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  • Electrical Outlet problem. Help, please.

    Hello all.

    Earlier today, I was summoned to my mother's home over concerns regarding an electrical outlet. For some odd reason nothing would work in it. It was once operational, but had since ceased being so. I am not an electrician, by any means, but have swapped out a few outlets in my time. I took out my trusty little non-invasive power reading device, which gives visual, as well as audible notification of receiving a power reading. I did receive both, when I touched the probe to the outlet's housing, which led me to believe that the outlet, itself, was shot. Now, my mother had just purchased an electrical chair lift, which was direly needed, and wished to have it powered through an outlet which didn't necessitate the use of a power plug adapter (the outlet was 2-wire). So I went and purchased a GFI outlet. after getting it installed and cutting the power back on, the same problem existed - meaning that no power was coming through. But power was being read by my power reading device. It so happened that I'd purchased two of those GFI outlets, in the event that one might have been bad (which I had experienced before) but, after installing it, I found that the very same problem existed. As mentioned, above, the wiring was of a two wire setup (one white, the other black), and I did hook them up according to the instructions. I even reversed the wiring, when the first connection didn't work. I have no idea what's going on, and hope that someone here might be able to help me out.

    In addition to this is something else which stumps me. In my mother's kitchen, the outlets are also of the two wire setup. My aim was to try one of the GFI outlets there - particularly in the outlet by the sink. But when I checked for power I received no reading whatsoever. The funny thing is that the outlet IS operational. One of my sisters plugged in a device (coffee pot) to prove it to me. When touching my probe to the coffee pot's cord I DID get that visual/audible signal. But once the pot was shut off, and unplugged, I got nothing at all from the outlet itself.

    I would really love to get a handle on what's going on and, hopefully, have it within my own capabilities to correct. If anyone has ANY idea as to what is going on - and what I might be able to do - please respond as soon as possible.

    Advanced thanks,
    ~Blessings~

    Nathan

  • #2
    Re: Electrical Outlet problem. Help, please.

    You need a volt meter. Stab your voltmeter probes into the GFCI you replaced and you should have zero volts from hot to neutral (the two vertical slots). This would indicate an open neutral. I assume you have four wires in the box with the new GFCI receptacle. Identify the breaker or fuse that provides circuit protection and turn off the breaker or unscrew the fuse. With your voltmeter, identify the receptacles or other devices upstream that have no power (back toward the load center) and verify the neutral wires are tightly connected. You hopefully will find a loose or broken neutral wire. Don't forget to label the new GFCI with a "No Ground" label. Hope this helps.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Electrical Outlet problem. Help, please.

      Originally posted by killavolt View Post
      You need a volt meter. Stab your voltmeter probes into the GFCI you replaced and you should have zero volts from hot to neutral (the two vertical slots). This would indicate an open neutral. I assume you have four wires in the box with the new GFCI receptacle. Identify the breaker or fuse that provides circuit protection and turn off the breaker or unscrew the fuse. With your voltmeter, identify the receptacles or other devices upstream that have no power (back toward the load center) and verify the neutral wires are tightly connected. You hopefully will find a loose or broken neutral wire. Don't forget to label the new GFCI with a "No Ground" label. Hope this helps.
      I thank you very much for responding. I gather, by what you have suggested, that my little power reading device isn't much good - particularly in this situation. I will get hold of a volt meter, promptly.

      Regarding the wires - no, there are not four wires in the box. There are just two.
      ~Blessings~

      Nathan

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Electrical Outlet problem. Help, please.

        as kilovolt said it sounds like and open ground,

        in the box most likey you have a white wire and black wire, the black wire should show that it has power, (from your statements) now for a circuit to work the power needs to flow back to the main box, and that is done on the white wire, now if the white wire is loose or broken some place else (possibly in a box where the outlet is working), just because the other box is working doesn't mean the wire gong to the non working box is not loose or broken,

        so as said shut off the breaker or fuse to that circuit in question, and either using the non contact tester or a volt meter, find the other boxes that are dead on the same circuit,
        (OK if you use the noncontact tester before opening it up double check it out with a volt meter), many times there could a number of outlets or even lights on the same circuit.

        most likely the problem is on the white wire, in the system, (if no other out lets are non working then most likely it is the one feeding that box or not that far away).
        Attached Files
        Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
        attributed to Samuel Johnson
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Electrical Outlet problem. Help, please.

          Originally posted by NLAlston View Post
          I thank you very much for responding. I gather, by what you have suggested, that my little power reading device isn't much good - particularly in this situation. I will get hold of a volt meter, promptly.

