Elect Problem

How about a hand here...
I have two switches right as I enter the front door, one operates the porch light and the other switches power to an outlet 5' away on the interior wall. Both switches are the 'Decora' type. They are on a 15A circuit that also provides power to the bulk of the houses lighting.
The other night I went to turn on both the porch light and the lamp plugged into the switched outlet. Neither came on. Swapping out 'good' bulbs and testing the outlets with working lamps had no effect and none of the other items on the circuit are affected.
Using a 'Circuit Alert' tester (beeps and flashes if current is present) on the outlet tells me that even with the switch 'Off', I have power at the receptacle. Is this normal? I thought with the switch off, the tester would've remained silent and dark...
House built in 61, I'm at least the third owner. Original wiring is the three-wire silver cloth covered type. I did swap out the original switches 5-6 years ago, but if I had a problem shouldn't I have seen it 'immediately'?
I'm going to focus my attention on switches themselves (cause I can't think of anything else) while waiting on replies. I did receive a multi-meter for Xmas, time to give it a whirl.
Rick -- Computer recommends - Hard drinking calypso poet
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snipped-for-privacy@nospams.net says...

Possible, but unlikely they'd both fail at the same time. More likely a loose connection at the device that's just "upstream" of the switches.
--
Mark

The truth as I perceive it to be.
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: How about a hand here... : : I did receive a multi-meter for : Xmas, time to give it a whirl.
Here the results from a simple AC Voltage Test. I compared the results of a working (good) outlet against those of the problem (suspect) outlet. The first number is the upper receptacle, the second is the lower...
Switch Position 'Good' Outlet Suspect Outlet Off 11.4 / 11.4 2.6 / 1.99 On 119 / 119 72.8 / 72.7
What is this telling me?
: : Rick : -- : Computer recommends - Hard drinking calypso poet : :
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On 10 Jan 2004, pray4surf wrote:

Your lines were too long! That #$*t was line wrapped all over the place! <g>
Recheck these: 72.8 / 72.7
If they're miliVolts (look for a little mV indicator on the display of the multimeter) then you likely have an open neutral.
If they're Volts, you have bigger problems, seek professional help.
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: : Your lines were too long! That #$*t was line wrapped all over : the place! <g>
Oops..
: : Recheck these: 72.8 / 72.7 : : If they're miliVolts (look for a little mV indicator on : the display of the multimeter) then you likely have an open : neutral.
Nope, no mV displayed... and retesting didn't change the numbers.
: If they're Volts, you have bigger problems, seek professional : help. :
Will do. Prolly best to leave the entire circuit un-powered?
Rick
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On 10 Jan 2004, pray4surf wrote:


Not really necessary, but OK either way. More in my other reply.
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On 10 Jan 2004, pray4surf wrote:

Hard to tell what those are trying to tell you. Use your multimeter and look for ~117VAC between hot and neutral & hot and ground. Don't be confused by leakage millivolts (mV) as they'll show up on most multimeters.

Nope, not if something popped loose inside the boxes.

