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Old 11-05-2013, 09:00 PM   #1
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I have a garbage disposal on a 20 amp circuit and and a dishwasher on a seperate 20 amp. The ground is hot on both at the outlet for the disposal and ata the dishwasher ...any suggestions? 25 year old apartment complex, Im the maintenance guy so yes its legal for me to work on it.
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Old 11-05-2013, 09:07 PM   #2
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How do you know the ground is hot?
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Old 11-05-2013, 09:10 PM   #3
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How are you checking it, and with what?
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Old 11-05-2013, 09:11 PM   #4
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If the ground is truly hot it should be tripping the breaker.
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Old 11-05-2013, 09:34 PM   #5
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How do you know the ground is hot?
Because I get lit up by it everytime I touch it, even with the breaker off. I replaced the breaker because I thought it was bad...I went in to replace the dishwasher, so I flipped the breaker and it was still hot. I ended up flipping off every breaker in the house and the dishwasher was still hot. Had an electrician come out and he said it was fine. Went to install the dishwasher and got lit up but finished the install anyway.

Next day, resident says shes getting shocked at the kitchen sink. I look under the sink and see the disposal outlet box sticking out of the wall 1/2 inch. Im thinking ok water may be running down the wall under the sink when she does dishes and hitting the outlet. I flip the breaker to the disposal and begin pulling the outlet out of the wall. It lights me up. I use my beeping voltage tester to test and it says hot even though my plug-in tester and multi-meter says not hot.

Mess around some more and get shocked some more and I realize its the ground thats hot. Then I started thinking probably same thing with the dishwasher and yep. The electrician didnt find it because he never checked the ground.
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Old 11-06-2013, 06:29 AM   #6
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No, it does not imply that the ground is connected to something hot. It sounds to me that you have a bad grounding system and the utility neutral has been compromised. Usually you see other symptoms if a neutral is going bad.

I've also heard of this when a water heater goes bad.

Call a qualified electrician, not a handyman that knows a little about electrical or someone off Craig's List. They will need to be able to "see" the voltage. Then they will turn off breakers one by one till the voltage goes away. If it doesn't, that suggests that something outside of the building is causing the problem.
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Old 11-06-2013, 06:51 AM   #7
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Throw away the no contact detector? That is absurd. That is the first thing to pull out for the average maintenance man. Is it hot or not is great to know before you start jambing your fingers in a box to pull out the wires for inspection.

I would turn off every breaker for that apartment then check both locations to see if they are still energized. Just in case they were miss wired to the wrong panel. (it happens) If not then turn breakers back on one at a time and check both locations each time until you verify for certain which breaker(s) are involved just in case they are mislabeled in the panel. (it happens)

If indeed your ground wire is hot at these locations you have two issues at for now unknown locations.
  1. The ground is not making it back to your service panel
  2. It has come into contact with the hot wire.
Happy hunting.
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Old 11-06-2013, 07:12 AM   #8
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If the ground is truly hot it should be tripping the breaker.
Nope, if the ground is open at some point and energized....
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Old 11-06-2013, 08:36 AM   #9
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He said that he turned off all of the breakers, but did not indicate that they were ALL off at the same time. This is an issue that confuses a lot of people (then they call me). If there is a backfeed, then you need to get the right combination of breakers to kill power to the circuit. Shutting off any single breaker won't do it.

This is one possibility in the OP's case. Again, not enough data to know.

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Old 11-06-2013, 08:52 AM   #10
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Sounds like a lot of guessing without enough facts. Why not have the OP call in the licensed electrician and participate/watch what the licensed electrician does to solve the problem?
Then have him tell us the procedure that actually worked or identify the root of the problem.
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Old 11-06-2013, 10:15 AM   #11
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Lot of good advice from our professional electricians. Just because you are getting a buzz doesn't mean it is 120 volts. You need a voltage meter so you can measure the voltage. It could be any number of things such as bad neutral connection at the service or sub-panel. Loose terminations on the service. Compromised Grounding electrode system. Nail driven into the wire maybe shorting it out.

Are both appliances fed from a multi wire branch circuit? Do the circuits share a common junction box anywhere?
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Old 11-06-2013, 03:28 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Explain exactly what you mean by "bad" and "compromised".
Poor/loose/corroded/.
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Old 11-06-2013, 06:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benjammin5150 View Post
I have a garbage disposal on a 20 amp circuit and and a dishwasher on a seperate 20 amp. The ground is hot on both at the outlet for the disposal and ata the dishwasher ...any suggestions? 25 year old apartment complex, Im the maintenance guy so yes its legal for me to work on it.

some where someone has used a Ground for a neutral ....

turn off breakers till you get NO current in the ground wire ....


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Old 11-06-2013, 06:40 PM   #14
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if this is an apartment complex .. your issue may be bigger ...if you shut off all the breaker to the apartment you'll need to kae the panel cover off .... to see whats going on there ..

if you still have an issue ht the main breaker off to the apartment ...see if that does it if not report back ...
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Old 11-06-2013, 06:56 PM   #15
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Have you tested the earth line with a proper testing instrument,
P.S. a volt stick is NOT a proper test instrument !
Even good quality meters can give eronious readings sometimes,
because they generally have a high input impedance.
Test it with a anologue meter, like this -
Name:  anologue.jpg
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Size:  10.2 KB
Or load the line with a real load, like a test lamp.
If it goes away, then it's PHANTOM VOLTAGE
Name:  PHANTOM.jpg
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Size:  14.7 KB

Not unusual in modern instalations,
Check the integraty of your earthing system.
But its not unusual for small currents to circulate
in large instalations.
Some times the cause can be in a neighbours instalation.

I don't think that problems like this are easily sorted out by
in experienced personnel, as it takes a lot of understanding
of complex electrical systems.

So keep asking questions.
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