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Old 08-27-2008, 08:23 PM   #1
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Half of wall works


I have a big problem.

Breaker has two black wires going in to it. One is the hot for one wall. theother is hot for 3 walls.
On the short wall that has its own black wire the plugs work fine. I get a 116 reading when i test the Hot and Neutral.

On the 3 wall line there is 118 going through the Black wire but nothing being carried through the neutral.
These plugs worked 3 days ago and I've drove myself crazy trying to figure this out!!!!
I've taken every outlet out and tightened all the wires. most wouldnt budge as they were tight as possible. There are 5 plugs in total. I have no power being taken down the neutral line at any plug. wouldnt this indicate either: Neutral not connected at panel (which it is) or the first plug might be bad? any other problems that it might be?
all in all i think im going to up the breaker to a 30 at the end but first i need to get the plugs working again!


ideas?

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Old 08-27-2008, 08:28 PM   #2
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Half of wall works


Quote:
i think im going to up the breaker to a 30 at the end but first i need to get the plugs working again!
..............

Test hot (black) to Neutral (white)

Test hot (black) to ground (bare)

I won't be back for a couple of hours but the results are required to help.

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Old 08-27-2008, 08:45 PM   #3
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Half of wall works


Black to White - 0 all 5 plugs
Black to Bare - 116 all 5 plugs
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Old 08-27-2008, 09:29 PM   #4
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From your description, it sounds like the neutral between the panel and the first receptacle could be broken. Possibly burned through. I find often that when people put a larger fuse/breaker than the circuit is designed for, it tends to burn the neutral. If there isn't any evidence of a burned wire or such at the first receptacle, sounds like you may have to test the cable from the panel to the first receptacle for continuity.

You mentioned you were thinking of 'upping the breaker to a 30'...not good. First, code limits general purpose receptacles to 20 amps max. Most homes have duplex receptacles, either rated 15 A or 20 A.
2nd, a 30 amp breaker/fuse would require 10 gauge copper wire, and a 30 amp receptacle, which is not general purpose. (and my guess is you don't have 10 gauge wire running through your walls)

14 gauge copper wire is good for 15 amps. 12 ga for 20 amps. These are set for the purpose of safety and fire prevention. Do you know what gauge wire you have? And what was the breaker size??

Last edited by SD515; 08-27-2008 at 09:31 PM. Reason: edit
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Old 08-27-2008, 09:37 PM   #5
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12 gauge on one and 14 on the other run....??? i do not know why ??? and 15 amp

how would the wire burn through?

i didnt see anything on the first receptacle that indicates a burn, it is dark though i'll take another look at it.

*** adding instead of double posting ***
Pulled all the plugs out and looked at the white wires. nothing is burned the plastic is all intact, hasnt bubbled or nor is there discoloration among any of them.
Pulled the cover off the panel and looked at the wiring in there and it's all connected in fine, again no discoloration or wear on the plastic.
Question i have now is: How do i go about checking the continuity of the white line?
Thanks for your help.
************************************


Side note: this project was last year. so the copper wire isnt old if that matters.

Last edited by limpelephant; 08-27-2008 at 10:17 PM.
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Old 08-27-2008, 10:23 PM   #6
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Newer 12 ga wire on a 20 A breaker...well, it shouldn't have burned through...my next thought is to inspect as much of the cable as possible for retaining staples, nails, etc. that may have damaged the cable.
After a visual inspect, I would shut the power off, remove the first receptacle, remove the blk & wht wires (leave the grounds hooked up if ya can), isolate the incoming blk & wht and test for voltage with a voltmeter. If you can't get voltage B to W, check B to Gnd. If you get voltage B to G, then your neutral wire is broken (or not hooked up at the panel...you may want to dbl check that first, but you did say that you had already)
Also, you mentioned that there were 2 wires on 1 breaker. You sure that they each have there own neutral hooked in the panel?? And is that breaker rated for 2 wires to connect to it??
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Old 08-27-2008, 10:29 PM   #7
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as i looked in the panel i noticed three breakers having two cables in them. I didnt even know you could put two wires into a single breaker..... Looks like i need to get dual breakers if they make them for my panel.

The white for both lines is connected in the panel. both grounds are also connected.

I have good reading on Blk to Grnd but nothing for Wht to Blk or Wht to Grnd.


This all worked fine until i plugged a portable AC unit in. The AC unit is rated at 12 amps. The AC worked for 2 days and in the middle of the night i heard a pop. the breaker hadn't blown but i did hear a pop. I can't check staples or anything because the walls are finished.
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Old 08-27-2008, 10:40 PM   #8
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Do you have a multimeter with an Ohms setting?? (For checking continuity)
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Old 08-27-2008, 10:44 PM   #9
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I have one yes.
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Old 08-27-2008, 10:50 PM   #10
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my working wall has readings of 200-300.
bad walls dont report anything on the ohms setting.
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Old 08-27-2008, 11:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by limpelephant View Post
as i looked in the panel i noticed three breakers having two cables in them. I didnt even know you could put two wires into a single breaker..... Looks like i need to get dual breakers if they make them for my panel.
You can't put more than one wire on a breaker unless it states that you can. (It's listing with UL) Some Square D breakers you can. They have a plate with a groove for a wire on each side of the screw. Also available for many panels are 'tandem' breakers. They occupy one space, but have 2 individual, separate breakers inside them. Your panel may or may not be able to use them. It's a 'physically fit' type of thing. Your panel label should state if it can.

