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Old 11-15-2011, 08:47 AM   #1
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Confused about cross wiring


Ok, so we're pulling wires in my upstairs which is going remarkably smoothly considering what we're dealing with. We have found some really bizarre stuff (I'll add that to my nightmare thread) but last night was cross wiring, which I don't understand.

Here's the background: Breaker #2 (15 amp) on the second floor runs the basement lights, the light over the kitchen sink, one counter outlet, and the refrigerator outlet. All old wires.

Breaker #9 in the basement runs a single outlet on the second floor. New wires.

Last night, after turning off all five breakers in the second floor panel, I decided to test all of the breakers with my "noise maker tester." Breaker 2 had power coming up to it from the wire on the outside of the breaker. Meaning that the wire was getting power from a different source, not the breaker itself.

I was all sorts of confused, but we had work to do, so I shut the power off to the whole house and we got last night's wires pulled. When we were turning things back on, we found out that breaker 9 in the basement was the source of the power.

Now, my father put in the plug that runs to breaker 9. It's a new wire, with a new outlet, and the only thing on that breaker. That was a few years ago, so I'm not ruling out the possibility that I've touched it since then and mucked up the works. However, that's not my question.

Two years ago, I cross wired the fusebox that goes to my furnace. When I threw the breaker it slammed off. I turned it on, and it slammed off again. Um... oops. That was a $75 lesson. I had hooked up the wires backwards in the fuse box, and that was the cause of the issue. So I learned something there

My question is: if I am getting power back to the circuit box then why isn't it tripping the breaker? I did not test the voltage, so I don't know how much current is coming up, but I know there is enough power in the line to make my tester light up.

After the second floor is done, we're re-pulling the downstairs wires so that they are powered though the basement panel, so that's not really an issue. I also will try to find the power source, but that could be in a wall or buried somewhere....

Thanks!

Michelle
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Old 11-15-2011, 08:56 AM   #2
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Confused about cross wiring


Don't trust the signal from a "noise maker tester", they are notorious for giving a false signal. Test with a test light or Wiggy to be sure before being concerned about cross wiring.
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:16 AM   #3
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Confused about cross wiring


Wiggy?
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:31 AM   #4
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Confused about cross wiring


Pen testers can give false positives. I found that placing a finger on the tip of the pen tester as you place it on the wire helps to eliminate them.

I would use a volt meter to determine if it is dead. Wiggy is a old solenoid based test device that you don't see much of anymore.
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:39 AM   #5
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Confused about cross wiring


The tester I have has a metal tip, and a metal square at the end. I turn it on, then put my finger on the square, then put the tip on the wire and it sounds and the light comes on. If I don't tough the metal, and leave it off, it just lights up red when there is power - but that's not as sensitive (only lights up on one side of a wire for example.)
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:43 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Colomboj View Post
I would use a volt meter to determine if it is dead. Wiggy is a old solenoid based test device that you don't see much of anymore.
Don't tell that to Ideal. Someone must have forgotten to tell them.

http://www.idealindustries.com/produ...rical_testers/
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:45 AM   #7
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Confused about cross wiring


I never said they don't make them anymore. I said you don't see them often.
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Old 11-15-2011, 11:38 AM   #8
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I never said they don't make them anymore. I said you don't see them often.
Use mine almost every day. Best test device to verify true voltage present and not phantom voltage.
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:02 PM   #9
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Confused about cross wiring


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Originally Posted by mnp13
My question is: if I am getting power back to the circuit box then why isn't it tripping the breaker? I did not test the voltage, so I don't know how much current is coming up, but I know there is enough power in the line to make my tester light up.
In the diagrams, due to a wiring error, circuits are crossed resulting in two breakers supplying power to one receptacle.

In the top diagram both breaker #2 and breaker #9 are on the same side (leg) of the 120/240 volt service. No current flows if nothing is plugged in. Or when using the test light, only enough current to light the test light flows, from black to (not shown) neutral/white. If breaker #9 was the correct breaker for that circuit, then breaker #2 is just making power from the same leg available to the receptacle if breaker #9 is shut off. With breaker #2 on and breaker #9 off, 120 volts, coming all the way over from breaker #2, will be measured at the screw for breaker #9 (outside of the breaker). You can say that both the top black line and the bottom black line are "plus 120". Given the difference of zero, no current flows; current does not go 'round and 'round the black loop.

In the bottom diagram (let's say a different brand of panel), a dead short (and breaker trip) results if both breaker #2 and breaker #9 are flipped on. Current, lots of it, will come from one leg of the 120/240 volt service out to the receptacle and return to the other leg just because the wires are there. If you insist, let's call the black line "plus 120" and the red line "minus 120". given the difference of 240 (volts) current flows.

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Last edited by AllanJ; 11-16-2011 at 08:07 AM.
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