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Old 05-27-2013, 10:02 PM   #1
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Outlet has more than 1 breaker linked to it...


I tried to install some GFCI outlets, but to no avail. the bathrooms and wet bar have new GFCI outlets and wiring is normal and they all work. But the laundry room and kitchen are wired weird, as far as I can tell...

Here's what I found out. Several outlets are affected by more than one breaker. Turn off the proper breaker, and test with meter, no voltage. Remove faceplate and outlet, and now there is some power to wires in box!

House was built in the 1980s. Plastic box has ground wire inside, which tests properly. Instead of two hot and two neutral wires, it has two hot and one neutral. The "extra" hot goes to another outlet that should be downstream...but actually is on another breaker! But instead of 120V, only has 25-35V.

The only way to safely do anything in that box is to turn off TWO breakers. Then, there is no power and I can install a new outlet.

But with a new GFCI outlet, it pops the button immediately. When I push the button in, an outlet on a different breaker has juice briefly (the cordless phone beeps), but the button will NOT stay in. The cordless phone goes out.

If I try wiring GFCI with only one hot and one neutral wire, the other outlet on the other breaker does not test at 120V, only 25V, and the cordless phone or any other appliance does not work in that other outlet.

My temp workaround was to put the old outlet back in, wired the way it was. It is not GFCI, but all outlets on both breakers work.

As it turns out, this happens in both the kitchen and the laundry room, on several outlets.

So, breakers 1 and 3 are linked, and breakers 2 and 4 are linked.

I thought if an outlet was on breaker 1, if I turned off breaker 1, then the outlet has no power either at the outlets or in the wiring and has no effect with an outlet on a completely different breaker. Am I wrong?

What could cause this? How can it be fixed?

Thanks

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Old 05-27-2013, 10:18 PM   #2
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Outlet has more than 1 breaker linked to it...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark C View Post
I tried to install some GFCI outlets, but to no avail. the bathrooms and wet bar have new GFCI outlets and wiring is normal and they all work. But the laundry room and kitchen are wired weird, as far as I can tell...

Here's what I found out. Several outlets are affected by more than one breaker. Turn off the proper breaker, and test with meter, no voltage. Remove faceplate and outlet, and now there is some power to wires in box!

House was built in the 1980s. Plastic box has ground wire inside, which tests properly. Instead of two hot and two neutral wires, it has two hot and one neutral. The "extra" hot goes to another outlet that should be downstream...but actually is on another breaker! But instead of 120V, only has 25-35V.

The word we call them MWBC Multi wire Branch Circuit due you have two hot conductors and single netural which typically black et red et white is most common combation colour unless it is in the conduit ( pipe ) then it will have more colour choice.

The only way to safely do anything in that box is to turn off TWO breakers. Then, there is no power and I can install a new outlet.

But with a new GFCI outlet, it pops the button immediately. When I push the button in, an outlet on a different breaker has juice briefly (the cordless phone beeps), but the button will NOT stay in. The cordless phone goes out.

If I try wiring GFCI with only one hot and one neutral wire, the other outlet on the other breaker does not test at 120V, only 25V, and the cordless phone or any other appliance does not work in that other outlet.

The key issue is you have crossed connection on either MWBC's the neutal is the most common cuprit.

My temp workaround was to put the old outlet back in, wired the way it was. It is not GFCI, but all outlets on both breakers work.

As it turns out, this happens in both the kitchen and the laundry room, on several outlets.

So, breakers 1 and 3 are linked, and breakers 2 and 4 are linked.

I thought if an outlet was on breaker 1, if I turned off breaker 1, then the outlet has no power either at the outlets or in the wiring and has no effect with an outlet on a completely different breaker. Am I wrong?

What could cause this? How can it be fixed?

Thanks
Was this area was remodel some time back ? if so someone might hacked a circuit where it supposed not to be at.

Are you in USA or Canada? due there are couple differnt verison of rules it can be appled to your situation.

Merci,
Marc

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Old 05-27-2013, 10:38 PM   #3
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Outlet has more than 1 breaker linked to it...


I am in the USA. Do not know if a remodel was done or not, but we suspect no. House is a townhouse, multiple units, built in the 1980s, only owned by us for 10 years. Each unit of course has its own breaker box and service.

