An Outlet Died, How To Find Out Where It Is Connected And Grounding Problems - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum


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Old 09-23-2009, 04:39 PM   #1
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An outlet died, how to find out where it is connected and grounding problems


Hey everybody

First, what happened recently, then a background info.

We replaced the kitchen in our 1969 house which had all the original stuff. We bought built in microwave and a freestanding oven/range instead of the built in stove and oven. The stove and the oven were hard wired, so we had to make a 220 outlet out of that... No problem. The installer relocated the outlet/hardwired location(can't remember) to a different location to install the new built in microwave... All the new cabinets were installed, and we were all happy... This was a month ago.

Until one of my roommates wanted to defrost something a week ago. He used the microwave, and after took his stuff out, about a minute later, the microwave made an eeeeeeckkk dieing sound and died. I checked the plug with voltmeter and there is I think either 3.5V or 15V there. I believe it is 15. Only that outlet is not working, however I'm not sure where it is connected to. I tried looked at single outlet that may be connected to that non-working one to see if there was a melted cable, loose connection, whatever... But nope...

I want to be able to use the microwave but have no clue how to track where the cables are coming from. It's like the end of the parallel connection since it has only 1 bundle coming in, where in an outlet close by, there are 2 bundles, 1 coming in, one coming out... I don't want to rip my new cabinets off, or take down the entire wall of the room on the other side. Any clues?

By the way, I tried short testing the the neutral and the ground wires with the one outlet working and the nonworking one. My voltmeter beeps when check the grounds or the neutrals, but not when the black wire...

Also, why do I have a few volts in my outlets when I shut the breaker off?

Here is a background info:
The breaker box was very very old and in serious shape. When I went to the city to get a permit to wire my new hot tub, the guy looked at the pictures of the breaker box and said it needs to be replaced. Being an electrical engineer just graduated last week, (hot tub was somewhat like a graduation present for my house), my dad and I got the NEC code book and replaced the whole panel. We took the old one out and put a new one with better breakers. Some wires coming out of the wall were connected to the same breaker, we put a dedicated breaker to everything. I also sledge hammered 2 copper rods at approved locations and grounded my box to my gas meter, as well as the watermeter.

So anything outside the house is amazingly new and well done... But I'm just not confident about what's inside the walls. So any ideas?

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Old 09-23-2009, 06:22 PM   #2
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An outlet died, how to find out where it is connected and grounding problems


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I want to be able to use the microwave but have no clue how to track where the cables are coming from
Kinda hard to troubleshoot this one online. There are too many variables.


If the microwave is built in, it should have it's own dedicated 20 amp circuit. 20 amps = #12 wire which, for the past decade, has a yellow jacket.

An electrician would test for power at the recep from hot to neutral and hot to ground.

He would then take the receptacle out and look at the wiring.

He would then look at the panel to try and determine if this was a separate circuit.

He would test power at each breaker hot to ground and phase to phase.

He would also have to guess if it was tapped from an existing circuit in a junction box which may or may not be accessible.

That's all I got. Call a good electrician. If you're in Phoenix, call me. I am sitiing here doing nothing.

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Old 09-23-2009, 06:42 PM   #3
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An outlet died, how to find out where it is connected and grounding problems


Well, in fact I am in Tempe )

I know for sure that the microwave is not on a separate circuit. Because there wasn't any built in microwave when we did the breaker box about 2 years ago. But we bought these microwave and range combo from craigslist actually and the kitchen cabinet installers opened up a hole by the hood, put a blue box there with an outlet, and connected the microwave there.

So it wasn't originally for a microwave.

Now do I have to have another line just for the microwave? darn it...
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Old 09-23-2009, 06:52 PM   #4
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An outlet died, how to find out where it is connected and grounding problems


Kitchen remodelers tend to put the new micro/hoods on the old hood circuit which is just part of the lighting circuit.

A full sized micro really needs it's own circuit. They SHOULD have told you this......or did you get them from craigs list too

Troubleshooting the old circuit will cost at least $85 if I/we can find it quickly. Sometimes non electricians hide junction boxes and make trobleshooting much more difficult than it should be.

A new circuit will cost around $200, depending on access, so it would make more sense to do it right.

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