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Old 08-01-2009, 08:18 AM   #1
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Electrical Problems


I've got a few electrical problems, two minor, and one more troublesome, so I'm going to lump them all in one post.

The plug in my bathroom died last weekend. I noticed its not a GFI and the circuit breaker also doesn't appear to be GFI. Isn't this a requirement? I'm in Nova Scotia, Canada. It regularly gets things plugged into it like: electric shaver, night light, blow dryer, curling iron, hair straightener, electric tooth brush charger. No one remembers it dieing on them while in use, we just noticed one day that it no longer works.
I took the faceplate off, and I don't see any black on the plug itself, to indicate that it may have shorted out. The breaker isn't clearly labeled "bathroom plug", so I've tried reseting them ALL, just to be sure, and I still have no power in my one main bathroom plug.
What else can I look at or do to see why this plug would be failing?

My main bathroom ceiling fan, when I turn it on, comes on at what seems like 110% for 15 seconds, then slows down to 100% for the remainder of the time its on. I haven't timed it, but it seems like sometimes its on for 10 seconds, others 20 seconds. I'm not sure if this is a feature, or an issue.

I have an unfinished room in the basement of my split level, that I use for a computer room. It has 1 light in the middle of the ceiling, that pulsates. As I sit here now, it will be at 100% bright for about 30 seconds, then go to 97% bright for a 1/2 second then back to 100%. Very annoying.
Its been like this for a while, as I right this I can't remember for sure if I've tried changing the bulb, so I'll go try that.


Thanks

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Old 08-01-2009, 08:41 AM   #2
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Chances are, there is another bathroom with a GFCI outlet in it that is tripped out. From there, the other bathroom outlets can be wired downstream with standard receptacles.

Check all your bathrooms, and if your house is older, the GFI unit might be located elsewhere, such as in a garage, or even outside.

One key thing to check for is neutral to ground continuity. Properly wired GFCI units will disconnect both current carrying conductors, thus showing no continuity between the grounded and grounding wires.

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Old 08-01-2009, 08:09 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by mirx View Post
My main bathroom ceiling fan, when I turn it on, comes on at what seems like 110% for 15 seconds, then slows down to 100% for the remainder of the time its on. I haven't timed it, but it seems like sometimes its on for 10 seconds, others 20 seconds. I'm not sure if this is a feature, or an issue.

I have an unfinished room in the basement of my split level, that I use for a computer room. It has 1 light in the middle of the ceiling, that pulsates. As I sit here now, it will be at 100% bright for about 30 seconds, then go to 97% bright for a 1/2 second then back to 100%. Very annoying.
Its been like this for a while, as I right this I can't remember for sure if I've tried changing the bulb, so I'll go try that.


Thanks
Maybe you have a bad neutral at or upstream of your panel.
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Old 08-02-2009, 07:30 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by kbsparky View Post
Chances are, there is another bathroom with a GFCI outlet in it that is tripped out. From there, the other bathroom outlets can be wired downstream with standard receptacles.

Check all your bathrooms, and if your house is older, the GFI unit might be located elsewhere, such as in a garage, or even outside.

One key thing to check for is neutral to ground continuity. Properly wired GFCI units will disconnect both current carrying conductors, thus showing no continuity between the grounded and grounding wires.

I've checked every plug in my 7 year old house, I've only found 1 GFI plug.
Its an outside plug, with TEST and RESET. It has power, the TEST button won't actually stay down on it, but if I hold the RESET in, it trips the power on the GCI.

Should it stay tripped when I press the TEST button?

With that being said, they're power on the ONE GFI in the whole house, and I still have no power in my upstairs bathroom plug.
My second downstairs bathroom, is only partially finished, the only plug in that room is for the washer/dryer.

I haven't taken the plug apart again to see if there is no continuity, but I would be surprised if there was, since there's no power, why would there be continuity if there's no power?

It certainly seems like a GFI tripped the way only one plug is not working, but the only GFI in the house has power? Any ideas what else I can look at? Thanks for the help.
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Old 08-02-2009, 07:31 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Yoyizit View Post
Maybe you have a bad neutral at or upstream of your panel.
Is there a way to test that?
It sounds like I'd need to rerun those entire runs.
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Old 08-02-2009, 08:56 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mirx View Post
Is there a way to test that?
It sounds like I'd need to rerun those entire runs.
There is NO WAY you should have to re-run anything in a 7 year old house, unless there is physical damage like from rodents.

There is also NO WAY you only have one GFI in a 7 year old house. You simply need to find the other that is tripped.

I don't get your explanation of how you tested the one GFI you found.
The trip button when pressed should pop out the reset button.
The reset button should stay in if pressed after tripping.
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Old 08-02-2009, 09:14 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mirx View Post
Is there a way to test that?
Plug a hair dryer into any outlet. If the voltage on the other side of the neutral goes up more than 1v there's probably a problem. You can use an elec. dryer outlet [with the dryer off] to monitor both sides of the neutral without removing the panel cover.
If the voltage at the hair dryer outlet drops more than 3v you may have a problem.

If it's an incand. bulb that pulsates and you have a Laser printer: the printer draws heavy, short, pulses of current that will cause lights to do this.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 08-02-2009 at 09:44 AM.
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Old 08-02-2009, 01:33 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
There is NO WAY you should have to re-run anything in a 7 year old house, unless there is physical damage like from rodents.
That certainly sounds idea, but you don't offer any constructive suggestions to the issues I mentioned?