When I test the three wires with outlet removed, one hot and one white reads 120V. The hot and ground also 120V. The "extra" hot and white read only 30V. But when the outlet is connected, it is only 120V on both outlets.

So, this MWBC...how do I wire GFCI properly?
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:46 PM   #4
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Outlet has more than 1 breaker linked to it...


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Originally Posted by Mark C View Post
I am in the USA. Do not know if a remodel was done or not, but we suspect no. House is a townhouse, multiple units, built in the 1980s, only owned by us for 10 years. Each unit of course has its own breaker box and service.

When I test the three wires with outlet removed, one hot and one white reads 120V. The hot and ground also 120V. The "extra" hot and white read only 30V. But when the outlet is connected, it is only 120V on both outlets.

So, this MWBC...how do I wire GFCI properly?
OK before I can go further can you tell me what colour the conductor you did see in the GFCI receptale box ? The reason due I know pretty good percentage of townhouse useally are in conduit but good batch will use the NM cables as well so that will be a benift for me to find the answer.

And is some way you can post the photo?

Merci,
Marc
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Old 05-27-2013, 11:32 PM   #5
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Outlet has more than 1 breaker linked to it...


Do they ? or have they ever ?
Used "ring mains" in the USA ?
They used to use them in the UK.
this could explain your situation !

Need to hear from some of the older sparkie's on this one !
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:25 AM   #6
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Outlet has more than 1 breaker linked to it...


What voltage do you read in one half of the receptacle when an incandescent light fixture is plugged into the other half and is switched on?

For each receptacle, does the light go on and off with the flipping of just one breaker down in the panel. Repeating the voltage tests, do you still measure small odd voltages like 30 volts?

A correct use of a multiwire branch circuit may have one half of the duplex receptacle controlled by one and only one breaker while the other half is controlled by a different breaker and only that breaker. To be totally correct, the two breakers in question should have their handles linked together which would make the above test impossible to conduct.

Substituting a ground fault interrupter receptacle unit where a plain receptacle used to be can lead to confusing symptoms if a MWBC was used to power the original receptacle. But you will not have problems if you connect just one hot wire and the neutral to the line side terminals of the GFCI. If two wires want to go under one screw, do not use the load side terminal as an additional screw; leave that empty. Instead cut a short length (pigtail) to connect to the line side screw and use a wire nut (marrette) to connect the loose ends.

With or without a ring main*, if either of two breakers can be used to energize a circuit (or the same half of a MWBC), then there is an error in the wiring.

With two cables coming into the box and either hot wire can be made live with different combinations of breaker settings, do not connect either the neutrals or the hots of those two cables to each other. Do not connect wires from both cables to the same duplex receptacle unless the tabs next to the screw pairs on both sides of the receptacle have been bent back and forth and snapped off.

* The wiring daisy chains from one receptacle or other outlet box to the next which is common in all types of buildling wiring but from the last outlet box the wiring continues and returns to the start. Ring mains are not permitted in modern wiring in the U.S. and Canada; there must be exactly one path from any load (or outlet box) back to the panel and both hot and neutral must accompany each other along that path (except through switch loops).
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Last edited by AllanJ; 05-28-2013 at 07:46 AM.
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:41 AM   #7
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Outlet has more than 1 breaker linked to it...


The 25-30 volts sounds like a phantom voltage. Do the test suggested with the lights.
Tell us exactly how you are trying to wire the GFCI receptacle into the box.
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Old 05-28-2013, 10:06 AM   #8
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Outlet has more than 1 breaker linked to it...


There is no conduit, just NM.

Yes, 3 colored conductors. Black, red, white, and bare ground.

In this one box in kitchen, the two black wires in box are connected to each other with a wire nut, and are not connected to receptacle. The two red wires are both connected to receptacle to two terminals. The two white wires are connected with a pigtail that connects to the receptacle in one terminal only.

I'll get to other questions/tests later today.

Do you need a wiring diagram for all receptacles on this breaker? From the info I provide you, I hope to get a wiring diagram to install GFCI for kitchen outlets to meet code.

Thanks
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Old 05-28-2013, 01:25 PM   #9
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Outlet has more than 1 breaker linked to it...


