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Old 03-19-2009, 06:38 PM   #1
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Outlet is dead but ears are hot!? Whassup?


Noob here. 23 years after the house was built an outlet in my finished basement went dead while I was using my computer, then recovered, then had intermittant power and now is completely dead. I shoved the prongs of a circuit tester into the slots and got no light, but with one prong in a slot and one prong touching an ear of the outlet I get a light. Same thing with any slot and any ear. After it first went dead I removed the faceplate and pulled the outlet outa the box, but didn't touch any wires. Power came back until I started a power saw, then went dead again. I assumed the wires were crossed somewhere in or near that box but I never tripped a circuit breaker.

I just replaced the outlet with a new one and stuck the 3 black wires in the brass side and 3 white sires in the silver side - no luck - same symptoms! I got power (slot to ear) but not how I want it.. ; (

Whassup? Bad breaker? It's not on a GFCI circuit.

Thanks for any help!

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Old 03-19-2009, 06:54 PM   #2
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Outlet is dead but ears are hot!? Whassup?


I am no electrician but sounds like some sort of short or loose wire somewhere. Metal box? Why 3 wires? How do you get 3 wires unto each side of the receptacle? Have you tested the wires themselves without the receptacle? I am sure the experts will jump on this soon hang tight. Thanks.

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Old 03-19-2009, 07:01 PM   #3
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Outlet is dead but ears are hot!? Whassup?


There could be a loose neutral (white wire) connection at one of the other outlet boxes on the line on the way back to the panel.

Generally if the hot (black wire) part is connected properly you will get voltage between hot and ground (including the ears on the receptacle unit. But circuits are not supposed to be used this way. Do not connect the neutral and ground together at an outlet box. You need to have the neutral working properly, as a continuous path with good connections back to the panel much the same way the hot is.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 03-19-2009 at 07:04 PM.
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Old 03-19-2009, 08:27 PM   #4
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Outlet is dead but ears are hot!? Whassup?


This is a common problem. Troubleshooting 101.


You have an open (it has come apart) neutral (white wire).

The black wire carries power from the circuit breaker. The white wire carries it back to complete the circuit. Your power is getting there, it's just not getting back.

The ears are not hot, they are attached to the bare ground wire which terminates at the same place as the white wire. The juice is flowing back thru the ground wire.


The wires are spliced or connected at several junction boxes throughout the circuit.

The most likely place to look is at the saw recep. Check the wires where they stab into the back of the recep. It could also be anywhere along that circuit between the computer and the circuit breaker.

Last edited by 220/221; 03-19-2009 at 09:37 PM.
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Old 03-19-2009, 09:14 PM   #5
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Outlet is dead but ears are hot!? Whassup?


Don't test with a neon lamp; use an incand. lamp or a voltmeter with an incand. lamp across the test leads, or a voltmeter with a "low Z" option.
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Old 03-20-2009, 07:07 AM   #6
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Outlet is dead but ears are hot!? Whassup?


If you don't find anything at the saw outlet, you should start from the first box in the circuit, and work your way to the last part of the circuit.
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Old 03-20-2009, 09:28 AM   #7
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Outlet is dead but ears are hot!? Whassup?


For about $15.00, you can buy an outlet tester. Mine has 3 lights, one red and two yellow. Different combinations of lights will light up depending on the problem, and it will tell you exactly what is wrong with it. For a novice like me, it beats using a volt meter.
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Old 03-20-2009, 12:28 PM   #8
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Outlet is dead but ears are hot!? Whassup?


A plug in tester has it's uses but you can only use it on receps.

When troubleshooting, you need a meter with leads so you can test switches and wires.
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Old 03-20-2009, 05:33 PM   #9
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Outlet is dead but ears are hot!? Whassup?


Quote:
Originally Posted by 220/221 View Post
A plug in tester has it's uses but you can only use it on receps.
And it checks maybe 7 of the ~30 ways an outlet can go wrong.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 03-20-2009 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 03-20-2009, 06:46 PM   #10
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Outlet is dead but ears are hot!? Whassup?


For troubleshooting a Wiggy, which has a very low impedance because it pulls current through a solenoid, is a valuable test tool.

Here is a lower cost Wiiggy type tester since the name Wiigy is trademarked.http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?actio...Voltage+Tester
.
Attached Thumbnails
Outlet is dead but ears are hot!? Whassup?-wiggy-klein.jpg   Outlet is dead but ears are hot!? Whassup?-wiggy-gb.jpg  
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Old 03-20-2009, 07:14 PM   #11
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Outlet is dead but ears are hot!? Whassup?


Quote:
Originally Posted by PaliBob View Post
For troubleshooting a Wiggy, which has a very low impedance because it pulls current through a solenoid, is a valuable test tool.

Here is a lower cost Wiiggy type tester since the name Wiigy is trademarked.http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?actio...Voltage+Tester
.
But they'll trip a GFCI (so they draw over 4 mA at 120v)? I haven't been able to get an answer to this question.
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Old 03-20-2009, 07:28 PM   #12
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Outlet is dead but ears are hot!? Whassup?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoyizit View Post
But they'll trip a GFCI (so they draw over 4 mA at 120v)? I haven't been able to get an answer to this question.
This would happen if you tested to ground, gfcis trip on leakage, not really a load from hot to neutral.
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Old 03-20-2009, 08:06 PM   #13
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Outlet is dead but ears are hot!? Whassup?


Quote:
Originally Posted by rgsgww View Post
not really a load from hot to neutral.
Right; see page 6 \/
http://www.national.com/ds/LM/LM1851.pdf
it's a latching differential ammeter. . .
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Old 03-21-2009, 01:05 AM   #14
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Outlet is dead but ears are hot!? Whassup?


Here is some more Wiiggy info:
I just now measured the current drawn by my wiggy, see pic.

My Wiggy is Marked Wiggy SquareD Type VT-1
these look identical to the Klein Wiggy 69115
http://www.amazon.com/Klein-69115-So.../dp/B000KII9SM

Wiiggy is a registered Trademark by SquareD
source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solenoid_voltmeter

My Measurements:
On a circuit protected by a GFCI CB
at 123 vac Line the Wiggy drew 27.5 mA Line to N
When I checked from Line to grd the GFCI tripped
Bob L. 3/20/09
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Old 03-21-2009, 01:51 PM   #15
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Outlet is dead but ears are hot!? Whassup?


GFCI monitor the current flow in the hot and common lines and trip if the current is not the same by more than 5ma. When you connect a load from hot to ground you have current flow in the hot wire but not the common wire and the GFCI trips. High capacative loads can also cause a GFCI to trip becuse it cause a delay in current flow.

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