Problems with an electrical outlet and dish network receiver

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Mark Lloyd wrote:

Yes. For instance, if lightning hits that dish, the flow will direct it into your house, by way of that faucet. You would rather have the lightning ground itself outside of your house without ever entering.
The cable line, phone line, and gas lines should all be grounded, and at the same place, outside of your house. Water line is a bit different since it tends to enter the house underground. Now sure how or where its grounded.
--
Thank you,



"Then said I, Wisdom [is] better than strength: nevertheless the poor
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On 20 Feb 2006 08:12:23 -0800, "Bob"

The outlet is bad. I have ruled.
Had you ever used this outlet before? If it worked fine before, I can't help thinking there is is something about the grounded tv cable that is causing it to cause problems with the cable boxes that don't occur otherwise.
I agree that as a whole this job might be too much for you, but I think you could do some things. You could measure the voltage like the first paragraph of John Grabowski's answer. If you don't find anything wrong, you could plug in a lamp, something with a two-prong plug, and see if that works. Actually a lamp doesn't care if there is reverse polarity.
I might not use it for this outlet that is known to be very bad, but for other outlets, there is a cheap little device about the size of a one inch cube with three prongs and three lights on the other side that will make checking outlets go quickly, The one I have is yellow, I think. I would follow up any unusual reading with more voltage tests, etc.
IIRC, the wider prong slot is supposed to be hot, and the narrower prong slot is supposed to be neutral, that is, zero.

There are many fashion colors that you could paint the cord.

Did it say which?. Is this one of them?

It's hard for me to follow all this but it's conceivable that whoever did this work needs to come back and fix things, if they said they would get rid of the problems in your previous point.
Maybe the company intended to fix this, but the actual electrician forgot to or didn't bother or thought he had.

Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let me know if you have posted also.
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On 20 Feb 2006 08:12:23 -0800, "Bob"

Get yourself one of those polarity testers for about $7 and test the outlets. If the polarity is reversed, reverse the wires on the outlets. It's not that big of a deal to do. Just be sure to shut off the power first.
Of course, if you prefer, I will do the job for $10,000 plus the cost of my airfare.....
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Wow!!! Thank you everyone for all of the posts. It has been extremely helpful.
I did buy one of the three prong testers and tested the problem outlet. The reading showed that there is indeed reverse polarity on that outlet. It however did not show anything wrong with the ground. I did not get a chance to turn off that circuit (my wife was watching a tv show all night) and look at the wiring to see if there was anything unusual such as what was described as a "bootleg ground".
The only thing that still bothers me as far as determining the final problem/solution is that I also tested the outlet in the adjacent room that the extension cord is plugged into and it showed the same test results; reverse polarity but nothing wrong with the ground.
Let me further qualify what I mean when I stated the test results for both outlets above (both tested the same way). The light pattern on the tester corresponded with the description: hot/neutral reversed.
I did not get a chance to test the voltages between the different parts of the outlet (I could not find my voltmeter last night) but I hopefully I can get those results tonight.
The possibilty of the ground being hot is starting to make a little sense now. Before all of this happened we did have things plugged into this outlet. There was a surge protector plugged in and then a tv and lamp both plugged in to the surge protector (both are two prong devices). So the satellite receiver is the first 3-pront device that has been plugged into this outlet to my knowledge. Right now the extension cord is plugged into a three prong outlet as well but the extension cord is old and is only 2 prong. The satellite receiver has one of the 3-prong-to-2-prong adapters on the end of its power cord and then plugged into the extension cord.
However, the tester has light patterns that are supposed to indicate an energized ground, right?
One last thing that I just thought that may (or may not) help shed some light on this. The installer was working outside on the dish and I did see him hook a grouding wire up to a coax connector that joined the coax lines from the dish to the coax lines going into the house. However it was extremely cold out and he said that he was going to attach the grounding wire to the Service conduit that runs from the room of the house to the ground after he came in and warmed up and finished hooking up the receivers. Well, he hooked up the first receiver which plugged into a very expension Monster Power Surge Protector and Line Conditioner and everything was ok. It was then that he tried to hook up the other receiver that we had the problems with the outlet and the shocking. After we relocated it with the extension cord that was only 2-prong and got it set up, he went back outside and tried hooking up the ground wire to the service conduit. He had me go back inside and unplug that receiver because when he would get the ground wire close to the clamp he put on the conduit it would arc. After unplugging he was able to hook it up and then we plugged it back in and everything was fine.
Could the fact that he did not have this hooked up in the first place be part of the problem? Is there anything I should be looking for now that this has came to light?
Thank you again for everyone's help!
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OOPS! This may be confusing, it's a typo!
However it was extremely cold out and he said that he was going to attach the grounding wire to the Service conduit that runs from the room of the house to the ground after he came in and warmed up and finished hooking up the receivers.
Should have been...
However it was extremely cold out and he said that he was going to attach the grounding wire to the Service conduit that runs from the **roof** of the house to the ground after he came in and warmed up and finished hooking up the receivers.
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It sounds as though you do have an energized grounding conductor at one or more outlets. I don't know if those little testers have a light combination for that. You need to use the voltmeter or maybe a pigtail light bulb. It makes sense if the dish cable was grounded when the satellite box was plugged into the suspect receptacle. An energized receptacle ground would create a dead short to the satellite cable ground to produce an arc or trip the circuit breaker. The problem may not be in that particular receptacle though. You should identify everything on that circuit and open them all up.
John Grabowski http://www.mrelectrician.tv
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For reasons of human safety and transistor safety, that coax must connect to the single point earthing before it enters the building. It is not acceptable to connect to safety ground wires inside the building for numerous reasons.
This assumes you have provided single point earthing - typically a ground rod that connects breaker box a short distance to earth ground. A post 1990 code requirement. Every incoming service (including telephone line surge protector installed by the telco for free) should connect less than 10 feet to this earthing. If that single point earthing does not exist, then, well one installer is said to have grounded his coax install into earth of a flower box.
That coax cannot be grounded to a 'grounding wire to the Service conduit that runs from the room of the house'. It is not acceptable and will not provide the transient protection that your cable appliances require. The installer is supposed to know that.
A reversal of hot and neutral must still not create the human shocks described. But is does suggest someone with insufficient knowledge was working on the electrical system.
From information provided, no one can tell you how much it will cost. Much more information is required. For example, take the cover off the breaker box. Inspect (and don't touch) every wire incoming to that box. Typically each wire would be a black, white, and bare copper. Do white and bare copper wires go to a common bus bar? Does each black wire go to a circuit breaker? This are details that one needs before started to guess costs.
Another trick uses the multimeter; a tool so ubiquitous as to even be sold in Sears, Home Depot, Lowes, and Radio Shack. Using a three wire extension cord from that 'questionable' outlet, measure voltage from ground hole on extension cord to breaker box cover. There should be no voltage. If voltage exists, then your three prong tester may instead report a 'hot neutral reversal'. IOW your tester makes an assumption - that the ground wire is really ground. If not, then the tester assumes your hot - neutral are reversed.
Just another example of why a meter is a far more useful tool.
I once visited a location where electronics were behaving badly. Opened the breaker box. Someone had cut off all safety ground wires. This 'genius' had reasoned that the safety ground wires were a danger when connected to something inside the box. Massive rewiring job required to repair this genius' revelation. Any three prong appliance that went hot would then make all other appliances hot - dangerous. I sincerely hope that genius was not a previous home owner in your town. What he did could create your symptoms.
Cable must connect from ground block, less than 10 feet, to an earth ground shared by all incoming utilities.. Cable must not be grounded to safety ground wires inside the building.
Bob wrote:

