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Old 12-18-2009, 12:34 PM   #1
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Simple wiring problem (I hope)


I'm changing all the electrical outlets at my moms house and there is one outlet that had 3 white wires and one hot wire. The old plug was the kind where you plug the wires in the back and all 3 white wires were plugged in. The new outlet only has the side screws w/ two screws on each side. I pigtailed two of the white wires and screwed them into the same terminal and put the other white wire on the other terminal and the black wire on the terminal on the other side. I thought I was hooking it up the same way as before but I guess not. The outlet doesn't work. Any help would be really great. Thanks

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Old 12-18-2009, 01:09 PM   #2
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Simple wiring problem (I hope)


It is possible that one of the white wires is really a black wire that lost its coloring. You will need to determine if this is the case and then which one is the black wire. Remove all the wires. Do you have only 4 and two cables? Then you have a two blacks (even if one looked white) and two whites. You will need to test which wire is which.

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Old 12-18-2009, 04:19 PM   #3
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Simple wiring problem (I hope)


Where are the other two black wires? Three white indicates there should be three blacks.
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Old 12-18-2009, 05:28 PM   #4
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Simple wiring problem (I hope)


I don't see two other black wires. There are two red wires that are nutted together in the back of the box and I have left them alone. I checked the wires with a volt meter to see if that would help (I don't know a lot about AC wiring). When I put the red volt meter lead on one specific white wire and touched the other lead to either the black or one of the two other white wires the volt meter would read 120. Thats the only combination of two wires that would give me anything on the voltmeter.
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Old 12-18-2009, 05:53 PM   #5
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Simple wiring problem (I hope)


Is your system cable or conduit.

I think you are misreading the 3 whites thing. Look again where the cables or conduits enter the box. It is likely that one set comes in and one goes out.
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Old 12-18-2009, 07:06 PM   #6
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Simple wiring problem (I hope)


Try the wall switch. Sounds like a switched outlet to me.
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Old 12-18-2009, 07:12 PM   #7
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Simple wiring problem (I hope)


Then this white that reads 120V to the other two whites is a switch leg from the switch. put it on the top wire on the hot side (copper screw) Now break the tab between the two screws on this hot side only. Now the bottom should be hot and the top will only work when you turn on the switch.
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Old 12-19-2009, 06:49 AM   #8
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Simple wiring problem (I hope)


Don't break any tabs unless you are sure you want one half of the receptacle unit switched and the other half live all the time. And you are sure you have switched power and unswitched power at the outlet box.

How was it wired originally? (which side or end did each white wire use to go?)

Maybe some of the wires got spray painted when the walls were painted, thus making them white or off-white.

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