Help with circuit in home

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by cburger1, Dec 26, 2008.

  1. cburger1

    Thread Starter New Member

    Dec 26, 2008
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    I have a circuit that runs nine recessed lights and a few oulets and two switches for outdoor lights. Last week I plugged a heater into one of the outlets and the outlet stop working. The recessed lights are first on the circuit and still work, but the two outlets and two lights switches are not working. I have tested the voltage in the outlets and I am getting a reading of 3 volts. I have taken all of the boxes apart and everything is conected correctly. When the hot and ground are tested I am getting 120 volts. When the hot and neutral wires are tested I am getting 0 volts. Something happened between the last recessed light and the first light switch that I can't figure out. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Audioguru

    New Member

    Dec 20, 2007
    9,411
    896
    A heater draws a very high current. The high current burned something out.
     
  3. cburger1

    Thread Starter New Member

    Dec 26, 2008
    3
    0
    Any idea what could have burned out? I replaced each outlet and the two switches after the recessed lighting. Thanks for the quick reply.
     
  4. AchMED

    Active Member

    Aug 5, 2008
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  5. cburger1

    Thread Starter New Member

    Dec 26, 2008
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    I am getting 120 volts when I test Netral to ground after the recessed lights. That can't be good.
     
  6. mik3

    Senior Member

    Feb 4, 2008
    4,846
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    Maybe the neutral wire was connected by fault to the live (hot) wire.
     
  7. SgtWookie

    Expert

    Jul 17, 2007
    22,183
    1,732
    Sounds to me like you have an open neutral wire somewhere in that circuit.

    You're getting 120V from neutral to ground because the hot is connected via the filaments in the lamps.

    Turn off the breaker to the circuit, and measure again from neutral and hot to ground to make sure you turned off the right breaker (you measure 0v everywhere). Then start measuring resistance from neutral to ground in the circuit, starting from the end nearest the breaker, and working to the far end. When you get an open circuit, you've discovered where the neutral wire is broken/disconnected.
     
  8. floomdoggle

    Senior Member

    Sep 1, 2008
    217
    2
    Look for a blown GFCI. They are the outlets that have two buttons between the outlets. Then get an electrician to undo the crap that the last guy did.
    No outlet should be connected to any light circuit.
    If you are unable to find the GFCI, close to where the lights are, try your bathroom outlets GFCI's. Believe it or not, there is a reason why the exterior outlets are hooked up to the bathroom GFCI's. Instead of re-setting a blown GFCI outside where it might be wet, and you are connected to ground, you must go inside, where you are not grounded, to re-set the circuit.
    Dan
     
  9. thingmaker3

    Retired Moderator

    May 16, 2005
    5,072
    6
    I concur with Sgt Wookie. 120V from Neutral to ground means an open neutral - the hot voltage is being read through some appliance.
     
  10. KMoffett

    AAC Fanatic!

    Dec 19, 2007
    2,604
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    Could you elaborate on this?

    Ken
     
  11. floomdoggle

    Senior Member

    Sep 1, 2008
    217
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    Hey Ken,
    Light circuits are supposed to be 14 gauge wire.(14/2). Outlets are 12 gauge. (12/2). The circuit breakers for light circuits should be 15 amp, 20 amp for outlets. Unless a special application is needed. If I am correct, the Underwriters Lab set these standards.
    Lights when they are turned on, do not, for the most part, do not require a surge wattage. A unit, say a vacuum cleaner, plugged into an outlet, will require a larger surge wattage, to start up. So, re-wiring a light circuit to act as an outlet circuit, will not allow for the tolerances needed by the larger wire, and breaker.
    A short, or burning down a house, may never occur. The safety factor is why. And the way your place is wired is just dopey.
    Dan
     
  12. thingmaker3

    Retired Moderator

    May 16, 2005
    5,072
    6
    Wire gauge and breaker size are determined by anticipated load, not by load type. 20 Amp breakers and 12 gauge wire are quite acceptable for lighting - one can put more luminaires on the circuit.

    Still, it is often considered "poor form" to wire lights and plugs on the same circuit. Doing so makes labeling the breakers rather challenging, and the breakers are required to have clear labels.
     
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