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House Wiring Has Me Puzzled!

12/07/2015 3:38 AM

I am puzzled by what happened in my house this weekend. We had a 1500 W Vornado heater running in the NW bedroom of our house. A small 7W nightlight was also on in the room, an an iPhone was being charged and the UVerse cable box was off. In the NE bedroom (master bedroom), I had the 40" LCD TV on, UVerse box running, two alarm clocks on (no music though), a cordless phone and our sound bar (on standby). I'm guessing 1,750 - 1,800 W or 15 - 15.3 A at 117V (measured at the circuit breaker). The circuit breaker is 15A and the NW and NE bedroom are on the same circuit.

Everything was working fine for at least 20 minutes, then the power in the two bedrooms shut off. Then five minutes later, everything turned back on for about 15-20 seconds, then shut off again. I checked the circuit breaker and it was okay. I flipped it just to make sure and still nothing. I turned it off and came back the next morning.

I looked for burn marks on the outlets and switches - nothing. Thinking it could be a loose wire (on an outlet or switch), I pulled the first outlet. The outlet was back connected (4 wires) and one had a long lead, so I pulled the wire out and trimmed it, then reinserted the wire. I threw the breaker and nothing. Next I went to the other outlet and found out it was the last in line (only had one pair of wires). Connections were good. Next on to the switch. I unscrewed the wire nut, trimmed one of the wires (too much insulation removed) and put it back together. I threw the breaker and the light worked. I checked the outlets and all was good.

That night, I had the same things turned on and everything was working. We turned on the bathroom light (8 CFL's x 15W ea) and everything went out again. The bathroom lights are on the same circuit as the two bedrooms. I'll estimate the total power at 1,870 to 1,920 W or 16 - 16.4 A. The circuit breaker didn't throw and 117V shows at the output of the breaker. Wiring in the house is 14g Romex.

My guess is another bad connection (loose wire nut) or maybe one of the outlets in front of the heater, TV and bath lights was overheated and damaged - I believe the outlets are rated 15A. Also, the circuit is daisy chained with the outlets using the back connectors. I am thinking that too much current was running through the wire and the insulation melted, but that would've caused a short and thrown the breaker.

Before I start cutting holes in the drywall to run new Romex, I was hoping someone would give me some help. Also, why didn't the circuit breaker throw?

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#1

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 5:19 AM

The load is on or over the limit for the breaker. It's time to either reduce the load, or spread the load better over the existing circuits, or run a new circuit. Consult a qualified Electrician.

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#4
In reply to #1

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 8:01 AM

GA. The other part of the puzzle is the overload is not significantly over the limit. People typically only think of how a circuit breaker operates with a significant overload, like a short circuit. Running a circuit just above the current capacity is probably the most common way to create an electric fire in the walls.

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#2

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 5:40 AM

Daisy. Chained using the back connector? You mean the push the stripped wire into the holes. Connectors?

If so.. Turn off the power.. Put a tip of a very small screwdriver into to slot next to each wire and yank out the wires before screwing them down at the side mounted terminals.

The back terminals are an open joke.

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#9
In reply to #2

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 12:43 PM

Here in California, the builders use the back connector (push in). Most likely it's to save time while building a house. Our house was built in 1992 and even though it's a semi-custom (not a tract house), the builder used the back connector.

When we bought our house, I should've checked the outlets and rewired using the side terminals. There's a lot of furniture in the way right now.

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#58
In reply to #9

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 1:32 PM

Here in Chicago, we tend to 'politely chuckle' at the California building codes, as compared to safety consious Chicago(1), they're rather lax and willing to take many shortcuts that will get the house burnt down from a wiring fire, assuming the latest forest wildfire doesn't destroy the house first.

Notes:

  1. We had a 'kind of nasty fire' a while back, you may have read about it in History class. After that we said "Never again," and built safe from that point forward. That's why all wiring in Chicago residences are in Hard Pipe. You've got to work HARD to get an electrical fire that'll burn a house down over here.
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#3

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 7:38 AM

Those push in wiring devices can make poor contact with the wire. Spring tension of a copper flat bar against the wire. You are pushing the limits of the circuit load. The contact heats up. Flat bar gets hot and looses it's spring tension. May even bend away from the wire causing an open.

This is the time to get an electrician in there and up grade your wiring. Over loading these circuit can cause a house fire. What you are observing is a warning. It is best not to load these circuit more then 80% for any duration.

I would also have the wire devices replace. With good screw terminal types. Those devices that opened up under load most likely have an arc burn at the point of contact.

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#10
In reply to #3

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 12:48 PM

I thought it was due to the back connector losing spring tension, but what got me was when I "fixed" the problem by re-doing the wire nut. I thought it was okay - we ran the vacuum in the afternoon, then in the evening we had the heater with the TV and all the other stuff turned on. Everything was fine until we turned on the bathroom light and that circuit went out again.

Maybe I'll start pulling outlets - some are hard to get at, but it's better than tearing the drywall apart.

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#5

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 8:10 AM

I suppose you could move the heater to the first socket in the chain to get a better connection, but you still have a problem somewhere.

The probability that it is a wire or some hidden junction box in the wall is very low. More likely it is at a wall socket or at the breaker box itself.

Lastly, if in doubt, call an electrician to find the problem.

1. The potential for starting an electrical fire is both real and highly undesirable. You life and your loved ones are more important than the cost of an electrician's visit.
2. Professional electricians have tribal knowledge and tools that we mortals do not. It's their trade.

As an example, I had a pipe leak close to my concrete slab. I could have fixed it going to Lowe's, but the plumber had some tricks and some parts that I had no idea existed and turned what would have been a messy job into a simple and robust fix.

That's something to consider before you start ripping holes in your drywall.

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#12
In reply to #5

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 1:33 PM

The room with the heater has only three outlets and they're at the end of the chain. There are four outlets in front of them in the other bedroom. We can't move the heater much closer to the front of the chain.

Breaker is good - I tested it and there is voltage when on and no voltage when off. When the breaker is on, there is no voltage at the first outlet or at the light switch.

I turned the circuit breaker off when we lost power to the 2 bedrooms - no need to risk a fire!

