Electrical repair report

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  I've lived in my home for 21 years and just this morning found a fault.
We have an outdoor electrical outlet, my wife wanted to plug a freezer  
into it. I knew from previous use the outlet was in poor mechanical  
condition, so I bought a new one to replace it.
  I shut off the breaker, opened up the box and removed the outlet (in  
several pieces) installed a new one and reapplied power. I got out my  
handy little three light tester and it said the ground was open. I knew  
I had connected the ground so figured the problem was at the other end  
of the wire. The outdoor outlet is opposite an indoor kitchen outlet, I  
tested that outlet and it also had an open ground.
  I open up the kitchen outlet, it had 4 incoming wires, I noted there  
were three ground wires twisted together (no wirenut). The fourth ground  
wire went to the ground connection on the outlet, and you may have  
guessed it, the other end went to the ground connection on the outdoor  
outlet. So the two outlets had the grounds connected together, but were  
not connected to ground.
  I added a pigtail to the three other ground wires, put on a wirenut
then connected the pigtail to the outlet ground. After turning the power  
back on, both outlets now test as properly wired.
   I have three outdoor outlets, I suspect all were added after the
house was constructed, I'm going to test the other two right now!
   It is almost as easy to test outlets with a multimeter, but this  
three light device makes it a breeze.
  http://tinyurl.com/q2jzw67

                          Mikek

Re: Electrical repair report
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This could be "interesting". If one device develops a ground fault, the  
chassis on the other device is suddenly live. Ouch.
Good you found it.

Here in Denmark (Europe), a RCD-relay is mandatory in households. Is it  
in your region?

Leif

--  
https://www.paradiss.dk

Eller begge.



Re: Electrical repair report
On 5/3/2015 9:59 AM, Leif Neland wrote:
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  Yes, I had to explain to my wife what could happen.

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  No, but I don't know what a RCD-relay is. I just looked it up,
I think here we call it a GFCI, Ground Fault Current Interrupter.
  In my search it looks like the fault current for GFCI is commonly less  
than a RCD-relay.
  I'm not sure about new construction, last I knew I think GFCIs were  
mandatory in bathrooms and kitchens.

                                Mikek

Re: Electrical repair report
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I'm pretty sure RCD = GFCI too.

Starting sometime in the 1980s, bathroom and outdoor outlets in new
construction were required to be protected with a GFCI.  The required
locations have been expanded somewhat; I think they now include kitchens
and some garage outlets as well.

GFCIs are available in two shapes - either as an outlet that can be
installed in a regular outlet box, or built into a circuit breaker that
goes into the main circuit breaker panel in the house.  The outlet type
has to be installed as the first outlet on that circuit, and then it
will protect all the other outlets beyond it.  (It has "line"/power-
source and "load"/power-users terminals that must be connected the right
way around.)  The circuit breaker type just replaces the normal circuit
breaker, and then it provides both overload (usually 15 or 20 A) and
GFCI functions.

The outlet type GFCIs cost $6 or $7 at retail, while the circuit-breaker
type cost $30, so most people installing them as a retrofit choose the
outlet ones.  Also, circuit breakers are not very well standardized;
circuit breaker panels from different manufacturers take different
circuit breakers.  The outlet type GFCI works anywhere.

One drawback to the outlet type GFCI in new construction is that
builders, being cheap, tend to use one GFCI to protect several outlets
that are required to be protected.  This is legal and safe, but it leads
to things like: you plug something in on the back porch, it gets a
little damp, and the GFCI trips, and suddenly you don't have power in
either bathroom in your house.  It's not always obvious to people that
resetting the GFCI in one bathroom will fix the outlets in the other
bathroom and on the back porch.  With the circuit breaker type GFCI, at
least all of the controls are in the main electrical panel for the
house, which is a more obvious place to look for faults.

There is a newer thing that has become required in the past few years,
an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter or AFCI.  US style wiring doesn't do
much for protecting the conductors in the line cord to a lamp or
appliance; in some places it's perfectly legal to have wires inside the
wall that are 12 AWG (American Wire Gauge) (about 3.3 mm^2), on a 20
amp circuit breaker (2400 W nominal available), and then plug a lamp
with an 18 AWG (about 0.82 mm^2) cord into it.  If the lamp cord gets a
dead short across the two conductors, the breaker will probably open,
but if it's only "somewhat" shorted, the breaker will happily dump
current into it for a while, which may heat up the lamp cord and start a
fire.

