Disposal/Dishwasher Breaker

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  #1  
Old 06-03-15, 06:59 AM
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Disposal/Dishwasher Breaker

I am not an electrician by any means, but I have tried to troubleshoot this problem for over a week now and cannot figure it out.

About a week ago my dishwasher and disposal outlet/switch stopped working. Currently this is setup by power coming into the switch above the sink, and splits the Hot wire to the switch and the other half goes down to the outlet under the sink. This way half the outlet has power all the time for the dishwasher and the other half of the outlet is controlled by the switch for the disposal. I'm assuming this is normal.

I went out to by breaker box and the breaker was flipped so I reset it and went back in but the switch and outlet still had no power. At that time my breakers were not labeled on the breaker box so I spent the rest of that night going through the entire house for outlets and lights to determine what was on what breaker. From what I can tell there is nothing else that I can find that is on the breaker with the disposal/dishwasher.

I tested the power coming out of each breaker and all of them read 120V, yet I have nothing at the switch where the power comes into the box. I tried switching the breaker with one that I know works yet no change at the switch.

I tested continuity between the neutral and ground wire and there is continuity, however no voltage between Hot and ground, or Hot and neutral, I believe that is called an Open Hot Connection. I have gotten into the attic where my wires are for the kitchen and I can see the wire coming straight up into the attic from the breaker box which is 10 feet due east from the switch in question. I can see the wires going over to where they then into the kitchen and down the wall to the switch. Although I havent verified yet if the wire I am trying to trace does in fact go straight from the breaker box over to the switch, I am almost certain as I have tested multiple times every light and outlet in my entire house. I have tested everything from the swamp cooler, door bell, outside lights, outside outlets, bathroom GFI's, all outlets and lights in the house and in the garage.

I realize this is very lengthy but I wanted to fully illustrate my problem as well as the trouble shooting I have done so far.

I have done two electrical remodels in the house, one in the kitchen and one in the living room, within the past few weeks however they are on separate breakers and do not seem to be having any problems right now.

If anyone can help walk me through the issue and continue to trouble shoot other potential causes I would greatly appreciate it. I have an electrician scheduled to come out tomorrow but I would like to at least possibly narrow down where the problem could be if not solve it altogether.

The only other solution I can think is to run completely new wire, however I am concerned if this will fix my issue since from what I can tell the wire runs straight from the box to the switch.
 
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  #2  
Old 06-03-15, 07:07 AM
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The problem is most likely at the switch or the receptacle under the sink. My first guess is the receptacle. A connection has probably come loose or burned off, maybe inside a wire nut or inside the stab hole in the switch or receptacle. The next step would be to unhook all of the connections at both of these locations, separate the wires, turn power on and carefully see if you can measure 120V between the incoming hot and neutral wires. This will verify the incoming power is good and you just need to remake connections and replace the switch and receptacle.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 07:11 AM
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ibpooks,

Thanks for your response. When I decided I had an open hot connection that was actually done by undoing the the wire nut connections at the switch and checking for the power that was coming into the switch from the breaker. There is no voltage whatsoever at the hot.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 07:22 AM
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How about at the receptacle?
 
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Old 06-03-15, 07:32 AM
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The only power that goes to the receptacle is from the power that first comes to the switch box first. From switch box it splits and goes to the actual switch, and down to half of the outlet under the sink, while the other half is controlled by the switch above the sink. So i undid the wire nut in the switch box that sends the power to both and tested it completely separate from all of those other wires.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 07:34 AM
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You need to verify that the cable from panel goes directlyto the switch box, it might not.

My guess is you have a multi-wire branch circuit (split circuit, 2 breakers on one 3 conductor cable). Here's what to look for:

12/3 coming from panel into a receptacle box in kitchen.
Red wire going to a receptacle (most likely) or other device.
Black wire going out to disposal switch. This connection out will be wire nutted and is probably loose or wire has completely fallen out of nut.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 07:43 AM
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You need to verify that the cable from panel goes directlyto the switch box, it might not.
Whats the best way to do that? Going up into the attic and jiggling the cables and having someone below see which ones moves? Or is there a tester I can get that verifies if I have power running through a cable?

My guess is you have a multi-wire branch circuit (split circuit, 2 breakers on one 3 conductor cable).
Yes, I have a multi-wire branch circuit at the breaker box on most of my circuits.

12/3 coming from panel into a receptacle box in kitchen.
Verified.

Red wire going to a receptacle (most likely) or other device.
In the switch box there is a 12/4 wire, the red wire goes from the top of the switch down to the top of the outlet.

Black wire going out to disposal switch. This connection out will be wire nutted and is probably loose or wire has completely fallen out of nut.
The black wire is wire nutted and goes to the bottom of the switch and to the bottom of the outlet below the sink. I have removed the wire nut and tested the power coming into that switch and there is no power. But I have continuity between ground and neutral.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 07:58 AM
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Verify this (for me)

12/2 is supposed to be feeding the switch box
12/3 (forget ground) goes down to split receptacle under sink

If the above is true, you still need to look elsewhere in the kitchen for the black feed to disposal switch.