          Regarding the wires - no, there are not four wires in the box. There are just two.
          the voltage probe detects a magnetic feild generated by the power in the hot wire.
          it will not be of much use other than to say be careful there is voltage present.
          the problem you are describing is an open neutral
          if you use a meter and test between hot and neutral with the result of getting no reading this can fool you into thinking the circuit is dead while it is still live.
          being a 2 wire system if you connect to the hot and the metal box and get a reading this proves the neutral is open (cable armor is the ground)
          you can get the same result if testing the hot and touching a water or gas pipe with the other lead of the meter.

          in this instance i would recommend getting an electrician to help you trace out the circuit
          it will save you a lot of headaches later
          shooting the s*** is a lot more fun when you use hollow points (much more splatter)

          coffee hell gimme booze!!!

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Electrical Outlet problem. Help, please.

            in my opinion non-contact testers are nice but for entertainment purposes only.

            In other words don't be depending on them to show the absence or presence or power.

            A Live-Dead-Live test with a voltmeter is the way to know for sure.
            ---------------
            Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
            ---------------
            “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
            ---------
            "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
            ---------
            sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Electrical Outlet problem. Help, please.

              Very helpful information given, here, from all. One question, though: is a Voltmeter the same as a Voltimeter?

              Also, I do feel (having been armed with information, here) that hiring a qualified electrician would be the best - as well as safest - route to take. Financial constraints were what motivated me to try and handle the matters on my own, but better to be patient - than to look like I had a relationship with 'old sparky'.
              ~Blessings~

              Nathan

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Electrical Outlet problem. Help, please.

                Originally posted by NLAlston View Post
                . One question, though: is a Voltmeter the same as a Voltimeter?

                .
                when I put the voltimeter in to Google search it indicates it is a miss spelling, or a foreign unless it is a trade name for a meter,

                according to the "free dictionary" Voltimeter - definition of Voltimeter by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia. it come up with this
                volt·me·ter (vltmtr)
                n.
                An instrument for measuring potential differences in volts.
                I see on Google search and on eBay, some Chinese listings using that spelling

                I will say to my knowledge yes is the answer, there the same,
                Last edited by BHD; 01-18-2014, 03:45 PM.
                Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
                attributed to Samuel Johnson
                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Electrical Outlet problem. Help, please.

                  Originally posted by BHD View Post
                  when I put the voltimeter in to Google search it indicates it is a miss spelling, or a foreign unless it is a trade name for a meter,

                  according to the "free dictionary" Voltimeter - definition of Voltimeter by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia. it come up with this

                  I see on Google search and on eBay, some Chinese listings using that spelling

                  I will say to my knowledge yes is the answer, there the same,
                  Thanks. It so happens that I have two. One, is an analog model, and the other is an auto-ranging digital device. The first had been given to me, and I purchased the second one - not because where I 'was', but because of where I'd hoped to grow to be. Consequently, I have some learning to do, as far as proper usage of either is concerned. But, at least, I know that I have proper equipment for determine voltages.
                  ~Blessings~

                  Nathan

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Electrical Outlet problem. Help, please.

                    digitals are easy to read but sometimes not very accurate
                    a good analog meter will have a mirror strip behind the scale plate
                    by looking straight on so you see no needle reflection you get a far more accurate reading
                    this is crucial especially if you are using a VTVM (Vacuum Tube Volt Meter)
                    a precise meter used in electronics repair
                    shooting the s*** is a lot more fun when you use hollow points (much more splatter)

                    coffee hell gimme booze!!!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Electrical Outlet problem. Help, please.

                      the other thing with some digitals is they will read (what I call phantom voltage) basically a voltage that is not really there, May be it is there but there is not enough potential to do any thing, as it appears to pick up a inductance from other circuits,

                      http://support.fluke.com/find-sales/...105317_A_w.pdf

                      one can do a web search on

                      ghost voltages meter
                      or
                      phantom voltage meter
                      and you will get some more reads on it,
                      Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                      "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
                      attributed to Samuel Johnson
                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                      PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Electrical Outlet problem. Help, please.

                        Originally posted by gnuuser View Post
                        digitals are easy to read but sometimes not very accurate
                        a good analog meter will have a mirror strip behind the scale plate
                        by looking straight on so you see no needle reflection you get a far more accurate reading
                        this is crucial especially if you are using a VTVM (Vacuum Tube Volt Meter)
                        a precise meter used in electronics repair
                        I haven't used my old Simpson 260 in probably 10 years but agree that a analog meter is better for some applications.
                        Which reminds me I should check to see that the batteries are removed since it see no use. Hate to have it ruined by
                        a leaking battery.
                        ---------------
                        Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
                        ---------------
                        “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
                        ---------
                        "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
                        ---------
                        sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

                        Comment

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