The "good" reason the AFCI exists is to prevent this latter situation.
It is claimed to monitor the current drawn on the circuit, and if the
current profile suggests that an arc is happening, it opens the circuit.

The "actual" reason the AFCI exists, IMHO, is to sell $40 AFCI circuit
breakers instead of $10 regular ones.  The electrical industry learned
their lessons from the GFCI; AFCIs are not available as outlets, only as
circuit breakers.

I think the current (ha!) requirement is that AFCIs have to be installed
on outlet circuits that feed bedrooms.  This will probably be expanded
over the years as well.

The UK (and possibly other places that used to be part of the British
Empire) solves the AFCI problem by using fuses in the plugs.  I think
Western Europe doesn't care that much; it's sort of like the US, but the
higher voltage means you don't get such a big difference in size between
the conductors in the wall and the conductors to an appliance.  I also
think (but I'm not sure) that the line cords on appliances have slightly
better insulation than what is common in the US.

Matt Roberds


Re: Electrical repair report


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Ah, the joy of standards in Europe; everything fits on a EN 50022 DIN  
rail. You should try it overthere.


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I guess we are more educated here; it foes not seem to be a problem  
that one GFCI covers many outlets.

Leif

--  
https://www.paradiss.dk

Eller begge.



Re: Electrical repair report
wrote:

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In the US, DIN rails are common in industrial control systems,
robotics, and automation.  Nothing in the home, yet.  

I'm also working on installing a DIN rail on top of my bicycle
handlebars and attaching all the lighting, navigation, and computing
accessories on the rail mount.  Not sure which size or height to use
yet:
<https://www.google.com/search?q=din+rail&tbm=isch

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The European RCD trips at 30-300 ma and protects outlets and lighting.
On smaller houses, it can be a "whole house" RCD, but I'm told is
usually split into sections.  The RCD needs a higher trip point to
accomidate capacitive coupled "leakage" scattered around the wiring
which will cause an imbalance.

The US GFCI trips at 5 ma and is only intended to run a single outlet
or power strip.  The rest of the house remains unprotected.  I have
GFCI outlets on some of my portable power strips.  They false trip
easily when wet or humid.

--  
Jeff Liebermann     snipped-for-privacy@cruzio.com
150 Felker St #D    http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
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Re: Electrical repair report
On Sun, 03 May 2015 13:26:17 -0700, Jeff Liebermann wrote:

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Or, when you forget to uncoil the 100' extension cord when using an  
outdoors GFCI...

Jonesy
--  
  Marvin L Jones    | Marvin      | W3DHJ  | linux
   38.238N 104.547W |  @ jonz.net | Jonesy |  OS/2
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Re: Electrical repair report
On 3 May 2015 21:50:55 GMT, Allodoxaphobia

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You mean that it makes a difference whether the cord is coiled or
uncoiled?  I just tried it indoors with my bathroom GFCI and two heavy
50ft 12/3 cords in series.  I couldn't make it trip when coiled.  What
am I missing here?  


--  
Jeff Liebermann     snipped-for-privacy@cruzio.com
150 Felker St #D    http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
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Re: Electrical repair report
On Sun, 03 May 2015 15:25:22 -0700, Jeff Liebermann wrote:
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Maybe the high surge current when starting a good-sized motor. It's  
happened to me when using a "Saws All", a 14" chain saw, and an electric  
lawn mower.  Breaking up the "neatly" coiled extension cord solved the  
(repeatable) problem.  Don't believe I ever experienced it with anything  
else -- like a hand drill or battery charger.

And, maybe the GFCI was working at the far edge of specs.
In any case, that house is no longer my home.

Jonesy
--  
  Marvin L Jones    | Marvin      | W3DHJ  | linux
   38.238N 104.547W |  @ jonz.net | Jonesy |  OS/2
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Re: Electrical repair report

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That would cut into revenue, though!  Can't have that.

