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Operator4819 03-30-2007 05:11 PM

Troubleshooting bedroom outlet wiring?
 
The one bedroom wall outlets where my daughter is living are not working. I tested the respective breaker and there is 115 volts there. However none of the 4 outlets in that room are have voltage at the outlet plugs. There is voltage at the wiring to the outlets. There are 3 wires + one equipment ground wire. I tried reading across all 3 wires, nothing. I then read across the equipment ground wire to each of the other 3 wires individually. They all have voltage. I'm using my wiggy tester and the voltage appears to be just under 100 volts. Shouldn't one of these wires be a neutral leg? If it is, how can I identify which one that is, when they all are reading voltage across the equipment ground wire? I believe this is also the type of outlet that is wired with a light switch to bring on a lamp. Is that normally the lower outlet plug? Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Tommy.
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joed 03-30-2007 05:47 PM

Sounds like you have an open neutral. Could be in any of the boxes on the circuit. That includes all receptacles, lights, switches and junction boxes. It could be in a working device.

A very common cause of this problem is back stab connections. They loose tension and fail. If you have back stabbed connections move all the wires to the screw terminals.

Operator4819 03-30-2007 07:32 PM

Troubleshooting bedroom outlet wiring?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by joed (Post 39061)
Sounds like you have an open neutral. Could be in any of the boxes on the circuit. That includes all receptacles, lights, switches and junction boxes. It could be in a working device.

A very common cause of this problem is back stab connections. They loose tension and fail. If you have back stabbed connections move all the wires to the screw terminals.

I'll check it out. Is there anyway of identifying which is the neutral leg? Thank you, Tommy.

jbfan 03-30-2007 10:39 PM

There are 3 wires + one equipment ground wire.

This makes me think you may have a multi wire circuit.
Have you checked all the boxes or just one? What are the colors of the wires you are testing?
A 120 volt circuit has 3 wires, hot, netural, and a ground.
I'm not sure wwhat the 4th wire is used for.

Operator4819 03-31-2007 01:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jbfan (Post 39100)
There are 3 wires + one equipment ground wire.

This makes me think you may have a multi wire circuit.
Have you checked all the boxes or just one? What are the colors of the wires you are testing?
A 120 volt circuit has 3 wires, hot, netural, and a ground.
I'm not sure wwhat the 4th wire is used for.

Of the 4 boxes, I looked at 2 of the boxes. It was dark in the room, however, I believe I saw a red wire in one of the boxes. I think there was a black and possibly a gray wire as well and the equipment ground in one of the boxes. I should have taken notes. As far as I could see there was only one light switch in the room and no light fixture on the ceiling. The next time I check it out, I'll be more prepared. I'll use a lamp or a trouble light with an extension cord from another room. I plan on going back tomorrow. I'll take better notes. I do recall touching one of my test probes on the equipment ground and the other on the other 3 wires. They all had voltage, but it did not appear to be over 100 volts for each of the wires. Thank you, Tommy.

joed 03-31-2007 11:31 AM

Neutral is the white or grey wire. Check all connection while you have a box open.

Operator4819 03-31-2007 12:27 PM

Troubleshooting bedroom outlet wiring?
 
OK, I think I have a pretty good game plan. At least I know what to look for now. I'll get back to you with my findings. Thank you all very much, Tommy.

Operator4819 04-01-2007 02:11 AM

Troubleshooting bedroom outlet wiring?
 
I have been troubleshootiing all day. The wires are black, white or red. The red runs from the light switch to the lower plug on the outlet where applicable. The blacks are the hots and the whites are the neutrals. And they are all positioned at the right terminals. Blacks at the gold colored terminals, and whites at the silver color terminals. This circuit takes care of 3 wall plug outlets in one room, and 4 wall plug outlets and one ceiling light in another room. After troubleshooting all day, I finally found the wire that is feeding everything mentioned above, which is tied into a light switch junction box. The feed is running from the breaker in the carport, up into the ceiling, and down to one of the bedrooms into the light switch junction box. About a 100 foot run. The problem is with the neutral leg, somewhere in that run, between the breaker and the light switch junction box, the neutral leg is coming in contact with a hot wire. I isolated every neutral wire in this circuit, one by one, which lead me to that light switch junction box. Once I found the hot wire that was feeding this circuit in this light switch junction box, I then isolated the neutral wire from that same cable run, from the rest of the outlets and light switches. I then checked the neutral wires for all of the outlets and light switches on that circuit. Now, it is ok, no voltage on the neutral legs. So, this tells me that there is a short somewhere between the breaker and light switch junction box. I'm thinking to make sure that my findings are correct, I can isolate the main feed from this circuit in that light switch junction box, then make up a temporary extension cord type of wire and tie in the female end of that extension cord to feed the circuit, and just plug in the male end in a good working outlet to see if the rest of the outlets and light switches work the way they should. Does anyone see something that I may be overlooking? Does this sound like a good plan? Is there anything else I should check on first? Let me know. Thank you, Tommy.

