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-   -   Power leading to outlets but no power ? (http://www.diychatroom.com/f18/power-leading-outlets-but-no-power-34971/)

s_anthony 01-03-2009 07:39 AM

Power leading to outlets but no power ?
 
Ok, this is a pre-post to a problem I'm having. I say pre-post because I'm ripping out all the outlets today and taking a look at the actual wiring so I'll know more once I can get to it today.

I live in a 105 year old house that has some screwed up wiring. Obviously done by a DIY'er and NOT an electrician.

I've fixed the minor things I can, I've also killed my K&T circuts leaving half my house in the dark. It was scary stuff. Romex spliced into the K&T, rats nests of K&T not in junction boxes, K&T in my attic covered by pink insulation... uugh...

The circut in my kitchen is old "romex" from what I can tell. There are a total of 6 outlets on the circut. Only 3 work right now. The 3 that don't work - one is in my kitchen, after that one is in my son's room and the 3rd is on our 3rd floor.

The wierd part of this all is that they show that the lines going to the boxes themselves are hot (the little neon light tester) but the outlets themselves are dead as a doornail!

I've replaced the outlets, hoping that A) either an outlet was dead or B) there was some faulty wiring done and I had something open on it - but that didn't explain why the line was hot to my 2nd and 3rd floor outlet.

I do know that the polarity is backwards on that circut and plan to change that today while I have the outlets out of the walls


Here's the current circut as I see it from looking outside the wall..

GFCG = GFCI = GFCI/Switch = GFCI = outlet 2nd FL = outlet 3rd FL

I have no idea what the switch powers - there is a light over the sink BUT it does not work. I'm wondering if there is something disconnected there that is causing the rest of the line to not work correctly.

my plans were to rip the GFCI/Switch out and just pop on a regular outlet and disconnect the rest of the line and go from there. Although it is a kitchen circut, I wanted to try to fix the 2nd FL and 3rd FL outlets as they would be the only power source to those rooms (and I only would use them for lighting until we get the rest of the house wired).

I don't have 10k to rewire my entire house, so I'm doing what I can, safety first. Right now this issue is high on my list because I know this is a fire hazard - why I've even put this off so long I don't know - I guess it's the mentality of that it's worked this long, why can't it wait which is not normally my philosophy since I know there will be a time it WILL fail.

More posts to come later today... hopefully with a better understood wiring diagram.

s_anthony 01-03-2009 07:50 AM

Hehe.. I took my circut alert screwdriver down just now.. when the switch is "off" (there is a light on the switch that still is illuminated just not as bright when "on) the outlets are not powered but I get power from the wiring...

When I turn the switch "on" the line is no longer powered ..

So I know for safety I can just disconnect the wiring past that outlet and possibly just end it there with a new outlet for now.. I want to try to figure it out though... without electrocuting myself today :)

Regardless of the position of the switch I get no power going up to the light above the kitchen sink that i can find in the wall with my tester... so it looks like that might not even be hooked up...

s_anthony 01-03-2009 08:11 AM

Ok.. kiddo will be up soon, so once he's awake I can start pulling out outlets..

Outlet #1 - GFCI - tests "open ground"

Outlet #2 - GFCI - passes test

Outlet #3 - Outlet/Switch combo - tests hot/neutral reversed

Outlet #4 - no power, but lines are hot behind wall when switch is "off position"


Outlet #5 - no power, but lines are hot behind wall when switch is "off position"

Outlet #6 - no power, but lines are hot behind wall when switch is "off position"


I'm digging for my wiggy.. and I can't find it anywhere! ARRGH

s_anthony 01-03-2009 08:19 AM

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ARRGH..

At least one they didn't spray the spray foam around the outlet.. its at least around the outlet BOX...

I've had to dig out quite a few outlets that have had the foam around the contacts...

s_anthony 01-03-2009 09:18 AM

Thinking about it, I'm assuming I have an open neutral on the switch/outlet combo - which would explain why the other outlets aren't working.. still waiting for my son to awake so I can start working :)

s_anthony 01-03-2009 09:33 AM

Part of my install so far in my wall is the old white "romex".. and a black wire that looks like romex.. and what i think is "old armored Flex?" cable. I may end up spending my day pulling some new Romex up the wall... *sigh*

InPhase277 01-03-2009 09:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by s_anthony (Post 206124)
Part of my install so far in my wall is the old white "romex".. and a black wire that looks like romex.. and what i think is "old armored Flex?" cable. I may end up spending my day pulling some new Romex up the wall... *sigh*

It sounds as if you have an open neutral. But here's a tip: get a multimeter. You cannot do good troubleshooting with a neon tester or "tweeter" screwdriver. If the neon tester lights up but nothing works, that means the neutral is open somewhere.