I think you're right about calling an electrician. They have special tools and knowledge. Now, I just need to find a "good" one out here.

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#34
In reply to #12

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 11:11 PM

Just because you read voltage from the breaker doesn't mean you have a good connection. Voltage can be present with even a tiny corroded connection. Plug a high current device in to determine if there is a solid connection there. A clamp on ammeter can confirm that current is in the range of what it's supposed to be.

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#38
In reply to #34

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 12:25 AM

No current is flowing, because the first outlet in the line is dead. I gave the wire a tug (at the breaker) and it's on tight. No signs of corrosion or heat damage.

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#55
In reply to #38

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 8:43 AM

Check the corresponding neutral(white) connection for the circuit as well. Loose or corroded neutral connections can cause weird things to happen as well. With no load on the circuit you can read full voltage but as soon as a load is applied, voltage will drop to near zero if not zero.

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#6

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 8:20 AM

Your comment

" I pulled the wire out and trimmed it, then reinserted the wire"

You have a daisy-chained fire-in-waiting.

As others say, these push-in connections are not good, and with a bunch in series.

Replace all the push-in plugs in this chain, and use the screwdown type clockwise wound wire at least 75% around the screw. Tighten to proper torque.

Hopefully no aluminium wire involved - if any, remove all aluminium wire and replace with copper.

Now, get a reversible flow window mounted heat pump/air conditioner of high efficiency rating. Modern ones with a high figure of merit

That will pump 2 to 5 times the energy it consumes, lower figure for extreme cold outside, approaches 1 at -40C

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#13
In reply to #6

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 1:39 PM

No aluminum wire in our house. It was built in 1992 and I believe it wasn't allowed per code.

For us, extremely cold is 25 deg F. It's been around 35-45 at night lately and we have the twin 5 year olds visiting, so she wants to keep them from getting sick. The room is about 100 sq ft and she's running a 1500 W Vornado - I think it's 80 degrees in there, but she tells me she has it set to 72. The twins will be here for about a month, so no need for window heat pump.

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 1:43 PM

No central heating? I am leery of 1500 watt heaters running 24/7

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#17
In reply to #14

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 2:35 PM

Yes, we have central heating. She just thinks the boys need extra heat in the room they're staying in. The 1500W heater is on at night. During the day, it's been 65-80 degrees outside.

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#19
In reply to #17

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 3:11 PM

That is the most dangerous and irrational use of electric heaters!!

Unsupervised heaters in a child's room at night!!

Bedcovers, pajamas allow room heat to be turned down to 60 F or so at night. Sleeping in a hot room encourages fungus growth in the in groin and armpits

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#22
In reply to #19

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 4:07 PM

I'm with you 100%. I didn't know she had the 1500W Vornado in the room until the circuit went out. After I fixed the wire nut problem, I told her not to use it again, but she did.

Their mom is in the room with them at night, so they are supervised. The heater also has a trip on the bottom, in case the heater tips over.

We have a four bedroom house and our friend is staying in the SW bedroom. The SE bedroom is filled to the ceiling with her junk. It was suppose to be our upstairs quiet room, but it's so full we can just get the door opened. I would've liked to move into that bedroom temporarily while we get the wiring fixed, but definitely a no-go now.

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#25
In reply to #22

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 4:28 PM

OK- 750 watt is better, but you need to cure the bag-lady syndrome ASAP

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#27
In reply to #25

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 4:37 PM

Her mom passed away in April 2014 and all the stuff from her place was packed in our quiet room. It was suppose to be a short term thing while she went through the stuff - most things were suppose to go to the Salvation Army.

Prior to this, the room was set up with my leather couch, a spare TV, computer desk and phone. I was going to run speaker wires into the room (my stereo outputs for a second room) and use the hard drive on my laptop for the music source.

The bag-lady syndrome is pretty bad in our house. From our bedroom to the living room, the kitchen, the laundry room and our yard. I guess she can say the same for me with my office and the garage!

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#29
In reply to #27

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 4:51 PM

Well, the gene is recessive, but if you both have it - the kids will break records.

BLS is usually accompanies by CLS (Cat Lady ......)

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#30
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Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 5:05 PM

No cats here! We have our wonderful dog and she somehow got a white rabbit into the house. I'm not a fan of the rabbit and I keep telling her it has to go. With daughter, twin boys, our friend and the two of us, our house is feeling very full and things are starting to break.

My office has two desks, three computers, three monitors, four printers, four file cabinets, a small stereo system, paper shredder, boxes of reams of paper, catalogs, more catalogs, client files, books and tax documents. The garage is full of stuff for our rental properties (vanities, kitchen sinks, tile, dishwasher, lighting fixtures, plumbing, electrical, chemicals, etc) our bikes, tool cabinets, file cabinets, table saw, miter saw, compressor, copier (nice and fast), gardening tools and of course my Porsche can't be left outside. My stuff is important!

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#31
In reply to #30

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 5:08 PM

And, of course, all your bags and bags of valuable puzzle inventory in the form of shredded paper....

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#32
In reply to #31

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 5:32 PM

Luckily for me, I have a small bin (space saver) for the shredder - if not, I'd let it fill up. I also have a small trash can in my office - it has to get emptied every week or it overflows.

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#44
In reply to #32

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 2:43 AM

Your'e puzzled ? Me too!

I see 2x 5yr-old boys in bed with their Mama, under suitable bedding, and no-one getting cold. Good adventure for them to stick their noses out in the morning and feel the reality, instead of the heater energy. Man up and get rid of the heater, I'd say...

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#65
In reply to #44

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 3:15 PM

Heater is gone but I still have a dead circuit!

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#117
In reply to #65

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/10/2015 2:03 AM

"Heater is gone"....good man! So why does it now matter if the circuit is dead ?I feel sure one these keen responders is an electrician/ electrical engineer, and has already provided the correct analysis and solution to your problem.

Will all those who are merely speculating take one step back please ! We shouldn't leave any OP feeling he's been battered in a street brawl over something such as this.....

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#132
In reply to #117

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/11/2015 1:33 AM

Hilton, thanks for the support. I just want the power back on that side of the house. I'm still out of town but I'll be back very early Sunday. I got a lot of good advice here and if I can't solve the problem, I'll call an electrician. I'm going to give it one more try.

