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  • Receptacle acting funny

    After using the receptacle for 25 years without incident for my microwave, the microwave stopped working. I checked the panel, which was fine and then I tested the the receptacle with a two wire light tester. The receptacle appeared dead. I pulled the receptacle and tested the wires directly, they also appeared dead. The breaker appeared fine and was functioning as it was supposed to. Then I noticed that when I placed the tester across the live wire and the ground, it lit up. Same went for the neutral wire. What could be the cause of this after 25 years of working perfectly?

    Thank you,

    Chris_

  • #2
    Re: Receptacle acting funny

    "Then I noticed that when I placed the tester across the live wire and the ground, it lit up. Same went for the neutral wire. What could be the cause of this after 25 years of working perfectly?"

    Was this at the receptacle end or the breaker end? If the receptacle end, receptacles are man made--they sometimes break or just wear out. Replace it. If at the breaker end, it sounds like a loose or broken wire.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Receptacle acting funny

      Originally posted by Chris_ View Post
      when I placed the tester across the live wire and the ground, it lit up. Same went for the neutral wire.
      It sounds like there is an electrical short. there should never be a live circuit when you touch the neutral and ground wires with a voltage tester. without a neutral wire the circuit cannot be made. If you have voltage on both neutral and live wires the voltage tester may show it as dead.
      ~~

      ... it was plumbed by Ray Charles and his helper Stevie Wonder

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Receptacle acting funny

        you have an open neutral between the receptacle and panel if you are reading voltage to ground from the neutral
        if this is a shared neutral you may be seeing a return current from another receptacle or lighting circuit
        shooting the s*** is a lot more fun when you use hollow points (much more splatter)

        coffee hell gimme booze!!!

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Receptacle acting funny

          It was at the receptacle end. I removed the receptacle and attached the tester to the bare wires causing it to light up when I touch the ground to either the live or neutral wires.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Receptacle acting funny

            Originally posted by gnuuser View Post
            you have an open neutral between the receptacle and panel if you are reading voltage to ground from the neutral
            if this is a shared neutral you may be seeing a return current from another receptacle or lighting circuit
            This is not a shared circuit. It was originally installed for microwave use only.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Receptacle acting funny

              then somewhere along the line there is a short between the hot and neutral in some instances a neutral can be arc flashed enough to burn the conductor in two
              i would look for places the cabling is stapled or junction boxes where there might be conductors touching.
              after 25 years of operation the insulation may have deteriorated a bit
              shooting the s*** is a lot more fun when you use hollow points (much more splatter)

              coffee hell gimme booze!!!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Receptacle acting funny

                Originally posted by gnuuser View Post
                then somewhere along the line there is a short between the hot and neutral in some instances a neutral can be arc flashed enough to burn the conductor in two
                i would look for places the cabling is stapled or junction boxes where there might be conductors touching.
                after 25 years of operation the insulation may have deteriorated a bit
                If there was a line-neut short the breaker would not hold. I agree with your first post; Open neutral.
                The reason for getting a reading from neutral to ground is inductive coupling. For that reason those test lights are garbage in MHO.

                I would start by looking at any neutral junctions from the panel to receptacle.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Receptacle acting funny

                  although it would trip under normal circumstance if the wire was burned in two and the remaining short was downstream of the break it would not trip consecutively.
                  ( i have seen this a few times)
                  an induced voltage can indeed light up the test light but it would be dim
                  if using a neon test light the induced voltage would be around 50 volts
                  large and unshielded loads such as freezers, washing machines and electric driers can do this.
                  with the breaker in the off position test the circuit with an analog meter (not digital)
                  this will detect an induced voltage with less distortion of its value.
                  or if you have one use an o-scope
                  shooting the s*** is a lot more fun when you use hollow points (much more splatter)

                  coffee hell gimme booze!!!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Receptacle acting funny

                    Keeping in mind the OP is not an electrician , and something may be lost in translation. Just try this .Just replace the receptacle with a new one !
                    I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Receptacle acting funny

                      The OP said he tested the wires for power directly at the receptacle and its dead. Receptacle is fine.

                      Better to call an Electrician and ask him to find the open Neutral and check integrity of the wiring.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Receptacle acting funny

                        Originally posted by Chris_ View Post
                        This is not a shared circuit. It was originally installed for microwave use only.
                        It sounds like this was a home run back to the load center. Should be easy to trace back to the panel if the wiring were exposed below the receptacle, i.e. basement.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Receptacle acting funny

                          Originally posted by johncameron View Post
                          The OP said he tested the wires for power directly at the receptacle and its dead. Receptacle is fine.

                          Better to call an Electrician and ask him to find the open Neutral and check integrity of the wiring.
                          Twice the OP said " appeared dead "
                          I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Receptacle acting funny

                            Originally posted by killavolt View Post
                            It sounds like this was a home run back to the load center. Should be easy to trace back to the panel if the wiring were exposed below the receptacle, i.e. basement.
                            Even if the cable is not exposed in the basement its easy to ring out each conductor and check for shorts within the cable.
                            ---------------
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                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Receptacle acting funny

                              Originally posted by Bob D. View Post
                              Even if the cable is not exposed in the basement its easy to ring out each conductor and check for shorts within the cable.
                              What does it mean "ring out each conductor"?

                              Comment

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