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Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
There is also NO WAY you only have one GFI in a 7 year old house. You simply need to find the other that is tripped.
I don't know what to say to this. I've checked the entire house. I'll take another look, but like I said, that's the only GFI I can find. What would you expect to see? What IF this is the ONLY GFI in the 7 year old house?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
I don't get your explanation of how you tested the one GFI you found.
The trip button when pressed should pop out the reset button.
The reset button should stay in if pressed after tripping.
I have one of these electrical voltage testers, that I was sticking in the socket to check for AC110V. The GFI didn't have a trip button, it was labeled TEST, which may be the same thing. When I pressed the TEST button, it felt like it was spring loaded, and wouldn't trip with the normal snap or click sound that you get, it just came back out. When I press reset, the 110 light goes out, but only while I'm holding reset. It seems to be the test button should be tripping the power off on that plug, but isn't, and I'm wondering if that GFI needs to be replaces because of a bad TEST button. But this doesn't do anything for my bathroom plug issue.

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Old 08-02-2009, 02:25 PM   #9
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Actually I'm sorry. I didn't notice originally that you are in Canada.
in the US a home this new would require at least four areas of GFI receptacle protection; two kitchen circuits, bathroom and outside.
Most newer homes have anywhere from 7 to 10 or more GFI's or GFI protected circuits.
Only one in a new home (7 years is new enough) tells me something is not right. I do not know the codes for GFI's in Canada so I will refrain from commenting on that.

I still think you are not finding the GFI that protects your bath receptacle.

The brightness and 100% & 97% issues are probably just normal sag and spikes. Unless it is dramatic it is likely fine.
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Old 08-02-2009, 02:36 PM   #10
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Some GFCI reset buttons need to be pressed in further that some people's fingers can allow. Try pressing it in with a pen or small screwdriver.
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Old 08-02-2009, 05:02 PM   #11
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Pressing in the "Test" button should trip any properly working GFI outlet.

If yours doesn't, then it is defective, and needs to be replaced.

Pressing in and holding the reset button will disconnect power for the short duration of when you are holding in that button. At least, on some older units it will.

Try replacing the bad GFI first, then see if any of the other problems you are experiencing have been resolved.
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Old 08-02-2009, 05:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mirx View Post
I've checked every plug in my 7 year old house, I've only found 1 GFI plug.
Its an outside plug, with TEST and RESET. It has power, the TEST button won't actually stay down on it, but if I hold the RESET in, it trips the power on the GCI.

Should it stay tripped when I press the TEST button?

With that being said, they're power on the ONE GFI in the whole house, and I still have no power in my upstairs bathroom plug.
My second downstairs bathroom, is only partially finished, the only plug in that room is for the washer/dryer.

I haven't taken the plug apart again to see if there is no continuity, but I would be surprised if there was, since there's no power, why would there be continuity if there's no power?

It certainly seems like a GFI tripped the way only one plug is not working, but the only GFI in the house has power? Any ideas what else I can look at? Thanks for the help.
In the 5th. paragraph you're speaking about POWER and CONTINUITY testing. These are two diametrically opposed tests and are mutually exclusive. (Maybe that's lawyerese). Testing for power is done with a live circuit and a tester or light/appliance to see if there is electricity in the line. A CONTINUITY test, on the other hand, is done with the power OFF. That test shows if electricity CAN go through the circuit. That is one way to find a break in the line. (No matter what) don't Drink and Drive!!!
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Old 08-02-2009, 05:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
Actually I'm sorry. I didn't notice originally that you are in Canada.
in the US a home this new would require at least four areas of GFI receptacle protection; two kitchen circuits, bathroom and outside.
Most newer homes have anywhere from 7 to 10 or more GFI's or GFI protected circuits.
Only one in a new home (7 years is new enough) tells me something is not right. I do not know the codes for GFI's in Canada so I will refrain from commenting on that.

I still think you are not finding the GFI that protects your bath receptacle.

The brightness and 100% & 97% issues are probably just normal sag and spikes. Unless it is dramatic it is likely fine.
I haven't seen the latest version of the Canadian Electrical code. But, having lived in Canada (Some time ago), I can assure you that the Code requires GFCI protection in all hazardous areas that the NEC does. It works something like the NEC. And the AHJ has some amendments adapted to the local conditions. But the OP needs to read up on some basic terms and understanding how a residential wiring system works! (No matter what) Don't drink and Drive!!!
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Old 08-02-2009, 08:11 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spark plug View Post
.... POWER and CONTINUITY testing. These are two diametrically opposed tests and are mutually exclusive. (Maybe that's lawyerese). Testing for power is done with a live circuit and a tester or light/appliance to see if there is electricity in the line. A CONTINUITY test, on the other hand, is done with the power OFF. That test shows if electricity CAN go through the circuit. That is one way to find a break in the line.
I use a Vol-Con tester for both of these. Indicates voltage when present, and continuity when no voltage is present and continuity exists.
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Old 08-02-2009, 09:26 PM   #15
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I use a Vol-Con tester for both of these. Indicates voltage when present, and continuity when no voltage is present and continuity exists.
I was addressing myself, mainly to the starter of this thread, "Mirx" (Not to the professionals) who seemed to confuse the terms of testing for power and continuity. I'm EVEN more old-fashioned (as my kids keep telling me). I use a(n) Analog VOM. for testing. (No matter what)Don't Drink and Drive!!!


Last edited by spark plug; 08-02-2009 at 09:28 PM. Reason: Failed to Capitalize the Public service message
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