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Ground Fault Circuit Problems!

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  • #16
    Ground Fault Problem

    I feel like I'm wearing out my welcome on the forum, but I simply wanted to thank Polar Sparky, Wayne, Jim and Rocky Mountain Sparky, and everyone else for their advice.

    I took everyone's suggestions and started with the tests this morning. Of course, I started with the simplest and easiest first. Apparently, Wayne hit the nail on the head (no pun - really!).

    After removing everything plugged into the circuit, I disconnected the neutrals from the outlets on the entire run and began at the first outlet from the panel, checkng between the ground and neutral at each outlet. Yep, using a VOM I isolated the section where the neutral and ground were shorted. BUT, as most everyone can guess, since you all are experienced in this type work, it is in THE run that is totally inaccessible!!!!! It meanders between the walls from the basement to upper floors.

    Just to be doubly sure, tomorrow I will run a piece of Romex up the stairs and out the front door between the outlets, making my own connection, then reinstall the GFI at the first outlet. I have no doubt it will perform perfectly. Then all I have to do is figure out how on earth I can run the Romex properly, bypassing the flawed section.

    By the way, wives are wonderful helpers until you get into the small, cramped space that is 120 degrees and they start to sweat!!! Then, they get testy, cranky and lose interest pretty quick. But, I got off the subject.

    Thanks again for the help. Maybe I can return the favor sometime.

    Steve

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    • #17
      Inaccessible!

      Can you give us some kind of an idea how long the run is that is bad and whether or not you have ANY access at all. One of the most common things to do in this case is to USE EXISTING WIRE TO PULL NEW WIRE WHENEVER POSSIBLE. In other words, you disconnect the wire from the first bad outlet. You remove the existing box. Is it metal and attached with nails or is is a brown fiber or gray fiber box. Those you just smash to little pieces with a hammer and screwdriver and remove the pieces as you go to get access. You should see a stable pretty close to that box, within 18 inches or so. Pry the staple up and get it out. Then you see if you can pull from below or not. If there are other staples, you may have to pull really hard on the wire to get the Romex loose from the staple. You might also end up punching a hole or two in your drywall to pop the staple out to get the wire to pull through. Give us a little more detail on what the situation looks and feels like. Length, etc. And well shoot whatever answers we can back at ya. Don't worry about wearing out your welcome on the forum. This is like WAY TOO much fun trying to figure this out from a distance. LOL
      Jim Don

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      • #18
        House Call

        Just looked at your profile. Guess TN is a little far for a housecall. If you lived closer I'd make the frickin trip myself. HA !
        Jim Don

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        • #19
          Ground Fault Problem

          Jim,

          Thank you for the new suggestions. Is anything ever easy? I don't think using the existing cable to pull new cable is going to work.

          The problem cable starts at an outlet in the basement and goes to an outlet on a porch on the first floor. The straight-line "routing" distance is about 60 feet. The basement is unfinished and serves as my woodworking and stained glass shop and an electronics lab for our "retirement business."

          The outlet in the basement is attached to a stud framing the stairwell. The inside of the stairwell is finished with drywall. The cable runs up the stud, enters a hole in the cap and continues into the wall of the stairwell at the first floor. Where it goes from there is anybody's guess. Once it gets to the first floor it probably continues inside the stairwell wall then across the top, since the top of the stairwell from the basement becomes the underside of a stairwell going to the second floor. Then it probably travels through an interior wall over a doorway and down an outside wall to the outlet.

          I tried pulling on the cable from the basement and had my wife keep an eye & ear on the cable at the porch outlet - no movement at all. There are just too many turns in its routing.

          The good news is that I am pretty sure (still need to do a bit of measuring) I can route the cable along the basement ceiling and drill at an angle at the top of the cinder block wall into the sill plate under the porch outlet. That way I would simply eliminate the problem run. I'll let you know how it turns out. Thanks again for the help and recommendations.

          Steve

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          • #20
            Pulling new wire

            Yeah, I was afraid it would be some messy thing like that. Those can never be simple can they. Sometimes, however, you get one where you can see where it exits the basement and goes up to the first floor. Was hoping it was one of those with the outlet being the first one up from the basement. That's why I asked for some more details. Sounds like you got a plan going, though. Keep at it! And don't forget to ask for help. This is still a challenge for us out here and we want to know how it goes. That's why so many people are willing to jump on in and offer suggestions and ideas as the posts go along.
            Jim Don

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            • #21
              Sounds like you have a good plan. A neat trick that may help you... take a coat hanger and cut the long bottom part off. You now have a very flexible strong and thin drill bit that you chuck up in your drill and pop it through the sub floor just in front of the drywall where your switch is. If you have tile or vinyl in the front hall just pry the baseboard out a bit and sink the coat hanger behind it. Now you know exactly where to drill from the basement

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              • #22
                Ground Fault Problem

                Wayne,

                That sounds like the voice of experience!!!! Your suggestion sure beats repeated measurements that could still be off by a foot and on the other side of a stud. I like it and surely will give it a try. Thank you.

                Steve

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                • #23
                  Sounds like a good plan. Sorry, hadn't been around to check in in a while.

                  If it's so easy for you, it really makes me wonder why the first electricians who wired the house didn't do it that way. Make good use of your studfinder, and be sure of the framing of the front wall before you get too into it, for one.

                  The reason that it goes up the first floor stairwall instead of making a basement beeline for the front door, could also be that there is an outlet between the basement and the front door you didn't notice. Or, there's a mysterious horrible steel I-beam in the bottom of the wall, and they had to go over because of it.

                  Go slow, and be sure.

                  Sounds like you're on top of it, though.

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