Also, you can just edit your original post so that you don't have to post alot of messages.:thumbup:

s_anthony 01-03-2009 09:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by InPhase277 (Post 206127)
It sounds as if you have an open neutral. But here's a tip: get a multimeter. You cannot do good troubleshooting with a neon tester or "tweeter" screwdriver. If the neon tester lights up but nothing works, that means the neutral is open somewhere.

Also, you can just edit your original post so that you don't have to post alot of messages.:thumbup:

Yeah.. sorry .. realized that a little late.

I've been digging for my multimeter and my wiggy before I really get started on this.. and they are no where to be found.

s_anthony 01-03-2009 10:09 AM

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Well one of the immediate issues i noticed was the partially disconnected wire and no ground wire (they're all smushed to the back of the wall box)... and I see my reversed wiring .. black on silver.. grrr

I'm having problems trying to figure out the purpose to this switch. So far it only turns on the power to the outlets down the line .. but why? There had to have been a reason. I don't know where the other wiring goes to yet - but I can only guess it goes to the light above the sink..



After gently talking the outlet out, there are 3 romex type wires going into the box. I can't get the box out far enough to tell which wire is going where.. so I may break out this crappy MDF-like wall around the outlet box so that I can fix this. I'm not planning on hooking up the flex after this - not sure how safe that is or not. I am going to try to at minimum today get this outlet replaced with a normal 2 outlet plug.

s_anthony 01-03-2009 11:10 AM

This may be more difficult than I thought...

I went into my basement because I cannot figure out why these wires are the way they are. There are 2 junction boxes off of my 7 circut and I'm not sure where the other goes..

I'm sure if I stare at it all day, I might be able to figure it out, but at this point I may just call in a professional. I can't pull any of the boxes off the wall to rewire because there isn;t enough wire in there to work with. One of the boxes doesn't even look like it has the right gauge wire on it - almost as if they were short and just hooked whatever they had to it.

I'm going to diagram what I have and decide if I want to tackle rewiring all of it or call an electrician to fix it. My thought is re-wire, but I didn't want to spend all day on it.

s_anthony 01-03-2009 11:45 AM

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I figure that I can run a new wire from the junction to replace what seems to be a cloth covered romex (?) wire going into the kitchen. The other wire going into the kichen is an older romex wire - this explains why none of the wiring was making any sense to me. The first 2 GFCI's only were connected at the line.. no loads coming off of them. Still trying to figure out how the switch/GFCI is connected, but I figure if i start over, then I don't have to worry about it..

For now, some pictures of my basement for your viewing pleasure...

The first shows the junction box coming from my service panel. The line at the top is from the panel, the line to the right is in poor shape and is the first box installed next to my stove, the second line to the left is the line that goes to the outlets I was confused about :)


The second pic is some bad splicing of the K&T (no longer active) that our home inspector completely passsed :(

s_anthony 01-03-2009 11:52 AM

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Some wires I found that I never knew were there (hidden behind some pink insulation in our basement) I have no idea if they are hot.. testing next...

s_anthony 01-03-2009 11:55 AM

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Don't you love how organized our electrical wiring is ?

Gigs 01-03-2009 12:16 PM

The cloth romex stuff is probably very brittle. Might be good to replace if you possibly can. Try not to disturb it until you are ready to pull it because it might just fall apart in your hands.

Keep in mind you need the GFCI on the ungrounded circuits. You mentioned getting rid of a GFCI in your first post.

s_anthony 01-03-2009 12:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gigs (Post 206186)
The cloth romex stuff is probably very brittle. Might be good to replace if you possibly can. Try not to disturb it until you are ready to pull it because it might just fall apart in your hands.

Keep in mind you need the GFCI on the ungrounded circuits. You mentioned getting rid of a GFCI in your first post.

Unfortunately that was my mistake.. It is a regular outlet with a switch. I had planned on getting rid of it and putting in a regular 2 outlet (this is my fridge plug so GFCI would trip). I'm sure it's required by code since it's on my counter and less than 4 feet from my sink, I'll have to figure that out. It isn't used for anything other than the fridge though and I think there's something about that being allowed somewhere. The only 2 things on this circut are my stove (to light the pilots and keep time and my fridge).

The reason I said I would hve to rewire is that cloth romex.. it is REALLY brittle and you can look at it and see that it's falling apart. So far on this circut alone I can see the old style romex (non grounded?), cloth romex, some kind of wire (bx maybe).. its a mess. Not to mention it looks like they may have extended some of the ground wire using under-gauged wire.

It's more than I can troubleshoot without an electrician, so if I start from scratch which I can do I can just build my own circut using existing outlet locations, and just re-runing the new romex wiring. I won't be running new wiring from the service panel (I don't touch it unless I have to), so it won't be grounded since I don't think the line coming from it is grounded, but what i can do is start the line now get it up and running and have a friend come out and run the line from the service panel to the junction box, then I'll have it fully grounded.

Am I going to be meeting code - no. Is it going to be safer than what i have now - yes.


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