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#62
In reply to #22

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 2:42 PM

You don't get colds from it being cold. This idea must come from that snotty kid that just came in from playing outside in the cold. That runny nose is do to the moisture being breathed out and is condensing in that cold nose. I've seen those moms that treat this as runny nose like the kids just came down with a cold. The kids more likely to catch one from thse moms putting them in a distressed state. Hey man the kid was just having fun now you tell him he has cold and has to go to bed.

It being cold forces people to be indoors more in a closed environment so they can pass the cold virus around more readily. Better chance the twins will get a cold because their all sleeping in the same room.

I grew up in house that there was little to no heat in the upstairs bedrooms. So your 45°F would have been mild in the middle of winter. Still remember the rush of crawling under those cold covers and the one in the morning crawling out. Then as now I do not get too many colds. Maybe one every few years.

This over protection could be doing more harm then good. In trying to keep them from the viruses they build no immunity. Immunity that would lessen the effects of the virus on the body or even fight it off.

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#120
In reply to #62

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/10/2015 10:46 AM

Sorry but this may not be quite true.

New evidence supports that if a human suffers exposure to low temperatures for a period of time long enough to negatively affect their core temperature their immune system may not function normally.

This in turn can/will allow any "bugs" and/or viruses resident in the body to multiply very fast and in many cases the person becomes very sick.

Maybe the "old folks" were not nearly as "off-base" as we thought.

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#133
In reply to #120

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/11/2015 8:09 AM

Pushing extremes here.

If the human core temp gets low enough he will not have to worry about catching a cold!

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#135
In reply to #133

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/11/2015 3:04 PM

True statement. A one degree drop in body temperature for most people is fatal.

According to the article I read, a minute change in core temperature has a drastic affect on the human body's immune system.

I have always believed people get more colds in the winter time because they spend too much time indoors where everybody shares their germs.

I did see a blip on the news a few months back that showed a man living in Alaska who runs around naked in minus temperatures and has somehow mastered control of his metabolism in order to accomplish his feats.

Sorry but I do not remember the name or location as it was just a short before new cast trailer and I did not watch the full blown version.

The Aborigine people in Australia can survive temperature extremes that most people cannot and I think it is done by controlling their metabolism.

As for me my butt starts making buttermilk if I get too cold.

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#122
In reply to #62

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/10/2015 10:22 PM

I'll add one more point to the runny nose. Viruses flourish better at warm temperatures than cool to cold temps. Short of becoming really chilled, the whole family would be better off at something b/t 65 & 75 F. Preferably closer to the lower end of the range.

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#123
In reply to #122

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/10/2015 10:32 PM

Viruses do not thrive at all outside of a living cell, they are dormant when outside a living cell but they are not dead. Some dormant viruses will endure the vacuum of space along the some very dramatic temperature swings.

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#59
In reply to #17

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 1:41 PM

"Yes, we have central heating. She just thinks the boys need extra heat in the room they're staying in. The 1500W heater is on at night. During the day, it's been 65-80 degrees outside."

May I make a few suggestions here:

  1. provide warm blankets/quilts for the boys so they can stay warm in bed at night.
  2. provide slippers and bathrobes for the boys so they can stay warm traveling between bed and bathroom in the middle of the night.
  3. trust that if the boys are not comfortable at night they will open their mouths and tell you. Even a baby can tell you, "I'm not happy with the current situation," when they grow out of crying, they've grown into using words.
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#7

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 8:47 AM

I would suggest you replace those receptacles, install pig-tails, and properly splice the the circuit wires going though separate from the receptacles.

You can get heavy duty receptacles (similar to hospital grade, just without the green dot) that you can "back wire", but the wire is clamped by the same screw as the side terminal. Much of my house is wired in #10 stranded THHN (fewer watts lost!), and I pig-tailed each receptacle with stranded # 12 rather than fight with 4 #10 wires plus a ground.

For comparison, take one of the old receptacles you remove and a used heavy duty (or hospital grade) receptacle. Put them side by side on the garage floor and time yourself disassembling them apart with a 12 oz hammer (or 12 lb sledge, adult beverage optional, watch your fingers and toes!).

...and get a new circuit to that heater!

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#16
In reply to #7

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 2:33 PM

Heavy duty outlets are much better quality and stronger. I have about 30 outlets in the house and many are hard to get to right now (furniture in the way).

Per our building code (CA), I can't use 10g stranded, nor can I mix wire sizes on a circuit. I was also told that I can't use 10g wire on a 15A circuit breaker or with 15A outlets or switches - the code allows for 14g and 12g only.

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#20
In reply to #16

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 3:13 PM

Codes do not usually preclude the use of heavier wire. They usually speak to a minimum size.

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#26
In reply to #20

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 4:31 PM

I never checked on it, but I was told that the CA Building Code will not allow it, since someone may see a #10 wire at the circuit breaker and put a 30A breaker in place of the 15A.

I know quite a few electricians and I can see them putting a 30A breaker in place of a 15A, just because there is a 10g wire.

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#40
In reply to #26

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 12:27 AM

That's crazy. We have to switch 220 on #10 down to two 120v circuits for ranges all the time. The procedure is to replace the breakers with split 15A breakers and then wire the two legs as separate circuits. Later, if the customer goes back to all electric, then all they have to do is put the 30A tied breaker back in and terminate with a range type 220 outlet.

The important thing is to make sure the outlet and the breaker and the load are a match, and that the wire can handle the Amps safely. #10 has no problem with 15A!

For those of you wondering, an electric range uses 220 and a gas range only uses 120. You only need power for the igniter's and the control circuit on a gas range and that is about 100W max.

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#42
In reply to #40

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 12:46 AM

I was going to install an electric range in place of a gas unit. I saw a really nice ceramic top stove with a nice big glass and stainless steel oven door. This is in an old kitchen and the washer and dryer are in the kitchen. The dryer is an electric unit with a dryer 220 outlet. I was going to make a swap - gas dryer and electric range (originally has a gas range and electric dryer). The guy at Lowes told me that I can't do it, because the dryer is rated for 30A and the range needs 50A. I checked the circuit breaker and sure enough, 50A is already wired up.