Measure the voltage red to black.
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Old 05-28-2013, 06:24 PM   #10
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Outlet has more than 1 breaker linked to it...


There are two red wires.

Either red to black, meter reads about 240V.

Either red to white, meter reads about 120V.
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Old 05-28-2013, 06:28 PM   #11
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Outlet has more than 1 breaker linked to it...


Light test...with desk lamp plugged in and turned on, the other plug is about 120V. Same results for top and bottom plug.
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:14 PM   #12
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Outlet has more than 1 breaker linked to it...


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There is no conduit, just NM.

Yes, 3 colored conductors. Black, red, white, and bare ground.

In this one box in kitchen, the two black wires in box are connected to each other with a wire nut, and are not connected to receptacle. The two red wires are both connected to receptacle to two terminals. The two white wires are connected with a pigtail that connects to the receptacle in one terminal only.

I'll get to other questions/tests later today.

Do you need a wiring diagram for all receptacles on this breaker? From the info I provide you, I hope to get a wiring diagram to install GFCI for kitchen outlets to meet code.

Thanks
Sure you don't have three whites nutted together .... and the white pigtail to the receptical.

If not, you are on a MWBC before they break into 2 wire branches.

I believe , NOT SURE AND I"M NOT A SPARKY, that both your reds have to go to the line side screw. In effect, I do not think you can use the load side when you are before the MWBC has been broken into 2 wire branches.

I know after the break, GFI's work normal on MWBC.... I AM NOT SURE OF MY THOUGHT.... because normally a MWBC is broken apart at its first receptical, and I've not encountered this before.

Are you sure there are not 3 white wires nutted together... incidentally
is this romex or is conduit involved. EDIT: JUST REREAD YOUR POST... now I'm pretty certain you are before the MWBC break... just not sure how that may effect a GFI
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:34 PM   #13
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Outlet has more than 1 breaker linked to it...


I am sure it is only two white wires. The third wire is a pigtail that goes from wire nut to receptacle only, not connected behind box. TWO white wires from box, and pigtail to receptacle, are wired together.

One of my questions, once I get to the point of a wiring diagram, is this...sometimes a single GFCI can protect all other outlets downstream. With multiwire, can I install only one GFCI to also protect other outlets? And if so, which outlet should it be? If it is the last one downstream, will that GFCI protect others upstream? I know usually that is not the case, but with multiwire, the white/neutral is shared, so it gets real wacky real fast. Maybe it is first, last, or middle. Or maybe I need GFCI on all outlets. But the wiring is weird, which is why I started this thread.

Thanks
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:18 PM   #14
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Outlet has more than 1 breaker linked to it...


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Originally Posted by Mark C View Post
I am sure it is only two white wires. The third wire is a pigtail that goes from wire nut to receptacle only, not connected behind box. TWO white wires from box, and pigtail to receptacle, are wired together.

One of my questions, once I get to the point of a wiring diagram, is this...sometimes a single GFCI can protect all other outlets downstream. With multiwire, can I install only one GFCI to also protect other outlets? And if so, which outlet should it be? If it is the last one downstream, will that GFCI protect others upstream? I know usually that is not the case, but with multiwire, the white/neutral is shared, so it gets real wacky real fast. Maybe it is first, last, or middle. Or maybe I need GFCI on all outlets. But the wiring is weird, which is why I started this thread.

Thanks
Mark... Yes the GFI works on MWBC . When placed upstream of other recepticals (that are correctly wired to the load terminals) it will protect the downstream (load) recepticals.

The thing I do not have experience with is if the GFI is located before the MWBC is broken/wired/converted to 2 wire... I just am not sure how it works/ functions in that instance. May be fine... just not certain.

I believe the sparkys will tell you that it is most common to break MWBC apart into 2 wire at their first recep/ceiling box. Actually in new wire, I break them apart in a Jbox (blank recep) with no recep involved. You do not want someone screwing around changing a recep and disconnected the neutral in MWBC, or else your circut can go to 240V. Incidentally, that's why on MWBC, the neutral has to be pigtailed to the recep, such that someone replacing the recep has less chance of disconnecting (un-nutting the neutral.

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