Outlet nightmare

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enigma
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Outlet nightmare

Post by enigma » Wed Dec 03, 2014 9:26 pm

Recently roommate did a typical replacement of an outlet. It worked fine, it was just painted over and ugly. He did not shut the breaker off before doing so.

I came home, the entire circuit (4 other outlets) wasn't working. I assumed it was a bad breaker, so I tested it and got power from it. Checked each outlet, and received no power. I pulled the first outlet in the circuit out, noticed that whoever did the original wiring didn't pigtail any of the wires. Not sure what I did, but the outlet gave me 120V after screwing it back in. The others did as well.

I go to plug something in (computer) and then the circuit went dead again. Still have power from the breaker, nothing from any outlet. I can't really figure out the deal with this.

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Shannon
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Re: Outlet nightmare

Post by Shannon » Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:40 pm

You have either a bad receptacle, loose wire or broken wire at first receptacle . When you pulled it out you moved it enough the right way to make contact until you pushed it back in again. Thats where I would start anyways, since there are no pigtails the problem stops the power at the plug that has the problem and nothing after that will work either.
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enigma
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Re: Outlet nightmare

Post by enigma » Thu Dec 04, 2014 12:45 am

Shannon wrote:You have either a bad receptacle, loose wire or broken wire at first receptacle . When you pulled it out you moved it enough the right way to make contact until you pushed it back in again. Thats where I would start anyways, since there are no pigtails the problem stops the power at the plug that has the problem and nothing after that will work either.
That is what I thought at first, but the first one on the circuit is the one I pulled out (it has never been used as long as I have lived here), and when I plugged something in, it was the last one in the circuit.

It seems odd to me that drawing power from the last outlet could cause a problem in the first circuit. I am no electrician, but I know my way around circuits and am comfortable working on them. This has me a little confused, however.

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Shannon
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Re: Outlet nightmare

Post by Shannon » Thu Dec 04, 2014 7:38 am

You have me a little confussed, was the one you pulled out the first one on the circuit or last one? You seem to be referring to it as both. Regardless I would start at the first one on the circuit and trouble shoot from there. It sounds like a broken wire to me, its making contact only in curtain positions. I would guess the problem lies at which ever plug your room mate replaced and I would guess that it is the first one on the circuit.
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enigma
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Re: Outlet nightmare

Post by enigma » Thu Dec 04, 2014 2:33 pm

Yeah, the way I phrased that was a little odd.

Roommate changed one in the middle of the circuit. I pulled the first one in the circuit after determining nothing looked physically wrong with the one he changed. Since the one I pulled (first in circuit) looked fine as well, I put it back without doing anything. I went to plug something into an outlet that is later in the circuit (in this case, last) since it was the only outlet on the circuit that we actually used.

I will definitely pull the first in the circuit out again and check for breaks, shorts, or poor connections though.

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Shannon
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Re: Outlet nightmare

Post by Shannon » Thu Dec 04, 2014 6:51 pm

let us know what you figure out.
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enigma
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Re: Outlet nightmare

Post by enigma » Thu Dec 04, 2014 7:20 pm

Shannon wrote:let us know what you figure out.
I pulled the first outlet again. I checked for anything that might indicate a short in the line. The cables are in good condition (especially for being 40+ years old). I felt each neutral and hot, they felt solid with no breaks or easy bends in them. The grounds are tight and wire capped. Received no voltage directly from the lines.

I suppose I will climb into my attic to check if there is a junction box or at bad connections. Although I seem to remember it being a direct line from the breaker box, though I could be wrong.

enigma
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Re: Outlet nightmare

Post by enigma » Thu Dec 04, 2014 8:53 pm

Climbed up in the attic to check the lines. I saw an outlet in the attic and decided to check it for current. Received none. A quick flip of the breaker showed me it was on the same circuit, and actually saw that it was the first in the circuit.

Why there was an outlet in the attic is beyond me. I pulled it out, and the cables were corroded and burned. Cut them back a few inches and everything was back up and running.

Thanks for the help.

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Shannon
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Re: Outlet nightmare

Post by Shannon » Fri Dec 05, 2014 7:33 am

Good job detective! That outlet is handy for running a trouble light if you ever need to be in the attic I guess.
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ninjaryder1st
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Re: Outlet nightmare

Post by ninjaryder1st » Tue Feb 17, 2015 2:07 pm

again, a good reason to recommend a small amount of extra time and effort for "pig tails".
though not your problem, it could have been,

i will proceed with the method demonstrated on your video.

A question: Technically, would you have to pig tail a ground? If you wired an incoming receptacle ground, to an exit receptacle ground by twisting the 2 together, and cutting 1 shorter, and connected the remaining long to the outlet, this would still serve as a ground, as all groun (incoming/outgoing, and oulet screws are in contact, and connected to ground bar in panel/box).

Obviously, this pig tail is needed to carry current to receptacle (rather than through it), and down line and not through the 1st, or any receptacle in the line when referring to the black/red hot wires, and the white neutrals are pig tailed for return current.

Any comments on the NEC requirement for pig tail ground, vs just connecting as described above? Its not as if a ground pig tail is going through the recptacle as the hot/return does.

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Shannon
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Re: Outlet nightmare

Post by Shannon » Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:47 pm

Exactly as you have described it works just the same as adding in an extra wire to run to the receptacle but be sure that they are attached to the metal box at each receptacle as well.
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ninjaryder1st
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Re: Outlet nightmare

Post by ninjaryder1st » Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:55 pm

what if one is using plastic blue boxes, and do not have a metal ground area on the box?
Is it still ok to wrap the 2 grounds (in/out) and attach one to the receptacle ground?

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Shannon
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Re: Outlet nightmare

Post by Shannon » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:43 am

Yes the grounds must all be attached to each other and to the receptacle.
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