I was about to do the change, then I asked myself if I should be spending this much money on the rental house. I decided not to and kept everything the same, but at least I know that I could do it in the future.

I believe you need #8 wire for an electric range. I don't think #10 is capable of a 50A circuit breaker, though I am no electrician and I am not an expert in this field. Let's just say that I'm a handyman who gains a lot of experience from all the things my tenants damage.

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#49
In reply to #42

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 7:11 AM

"I believe you need #8 wire for an electric range. I don't think #10 is capable of a 50A circuit breaker, though I am no electrician . . . "

50 amp circuit requires #6

40 amp circuit requires #8

30 amp circuit requires #10

20 amp circuit requires #12

15 amp circuits should never be used. #14 wire should never be used in building wiring. Great for speakers, though.

Print this out and put with your electrical tools.

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#51
In reply to #49

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 7:51 AM

your reply is incorrect, as there are quite a number of factors that influence conductor sizing.

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#52
In reply to #51

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 8:23 AM

It was many years ago that I was an electrician. As I recall, these were the basic sizes for copper conductors for AC wiring in a typical building. What variables would change this?

(Aluminum wiring would, but that is generally not even legal any more. At least not in the last 40 years or so in Florida.)

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#56
In reply to #52

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 9:44 AM

length of conductor run primarily, to meet voltage and amperage loss guidlines. Also ambient temperature range, exposure to sun or other heat sources, and conduit fill (number of conductors inside a given type and size of conduit), as well as rating of wire type, in some instances..

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#61
In reply to #56

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 2:37 PM

Most of that is covered by the Electrical Codes: For example, to use the Chicago codes for residential wiring:

Length of conductor run: not specified, however, the limits on building sizes tent to set the limits for conductor runs.

Ambient temperature range: not specified, however, residences are seldom encountering temperatures above 100 degrees F or so.

Exposure to Sun: As the wiring is inside metal conduit, sun exposure is minimal.

Exposure to other heat sources: generally minimized: electric and in-wall heating are seldom run together. A notable exception is the outlet for the stove, however, that outlet is traditionally a single-outlet circuit, and the pipe in the wall behind the stove is not used to run wiring for other circuits.

Conduit Fill: limited to 50% fill in Chicago.

Rating of wire type: minimum ratings are mandated by code.

A house is not wired like an industrial plant (aside from keeping all the wires in pipe) and a house is not wired like a city. if you follow the rules, you don't need to worry about 'derating' the wiring based on local conditions, as the local conditions are controlled for the most part.

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#67
In reply to #61

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 3:21 PM

Is conduit required in residential applications in Chicago? Here in California we use Romex inside of walls, but it it's exposed, it must be conduit.

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#70
In reply to #67

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 3:29 PM

"Is conduit required in residential applications in Chicago?"

You bet your sweet bippy it's required.

Aside from the fire protection, there are some other nice perks. For example, if the conduit isn't already 'full,' it's easy to run another line down the same pipe, or to change the wiring from 2-wire ceiling lamp to 3-wire lamp & fan. You also don't have to worry about starting a fire just by hanging a picture, since all the wiring is protected from nail damage.

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#75
In reply to #70

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 3:46 PM

I grew up in Chicago and I remember seeing conduit in the walls. When I came to California , I saw romex in the walls and I thought it was weird wrong. Then again, the first time I saw aluminum storm windows used as the main window was here too!

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#115
In reply to #61

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/09/2015 10:06 PM

"Exposure to Sun: As the wiring is inside metal conduit, sun exposure is minimal."

False. exposure to sun in EMT or conduit, conductors have to be derated by the NEC. period.

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#119
In reply to #115

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/10/2015 9:28 AM

Since the conduit is also inside a building, often inside the walls of the building, then sun exposure is minimal. I believe you are quoting a section about conduit that is exposed to constant direct sunlight after installation. We're talking about house wiring, where exposed conduit on the outside of the building (aside from the main feed to the electrical meter) is considered 'unsightly' and avoided if at all possible.

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#60
In reply to #26

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 1:58 PM

"I never checked on it, but I was told that the CA Building Code will not allow it, since someone may see a #10 wire at the circuit breaker and put a 30A breaker in place of the 15A.

I know quite a few electricians and I can see them putting a 30A breaker in place of a 15A, just because there is a 10g wire."

Pardon me while I chuckle(1) again at the California building code. Here in Chicago, you can use the specified wire gauge OR HEAVIER for a residential circuit. What you CANNOT do is simply replace a breaker with a higher rating just because you see a heavier gauge wire in the panel. If you want to 'upsize' a circuit, you need to RUN A NEW CIRCUIT using all wire of the required gauge OR HEAVIER for the current load of that circuit. You can use the same pipe and electrical boxes as the old circuit, but you will probably need to pull the old wires out before running the new ones. If you're going to run a 30 amp circuit, you'll also need to replace those 15 amp sockets with 30 amp ones.

Or you could break the circuit into two separate 15 amp branches, with a 15 amp breaker on each one.

By the way, did you know how much of the conduit's cross section you can fill with wire in Chicago? Half, just half. The rest needs to be air space to prevent heat buildup.

Notes:

  1. At this point it's more of a guffaw, if they allow electricians to 'upsize' a circuit by simply swapping breakers.
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#66
In reply to #60

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 3:18 PM

" . . . If you're going to run a 30 amp circuit, you'll also need to replace those 15 amp sockets with 30 amp ones. . . . "

I'm not aware of standard wall receptacles of that capacity. Some are labeled 20 amp, with the extra horizontal slot, but the I don't know of any that the 15 amp 3 prong plugs that most household devices have will fit. Did you mean to hit the "2" key? Please elaborate.

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#71
In reply to #66

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 3:33 PM

I said thirty and I meant thirty.

Now TWENTY amp sockets will also accept fifteen amp plugs, so if you wish to run a circuit with a TWENTY amp breaker, use wiring for 20 amp (12 gauge, if memory serves), and twenty amp sockets, that's fine and dandy.

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#74
In reply to #71

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 3:43 PM

" . . . I said thirty and I meant thirty. . . . "

And what will you be plugging into these lovely 30 amp sockets?

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#77
In reply to #74

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 4:17 PM

A 5-30P plug is what you plug into the correct socket!