If you have a General Electric or Square D (now part of Schneider)
panel, no problem, even if it's 50 years old.  Every hardware store has
a choice of breakers to fit those panels.  Cutler-Hammer and ITE/Siemens
are almost as available - sometimes you might have to go to two stores,
but pretty often you can get it at the first store you go to.

If you have a Federal Pacific Electric, Zinsco, or possibly an old
Bulldog Pushmatic breaker panel, you're kind of screwed, because the
breakers have inherent design flaws.  The only good way out is to
replace the entire circuit breaker panel and all the breakers...
probably a few hundred dollars if you do it yourself, more if you hire
an electrician.

http://inspectapedia.com/fpe/FPE_Fires_Waiting_to_Happen.php
http://inspectapedia.com/electric/Zinsco.htm
http://inspectapedia.com/electric/Pushmatic.php

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I didn't think it was a big deal, myself, until I read
news:alt.home.repair and some other forums where this tended to be a
regular topic.

Standard disclaimers apply: I don't get money or other consideration
from any companies mentioned.

Matt Roberds


Re: Electrical repair report
On 5/3/2015 12:45 PM, snipped-for-privacy@att.net wrote:
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My understanding is that some RCDs are for shock protection, like GFCIs,  
but with a trip current 30ma instead of 5mA in the US  (30mA seems  
really high).

In the US, the current to trip a breaker on a high current ground-fault  
uses a N-G bond required at all services, with the fault current  
returning to the transformer on the service neutral. Some UK power  
schemes do not have the N-G bond, and the return path is through the  
earth, which does not provide a low resistance path. I think the RCDs  
for a service, or where everything has a RCD, are to provide a trip on  
the limited-current fault to ground-earth.

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Most of a kitchen, all garage, within 6 ft of sinks, laundry, unfinished  
basement, outside, ...

<...>

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If the #12 wires are "somewhat" shorted you can also get a fire-causing arc.

AFCIs also trip on a loose connection ("series" arc).
And they include ground-fault protection, typically at a 30mA level,  
that catches some arc-faults (and is the reason the circuit neutral has  
to wire-through the arc-fault device).

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There are some questions whether AFCIs protect as well as claimed.
And a major reason code change proposals are rejected is that no  
"substantiation" is provided that the change is an improvement. I have  
not seen any substantiation of the improved safety provided by the  
original AFCIs in bedrooms years ago.

AFCI receptacles are now available. For new wiring AFCI protection is  
for both the building wiring and the plug-in loads, so receptacle-AFCIs  
generally can't be used. There are places where they can be used, and  
they can protect downstream wiring (as is done with GFCI receptacles).

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It has been expanded.
In the 2011 NEC essentially everything that did not require GFCI  
protection requires AFCI protection.
In the 2014 NEC some locations require both AFCI and GFCI protection.


Also new in the 2011 NEC:
- replacement receptacles in areas where AFCI protection is now required  
have to be AFCI protected (several methods)
- replacement receptacles where GFCI protection is now required must be  
GFCI protected
     (I'm sure mikek protected his outside receptacle)
- replacement receptacles in areas that now require tamper-resistant  
receptacles must be tamper-resistant (that is most of the general  
purpose receptacles in a dwelling)(keeps kids from putting paper-clips  
in the receptacle)
- replacement receptacles in areas that now require weather-resistant  
receptacles must be weather-resistant (damp locations, like outdoors)

AFCI or GFCI receptacles may have to be tamper-resistant or  
weather-resistant.

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In the UK there are many "ring" circuits protected at about 30A. That  
makes the fuse protection at the plug even more important.

The fuses don't necessarily protect you from arcing however. In  
particular if it is a loose connection ("series" arc) the current will  
be limited by the load. The AFCIs used now (but not the original ones)  
can trip on an arc current of about 5A.





Re: Electrical repair report
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There is a conflict there. For some time now it has been against code for t
he "debvice to be the splice". Looing at regular outlets there are usually  
two sets of screws or whatever connectors. At tleast in this area you can't
 use them in the way you migth thoink, which is one set in, and one set out
 to other outlets or whatever. You have to "pigtail" the wires in the box,  
presumably so that you do not have to break into the circuit to change the  
device.  

