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Old 12-29-2010, 04:52 PM   #16
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Very Basic Questions... Need Help


Well, here's a suggestion.

Put your meter on the wires (you did it right, I don't think sirsparks read the beginning) and have someone throw breakers until you find the right one. Make sure the neutral on that cable is hooked up on the panel. Test for voltage there. Back-trace this wire toward your outlets, and see if you can find a disconnected wire someplace.

It's possible your electrician friend has a circuit tracer. Put it on this circuit. The one I have for home is kinda cheap, and only works on live wires. Problem is, you need to put it on the neutral, too. If you do that from the panel end, you light up the whole house. To avoid that, you must shut off every breaker except the one you're tracing. Or hopefully, your buddy has the $250 one like I got at work, and you can do it cold and trace from the outlet side. It also probably won't bleed into the rest of the house (as bad) and you won't need to shut down the whole house. If you get one of those, you can trace the wire through the walls / floor without pulling floorboards.

However- this is a first floor outlet, with a basement / crawlspace? Find out which breaker it is, and shut it down. See what else turns off. If nothing else, here's an easy-ish fix:
Go buy a flex drill bit. Probably need at least 9/16, you'll be fishing two romex cables. Drill into the basement, tie a string on the drill, pull it back. Pull 2 romex into the box from basement. One romex goes to fusebox, other goes to 2nd outlet, where you do the same trick (with only the one cable end now.) Done, and abandon the wire that isn't working. The tricky part is doing this in an existing box. Trying from the side or cutting out a bit of plaster (I know it's plaster, isn't it?) under the box to fit the drill, and feeding the string into the box with needlenose might help.

However, if there's something else that goes off when you pop that breaker, you need to find out where it's junctioned. It's quite possible there's stuff disconnected and left hanging, live, somewhere and you really don't want that. If you feel it's safe and there's no problem other than these outlets, you can cap that wire off and do the same thing as above, but personally I would try to find where it's unhooked, because there's no telling what amateur hack has been cutting wires.

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Old 12-30-2010, 02:11 PM   #17
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Very Basic Questions... Need Help


Thanks for the replies!

Yeah, I tested the wires directly... Both lines are on the living room breaker - they're dead when that breaker is off. However I traced them as far as I could without ripping up a lot of my attic floor, and I could not determine where the neutral is disconnected.

So - I moved to plan 2. I terminated both lines with crimp on terminals, and placed those inside a covered box. Done.

I am putting the new line on what was a single circuit for my living room ceiling fan that must've been installed post the other outlets and such in the room. So the only thing on that 15 amp circuit is a fan... so I am adding the outlets into that circuit.

Seems like a no brainer to me in lieu if ripping apart a lot of stuff.

Someone please tell me if terminating the old lines like that isn't ok.
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Old 12-30-2010, 04:15 PM   #18
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Very Basic Questions... Need Help


It's all right as far as the part you found. you gotta wonder where the other end is, but if it hasn't caused a fire yet, it's probably fine. You aren't obligated, necessarily, to find it, presuming everything is all right wherever it does go.

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