Easiest way is to gently pull out each receptacle, look for a box with both black and red wires. Check black connection. You don't have to go into attic, just look for any 3 conductor cable in a box and check connections.

This is just a guess as to what's wrong, but I think it's a good guess.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 08:07 AM
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12/2 is supposed to be feeding the switch box
12/3 (forget ground) goes down to split receptacle under sink
Verified. Sorry for the 12/4 comment. 12/2 comes into the switch box, and 12/3 goes to the receptacle.

Easiest way is to gently pull out each receptacle, look for a box with both black and red wires. Check black connection. You don't have to go into attic, just look for any 3 conductor cable in a box and check connections.
All receptacles and switches in the kitchen are currently working even though that breaker is turned off right now. So would my problem still potentially be in one of those other boxes in the kitchen?

The 12/3 with the red goes straight from the switch box down to the receptacle under the sink. So why would it be related to another receptacle in the kitchen?
 
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Old 06-03-15, 08:19 AM
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So would my problem still potentially be in one of those other boxes in the kitchen
Yes. The 12/2 feeding the switch has no power. Breaker works I assume. This means the black wire is broken somewhere between the panel and the switch box. It is most likely not bad cable.

Here is what you're looking for:

12/3 cable coming into a receptacle. Red feeds receptacle and that receptacle works, like you stated, all receptacles work.
From that same 12/3 cable, black goes out to disposer switch box. It is hot at 12/3 point (receptacle box), but not hot at disposer switch due to a bad connection.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 08:22 AM
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Ok that makes sense, but since I currently have the breaker turned off wouldnt that box with the 12/3 cable not be working either as it is turned off cause of the breaker being off?

And yes, the breaker has 120V leaving it. I tested between the hot and neutral on the bus bar.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 08:39 AM
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NO. The receptacle would still work with "one" breaker off.

You have to understand a MWBC, or some call it a Split Circuit.

In the panel you will have 2 breakers. The breakers must be on opposite legs of service. Each breaker will read 120V to ground. The 2 breakers will read 240V between them. The circuit will be wired with 3 conductor cable. Black hot wire will go to one breaker, Red hot wire to the 2nd breaker, the neutral is shared.

Where this cable terminates in house, you have 2 circuits in that box. They can work independently of each other. Like I said, one leg will be feeding device in the box, the other leg will go out for other purposes. Just simply check all connections in each box.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 08:58 AM
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All receptacles in the kitchen checked and there are no 12/3 wires in any of the boxes.
 
  #14  
Old 06-03-15, 09:09 AM
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Bummer.
Did you happen to change out the receptacle under sink? I'm not saying you should, I'm asking if you did?
 
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Old 06-03-15, 09:13 AM
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When i first moved into the house i did. But since the problem I have not.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 09:20 AM
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I'm at a loss. Sorry. I would have sworn there is a wire nut connection somewhere between panel and switch box that is loose.

Hopefully some others have some ideas. For now I would do this:

- Flip breaker to the full off position and back on.
- Disconnect hot wire from breaker. Using a long length of wire and a meter, check continuity of wire back to panel.
- Inspect cable to see if a rodent chewed through it.

If all else fails, please let us know what electrician finds.
 
  #17  
Old 06-03-15, 10:02 AM
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Just checked and there is no continuity between the black wire at the panel and the switch box. My guess is a nail or rodent chewed through the wire at some point.

So where this wire is located it would be an absolute pain to try and run new wire through the attic as it is the outside wall so the wire runs right down where the roof and the ceiling meet in the attic. I am wondering if i could just piggy back the dishwasher/disposal off the other light that is in the same box as this breaker just runs the kitchen lights. Is that safe and/or acceptable?
 
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Old 06-03-15, 10:41 AM
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No, taking power from lights is not acceptable.

Since you've already planned on an electrician coming out, I say keep the appointment. I still say there is a box you're missing. Maybe behind fridge, microwave, gas range igniter receptacle, the split could occur in any box in kitchen.

I don't want to beat a dead horse, but MWBC's are very common in kitchens, at least here. It's a very convenient way to run two circuits. Current code requires breakers to be tied, making it easier to find them.
It sounds like you know which breaker is supposed to operate the black wire. Remove panel cover, trace black wire to where it exits panel. If it is 12/3, trace red to it's breaker. Shut off red and see what is off in kitchen. This will give you a clue of where to start looking for bad wiring.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 11:37 AM
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I got the electrician to come out today actually, and we found the break, right where the all the wires leave the panel the wire in question had been rubbing obviously for awhile. When the electrician started pushing wires around in the panel it blew and was obvious what had happened. Thanks for everyones suggestions and help.
 
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Old 06-03-15, 01:04 PM
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Thanks for the feedback. I was way off.......

Your problem is rare, since the wires in panel are mostly undisturbed.
 
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