Installation should be performed by a professional!

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#88
In reply to #74

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/09/2015 9:25 AM

The type of industrial equipment that would draw 30 amps, like the old wall-unit air conditioners that had the Y-shaped plug.

Seriously, 30 amp has no purpose in the residence anymore, and even 20 amp is on its way out. We can make equipment much more energy efficient these days we don't NEED that high power anymore. There even making all-electric ovens that take a 110V line, instead of the 220V the older units needed.

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#95
In reply to #71

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/09/2015 11:33 AM

20 Amp receptacles do not accept 15 Amp plugs. see chart posted below

Which raises other questions:

What size over current protection does the heater's manufacturer specify?

If 15 Amps, is it legal and acceptable to plug that heater into a 20 Amp circuit?

I will admit that such is a common practice. But, if the heater is rated for 1500W and is on a 20 Amp circuit and fails, what is to prevent it from seeing 2400W? The 16 gauge cord?

Where will the fire start?

Which is why I have 15 Amp AFCI breakers and 15 Amp receptacles, and yes, they do have 10 gauge wire between them.

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#96
In reply to #95

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/09/2015 11:51 AM

Do you have that backward? The 20 amp receptacles have both the horizontal and vertical slot, so both can plug in. (I don't see the chart you mention)

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#97
In reply to #95

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/09/2015 11:52 AM

NEMA 5-20AP sockets are designed with a T-slot so they can take NEMA 5-15 and NEMA 5-20 plugs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AC_power_plugs_and_sockets#NEMA_5-20

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#98
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Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/09/2015 12:06 PM

That wikipedia article brings up the question of ground hole up or down. When I was an electrician I was taught that the ground goes down. The idea is that if gravity pulls the cord out, the ground will be the last connection to pull loose.

I have recently seen that this is controversial. I just thought it would be entertaining to start up a CR4 brawl over a petty issue.

(BTW, eggs should be cracked opened at the little end!)

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#99
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Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/09/2015 12:24 PM

"(BTW, eggs should be cracked opened at the little end!)"

What?!?! You're a Little-endian?!?! That's it, I'm bringing my fellow Big-endian friends over and we're going to have a WAR!

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#105
In reply to #98

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/09/2015 12:43 PM

Yes, I am familiar with the receptacles that accept both 15 and 20 Amp blades.

How is that different from otherwise over fusing a load? Say installing a 30 Amp dryer on a 50 Amp range circuit?

Ground up might reduce problems if the plug is loose and something falls on partially exposed energized blades. I think NESC has something to say on ground up or down depending on floor height, but I don't have that in front of me. Whichever way you install it, you will get an angle plug that will be upside down.

I crack eggs open in the middle, not the end.

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#108
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Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/09/2015 1:12 PM

"Yes, I am familiar with the receptacles that accept both 15 and 20 Amp blades.

How is that different from otherwise over fusing a load? Say installing a 30 Amp dryer on a 50 Amp range circuit?"

You seem to be forgetting some details here:

  • The BREAKER is designed to protect the BUILDING WIRES.
  • The FUSE in the EQUIPMENT is designed to protect the EQUIPMENT.
  • The GFCI DEVICE is designed to protect PEOPLE.

With building wiring, you have three main faults: broken wire, short-to-ground(1), and overcurrent. The first one results in no current flow. no current, no heat, no fire. The second one results in LOTS AND LOTS of current flow, which trips the breaker almost immediately. The third is the trickiest, as the breaker needs to 'feel' if this is a brief overcurrent (possibly due to the 'inrush current' when a machine is turned on) which the wiring can handle, or an extended overcurrent that will compromise the insulation. This third situation is handled by designing the breaker to have a sort of 'accumulator' in it, where a brief overcurrent will bring it close to tripping but not quite, then settle back to normal, while an extended overcurrent or a short will 'fill up the buffer' quickly and cause a trip. And once it's tripped it's tripped, you have to reset it by hand, after clearing the fault that caused the trip.

If a device is designed to pull 12 amps(2), it can sit on a 20 amp service and pull its 12 amps. if it starts pulling 18 amps, its own internal overcurrent protection should kick in. And in all honesty, anything that draws 1 amp or more AND is more complicated than a light bulb(3) should have its own overcurrent protection built in.

Notes:

  1. I live in Chicago, remember? ALL wiring in hard pipe, pipe that is bonded to Earth Ground, so any bare wire contact with the conduit wall is a short-to-ground.
  2. It's poor practice to design equipment to pull the actual current the breaker can handle, causes too many 'false trips,' even if that equipment is on a dedicated circuit.
  3. And Incandescent light bulbs (as well as Flourescent and some LED designs) have overcurrent built in, even though they're simple. You overcurrent an incandescent bulb and it blows just like a fuse. CFLs do a similar thing, and while I've never seen it, I would expect that overcurrent would cause the active elements in an LED bulb to self-destruct and become opens, unless there's an overcurrent protection built into the AC-DC power conversion circuitry.
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#111
In reply to #105

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/09/2015 1:37 PM

Line protection equipment (panel fuses, circuit breakers, etc.) protect the power lines from overloads not the loads attached to the power lines.

As for my eggs, I prefer them scrambled in the shell.

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#121
In reply to #26

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/10/2015 9:11 PM

The same is true in many states here in the USA.

The terminal on most electrical devices is not designed to accept a larger wire which in turn can and usually does result in damage to and/or failure of the device caused by the installer.

I have many times witnessed an electrical inspector citing a contractor and refusing to approve the job when too large of conductors have been installed in electrical panels and service entrances.

There is no advantage to installing any electrical conductor larger in size than that which meets the circuit load and NEC requirements.

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#129
In reply to #121

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/11/2015 1:14 AM

Thanks for confirming what I was told.

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#81
In reply to #20

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 7:46 PM

That depends on what size of wire the termination points can accept.

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#8

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 9:26 AM

Normal, standard circuit breakers will not automatically reset after tripping so I doubt the circuit breaker is the root-cause but changing it out would be the easiest and lowest cost place to start.

Turn off all power then pull the breaker in question and examine the breaker-to-bus connection for heat damage and/or oxidation issues to the breaker contacts and bus surfaces. (If there is any evidence of issues the breaker will have to be replaced and the bus repaired or replaced.)

