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Old 11-16-2010, 08:44 PM   #1
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Was my house wired by Stoned Hippies or am I an Idiot?


House was built in the early to mid 60's, Two story twin in NE Philadelphia. I opened up the walls and ceiling in the three bedrooms upstairs to add insulation, swap out outlets and switches, and installed ceiling fans. I will be the first to admit electricity is NOT my best friend.

I purchased a Klein non contact electrical tester, (red and beeping = hot, solid green = dead). I turn on all the lights in the dining room and kitchen and proceed to turn off circuit breakers until the lights go out. I take the tester to the four wires/cables that I know run the kitchen and dining room. One side of the cables/wires is red and beeping and the other side is green?! I turn the breakers back on and test the cables/wires again and get the same results only opposite sides?

From what I have read and remember from HS shop class if you KILL the breaker you are suppose to KILL the power? Am I missing something? Using the tester wrong? Or am I a complete IDIOT?

PLEASE HELP?!!!!

Thank YOU!!!!

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Old 11-16-2010, 09:02 PM   #2
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Was my house wired by Stoned Hippies or am I an Idiot?


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Originally Posted by Evil Scotsman View Post
House was built in the early to mid 60's, Two story twin in NE Philadelphia. I opened up the walls and ceiling in the three bedrooms upstairs to add insulation, swap out outlets and switches, and installed ceiling fans. I will be the first to admit electricity is NOT my best friend.

I purchased a Klein non contact electrical tester, (red and beeping = hot, solid green = dead). I turn on all the lights in the dining room and kitchen and proceed to turn off circuit breakers until the lights go out. I take the tester to the four wires/cables that I know run the kitchen and dining room. One side of the cables/wires is red and beeping and the other side is green?! I turn the breakers back on and test the cables/wires again and get the same results only opposite sides?

From what I have read and remember from HS shop class if you KILL the breaker you are suppose to KILL the power? Am I missing something? Using the tester wrong? Or am I a complete IDIOT?

PLEASE HELP?!!!!

Thank YOU!!!!

When in doubt, you can always flip off the main breaker, cutting all power to the house. I'm also confused as to why you're getting these readings.

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Old 11-16-2010, 09:57 PM   #3
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Was my house wired by Stoned Hippies or am I an Idiot?


You said four wires?
Perhaps there are multiple breakers.
I have one of those testers (less respected brand) and I know it gives me funny false positives sometimes.
Mine has never given me a false negative(except when the battery was dead)
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Old 11-16-2010, 10:01 PM   #4
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Was my house wired by Stoned Hippies or am I an Idiot?


Non contact voltage testers are to identify if there is power in the box. They are a safety tool more that a troubleshooting tool.
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Old 11-17-2010, 12:40 AM   #5
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When the NCVD gives weird readings, get out the voltmeter. I usually double check with a voltmeter before digging into wiring anyway. I have that same NCVD, and I tend to refer to it as my "idiot stick" because it does give false positives sometimes.
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Old 11-17-2010, 03:37 AM   #6
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You can be reading phantom or induction voltage. Circuits with no connected load can fool those tic testers to indicate the presence of juice, simply by being installed adjacent to another hot wire.

One way to minimize this effect is to leave a load connected to the circuit(s) in question. That is, leave a light turned on, plug in a lamp, or something similar to connect a real load. The phantom reading will disappear on dead circuits with a connected load.
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Old 11-17-2010, 07:11 AM   #7
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You can be reading phantom or induction voltage. Circuits with no connected load can fool those tic testers to indicate the presence of juice, simply by being installed adjacent to another hot wire.

One way to minimize this effect is to leave a load connected to the circuit(s) in question. That is, leave a light turned on, plug in a lamp, or something similar to connect a real load. The phantom reading will disappear on dead circuits with a connected load.
Thank you ALL for your help, I will try this tonight when I get done work!

KBsparky, JUST so I have this straight, (as I said electricity is NOT my friend wiring confuses the out of me) IF I turn a light on in the kitchen, (it actually runs off the dining room light) and LEAVE it on, shut off the breaker, that should eliminate the false reading? Sorry I don't understand?

I just want to be able to replace switches/outlets/and add a ceiling fan WITHOUT getting bit! LOL See this is why electricians get paid the big bucks! and also why I DON'T do anything more than switches and outlets!
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Old 11-17-2010, 07:16 AM   #8
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Non contact voltage testers are to identify if there is power in the box. They are a safety tool more that a troubleshooting tool.
A7, I understand and I guess I am trying to use it both ways?! The MAIN reason I got the tester was to make sure the outlets and switches were dead before I installed new ones. (got bit once don't wish to repeat haha) Second was to see which outlets went to which breakers. But right now I am SOOOOO confused!!!
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Old 11-17-2010, 07:18 AM   #9
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Was my house wired by Stoned Hippies or am I an Idiot?


I know that some of the outlets, (usually one in every room) is controled by a switch, is it possible this could have ANYTHING to do with my issue? I know I am grapsing at straws, but my electrical knowledge is limited and I am just trying to understand?
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Old 11-17-2010, 07:27 AM   #10
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Was my house wired by Stoned Hippies or am I an Idiot?


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....KBsparky, JUST so I have this straight, (as I said electricity is NOT my friend wiring confuses the out of me) IF I turn a light on in the kitchen, (it actually runs off the dining room light) and LEAVE it on, shut off the breaker, that should eliminate the false reading? Sorry I don't understand? ....
Yup. Try it.
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Old 11-17-2010, 08:18 AM   #11
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Just sit back and relax eat a cheese steak or hoagie, wash it down with a Victory Golden Monkey while your eating your soft pretzel with mustard. Go buy a cheap tester for 15$ use the test leads to make sure its dead. Have a cup of coffee with a tastykake. Finish the job.
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Old 11-17-2010, 08:56 AM   #12
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Was my house wired by Stoned Hippies or am I an Idiot?


I agree ,I would buy a cheap basic multimeter for $10 or so. It will be your best friend when doing outlets. I replaced 90% of the outlets in my house and could not imagine having done it without that multimeter.

Your breakers could be set up funny too, my house is from 1930 so it's probably a bit "worse" in my house. For example when I shut off all the kitchen breakers, it takes out one of the outlets in the dining room as well......
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Old 11-17-2010, 09:02 AM   #13
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Was my house wired by Stoned Hippies or am I an Idiot?


When in doubt flip the main breaker.
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Old 11-17-2010, 11:16 AM   #14
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Was my house wired by Stoned Hippies or am I an Idiot?


The stoned hippies are the least of your concern. I prefer them over do it yourselfers........LOL!
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Old 11-17-2010, 01:45 PM   #15
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Was my house wired by Stoned Hippies or am I an Idiot?


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Originally Posted by COLDIRON View Post
Just sit back and relax eat a cheese steak or hoagie, wash it down with a Victory Golden Monkey while your eating your soft pretzel with mustard. Go buy a cheap tester for 15$ use the test leads to make sure its dead. Have a cup of coffee with a tastykake. Finish the job.
LOL
Ok Coldiron, where are you from? You obvisouly are from here, know somebody here, or have visited here! Cause you got all the food right! Although I must admit the Victory Golden Monkey threw me?


BUT what I need to do is test the lines WITHOUT the outlets! Will that voltmeter do it? Never used one, but my son just informed me he has one and DOES know how to use it!

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