outlet wiring question

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Old 08-01-20, 11:49 AM
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outlet wiring question

I am trying to branch a new 120V outlet off an existing outlet using a raceway. I want to also change the existing outlet to a GFCI. Two questions:

1) When I open the existing outlet, it has 8 wires (4 red and 4 white) hooked up (it already feeds another outlet). When I check the voltage of the two lower red wires, one measures 180 and the other 60. Is that normal? I assume somehow they cancel each other out to create 120? But that's beyond me. Both are on the same breaker.

2) This two-voltage hot wire has thrown me for a bit of a loop in regards to the GFCI and making sure it will work with this configuration. Just to be sure, I put the two hot red wires and the common wires on the bottom (LINE) screws of the GFCI, and I put the 4 red and white feeder wires, PLUS the new feeder line I'm adding for the raceway to the top (LOAD) screws of the GFCI? I'm guessing that with 6 feeder wires I should make a pigtail?
 
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Old 08-01-20, 12:13 PM
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180 to what? 60 to what? It is not normal. Readings like that they can not be on the same breaker or you have a defective meter.

Where are all these 8 wires currently connected? There is not enough connections to all be connected to the current receptacle.
Without disconnecting any wires post a picture of the current setup.
 
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Old 08-01-20, 12:39 PM
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Here's the current setup. When I disconnect the wires from the outlet, measuring the two lower red wires one at a time to common, one wire measures 180V, the other 60V (I tried two different meters). When I measure them wired up to the outlet, I get 120V.

 

Last edited by PJmax; 08-01-20 at 04:06 PM. Reason: cropped/enhanced picture
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Old 08-01-20, 12:42 PM
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ah--I just realized the breakers for this room are two separate breakers tied together to switch on/off as a pair. So could these be separate circuits connected to the same outlet?
 
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Old 08-01-20, 01:28 PM
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Hi, first off donít use those back stab terminals, it looks like the brass link on that receptacle may have been removed, hard to tell from the pic, 2 breakers for the room ,if you shut one breaker off what happens?
Geo
 
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Old 08-01-20, 03:59 PM
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What you have there is a split wired receptacle. If you look close you will see the tab is missing that connects the top and bottom. The top receptacle is controlled by one breaker. The is controlled by the other breaker.
Where is this receptacle located?
 
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Old 08-01-20, 04:04 PM
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Wow...... that has to go.

I see only red wires. Do you have conduit there ?
 
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Old 08-01-20, 06:01 PM
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No, the metal tab is there. In fact since the outlet was worn I just replaced it with another I had on hand and it works fine--I just tested it and I get 120V. The two red wires on the bottom are both hot, One 180V, one 60V. Combined they produce 120V.

The pic below is the old outlet I removed. You can see the metal tab.

The outlet is in a bedroom. Downstream from it are several other outlets, the ceiling fixture, and also an outlet and the ceiling fixture in the bathroom on the other side of the wall.





 
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Old 08-01-20, 06:04 PM
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PJMAx, yes there are white wires there. Four red, four white. There is conduit, one of the hot wires comes out of one conduit, the other hot wire comes from a different conduit. The downstream wires lead to a third conduit.
 
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Old 08-01-20, 07:12 PM
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The two red wires on the bottom are both hot, One 180V, one 60V. Combined they produce 120V.
That is absolutely incorrect. One circuit should only measure 120vAC. Voltages don't mix.

You mentioned two breakers supplying part of this circuit. The red wires may be one circuit and possibly black wires are the other circuit. That could be confirmed by looking at the breakers in the panel.

There should not be eight wires on a receptacle.
There should be one hot wire, one neutral wire and a ground wire.

The four wires should be spliced together..... and a short tail added to go to the receptacle.
This should be done for both red and white wires.

The picture shows two wires plus tail.... you'll have four plus a tail.
 
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Old 08-02-20, 05:29 AM
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Also suggested to use receptacles that have screws. I don't recall seeing a receptacle that does not have screws.
 
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Old 08-02-20, 11:40 PM
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I don't know how else to explain it. I checked the wires with two different meters. One wire measured 180V, the other 60V. The outlet is producing 120.

I know I have another outlet in the house that does something similar, it's been awhile but I recall being told it had a shared neutral. If I pulled the neutral, two outlets that normally get 120V would suddenly get 240V. I was told it's a multiwire branch circuit. Could this be something similar?
 
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Old 08-02-20, 11:55 PM
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Yes..... it's a multiwire branch circuit and when you turn off both breakers...... there should be 0volts in the circuit. You should never work on a multiwire branch circuit with either circuit live as you could get high voltage as you mentioned if the neutral is inadvertently opened.

However.... since you have conduit..... you could be getting induced voltages in dead wiring just from being next to live wiring. A digital meter is prone to reading ghost voltages.
 
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