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View wseand's profile

Electrical Issue

by wseand
posted 11-14-2015 06:08 PM


29 replies so far

View clin's profile

clin

752 posts in 835 days


#1 posted 11-14-2015 08:15 PM

What do you mean by “all three test positive for power”? How did you test them?

-- Clin

View Jimbo4's profile

Jimbo4

1578 posts in 2602 days


#2 posted 11-14-2015 10:26 PM

Bill, this sounds like a job for a big buck pro, as someone previously believed they were the pro – “I can fix anything, here, hold my beer and watchis”.

-- When I was a kid I wanted to be older . . . . . this CRAP is not what I expected !

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2716 posts in 1320 days


#3 posted 11-14-2015 11:09 PM

My question is, I have a outlet in the house that is currently attached to the shop and when I test the wire for power all three test positive for power but I can’t get it to test for 110 between them. Meaning that when I put the test leads across the ground to hot I get nothing and same with hot to neutral. Hope that makes sense.

????

Is this 3 conductor wire?

So far you’ve done the right thing by capping them off.

Now—don’t let the LJ’s try to fix it, call an electrician. ;-)

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View REO's profile

REO

923 posts in 1913 days


#4 posted 11-15-2015 12:07 AM

does the gfci “set”? turn off the breaker if it is known and check for continuity between the leads. non contact detectors should never be used to “confirm” presence or absence of electricity. An old NE2 tester is a good way to test for presence on each conductor individually. You can hold directly on to the one test lead and touch the other to the wire to be tested. it will light wen there is voltage present when you are not sure of a good ground or neutral. something misswired to connect all leads together at some point and a ground and neutral that is not landed otherwise you would take out the breaker/ fuse. your diagnosis is pretty sketchy.

View wseand's profile

wseand

2796 posts in 2881 days


#5 posted 11-15-2015 12:57 AM

It’s a three wire 14/2 Romex with ground . I tested for power with a non contact volt meter. If you split the wires apart you can normally test each wire for power.

I am capable of running electricity, not really a worry for me and I have a electrician coming to help out. He never heard of it before. I just don’t want to have to tear out all the wiring to find the problem. Thought maybe someone have heard of this before.

A short in the wires would cause the breaker to trip, short to ground should cause the gfci to trip.

I have remolded houses and never come across anything like this before. Just thought it was a interesting predicament. The only other thing is that the meter is giving me a false reading. I was just looking for some ideas so I don’t have to pay a electrician to spend my money investigating.

Thanks all.
Bill

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

18092 posts in 3515 days


#6 posted 11-15-2015 01:08 AM

first thing I would do is use a high impedance tester such as a wiggins to see if you really have any voltage present which it sounds like you do not.

The trouble with wireless and and digital is you really do not know if you really have power or ghost voltages .

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Pezking7p's profile

Pezking7p

3217 posts in 1491 days


#7 posted 11-15-2015 01:20 AM

Not sure I would trust a non contact voltage “meter”. Those lines may very well all be dead, hence no voltage.

I would recommend you let an electrician handle it.

-- -Dan

View wseand's profile

wseand

2796 posts in 2881 days


#8 posted 11-15-2015 01:27 AM

I turn on the breaker and the non contact meter shows power. I test with AC volt meter and it shows no voltage between any leads. I turn off the breaker and it shows no power with non contact meter or AC meter. The GFCI works properly as far as, it test good. It doesn’t trip the breaker and the is no continuity between the wires with the breaker off and disconnected from the outlet

Let me ask you this, if the non contact meter says there is power there and the volt meter says no power there, are you willing to touch it with your hands? And why would the non contact meter read voltage with the breaker on and no voltage when the breaker is off. Phantom power from somewhere?

That’s my diagnosis. Since the outlet wasn’t working I disconnected the wires from the outlet and my fluorescent lights started working properly. Somehow, this wall outlet is connected to my shop and bathroom

I’m not looking for a fix from LJs just some ideas.

I’m putting aluminum foil over my house so the voices stop.

