Electrical Question

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Gercarson, Aug 20, 2004.

  1. Gercarson

    Gercarson Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If I could afford an electrician I wouldn't be asking this question.
    My bedroom has four outlets - 2 of them actually function, the other two do not. I did not know this when I purchased the house and seriously doubt it would have made a difference because of "circumstances". I "assumed" that the problem was a bad connection from one outlet to the other - not so, I've checked them and they seem to be wired correctly. Can anyone give me another clue as to a next step? One wall has two outlets and they both work - the west wall has one outlet that does not work - the north wall's outlet is also kaput.
     
  2. Do you have fuses or a breaker box? Is everything good in there?

    Can you access the wires 'behind the wall' to trace where they all route to, or is all wiring well hidden?

    What do you have for tools - multi-meter, outlet tester, etc.?

    Anything else not working - possibly more or less in a line from these walls to the main electrical box?

    It's hard to help without knowing a bit more about the situation & your ability. Not to be blunt about it, but if we tell you how to do plumbing and something goes wrong - you get wet. If we tell you how to do electrical work & something goes wrong - you could be dead, the house could burn down - or worse yet, someone 5-10 years from now using an outlet in your house could be hurt - incorrectly wired outlets can 'work' but be a bit of a time bomb, hurting others many years from now. Lots of us tend to go a bit overboard on suggesting you be real careful - but, for good reason. If you confuse the hot & cold water lines, it's a funny story to the grandkids in a few decades. If you confuse the neutral & ground wires, it can be a dead grandkid when they mis-use an outlet.

    I would expect a bad fuse/ breaker.
    A bad or disconnected wire.
    A screw that turned loose - this is real common with aluminumn wiring - be real scared if you have aluminumn wiring. Dis-similar metals cause air-spaces to form & then arcing and then fires. Aluminumn wiring is _very_ prone to this.
    Rodent problems.

    You need to trace out the wires from the outlets to the main box, and somewhere along the way - or at either end - there is a wire or 2 that are not right.

    --->Paul
     

  3. mysticokra

    mysticokra Well-Known Member

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    For about $20 you can get a circuit detector at home depot that plugs into the electrical outlet on one end and has a device that beeps at the breaker box to tell you which circuit that outlet is on. The flaw in this scheme is that if the wire is broken, burned through,etc. then the device won't work.

    You really need to turn the circuit off before you check outlets for loose wires.
    The black wire is usually hot, but a white one can be, depending upon how the circuit was wired. Some guys don't mark the whites when the substituted for the 3-wire, even though they should.

    Are your plugs "grounded" (i.e. 3 holes?) If not, then you may have a larger wiring job ahead.
     
  4. If it's an older farm house, and it looks like an add on room...

    Turn ON every light switch / pull chain switch near the room, recheck the outlets. Some of those old houses were wired in rather interesting ways .... mystery switches, they don't seem to do a thing, except turn on those outlets that don't work.
     
  5. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    Sometimes outlets are wired so that they can be turned off by the wall switch. This way a lamp can be the last item in the room turned off---by the wall switch.

    While it would be unusual to have several on the same circuit, it could be so that any of them could be used for a lamp.

    Is there a bathroom or kitchen nearby? Perhaps a ground fault circuit interupter circuit breaker has tripped, thus shutting them all off.
     
  6. aaatraker

    aaatraker Well-Known Member

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    Are there any romex cables in your power panel taped or wired nuted off that are not landed on breakers ? Maybe not enough breaker spots?

    If its not the above, then its cable tracing time. if there is no way to trace them, then you might consider running from the outlets that work in the room to the non powered ones if you need them. REMEMBER TURN POWER OFF BEFORE WORKING ON ANY WIRING JOBS THE ONLY DRAWBACK WOULD BE IF YOU NEEDED MORE LOAD CAPACITY RATHER THEN JUST A USEABLE LOCATION

    KURT
     
  7. you are on the right track it is no doubt a connection problem. A real flaky method that sometimes gets used is to just stab the wires into the back of the outlets a better system is to use jumpers and only hook to the screws. If they used stab in the back conections you may have a bad outlet and should redo them all to use jumpers anyway. Many times a room is fed by 2 seperate circuits. Try this first turn off the power then remove the outlets in the room as well as the ones in the room on the other side of the wall that has the problem outlets. tug for loose wires. If you don't find any turn back on the power and test then turn it off to reset all the outlets. the two that don't work are probably coming from an outlet in the room behind them. there is also a remote chance of the supply coming from a connection in a switch box. romex usually won't fail unless someone drove a nail or screw through it. You could also just have a tripped breaker as often they don't flip but just get soft. it is also possible to have a bad breaker to test for that you would shut down power remove panel cover and test all wire out of breakers for power. Just 2 outlets not working is most likely to be a connection in one of the boxes not a breaker.
     
  8. BeeFree

    BeeFree Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Lot of good answers from other posters.

    My question is did you try replacing the recepticle? They do sometimes go bad. I have had a few wear out.
     
  9. Gercarson

    Gercarson Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You guys are amazing - I guess I'm as savvy as the next guy when it comes to doodling with home electricity and have solved many problems that seemed hopeless - every one of the above and then some - well, not every one - I'm going to replace the receptacle on one, the second one seems to be the last one because it only has the incoming wires. Thanks for all your help.
     
  10. BamaSuzy

    BamaSuzy Well-Known Member

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    Please please please be careful! My husband is a licensed electrician and the people he's seen that have gotten hurt badly or nearly electrocuted by trying to do things themselves are awfully scarey! Make sure ALL power is disconnected and make sure someone stands by the breaker box, or that you lock it off yourself, even if you THINK there is no way someone will come by and turn it on....

    Do everything extra safe....take extra precautions...get a tester from Home Depot or somewhere. I didn't get a chance to check this site for a couple of days. If you have any more direct questions you can e-mail me direct or private message me and I'll get my husband to answer you...he's done this for other folks on the forums I check....BamaSuzy