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There's no way this is up to code (capped hot wire behind the wall)..

There's no way this is up to code (capped hot wire behind the wall)..

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  #1  
Old 11-25-20, 04:06 PM
S
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There's no way this is up to code (capped hot wire behind the wall)..

I have a general contractor putting an addition onto my house. They have been around for 15 years and have fantastic reviews so I thought it would be safe. They are adding the addition up against my existing brick garage. The brick garage has an outdoor outlet installed but it has never worked since I have owned the house so I assumed it was an abandoned electrical wire/line. However when the project first started, I had one of the plumbers call and say there were using that outlet but then it stopped working. I assumed since the outlet looks very old that maybe that was the cause of the problem and the outlet was faulty or there was a loose connection (originally I thought it was just a dead wire but obviously not!).

A few weeks later, they started framing the addition. I noticed that they framed around the outlet in question. I informed the project manager that outlet/wiring would need removed and he said not to worry. They also somehow got the city to approve the framing job (maybe they didnt see the outlet?) Later I noticed they simply put insulation over the outlet and were ready to drywall over it! Obviously I was not happy so I contacted the PM again. He said the electrician would be out to remove it.

Fast forward to yesterday. The electrician told me he got rid of the outlet and then he went into the basement to run some other wiring. Given the past history with this outlet I wanted to be sure so I went into the addition while the electrician was not around and he simply capped the wires and left them in the metal box (without even a cover) and put the insulation back over it. To my horror, when I tested the wires they were hot!!

When he finished up the other work, I asked how he removed the outlet and he said "it was a dead wire so I capped it." I called him out and said I just tested it and I know its a hot/live wire. Then he began fumbling his words (caught in a lie) and said that it would be fine, he capped it and not to worry it won't cause a fire because the wires are capped.

Obviously this can't be up to code but please confirm. While I may believe the likelihood of a fire is low, I'm not taking any chances. I am going to make them fix it, although now I don't trust them at all since they tried to lie and say it was a dead wire. What are the options?

1) Pull the wiring out completely and remove it
2) Move to an accessible junction box
3) Move so it is an outlet in the addition (vs being covered by the wall)?

Thanks



 
  #2  
Old 11-25-20, 04:09 PM
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Any one of the three would be acceptable.
Leaving a live wire buried in the wall..... in a box or not is not acceptable.
 
  #3  
Old 11-25-20, 05:35 PM
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An accessible junction box with a capped live wire would be acceptable.
 
  #4  
Old 11-25-20, 06:19 PM
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Unfortunately, what you have experienced is very typical of many remodel/addition contractors.
I see splices in the wall without junction box, capped off hot wires in the wall, inaccessbile junction boxes in the ceiling all the time.
Even when the job is inspected, inspectors often miss them because the contractor will put a drywall up in that area to hide the problem or simply because they are in hurry.

Sometimes it is worse with new construction. They go through similar building over and over and ends up passing without even actually looking. I have seen a junction box with back half cut off to install light fixture in very shallow wall (1.5"). The inspector had no problem because he never actually inspected.

All three options you mentioned will work and the best choice will depend on where the junction box is.
If it is located near new wall and the wire is long enough, you might be able to utilize it has an outlet.
Of if you can put an outlet on the other side, flip the junction box to install new outlet.
You could also choose to put blank cover instead of outlet.

You can find the other end of the cable and disconnect and cut the wires and push outside of the junction box. Now the cable is actually dead and you can leave cable in the wall. you don't have to pull it out.
 
  #5  
Old 11-26-20, 12:12 PM
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Alright well I did some more troubleshooting and really would like your input.