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Pezking7p

3217 posts in 1491 days


#9 posted 11-15-2015 01:42 AM

I think there’s more to the story. It doesn’t make sense that all the wires are hot (shorted) because they aren’t tripping the breaker. It’s not clear to me how all the other parts of the circuit are related so it’s difficult to even guess. Maybe someone screwed up a switch leg somehow?

-- -Dan

View wseand's profile

wseand

2796 posts in 2881 days


#10 posted 11-15-2015 01:44 AM

Hey Jents,
Maybe some ghost power ,Topa. Either way I am not touching the wires guys. I have a handyman here working on other things, very knowledgeable handyman, he had no idea either. He’s getting his electrician buddy to look at it.

I am capable of rewiring a house don’t let the bad grammer fool ya.

If the electrician doesn’t know the exact problem he’s going to do the same thing as me, start taking $hit apart till he figures it out.

Thanks a bunch gents
Bill

View wseand's profile

wseand

2796 posts in 2881 days


#11 posted 11-15-2015 01:51 AM

Dan,
That’s what in thinking, something got wired wrong and it’s just going to take some time to track it down. Since the outlet is connected to switches I am guessing the wires from the outlet might have been mistaken for a switch and both wires connected to a hot line somehow.

I will spend some time tomorrow trying to tract down the wire that’s the only way I am figuring to find the problem.

Bill

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

18092 posts in 3515 days


#12 posted 11-15-2015 02:14 AM

Probably a five minute troubleshoot for an experienced electrician. Maybe some ghost power ,Topa. Yup, that is why I don’t like no contact or digital for troubleshooting power circuit issues. Reminds of an electrician I knew who claimed his new Fluke was the answer to everything electrical when they first came out. One day they sent me to help him out troubleshooting a piece of equipment at the airport. He had been there most of the day. I asked if he had checked the fuses. Of course he had; with the new Fluke. ;-) 5 minutes later we were done ;-)) Ghost voltages will get ya!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View wseand's profile

wseand

2796 posts in 2881 days


#13 posted 11-15-2015 02:29 AM

Took an extension cord plugged it into another outlet. tested between its neutral and ground to the hot of the bad outlet and got 120 volts between them. The ground and neutral are missing from the bad outlet. See this is why you use a non contact meter I could have electrocuted myself if I didn’t use it.

This is why they make these tools, for idiots like me not to kill myself. Don’t down play this tool it is an easy way test for power. I surely don’t take the non contact meter for an end all for sure but it did its job this time. There was definitely power there just needed to find it. As in most cases one tool isn’t an end all to the problem. You can’t call a pro every time you have a problem.

Thanks Jents,
Bill

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wseand

2796 posts in 2881 days


#14 posted 11-15-2015 02:34 AM

Hey Topa,
Couldn’t agree with ya anymore, but it did tell me there was power there so it made me cautious. I have contractors all over the house right now just not one that knew a lot about troubleshooting electrical problems. Really I just think the line needs to be run down and see where someone went wrong or if a fat rat ate the wire.

Thanks Bob,
Bill

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WhoMe

1564 posts in 3083 days


#15 posted 11-15-2015 02:40 AM

Glad you got it solved. That was going to be my suggestion. Start with the breaker to the first plug/power access point then first plug to the second plug and so on. Moonshine along the circuit from the breaker out. That would narrow down the problem to a specific leg of the circuit.
But it sounds like you got it.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

8333 posts in 1325 days


#16 posted 11-15-2015 02:52 AM

I rarely use non contact testers because of induced voltage problems.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

18092 posts in 3515 days


#17 posted 11-15-2015 03:07 AM

Non contact are good indicators, but must be kept in perspective. I thought that sounded like an open neutral, but when both neutral and ground didn’t show any voltage, I dismissed it. That is unusual for both to fail simultaneously, but….. seeing the situation in real time, up close and personal, I may have expected it. First clue would be a house old enough to include knob and tube with possible “modernization” extensions including 3 wire cable and outlets without the ground conductor being grounded. That would be totally illegal, but IMO due to experience, most houses have illegal home owner/ handyman modifications if they are more than 25 years old.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

