Something is stealing my power in the wall !!

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by marko1polo, Oct 10, 2016.

  1. marko1polo

    Thread Starter New Member

    Oct 10, 2016
    5
    0
    Hello all ! ...... Here's a "happening that has me puzzled ......... A wall outlet years back seemed to have "lost all power" , no readings , just plain no power ! I didn't need that outlet until today . I tested it again and nothing ! So I went to the wall switch that sends power to that plug , and again , no power there as well !!! So I went around the house to test the working ones ! All were good ! However , (this is on the main floor) there is 1 outlet on the second floor straight up from this switch that tested differently .... weak ! When I put the electrode from the hot to the steel box , I get a very bright light ! When I touch the electrodes to both wires , the light comes on yet dims ! Seems like the hot wire is strong but the cold wire is taking power away from the setup ! Any thoughts on what to do ? Note : the "old" 2 prong outlet on the second floor is being changed to a 3 prong outlet anyhow !
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2016
  2. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
    12,446
    3,362
    Don't jump to conclusions too quickly. No one is stealing your power.
    You have a bad connection in your house wiring. Call in a qualified electrician to fix the problem.
     
  3. bwilliams60

    Active Member

    Nov 18, 2012
    724
    89
    You dont give much background on the type of wiring, age of the house etc for us to go on. I am assuming that you are on a twowire system which already sends up flags and not sure what equipment tou are using for diagnostics, but it does not sound like any type of meter. From your brief description, it sounds like you have some issues behind the wall that may be causing your issues? Animals may have chewed through wiring but it is hard to say anything without more information and perhaps where you live and some meter readings.
     
  4. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
    5,699
    905
    I amnot exactly sure what you did,but these sentences,
    are suggestive of a loose neutral (white) connection somewhere.

    It could be at the main panel, but that would probably affect several other outlets. More likely, the loose connection is at a pigtail in a junction box somewhere or where two wires are under the same screw on some device like another outlet. I am assuming it is old construction and not everything has been done to code.

    John
     
  5. marko1polo

    Thread Starter New Member

    Oct 10, 2016
    5
    0
    Hello and thanks for the reply ! The house was built the same way I was , in 1958 , a 2-wire system !! The "tester" I am referring to is a plug-in Sperry Instruments device (I am no electrician but always willing to learn) That features 2 orange , 1 red light ! Every plug outlet in the house is "double orange" , except the plug on the second floor , directly above my problem on the first floor ! Everything was fine since we moved in , in 1964 , so something had to go wrong somewhere ! The other device I have tells me (2 probe and a light) which of the 2 wires in the wall are hot or not ! The house is in Fairfield CT in a rural area . The light switch on the wall near the plug sent power to the plug so that a lamp would light the room . What I did do was to plug a 6 outlet surge protector (with a 2 prong to 3 prong adapter as the plug was a 2 prong) and that worked great until one day , then it didnt !
     
  6. tranzz4md

    Member

    Apr 10, 2015
    139
    28
    I'd be quicker to think that someone else, over the history of the property, did something in the wiring and a connection came loose. Having no idea where on the planet this is, I won't suggest any particular ways of testing or wiring, but will say that "push-wire" wiring devices (I'm in the USA) cause open circuits and burnt wiring and devices, because of the weak connection they make (I've replaced dozens of them that have failed). 2-wire receptacles and wiring pre-date these devices.

    You should call an electrician, and an older guy is the best for this kind of stuff.
     
  7. tranzz4md

    Member

    Apr 10, 2015
    139
    28
    Just replace the switch and that receptacle, and use yellow, tan, or red wirenuts, and strip and loop the wires around the screw terminals. No push-wire or self-strip or non-strip connections.
     
  8. tranzz4md

    Member

    Apr 10, 2015
    139
    28
    If you don't have mechanically sound, low impedance, properly sized ground wiring, or your wiring is in metal raceways and enclosures, you should only replace a 2-prong with a GFCI type receptacle.
     
  9. marko1polo

    Thread Starter New Member

    Oct 10, 2016
    5
    0
    Thank you for the info ! Here's another thought .... If someone had replaced a fuse (a circuit breaker panel comes off the old fuse box) that should be 20 amp for that room , but was replaced with a 15 amp , would the lower amp fuse not give enough power to the outlet and switch ?
     
  10. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
    5,699
    905
    No, not at the level you are describing. Instead, the fuse would blow.

    John
     
  11. marko1polo

    Thread Starter New Member

    Oct 10, 2016
    5
    0
    On a typical 2 wire light switch , when removed , shouldn't 1 of the 2 wires coming out of the wall be hot , or does the switch have to be installed to draw the power to the switch ?
     
  12. bwilliams60

    Active Member

    Nov 18, 2012
    724
    89
    Can you tell if the wiring in your house is non metallic sheathed cable or if there is metal conduit between boxes? This would help. Also, do you know what else runs off of this circuit, nearby lights, switches, receptacles? Generally with that circuit, one side of the switch is hot, the other side goes to the light or receptacle and then the return wire from same connects to the neutral wire in the switch box. It sounds as though your neutral wire may be open. If you are not familiar with this level of electricity, I strongly suggest a qualified electriciam.
     
  13. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
    5,699
    905
    A two-wire light switch has two black wires. That is, it interrupts the black wire. A bulb connected to white needs to be in the circuit before there will be current flow.
    The switch itself doesn't draw any power. Your original question implied that someone or something was drawing power from your electrical system leaving you with less. In fact, the more likely explanation is a loose connection that is preventing power from being provided. In other words, you have it all backward.

    I suggest that get get an inexpensive book on household wiring at any big box store. I use "Wiring Simplified" that complies with and includes excerpts from the latest NEC.

    John
     
  14. tranzz4md

    Member

    Apr 10, 2015
    139
    28
    If you have a bad connection of white wires somewhere you may not only get a dead outlet or light, but you may get a phenomenon where one light is dim, but others burn out rapidly, or worse things happen with things like TVs, computers, etc. Shared neutrals used to be common (and safe), but today's "NEC" doesn't permit that. The codes in 1960 were about 1/8 the size of today's NEC, and lots/most of the last 25 years has been pulp fiction- pure crap.

    Really though my friend, replacing obviously broken switches, receptacles, light fixtures or sockets is fine D.I.Y. work, but troubleshooting wiring issues like you're describing is really work for an experienced pro. And if you take time to think about it, getting a tradesman about the same age as your place really makes a lot of sense. Most people don't tolerate electrical shocks in the >50 volt range, and some don't survive to warn others. Yet troubleshooting installed, concealed wiring must be done with energized conductors and components. Serious business.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2016
  15. marko1polo

    Thread Starter New Member

    Oct 10, 2016
    5
    0
    Thank you so much for all your input , most appreciated !
     
Loading...