Wacked out outlet

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by BigLou, Jul 17, 2008.

  1. BigLou

    BigLou New Member

    Messages:
    138
    OK First thing an electrician has been called and will be going to the home when I am on vacation next week. This is mostly for my knowledge
    now I am sorry for the long post

    yesterday the home owner comes up to me and asks me if we may have accidently cut any wires because two of her outlets no longer work. I told her we had not cut any wires but I would take a quick peek to look for obious things like a tripped breaker. I go down to the breaker boxes and find no tipped breakers. So I take out my non contact tester(my whole crew carries one) and it tells me there is power to the outlet infact due to one of my guys pluging it in to the wrong side of the outlet we discover that both sides of the outlet are hot.

    We decide to shut off the breaker untill an electrician can come look at it. After flipping off all the breakers looking for the right one, because the one it was labeled as seemed to not shut it off , we eneded up shutting off the main breaker to get it to stop. 10-15 seconds or so after flipping the correct breaker(the labeled one) we finally got the tester to stop beeping.

    We decide to use a contact tester(little screwdriver with a light) to double check and make sure the power is off and its safe incase my other tester was bad. It shows that even with the power off there is still some juice in the line. In fact the contact testor lights up with the breaker off when I touch the side of the junction box in the basement that feeds the circut. Same thing when I pulg it in to an old wall sconce with a outlet on the same circut it lights right up. I even opened up the junction box and disconnected the wires and the contact tester still lights up on this circut only I checked some others to make sure it was not broken

    The other strange thing that happens is the phone will phantom ring. it will ring for about 3-6 seconds then stop no one is trying to call and no one is there if you pick up. she also says he answering machine answers for no reason when the phone has not rung

    The contact tester says it good down to 1.5 volts the non contact says its good down to 40 volts so one says the power is off the other is not so sure. What would possibly cause this ? Is it possible for some current to be getting induced on the line ? I know you can make a phone ring by inducing some current on to the line. untill yesterday the outlet worked fine
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,889
    Location:
    New England
    A loose neutral at the panel or supply? That's a guess. If so, could get ugly and damage a bunch of her electronics. Strange on the phone, though. Maybe from the answering machine or a cordless phone charger base? Just guessing...
  3. enosez

    enosez Member

    Messages:
    88
    Location:
    Long Island NY
    Forget the electrician, call the exorcist!!;)
  4. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    2,714
    Location:
    Central Florida
    There's an implication that you might have done some recent work there, since the homeowner asked if you might have cut some wires. What did you do?

    Sounds like a serious, potentially death-inducing problem with the main service and ground. Can't wait to hear what the electrician says.
  5. Cookie

    Cookie .

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    That is God calling.
  6. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

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    I wonder if a neighbor's damaged neutral could possibly be passing current through the water pipe and up through the ground to your panel?
  7. BigLou

    BigLou New Member

    Messages:
    138
    we installed some colums in the basement and replcaed some damaged plaster with drywall. all done 2 weeks before this problem started
    oh and I noticed there is no ground wire and the one to the water main is corroded and in not sure its a copper line
  8. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,714
    Location:
    Central Florida
    There's a good place to have the electrician start...
  9. Cookie

    Cookie .

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    :)
    what a day.
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