Is the home wired with all copper or are there some aluminum wiring circuits?

If you have aluminum wiring in the home I suggest you open every switch, outlet, and splice box and redo all connections by first cleaning the wires, then applying NOAX to the connection and using new AL/CU rated wirenuts.

If all of the above is ok:

It is entirely possible that the power supply transformer feeding your home is being overloaded or the incoming supply line from the transformer to your home is suffering from a bad or loose connection.

I would ask the utility company to place a voltage recorder at your home distribution panel to monitor the supply voltage over at least a 3-5 day period to separate and identify where the issue is located. (Home or incoming power side?)

BE CAREFUL AND MAKE SURE ALL POWER IS OFF WHEN OPENING AND/OR WORKING ON ANY ELECTRICAL WIRING.

Good luck and stay safe.

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#18
In reply to #8

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/07/2015 2:38 PM

I think the circuit breaker is okay - when I turn it on, I get 117V at the output. When I turn it off, I get 0V.

The problem I'm having is on only one circuit, so I don't think it's the power coming in. The rest of the house is okay and we have power to the other outlets, switches and appliances.

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#57
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Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 10:38 AM

Turning On and Off the circuit breaker to verify presence / absence of power is only a half-way test! It is a regular test done for a switch operation... You are still not certain that the circuit breaker will function as per its specified operation....to be on the safe side!

To ascertain circuit breaker's proper operation you need to use a variable load where you can continuously increase the current draw in the circuit until the breaker trip automatically and interrupt the power! Take note of that point, maximum amperage and compare with the breaker ratings! Note that there are instances that even a newly purchased circuit breaker can be faulty at times!

Noticing a problem in one circuit and not on the other in a daisy-chained connected circuit may indicate an unsafe condition... Since they both share the same circuit breaker! Get a knowlegeable and properly equipt electrician .....

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#78
In reply to #57

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 6:19 PM

I agree, but at this point I would like to see 117v at any point in the circuit. The only place I get voltage is at the circuit breaker output. I'm also thinking of changing the breaker to one that has arc fault protection. Thanks for your help.

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#79
In reply to #78

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 6:25 PM

it sounds like an intermittent contact in the daisy chain. Turn off power and check resistance of all legs by progressive shorting at each box.

Might be a badly oxidized push in?

Suggest you open up each one and use the screw contacts, with sandpapered wire ends

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#83
In reply to #79

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 10:26 PM

Good troubleshooting advice. The first outlet has no power so I checked it and the outlet is okay. This is why I am puzzled. I did get some good advice to check the neural at the breaker box. I will be back home the weekend and that's my first thing I'll check.

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#112
In reply to #83

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/09/2015 1:40 PM

what does that mean? "The first outlet has no power, so I checked it and it is okay".

You had continuity in the duplex outlet when you tested it with your meter?

The conductors supplying the outlet are energized? (you get 117V black to white)

When you connect the leads to the duplex, it is Not energized?

hmmm

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#128
In reply to #112

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/11/2015 1:06 AM

I get 0vac at the outlet. Power is not getting to the outlet.

I get 0 ohms when I test the resistance between the slot in the outlet and the screw connector on the side for both sides-hot znd neutral. The outlet is good.

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#80
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Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 7:28 PM

How are you measuring the 117V ? Are going from A to N? If so try also A to E, this will tell you if it is the Neutral Bus/connectors/return etc. If this shows no A power between the circuit breaker and the first outlet ( GPO ) remove the wire from the breaker and from the GPO and test for continuity using the ohms setting. In Oz the left pin is live when facing the GPO, i always check that each GPO is wired correctly.

Thanks for your replies. It helps me learn.

Jim

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#84
In reply to #80

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/08/2015 10:35 PM

117v from the output of the breaker to neural. I'm not sure what you mean by A to E. Can you explain. I like your idea of disconnecting the power and doing a resistance test. It's about 50 feet to get from the breaker to the first outlet- I can use my 100 ft extension cord.

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#87
In reply to #84

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/09/2015 1:42 AM

A = Active, N = Neutral, E = Earth. The Oz GPOs are all 3 pin. All cable has A,N,and E, even for lighting.

Measuring Active to Neutral should give line voltage which is the same as Active to Earth; or should be.

Yes, use your extension cord, and while you are at it also measure the N cable's resistance between the conductor end at the GPO and the bus bar in the box.

Jim

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#89
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Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/09/2015 9:39 AM

Thanks for the explanation. Here we call the E wire the ground wire. Same thing different terms.

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#94
In reply to #84

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/09/2015 10:43 AM

If you have that long cord, you can rig up a simple tester using a 100 watt bulb connected in series on the hot side of the circuit breaker while Leaving other end from the bulb free!! This free end will serve as your prove to test the different outlets in the house!

1. Test your jig by touching the (W) Neutral wire...the bulb should light up, indicating your wiring is correctly done...

2. Do the same for the earth, or ground wire which normally is colored Green or bare copper wire..... It should behave as #1 above!

3. Proceed to the nearest outlet to test and observe, note the resulting behavior of your test jig as you insert the free end of the wire from the bulb (proving all three holes of the outlet! a) the bulb should light up on while proving two of the three holes, ....indicating the neutral and ground wires are intact! B) the bulb will not light up on the remainin whole, indicating that hole is the "hot side" which should be normal, But! C) If the bulb lit halfway or dimly lit on step #2; this indicate the wire on that hole is not directly connected to the circuit breaker! That may be your problem? The dim light indicates that some of your load farther down the circuit are still turned On, sharing the power between the bulb and that load which should also is normal!

4. proceed to the next outlet on the line when the first outlet passed this test....

Personal Safety is of utmost importance, so follow my advice Only if your confident that you can do it Safely! Good luck!

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#102
In reply to #94

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/09/2015 12:39 PM

You gave me an idea. I can run a known neural from a working outlet to the first outlet in the bad circuit via an extension cord or even a piece of 14g wire. Then touch the wire to the neural of the outlet and if I have a bad neural the outlet and rest of the circuit will work. If not, then the problem has to be on the hot wire.