There is some sense to this because of shared neutrals. Electricians have b
eeen killed due to shared neutrals. It is simply not practical to shut down
 the whole building to change a couple of outlets. and unless you personall
y wired the place, you have no way of knowing if you are dealing with a sha
red neutral and if you can actually disconnect it safely.  

This flies right in the face of those outputs on most GFCI outlets. Apparen
tly now, code here is to buy another GFCI outlet for each location. What is
 screwed up is that I used to generally use the GFCI output to power over t
he sink lights. Now I suppose I have to use the breaker. At least when you  
use the breaker There are no shared neutral problems. Can't be, it would tr
ip immediately.  

Had a really strange one recently. Two lights, one in the bedroom and one i
n the hallway. Turn one on and it is fine. Turn the other one on and it is  
fine. Turn both on at the same time and the GFCI breaker trips. It had to h
ave something to do with a shared neutral. There was no short. I reverted i
t back to a regular breaker, screw it, these idiots had all the walls in an
d painted.  

In fact I don't really see a reason for a GFCI in a bedroom and a hallway,  
except for one thing - the house it built on a slab. Shades of Florida, bas
ement ? What is basement ? I suppose if you were in your bare feet on an al
uminum ladder changing a broken (somehow) lightbulb in the cieling fixture  
while it is turned on (hey, they'll do that I gues) there could be a shock  
hazard. Usually when I climb a ladder I put my shoes on.

Re: Electrical repair report
On 05/04/2015 9:35 PM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:
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...

One hand on ladder, the other grabbing the light bulb will make a  
conduction path...

John :-#(#
--  
(Please post followups or tech inquiries to the USENET newsgroup)
John's  Jukes Ltd. 2343 Main St., Vancouver, BC, Canada V5T 3C9
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Re: Electrical repair report
On Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at 10:49:58 AM UTC-4, John Robertson wrote:
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ds
or the "debvice to be the splice". Looing at regular outlets there are usua
lly two sets of screws or whatever connectors. At tleast in this area you c
an't use them in the way you migth thoink, which is one set in, and one set
 out to other outlets or whatever. You have to "pigtail" the wires in the b
ox, presumably so that you do not have to break into the circuit to change  
the device.
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ve beeen killed due to shared neutrals. It is simply not practical to shut  
down the whole building to change a couple of outlets. and unless you perso
nally wired the place, you have no way of knowing if you are dealing with a
 shared neutral and if you can actually disconnect it safely.
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ay, except for one thing - the house it built on a slab. Shades of Florida,
 basement ? What is basement ? I suppose if you were in your bare feet on a
n aluminum ladder changing a broken (somehow) lightbulb in the cieling fixt
ure while it is turned on (hey, they'll do that I gues) there could be a sh
ock hazard. Usually when I climb a ladder I put my shoes on.
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Really?  Even with wooden or fiberglass ladders?

Re: Electrical repair report
On 05/05/2015 10:27 AM, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:
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a broken (somehow) lightbulb in the cieling fixture while it is turned  
on (hey, they'll do that I gues) there could be a shock hazard. Usually  
when I climb a ladder I put my shoes on.
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The last sentence of previous poster was saying that he wore shoes when  
he climbed ladders and figured no risk of shock as a result. As he had  
previously suggested this was an aluminum ladder so I figured he may  
have overlooked that path...

As for wooden or fiberglass, if the wood is wet or either ladder is wet  
along with conductive material (metal shavings, metal dust, etc.) they  
can conduct some electricity. Probably not enough to be a problem, but  
one can't assume you are completely safe even on a fiberglass ladder.

One has to think about conduction paths...unless you like falling from  
heights.

John :-#)#

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(Please post followups or tech inquiries to the USENET newsgroup)
John's  Jukes Ltd. 2343 Main St., Vancouver, BC, Canada V5T 3C9
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Re: Electrical repair report
On 5/4/2015 10:35 PM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:
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For ordinary circuits, the circuit can wire-through a receptacle.

If it is a "multiwire branch circuit", with a common neutral, the  
neutral can't be wired-through.