18092 posts in 3515 days


#18 posted 11-15-2015 03:12 AM

Speaking of seeing the site up close and personal, a customer called saying his range was tripping the circuit breaker. When I drove up to the site and saw a carpenter installing siding, I knew exactly what the problem was ;-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View REO's profile

REO

923 posts in 1913 days


#19 posted 11-15-2015 01:08 PM

I said not to use a non contact to”confirm” presence or absence of voltage.Without you saying it the use of non contact circuit detection was implied by your findings. That is why I suggested using a direct or contact type tester. Because of the magnetic field around the wire that is hot noncontact testers will read voltage in a wire that runs alongside of another wire. They wont read on the ground or neutral if properly attached to the ground or neutral or “landed”. I was not suggesting they were not a good tool to use. Glad you found you answer.

Topa, I replaced a control power transformer thinking it was bad because it tapped off before the main disconnect in a MC panel. 3ph with two blown fuses but only one showed open because the transformer was backfeeding the other leg. I still have trouble trusting I can check for an open fuse with the continuity setting while the power is on. older meters would go boom!

View HuskerFan1's profile

HuskerFan1

9 posts in 1496 days


#20 posted 11-15-2015 04:45 PM

Wseand ,

You were ok testing with a non contact voltage detector.All it is telling you is all 3 wires are hot.Somewhere down the line all 3 of the wire are tied into something wrong. The reason you are getting 0 voltage between not-ground or hot-neutral is because voltage detectors look for a differences of potential. So if both sides are hot there is no difference. If one side is dead (0 volts) and one side is hot (120 volts) there is a difference of potential and that is what is being read.
Another thing this wont change your voltage down the line. It causes a parallel circuit which will lower you amperage which is why you lights are not work right. The ballast inside your lights are getting the current they need to turn on.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

18092 posts in 3515 days


#21 posted 11-16-2015 07:53 AM


Topa, I replaced a control power transformer thinking it was bad because it tapped off before the main disconnect in a MC panel. 3ph with two blown fuses but only one showed open because the transformer was backfeeding the other leg. I still have trouble trusting I can check for an open fuse with the continuity setting while the power is on. older meters would go boom!

- REO

If you use a high impedance tester across the fuse, it will show you it is blown every time. It will read the full voltage of the circuit as it is in series with the load. A good fuse will not show any voltage since the tester is parallel to the fuse, not in series with the circuit. Digitals have lead me down the wrong path and told me so many things I wish I didn’t know, I never use them for trouble shooting power circuits unless I need a reading to check for high or low voltage on a known hot circuit.

BTW, the ground and neutral were probably not hot. The tester was most likely showing a ghost voltage induced in the isolated conductors. It is possible the neutral had a return voltage from a device(s) beyond the outlet being tested. That white neutral wire can bite under the right circumstances. If the ground was hot, it would be carrying short circuit voltage to trip the breaker. That is why God invented real electricians! ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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HuskerFan1

9 posts in 1496 days


#22 posted 11-17-2015 06:12 AM

TopamaxSurvivor,

Just to let you know I AM A REAL Electrician. I’m a medium voltage electrician in the US Army and you don’t know what you are talking about. Wseand you just need to hire a local electrician because your getting ALOT of bad advice

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

18092 posts in 3515 days


#23 posted 11-17-2015 08:03 AM



TopamaxSurvivor,

Just to let you know I AM A REAL Electrician. I m a medium voltage electrician in the US Army and you don t know what you are talking about. Wseand you just need to hire a local electrician because your getting ALOT of bad advice

- HuskerFan1

You are entitled to your opinion, but may find yourself in the minority. There are peers and customers who referred to me as a legend and said I set the standard for the industry. Most of my career, I had standing offers open if I wanted the job. One of my peers was inspired to go into developing curriculum and teaching apprentices because he told me every apprentice should be able to do what I could do. A few of my methods did find their way into plans and specs of a major player in the industry. I am sure you would get tired of reading my letters of recommendation before you got through all of them. I got tired of it and they were about me ;-)

I got a call from a major controls company about 20 years ago. The caller said, “There is only one guy in the world that can do this job and I don’t want you to screw us on the price!” I felt that was a hyperbolic statement, but I did not argue the point, point out others who may be capable, nor did I screw them on the price. Why get greedy and screw up a good thing ;-)