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#107
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Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/09/2015 12:53 PM

Your approach is applicable only if; You are dead sure that the wiring in your house follows the proper color code throughout? And all outlets are properly wired and polarized!

It is much safer to put a bulb in series before directly shorting or connecting any wires together... Regardless you do it on the Hot side or on the Neutral side, the testing approach described earlier applies!

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#109
In reply to #102

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/09/2015 1:20 PM

I have two comments here:

A) what you're proposing here just DOES NOT SOUND SAFE!!!!!!! (Sorry for shouting, I tried to keep my response as 'understated' as possible.) You can test much more safely and easily with a non-contact voltage tester, sometimes known as a 'gotcha stick.' bring the sensor end of the stick to the outlet, and if it chirps, Mr. Electricity is sitting in there, ready to work, or to maim/kill, he does not care, he's fine doing either.

B) Your problem is a loose wire in one of the 'backstabber' connections. You need to SHUT OFF POWER to that branch, rewire every socket in there to use the screw terminals instead of the backstabbers, possibly break the branch into two separate branches, each with its own breaker, and THEN restore power.

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#113
In reply to #94

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/09/2015 2:00 PM

If, as you state, "Personal Safety is of utmost importance, so follow my advice Only if your confident that you can do it", then the only people who should do this type of work around the house are high voltage linemen who work on live high voltage transmission towers. It is synonymous with making a reservation for yourself at the local funeral home.

Dragging a live wire by itself or as part of an electrical cord attached to an open bulb (is it the naked bulb base or in a socket?) is about one of the worst things that could ever be done. You better see that your life insurance is paid up because she is going to need it when your soon to be gone. Don't worry though, her new boyfriend will be there to help her spend it.

For about $5 you can go to the big orange or blue boxes and get yourself a receptacle tester. It will tell you if there is:

no power; open ground; open neutral; open hot; hot and ground reversed; hot and neutral reversed; hot on neu. w/ hot open; and of course correct wiring. All you have to do is plug it into the receptacle and look at the lights on it.

Any others who expounded on this proposed procedure should not even get involved with electricity, even to turn on a switch. They are also dangerous.

If anyone is considering doing this, just remember that the new boyfriend will help her spend your life insurance.

Good Luck, Old Salt

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#118
In reply to #113

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/10/2015 9:17 AM

As my father likes to say: "There are Old electricians and there are Bold electricians, but there are no Old Bold electricians."

Looks like vsar is in the "Bold electrician" camp, unlike us who are in the "Old electrician/ want-to-live-to-be-an-Old Electrician" camp.

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#134
In reply to #118

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/11/2015 9:00 AM

If a safety feature on my proposed test jig is needed, the user can Add a normally Off push button to the open ended prove! By doing so will prevent any accidental shock hazard to the user.. He/she need to press the push button to initiate the proving!

still an effective, easy way to troubleshoot the OP's problem!!

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#136
In reply to #118

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/11/2015 6:53 PM

adreasier-

Some people look at working with live circuits as an adrenalin rush. I look at it as Russian Roulette. The odds increase in my favor if I check each chamber by making sure the circuit is de-energized and I am proof positive of that. Even after that I still use a volt meter to test it and a slightly modified "Lock Out, Tag Out" procedure. If it was mandatory at work it is still mandatory at home.

Fathers can be very smart with their short, but true, phrases. My father was an extremely intelligent person in his niche in the electronics field. His most often given guidance to his children and coworkers was "Think for five minutes and labor for ten minutes instead of not thinking ahead and laboring for thirty minutes". Although they could be a pain in the a$$ at times they were pretty right most of the time. Too bad we didn't give them the credit they deserved at that time.

Good Luck, Old Salt

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#155
In reply to #136

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/15/2015 8:00 PM

One tip I learned: When working on a circuit that has the power turned off, always touch any wiring with the back of your finger before working on it. If you touch it with the front of your finger and it is energized, it will cause your finger muscles to tense up toward the hot wire, and, worse case, grip it tightly. Back of the finger and you will pull away and break contact. Happened to me once. Working on 277VAC lighting circuit in a school building, up to my waist in a ten foot ceiling. I had opened the breaker, but a damn fool janitor had turned it back on. (Don't ask me why I didn't use a lockout!) My finger brushed against the wire, clamped down on it with forefinger and thumb. I stood there firmly attached and quivering with the voltage until I managed to pull myself away. Ladder went down, I went down and landed on the floor.

Oh, yeah, the most important tip is to use the damn lockout!

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#162
In reply to #155

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/15/2015 8:26 PM

Excellent tip! Back in high school, I took an electronics shop course (Freshman and Sophomore years). Our electronics teacher told us the same thing - the electricity will cause your muscles to contract, which could cause you to grip the wire tighter.

He also told us about working on the old CRT TV's. He accidentally touched something on the picture tube and was thrown across the room!

Thanks again for all your help! I greatly appreciate it.

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#163
In reply to #162

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/15/2015 10:50 PM

I used to do maintenance between inspection jobs. One day I had to adjust the igition points on an oil burner, turned the switch off and went to work. I had my hand on the points adjusting the spacing when the burner turned on. Turned out that the wsitch at the top of the stairs was wired in parallel instead of series. Wow! Did I ever move fast. 10,000 volts hurts! First thing I did was turn the breaker off (should have done so in the beginning) finished the adjustment, then rewired the switches. The owner was surprised at the size of my bill for that one!

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#165
In reply to #163

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/16/2015 12:26 AM

Ouch!

When I was a teenager, my friend was able to "find" a few transformers, which came from big (20 foot tall) shopping center signs. One was a big square one (40 lbs or so), one was a big rectangular one (50 lbs or so) and one small rectangular one (25 lbs or so). The small one was the first one he got. We cut an extension cord and wired the primary. We then used the rest of the extension cord to wire the secondary. We started off arcing the wires, but one of us thought it would be cool to get carbon rods and make an arc welder. With a lot of electrical tape, we made the arc welder. We would spark the two electrodes and pull them apart to see who could get the longest arc. Of course, this was without any eye protection!

After a few days of the first transformer, he was able to get the big square one. That one had the laminates showing and we thought it looked cool and dangerous. We did the same thing with the electrodes. This one put out more voltage and we had a lot of fun arcing the carbon rods. We even melted glass with it. Then one day, I brushed my hand against the transformer and I got a horrible shock - it hurt really bad!