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For a few code cycles, multiwire branch circuits have to have a "common  
disconnect" so when one circuit of a multiwire branch circuit is turned  
off all the circuits are turned off. This can be done with a listed  
handle tie. (If one circuit trips they don't all have to trip.) That  
makes multiwires fairly impractical. And you can't use a multiwire on an  
AFCI or GFCI breaker (unless you get a 120/240V breaker, which is  
expensive).


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There is no NEC problem wiring other loads downstream from a GFCI  
receptacle and protecting them. The GFCI receptacle now has to be more  
accessible than in the past.

I don't know if there are provisions enforced where you are that are  
stricter than the NEC, but I suspect these requirements follow the NEC.

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(Electricians are not likely to use a metal ladder.)


Re: Electrical repair report

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In the plant where I worked they would not allow any ladder that could  
conduct electricity.  When I bought one for the house it was light aluminum.  
I got tird of dragging the heavy fiberglass stuff around.  I did work as an  
electrician in the plant.  With all the metal pipes around,  I thought that  
the nonconducting ladders were a waste anyway for the most part.  There are  
all kinds of safety rules that have to be made by people that do not have  
anything to do but sit behind a desk and try to justify their jobs.



Re: Electrical repair report

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Nicely done.  I carry a few of those in my toolbox to test customers
outlets before I plug any expensive computahs into them.  In 30+ years
of doing this, I've been shocked once and found about 3 wiring
mistakes.

You MIGHT have been able to see the missing ground connection by
putting a voltsguesser between the outlet neutral and ground
connections.  There should be zero volts.  If there was anything
plugged into the floating outlet at the other end of your wiring
nightmare, you would see some voltage (mostly leakage) between neutral
and ground.  Even if nothing were connected, there would be some
capacitive coupling that would produce some voltage.  If you're
measuring at the breaker box, some voltage is allowed:
<https://www.mikeholt.com/technical.php?id=powerquality/unformatted/NeutralGroundVoltage

There's also a minor problem with the 3 neon lamp tester.  It won't
check for an outlet that has the ground and neutral wires reversed
because they both go to the same connection in the breaker box. That's
not really a problem as either wire can probably carry the current,
but it's nice to have it done right.  I've only seen this once where
someone used non-standard and apparently random color wires in an
illegal "granny unit" off a sub-panel.  There were junction boxes full
of different color wires spliced together with tags on the wire ends.
Of course, all the tags had fallen off years ago.  I ran away.

Could you buy one of these and tell me if it's worth spending $300?
<http://www.idealind.com/prodDetail.do?prodId61%-164

--  
Jeff Liebermann     snipped-for-privacy@cruzio.com
150 Felker St #D    http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
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Re: Electrical repair report
On 5/3/2015 10:35 AM, Jeff Liebermann wrote:
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  I have visited Mike Holt's site many times over the years, very good site.
  I wouldn't get enough use out of that Ideal tester to make it  
worthwhile, $4.98 is more in my budget. Sorry :-)

   My latest failure is with a stove my wife uses in the garage.
The front burn switch failed. Since she didn't use the rear burners, I  
just swapped a good on for the bad one. Of course I needed to do a bunch  
in order to get the top up high enough to see everything.
I did that and could see clearly, I marked each of the 6 wires on each  
switch and also made a drawing.  After reassembly the lowest position  
didn't heat and she said the high position didn't get hot enough.
   I don't want to take it apart again, and it is easy to justify, the  
stove is old, the wires have dried out, crusty insulation, falling off  
near the ends. She has one in the shed she bought 5 years ago to replace  
it, (she bought it cheap in a damaged sale). So I have decreed the old  
one unsafe for repair.

                              Mikek

Re: Electrical repair report
I remember you. You're the guy with tons and tons of freezers.  

I would recommend making sure they get good line volrage. Compressors tend  
to be more efficient at higher volatages. Also, you might want to look unde
r the hood of a few and see if they use motor run capacitors. When they get
 old and start to dry out it can hurt the efficincy.  

Not a big deal when you got one, but when you got a dozen of them it can sc
rew with your bottom line.  

When it comes to residential wiring I have a saying. When in doubt rip it o
ut. I know external conduit is unsightly, I know it might not be that easy,
 but most of the time it is worth it. Anything with a motor. When it says 1
20 volts, give it 125. You'll be glad you did.

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