jwhite 04-01-2007 05:45 AM

Operator, Lets try to use industry standard terms so that we can all understand eachother better.

A short is when two wires are tied together electricly causing a breaker to trip or fuse to blow. An open is when there is no electric flowing on a circuit or wire where the electricity should be flowing.

I believe you are saying that you have an open between the panel and the first device box (a switch box) on the neutral wire.

Please let me know if I am correct. We can then take troubleshooting to the next step. Yes it will involve setting up some sort of temporary wire using a drop cord for testing purposes.

joed 04-01-2007 08:24 AM

The neutral is not coming in contact with a hot or the breaker would be tripping. The neutral is open. The voltage reading you are getting on the neutral is coming through any device that is connected to the circuit.

Look for an open neutral. The problem could be right in the panel.

Operator4819 04-01-2007 01:20 PM

Troubleshooting bedroom outlet wiring?
 
Sorry for not using the correct industry standard terms. The black wire does have 115 volts by using the equipment ground as neutral. The neutral is picking up a little bit of voltage by also using the equipment ground. Not sure how much. The light on my wiggy tester lights up intermittently while probing the neutral leg. The label on the electrical panel identifies the 2 bedrooms I spoke of, that are on the affected circuit. As mentioned previously, I isolated every neutral wire from all of the outlet plugs between the 2 bedrooms in question. For the outlets that had 2 neutral legs, I tied them together using wire nuts to keep the circuit going. For those that had just one neutral wire, I just isolated the wire keeping it away from the outlet. As far as the 2 bedrooms are concerned, all of the neutral legs were isolated from all recepticles or outlets. At that point the only neutral leg picking current appeared to be the one running back to the breaker panel box. Unless there is something else that is not identified still tied into the circuit? That is a possibility! So with that said, what would you suggest? Thank you, Tommy.

jwhite 04-01-2007 01:58 PM

Take every connection apart in every box, making not of how it was connected. Hopefully you have no more than two cables in each box.

At the box that you belive is closest to the panel, on the cable that you believe goes back to the panel, test from black to white, and black to ground. (turning the circuit on just long enough to test, and no longer)

Tell us what you are reading.

Operator4819 04-01-2007 02:12 PM

Troubleshooting bedroom outlet wiring?
 
I did that yesterday. Black to white, nothing, no voltage. Black to equipment ground, 115 volts. This was with every connector disconnected in all the other boxes.

Operator4819 04-01-2007 05:00 PM

Troubleshooting bedroom outlet wiring?
 
I forgot to mention this. In the bedroom that is closest to the circuit breaker panel. I'm still talking about one of the two bedrooms I have been troubleshooting. There is one wall outlet that is from another circuit. It is on the wall that is adjacent to the living room wall. There was a computer plugged into that circuit and it was on. When I probed the black wire and the equipment ground wire at the outlet that is nearest to this outlet, I could hear the speakers from computer making noises everytime I would touch the black wire and the equipment ground wire with my test probes. What would this suggest? I know that the wall outlet that the computer is plugged into is from a different circuit because when I would turn off the breaker from the circuit that I'm troubleshooting, the computer stays on. I also unplugged the computer, removed the outlet recepticle and tested the terminals to see if I would pick up a voltage across the black and white wires, and I did pick up 115 volts. So, I know that, that circuit is ok, the neutral is ok. The question is, why would the computer speakers make those sounds when it is on a different circuit? Can anyone comment on that?

joed 04-01-2007 06:07 PM

You not finding the right box. This problem could be in ANY box on the circuit including the main panel.

YOU HAVE AN OPEN NEUTRAL. It is between the main box and where you are NOT measuring voltage between the hot and neutral. The voltage you are measuring on the neutral is coming loads on the circuit. If you were to disconnect ALL loads on the circuit the voltage on the neutral would disappear.


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