We deemed this transformer unsafe and put it away. Somehow, he got a third one (the big one). This one could pull the longest arcs and melted glass so easily. We'd pull the glass and make strings. Pretty cool stuff. This transformer was like the first and was encased in black metal. As boys, we did this for a few weeks and got tired. One of my friends did get shocked by the "big" transformer, but it was on his leg, so it just hurt a lot.

I can't recall the output voltage, but I do remember that they progressively got higher as we moved from one to the other.

It's amazing to think that we survived stuff like this!

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#167
In reply to #165

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/16/2015 8:08 PM

I got my first shock when I was about 3 years old. I found an old plug with a couple of inches of wire still on it and , kinda 'monkey see, monkey do' plugged it in, Zap! I stayed away from electricity until my stepfather began showing Mom and I how to handle it. He did know what he was doing, his job was a power maintainer in the NYC subways.

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#168
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Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/17/2015 4:35 PM

That shock must've made a big impression on you, since you can still remember it! I can't remember the first time I was shocked. Funny ...

Growing up in Chicago, I was told to keep away from the dreaded third rail on L trains. I remember watching the sparks fly at night, when the L trains would pass by. Our house was a stone and brick 3 flat that was located about 4-5 houses from the L tracks. I remember feeling the ground shake when a train passed - and oh that noise! Sometimes grease would drip down from the trains.

We moved to the suburbs when I was almost 6 years old. I remember thinking that our new suburban neighborhood was so quiet and clean!

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#169
In reply to #165

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/18/2015 11:23 AM

It's amazing to think that we survived stuff like this!

Yes! I had a similar experience when I was a schoolkid. I acquired a toy electric train engine and some 3-rail track. I had no idea what voltage it was, and I had no voltmeter. But I could get the wheels to turn by connecting a few torch batteries in series, again guessing the voltage. Enquiries about other toy trains all said 12 volt. I bought a bell transformer from Woolworth's and it turned the wheels but quite weakly - not very good as a train - and the batteries ran down quickly.

Meanwhile I started work as an apprentice electrician and gained access to electrical knowledge and people who could help. Or so I thought. Nobody could explain why the engine never went backwards when I reversed the supply polarity.

I couldn't afford any more transformers but I picked up an old mains radio from the rubbish dump. I worked out how it was constructed and removed the transformer. It had loads of wires coming out that fed various radio bits, but the mains lead was still connected - so I plugged it in - careful not to touch the exposed bare terminals - and by hit and miss connected the engine across pairs of wires to see if it would work. In some cases it did, in others it sparked and flashed with a loud hum and smoke from the core.

The dangerous bit came later. In those days electricians used a test lead that was nothing more than a lamp-holder with a bulb and a pair of short wires, that with care, you dabbed the bare ends on suspect terminals.

I used mine to test the transformer with a 240v bulb. Full brightness when touching the mains terminals, but only very dimly when touching two of the outlet wires, and nothing when touching all other wires.

Confirmed by touching them with bare fingers. From that I concluded the 'live' wire (because it was very dim) was much less than 240v. So I touched them to see if I would get a tingle.

OUCH ! I got an almighty shock, I was numb for ages, far worse than anything I ever got when accidentally touching the mains.

With hindsight and subsequent learning, the radio transformer gave 350-0-350 vac for the HT anode circuit of minimal current, and low voltage for the valve heaters and grid circuit. The dim light was due to 100 watt lamps pulling the voltage down on a high resistance winding.

So at the worst I got a 350 vac shock - or maybe 700 vac - in which case I am writing this from the grave.

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#170
In reply to #169

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/18/2015 7:04 PM

Was it one of those Lionel Train sets? Didn't it come with a transformer to run it?

The one I had came with three rail tracks - I remember having the set working when we lived in the city, so I must've been 5 years old. I loved watching the train go around the simple oval track. I did something to it and it stopped working. My dad and I took it apart and put it in a box. Since that day, the train never ran again and many of the parts were lost. I've heard that those old 1960's Loinel trains are worth some money. I have no idea where my set is at - most likely still at my mom's house!

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#171
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Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/19/2015 8:41 AM

Sorry Autobroker, I have no memory of the name of the engine. But the motor had a wire wound armature and a wire wound field coil and it worked straight off the LV terminals of a bell transformer.

In fact, two transformers with primaries in parallel and secondaries in series to boost the speed. Don't know the voltage because I still had no voltmeter. Not even at work (but we did have a Megger insulation tester).

The engine only ran frontwards regardless of supply polarity. Much later (with a bit of learning) I improvised a switch tied to the engine to reverse the field coil connection. Then it always ran backwards regardless of supply polarity.

There was no concept of danger. Even at work it was only "careful it could kill you" attitude, when everyone laughed if you got a 'poke' - very risky indeed - not that I ever ever head of a dead electrician.

Except me perhaps, as I said I am probably writing this from the grave - only I don't know it!

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#172
In reply to #171

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/19/2015 7:35 PM

At the risk of sounding like an idiot, again! i will say this;

It sounds like it was an AC motor and hence no reverse.

Now i know i'm an idiot; i have electric drills that can be reversed. What happens there?

Jim

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#130
In reply to #113

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/11/2015 1:20 AM

Hi Old Salt. I already did this and got nothing - no lights on the tester turned on. All the outlets on the circuit are dead.

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#144
In reply to #18

Re: House wiring has me puzzled!

12/14/2015 2:23 PM

Keep in mind that a high resistance connection in an electrical circuit that is not loaded will indicate full source voltage.

Only when a substantial load is applied will the voltage drop below a usable level.

If you have more than one outlet on the circuit in question I suggest you attach the meter leads to an unused outlet while the circuit is fully loaded to determine if the circuit is suffering a voltage drop and to what degree.

You may have to rent a voltage monitor to identify what is actually happening.

In my neck of the woods our local power utility will go to the home and providing circuit monitoring equipment for free.

If you determine the circuit voltage is dropping when loaded you may have to buy a circuit tracer to identify the wire routing then locate any/all j-boxes for inspection to find the bad connection.

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