BTW, before I retired, medium voltage was not a utilization voltage in end user equipment and or building circuits. Has that changed in the last couple years? A 13.8 kv table saw should certainly be able to rip anything you could carry to it ;-)

You are correct on one count; there is a lot of marginal electrical information on LJ ;-(

(References provided upon request.)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View wseand's profile

wseand

2796 posts in 2881 days


#24 posted 11-19-2015 01:01 AM

Hey all, even you army electricians.
Got an electrician coming out tomorrow to put in a new 40 amp breaker in the shop and fix the bad one. Let you all know what the final outcome is. I have a separate shop from my garage that is for the smaller tools so we went with a 40 amp instead of a 50 amp. I can add that without getting the electric company involved. Not sure if permitted will be required but that’s what the electrician is going to tell me.

All said and done, thanks for the input and I am certainly no pro electrician but I like to be able to know enough to make sure the pro doesn’t take me for a ride. I can run wires and boxes etc. I don’t like to mess with the panel if I can avoid it.

Again Thanka all
Bill

View Fresch's profile

Fresch

93 posts in 1760 days


#25 posted 11-19-2015 02:39 AM

Hahaha,
People 120 volt WILL kill you.
Please, get a pro to help you.

View JBrow's profile

JBrow

1275 posts in 759 days


#26 posted 11-19-2015 03:16 AM

I ran into a goofy electrical problem when I messed with wiring in my hallway. While messing around I assumed the grounded conductor (white conductor) in switch boxes where I was doing work, ran to the light fixtures. This was a three switch (4 way circuit). When I thought I was done, the lights in the hallway were dim and flickered when I powered up the circuit. As it turned out, the electrician who originally wired the circuit used 2 conductor cables that only carried current to the light fixtures (omitting the grounded conductor in the switch boxes). He picked up the grounded conductor connection in the light fixtures by running a neutral from the hall light fixtures to a box on another circuit to pick up the Neutral. When I reconnected the Neutral conductor, the lights work fine.

Perhaps in your case, both the black and white are current carrying conductors, but unless this is a 240 volt outlet (which I doubt), the puzzle is where is the grounded conductor? Possibilities are the grounded conductor was not never connected or was previously connected, but now disconnected. Perhaps the equipment grounding conductor (bare copper) was used as the grounded conductor (normally white) – which is scary. I am puzzled as to why you measured no voltage between an insulated conductor and the bare copper grounding wire. If you did not measure voltage to the bare copper wire, then I worry that the equipment grounding conductor (bare copper) is either disconnected or never connected.

If it were me, I would purchase a plug in circuit tester with a GFIC test button and check that the GFIC outlet and other outlets on that circuit that are apparently properly functioning receptacles are wired correctly. This circuit tester is, if I remember correctly, costs at $10-$20 and shows whether the GFIC receptacle is working properly and whether receptacles are wired correctly. Good luck with this gremlin!

View wseand's profile

wseand

2796 posts in 2881 days


#27 posted 11-20-2015 04:47 AM

JBrow,
sounds like you had a mess on your hands as well. I have several other wiring issues that I am finding as I go along. None seems to be possible fire problem but just a rats nest of sloppy wiring. This one just got me going because it is attached to outside outlets. I can’t crawl around the attics like I used to so getting issues resolved comes at a price. Thanks for the ideas good idea on the circuit tester I will probably get one just to test the rest of the outlets as well. Obviously someone has been playing with electricity in my house. Got to love he tinkerers in the world.

Thanks,
Bill

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

8333 posts in 1325 days


#28 posted 11-20-2015 05:06 AM

You love them until you have to remodel a house that’s been tinkered with for many a year :)

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View wseand's profile

wseand

2796 posts in 2881 days


#29 posted 11-20-2015 05:38 AM

Yeah figuring that out real fast. The garage door opener is attached to the light switch in my living room and a exhaust fan in one of my bathrooms,all in totally different parts of the house. I have light switches that have power to them and lead somewhere but turn nothing on.

Hoping the electrician can fix some of those when he shows up.

Bill

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