not have a multimeter. I Can get one from a hardware store. Will it help me isolate which of the 8 sockets is causing the problem since all of them show up as not being ground on my power strip? Since they are on that same circuit would all of them show up as bad on the multimeter?

If I can isolate the bad one, what would I do next? Replace the outlet?
 

Last edited by urban1; 06-03-15 at 05:16 PM.
  #16  
Old 06-03-15, 05:44 PM
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The problem is not a device (receptacle or switch).

Each cable that enters a junction box has a ground wire in it. The piece of cable from the panel to the first device has a ground wire in it. The ground wires all get connected together in each box.

It would be extremely rare for a ground wire to break in the cable inside the wall. You should see a ground wire in each box from each cable.

You have 8 receptacles and 2 lights on the circuit. Is that everything on that circuit ?
Circuiting usually follows a logical order. The cable will usually go from the panel to the closest box first. I'll check the panel first. If everything looks good there then I'll go to the closest box and check there.

If you had an ohmmeter..... with the circuit off and nothing plugged in and all the lights shut off...... you would check for continuity between ground and neutral (white.) Since the grounds and neutrals are connected together at the panel.... they should show a short wherever you check them.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 05:57 PM
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I Can get one from a hardware store.
All you need a cheap, $8-$15 analog multimeter. Don't let them sell you a digital. They can sometimes be fooled by induced voltage.

PJ's test method is sound but my first test would be to check for 120v between ground and each hot. Go with PJ's first. He's the pro.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 06:01 PM
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You can check from 120v to ground..... I personally would do that..... but it can be a little dangerous to have a live receptacle floating around while checking behind it for ground.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 06:11 PM
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Yes, sometimes my familiarity causes me to forget the danger for those unfamiliar with the work. Go with PJ's method.
 
  #20  
Old 06-03-15, 07:29 PM
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Thank you.

To answer your question yes there are 8 receptacles in two different rooms. 2 of those receptacles are wired to switches.

If I am recalling correctly:
most receptacles have one of each wire ( Black white and copper).

one receptacle has the wires but I cannot see the any of the plastic that encases the wires. This is either the first or second in the loop as it is in a closet.

Multiple receptacles have two sets of each set and are pig tailed.

One receptacle not in what I am assuming is the begging or the end of this "chain" has two sets of each wire. the copper are pigtailed. The white and black are not and all four are secured to screws. Could this be my issue?

Also the first thing in the second room is a switch which has lots of wires including a red one.
This one is kinda confusing.

I found a short you tube video on how to check for continuity with a multimeter, is it the same with ohmmeter?

I have found an analog meter on amazon that checks both in one meter, so I am assuming the process is the same, but I don't know enough to say.
 
  #21  
Old 06-03-15, 07:37 PM
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Also , what would indicate a short on ohm meter? what would indicate it was working fine?


On the video the guy said if it was near 0 on the multimeter it was fine and if it was a lot higher it was bad. Atleast thats how I remember it. I was planning on viewing the video again before trying it.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 07:45 PM
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Ohm meter is one of the functions on a multimeter. When using an analog touch the two probes together it should go to the far end of the scale. That is the reading you are looking for when testing the grounds.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 08:18 PM
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I feel so dumb. I forgot about a receptacle behind a piece of furniture. There are so many in this place! I am not complaining ..more is better. Turns out that was the First in the circuit. I opened it and sure enough the copper wires were not pigtailed together ..one was loose!

My problem is fixed!

Thank You for your help!
I went from knowing nothing about electrical outlets to knowing a little bit! LOL
 
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Old 06-03-15, 08:20 PM
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I opened it and sure enough the copper wires were not pigtailed together ..one was loose!
So that's it..... you're all set now. Good job.
 
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