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The problem described still sound more like a hot ground than reversed polarity, to me. Which means that OP has at least two problems: 1: the ground wire isn't grounded, and 2: Something is dumping line current onto the ground.
I wouldn't just use a polarity tester in this case, I think you should kill the power to that circut, take outlet completely apart, Wire-nut everything, turn the power back on, and then come back with a voltage tester and test each wire in the box individually, starting by testing for voltage on the box itself. You should also check for voltage between the ground on other plugs on that circut, and the ground on some other circut, because there's a fairly good chance that ALL the grounds are hot, and you just haven't noticed yet.
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I plan on trying to perform some of these tests that everyone is suggesting, but it is sounding more and more like I may have a problem that I will not be able to fix myself. Can someone give me some information on what I can expect if I call an electrician in?
-- Is it an option to have an electrician come in and do an assessment of the situation and give me an estimate of the charges without committing to any work being done right away? -- If so, how long should an assessment like that take? I know that someone stated that rates can vary from approx. $50-150 and I realize that this is just a best-guess but I would like to know a ball park idea of what to expect so I can plan on that expense. -- When an electrician comes in, I assume that to make things easier and quicker, easy access to all outlets and switches and the breaker panel would be needed. Is there any other suggestions that would make mine and the electrician's life easier before they come to look at it? -- I had planned in the future to have an electrician come in and redo the upstairs outlets since most of them are not grounded outlets. How much of an expense or time can I expect out of such a job?
I realize that my questions about costs and time are very hard to answer since it always is different from job to job, but like I've said before, I'm just looking for general ball park ideas on how I should start planning to fund these expenses. My ultimate concern is for the safety of my family.
Thank you to everyone for you input, I would still appreciate any comments or suggestions on things I can try to test or do!
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If you feel like you're in over your head, then what you should do is kill that circut at the service panel, and then call a local electrician and explain the symptoms, and ask HIM what he will and will not do, and for how much.
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Goedjn, you know what you are right (it's common sense), but I also do think that your previous posting is helpful to me at all.
All I have been asking for is suggestions, opinions, and experiences that people may have had that can help me understand my situation better. I have not had a chance yet to call an electrician and ask these questions or even try some of the suggested testing (been putting in long hours at work this week and have not had time). Ultimately I know that things such as EXACT costs and time will have to come from the electrician that I request services from (if and when I take that route). But I do not think that it will hurt to ask this group for some feedback to have a better understanding of some things I should look for or can expect.
Again, thank you to everyone else for the helpful suggestions and comments and to Goedjn you first post was very informative and I will take your advice for testing. As for you last post, thanks for nothing!
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