Educated guess - you lost your wire nut and connection for the white wires in the box holding the switches, or possibly at the box riht before that in the circuit.
That would make everything dead, but the dummy tester could still be sensing a voltage difference between hot and ground.
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Thanks Tom!
I just posted readings separately... However, I was simply inserting the black (neg) test lead into the 'longer' of the two slots and the red (pos) test lead into the other. I guessing that this is the Hot/Neutral that you refer to.
Mind explaining the Hot/Ground test?
If you don't care to primer everyone, -- prayfamily at sbcglobal dot net
I guess I'll be flipping the breaker and inspecting / redoing the connections at the box...
Rick -- Computer recommends - Hard drinking calypso poet
: On 10 Jan 2004, pray4surf wrote: : : > How about a hand here... : > : > I have two switches right as I enter the front door, one : > operates the porch light and the other switches power to an : > outlet 5' away on the interior wall. Both switches are the : > 'Decora' type. They are on a 15A circuit that also provides : > power to the bulk of the houses lighting. : > : > The other night I went to turn on both the porch light and : > the lamp plugged into the switched outlet. Neither came on. : > Swapping out 'good' bulbs and testing the outlets with : > working lamps had no effect and none of the other items on : > the circuit are affected. : > : > Using a 'Circuit Alert' tester (beeps and flashes if current : > is present) on the outlet tells me that even with the switch : > 'Off', I have power at the receptacle. Is this normal? I : > thought with the switch off, the tester would've remained : > silent and dark... : : Hard to tell what those are trying to tell you. Use your : multimeter and look for ~117VAC between hot and neutral & : hot and ground. Don't be confused by leakage millivolts (mV) : as they'll show up on most multimeters. : : > House built in 61, I'm at least the third owner. Original : > wiring is the three-wire silver cloth covered type. I did : > swap out the original switches 5-6 years ago, but if I had a : > problem shouldn't I have seen it 'immediately'? : : Nope, not if something popped loose inside the boxes. : : > I'm going to focus my attention on switches themselves : > (cause I can't think of anything else) while waiting on : > replies. I did receive a multi-meter for Xmas, time to give : > it a whirl. : : Educated guess - you lost your wire nut and connection for : the white wires in the box holding the switches, or possibly : at the box riht before that in the circuit. : : That would make everything dead, but the dummy tester could : still be sensing a voltage difference between hot and ground. : : -- : Baisez-les s'ils ne peuvent pas prendre une plaisanterie : -------------------------------------------------------- : Tom Pendergast e-mail is for sissies, say it on line
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On 10 Jan 2004, pray4surf wrote:

Yep, that's the hot/neutral. The tester is sensing a very low voltage (covered that in my reply to your other post). FYI, the way I use to remember which is which: I think of the fact that many "little guys" are "hot heads". Little slot = Hot.
Hey, it works for me. lol

Not a bit. These testers ae checking voltage presence, not current flow. In a normal circuit, you can measure the same difference of voltage levels between the hot and ground that you should get between the not and neutral. You should see no voltage difference between neutral and ground, except for minimal mVolts cause by leakage current.
Again, in a normal circuit, you should have current flow between hot and neutral. NEVER current flow between hot and ground, unless there is a problem (that's why the ground exists).

Yep. White wires in the box holding the switches, that's where I would start.
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: : Yep. White wires in the box holding the switches, that's : where I would start.
White wires in box - Still connected with the 'original' crimp style wire nut. I cut it out, stripped the wires and reconnected using new wirenut. No change...
Since then, I've disconnected the switches and 'capped' the wires. Prior to doing so, I was able to test the incoming wires and received the same 70's readings. This incoming line consists of four wires white, black, red and ground - White is Neutral, black is hot ground is ground, what is Red?
Luckily, there is nothing 'downstream' so I'm able to repower the circuit. Been talking to an electrician already about rewiring for a kitchen remodel (work has not commenced). I'll just have him repair the circuit...
Thanks again for all your advice!
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On 10 Jan 2004, pray4surf wrote:

The Red indicates this is what's commonly called a "three wire" circuit, which is simply one piece of Romex with -two- hot wires in it, Red and Black. It's a way to have less cable running through your joists/walls, and there are a few different basic methods of wiring these circuits. There's also NEC rules about the breakers you use for them (it takes a double pole breaker) and what you can/can't put in junction boxes holding the circuit, but that's way beyond what you need to know to understand the problem.
BTW, the key to doing this? - the two circuits share the same White neutral wire. All kinds of funny things* can happen if one side of the double circuit loses contact with the neutral, and to be honest, I'm going to stop there because of your limited experience with this stuff. What you've learned to do so far is admirable, but I can't really take responsibility for teaching you this one.
(*like what you have going on)
If you want to pursue it, do a Google on this newsroup for the phrase "open neutral" and maybe for "3-wire" and read away.

If you don't figue it out by yourself by then. You just might.

You're quite welcome. Good luck, be careful, never stop learning!
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040110 1136 - pray4surf wrote:

Yes, that's a good idea...
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