I went back out and tested the outlet again and now it's not testing hot anymore! So maybe it really did test cold for the electrician. However he did know it was hot at one time because he used it. I am positive the outlet is not on a switch or anything like that. I did more investigation and the outlet is powered by a MC cable that runs up behind the garage wall and into the existing home attic. The really weird thing is from the outlet up the wall (8 ft?) and a few feet into the attic, the MC cable tests hot and cold intermittently (majority of the time it tests cold). However once I go further into the attic, the MC cable tests hot every single time (probably 10 feet+ back from the outlet). I have never seen a wire go bad like this, especially not 10 feet into the wire. Thankfully I was able to identify the breaker the wire is on so I can easily shut it on and off for them to work on it.

Why would it be testing hot/cold from the outlet back 10 feet but then testing hot all the time after 10 feet. Does the wire have a break in it or something? I am thinking I can have them cut the wire up in the attic where it tests hot all the time and put it in an accessable juncion box. I did want your input though on how it could test hot/cold that far back from the outlet. I could understand if maybe the wires got wet (being an exterior outlet) and the wire in the outlet could be damaged but to test hot/cold for 10 feet is odd to me.

Thanks!
 
  #6  
Old 11-26-20, 02:06 PM
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Hi, how are you doing this testing?
 
  #7  
Old 11-26-20, 02:57 PM
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Iím using a voltage test pen. Itís always been accurate for me. I also know the outlet in question worked intermittently because the contractors used it and it would randomly die during their work.
 
  #8  
Old 11-26-20, 03:02 PM
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MC = metal clad like BX which means metal jacket.
A non contact pen cannot identify voltage thru a metal jacket.
If the metal jacket shows as hot.... you've got a problem.
 
  #9  
Old 11-26-20, 03:22 PM
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EDIT - Thank you for the info on not being able to test the MC cable. I think what was happening was I had other romex wires in the vicinity in the attic portion so it was causing a false HOT alarm with the voltage pen. That also makes sense why the MC cable running up the wall in the first 8-10ft was testing NOT HOT, since I can't run a test on it using the pen! Thank you for the knowledge about that. Now I will need to determine the correct breaker for the MC cable when it gets cut and put in a junction box.

I did go back out again and test the wires directly from the outlet. Again they tested HOT for my first test with the pen. However on my second test they went COLD and remained that way for the few minutes I was outside. I am positive there are no other wires in the vicinity that could be causing a false alarm. I also know that the contractor used that outlet and it was working intermittently so something is still going on.

All I can think of is that the wires coming out of the MC cable got wet at some point since there was no outlet cover on it when I got the house. Here is a little better picture of them, maybe they are a bit corroded. I think the plan still stands to find the correct breaker and cut the MC cable in the attic and put it in an accessible junction box. The wiring can then be completely pulled from the outlet box before drywall is put in place. Does that sound like a solid plan? Here is another picture of the wiring if anyone can tell if they could corroded and causing the HOT and COLD behavior..

Wires in box
 

Last edited by SamAlex; 11-26-20 at 04:08 PM. Reason: Combined info into single post.
  #10  
Old 11-26-20, 04:05 PM
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Properly installed MC cable should never test hot with non-contact tester as metal jacket outside should be grounded.
However, if it really is disconnected, abandoned cable and it is run parallel to NM (non metallic) cable such as romex, then it could test hot with non-contact tester.
You will have to actually measure voltage using multimeter to prove it is actually hot or not.

If the plumbers were actually using the outlet before it stopped working and no one disconnected wire on the other end, then you really have to look for the other end as this would mean you have a bad connection some where.
 
  #11  
Old 11-27-20, 07:27 AM
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However, if it really is disconnected, abandoned cable and it is run parallel to NM (non metallic) cable such as romex, then it could test hot with non-contact tester.
You will have to actually measure voltage using multimeter to prove it is actually hot or not.
Yep, I learned this about NCV testers. I can shut a breaker off and still get 1 maybe even 2 lights (out of 5) on the NCV tester when sniffing around the wires. When the circuit is powered, the NCV tester will hit 5 out of 5 lights and continuously sound when I'm sniffing around the hot wire, so there's a clear difference.
 
 

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