DIY Home Improvement Forum banner

1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
A year ago I bought a new house (a real fixer-upper). Before moving in I hired an electrician to replace the 100amp panel with a 200amp panel and fix a few things to get the house up and running. (Long story.)


Now a year later I'm trying to get power to a room that wasn't hooked up in the new panel. I opened the panel to find that there were FIVE lines with the neutrals and grounds wired into the panel, but NOT the hots. The black wires are just sitting in the panel unconnected to anything.


I have only ONE room without power. But I have FIVE unconnected hots. That leaves me with a lot of mystery as to which of those is the correct circuit to the unpowered room. (Not to mention what the other 4 circuits even are, as every other room has power.)



Due to incompetence (long story) I do NOT trust the electrician that did the panel upgrade. He will not be returning.



And due to insane things I have found in this house, I do NOT trust the circuits to be safe to run power to as a means of testing. I want to solve the mystery of which one wire is the correct wire and ONLY reconnect that one circuit.



Is there some ingenious way to TEST which wire is which BEFORE doing something potentially dangerous by hooking them up to power? I have both a multimeter and a 120V contact-free line tester.



Any help in safely solving the mystery of which unconnected black wire loose in the panel is supposed to go to the one room without power would be greatly appreciated.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
21,640 Posts
With the black disconnected measure ohms white to black. See if there are any shorts. If none then good. Then go to room in question short one of receptacles with paper clip or something and test again for short. Make darn sure no power before shorting.
 

·
Master Electrician
Joined
·
4,642 Posts
In the room you wish to energize, plug a shorted cord into a receptacle, at the panel, use a multimeter to test for continuity between the neutral buss and the various unconnected hot wires. If you find continuity between the neutral buss and one of the unconnected wires, chances are that you have found the power wire for that room.
Remove the shorting cord before energizing the circuit.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,048 Posts
You can also try one of those circuit tracers. $30 bucks or so at Lowe's. Does a pretty good job.
And I feel your pain! Moved into this house 1.5 years ago and later found two HOT circuits unconnected and lying free in the attic space above the garage! The hair on my head hasn't sat down since. Former owner stopped by looking for some mail and said "looks like you haven't made any amount of changes!" It was all I could do not to tell at him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Is there a way to visually trace where these mystery wires go? What is in the powerless room receptacles? Lights? Switches?
Unfortunately no visual trace without knocking out a main support beam which everything disappears into. Numerous hot lines and disconnected lines twist together and vanish into the beam. (Yes, I know, that sounds insane.)



The room itself is your typical bedroom with outlets, lights, and switches scattered all over. I'm assuming all power in the room is one circuit, because why split up one bedroom? But honestly, so much in this house has been so ... wrong ... that I can't be sure. Such is the stuff of a fixer-upper in the middle of nowhere.


At least it's modern wire. I could have stumbled into someone reusing old knob and tube bought at a flea market. :laughing:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
With the black disconnected measure ohms white to black. See if there are any shorts. If none then good. Then go to room in question short one of receptacles with paper clip or something and test again for short. Make darn sure no power before shorting.
I'm sure I've got some scrap wire I could use instead of a paper clip, but yeah ... that makes sense. Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
In the room you wish to energize, plug a shorted cord into a receptacle, at the panel, use a multimeter to test for continuity between the neutral buss and the various unconnected hot wires. If you find continuity between the neutral buss and one of the unconnected wires, chances are that you have found the power wire for that room.
Remove the shorting cord before energizing the circuit.
Definitely a good plan. Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
You can also try one of those circuit tracers. $30 bucks or so at Lowe's. Does a pretty good job.
And I feel your pain! Moved into this house 1.5 years ago and later found two HOT circuits unconnected and lying free in the attic space above the garage! The hair on my head hasn't sat down since. Former owner stopped by looking for some mail and said "looks like you haven't made any amount of changes!" It was all I could do not to tell at him.
Even though it looks like I shouldn't need it for this project, I may have to pick up a circuit tracer for my own sanity. I've found several older copper wires in use are too insulated for my contact-free tester to work on. In my crawlspace I've found a couple of these wires cut. I'd like to assume that none of these cut wires are live, but it gnaws on my sanity to assume such. Some day I'm going to spend a week under my crawlspace removing every wire that's cut or is not in use and clean that crap up.



(I already did that with the plumbing, removing two generations of prior pipes (copper and CPVC) that were left the last time that the plumbing was redone. And because the "new" plumbing (PEX) was slack and laying all over the ground and freezing up during the winter even with two space heaters down there, and stressing the copper connectors, one of which burst during the winter, I ripped out that "new" PEX and ran my own all new PEX safe and sound. But after all that time in the crawlspace, I got a bit claustrophobic, which is why it took me so long to get to the project of restoring the power to the dark bedroom.)


I hate crawlspaces. But I hate fire hazards even more. Best to be sure. With this house, no sanity check is too extreme.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,273 Posts
I would not assume that there is only one circuit serving that room. In fact, if it were my house, and I was wiring it, I would make sure that at least two different circuits served each bedroom. That way, if something happens to one circuit, I would not be working in the dark.

I have rental properties, and, after rehabbing is complete, I map every light fixture, receptacle, switch, etc. I do this by plugging in bulb sockets into each receptacle, turning every light on, etc., and then turning each circuit on one at a time. You could do something similar by turning on each switch, and plugging bulb sockets into each receptacle in the room. Have someone in the room on a cell phone with you as you connect each black wire to a breaker, and see what gets energized.

Sent from my SM-G530T using Tapatalk
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top