Quote:
Originally Posted by limpelephant View Post
I have good reading on Blk to Grnd but nothing for Wht to Blk or Wht to Grnd.
You shouldn't have anything Wht to Gnd. They're hooked to the same busbar. But if you did, that means another problem.


Quote:
Originally Posted by limpelephant View Post
This all worked fine until i plugged a portable AC unit in. The AC unit is rated at 12 amps. The AC worked for 2 days and in the middle of the night i heard a pop. the breaker hadn't blown but i did hear a pop. I can't check staples or anything because the walls are finished..
Ah-ha...the culprit. What is your guess the pop was??

Quote:
Originally Posted by limpelephant View Post
my working wall has readings of 200-300.
bad walls dont report anything on the ohms setting.
Don't hook an Ohm meter to a live circuit. Not good.

I still think it's a broken neutral. ******Don't do this if you're the least bit uncomfortable with it !! There's electricity in that there panel !!****** What I personally would do is disconnect the blk, wht & gnd in the panel (power off of course!!) Wirenut all 3 together, and check contiunity at the other end. B to W, B to G, W to G. If all 3 wires are intact, the ohm reading will be very low...like zero. If one wire is open (broken) it will read infinity. (my meter would read OL). Any reading in between zero and infinity indicates a high resistance.
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Old 08-27-2008, 11:26 PM   #12
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ill try that tomorrow when i have daylight.
Is there high danger leaving the circuit live so i can have my AC running in the house on the working wall in that room?
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Old 08-27-2008, 11:54 PM   #13
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Sorry Limp...dunno. What I will suggest is to take the black of the circuit you're having trouble with off the breaker and put a wirenut on it for tonight. You can leave the other black attached...the one that runs the wall you say is working. You might try your AC on that circuit, but the AC may have a problem also...so be prepared for a breaker to trip.
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Old 08-28-2008, 12:56 AM   #14
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Are the wires plugged into the back of the receps or wrapped under the screw terminals?

You have an open neutral. The path back to the panel has been broken somehow. The #1 culprit is the stab in recepticals. If it is not in a receptical, it is in a junction box (loose wirenut?) BEFORE the receps.

Sometimes these are in the attic (dumb) and sometimes they are buried behind drywall (dumber).

Turn the circuit OFF and see what else goes off. Since the wiring goes from recep to recep (or switch), the problem can be in the recep just before the bad string. Make sense?

If there are 20 receps or lights/switches on the circuit, it starts at the panel and hits the first one, second one and all the way to the 20th. If the connection fails at the 15th one, the last 5 won't work.


A basic circuits works like this.

Power comes from the panel, thru the breaker onto the black wire in the cable to the recepticals. It is there waiting for you to plug something in. When you plug in a lamp, the power jumps into one prong of the plug, goes thru the filiment and heads back to the panel on the white.

In your case it can't get back because the white is broken somewhere. That's why you read voltage to ground but not to neutral, The ground goes to the same place at the service panel as the neutral.


The connection was loose but there wasn't much of a load on it. The AC draws a lot of power and the weak connection failed. The pop you heard was the wireburning thru. Try to remember where you heard the pop.

Last edited by 220/221; 08-28-2008 at 01:00 AM.
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Old 08-28-2008, 08:19 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by limpelephant View Post
12 gauge on one and 14 on the other run....??? i do not know why ??? and 15 amp

First time you said is was a 12 ga on a 20A...was that a 'my bad' ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by limpelephant View Post
Question i have now is: How do i go about checking the continuity of the white line?

{Reprinted}
******Don't do this if you're the least bit uncomfortable with it !! There's electricity in that there panel !!******
Shut the power off, remove the first receptacle, remove the blk & wht wires, isolate the incoming blk & wht. You don't want the blk & wht hooked to the recept...you want to take that out of the equation.
Disconnect the Blk, Wht & Gnd in the panel. Wirenut all 3 together, and check contiunity at the other end. B to W, B to G, W to G. If all 3 wires are intact, the ohm reading will be very low...like zero. If one wire is open (broken) it will read infinity. (my meter would read OL). Any reading in between zero and infinity indicates a high resistance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 220/221 View Post
The connection was loose but there wasn't much of a load on it. The AC draws a lot of power and the weak connection failed. The pop you heard was the wireburning thru. Try to remember where you heard the pop.


Last edited by SD515; 08-28-2008 at 08:22 AM. Reason: oops
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