OT Electrical Conundrum

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Jim Behning wrote:
> Now you have me curious. But I do not have any electrician friends and > do not want to bother a supply house with a "Can I see all three > receptacles?" What differs among the three grades?
I have been away from the industry to intelligently answer your question.
As far as I can remember, it has to do with the internal construction of the device, the number of insertion/withdrawal cycles, etc, etc.
Lew
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Lew Hodgett wrote:

OK. Thanks for the info.
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On Sat, 6 Jan 2007 17:39:18 -0700, Lew Hodgett wrote

Mostly. It also includes more contact surfaces for the sockets (edge and sides of the plug prongs) and a much more robust metal frame for the mounts and center screw that holds on the cover plate. The plastic is also more forgiving against chipping and cracking.

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Bad connection on the first receptacle. When you pulled it out to check it, you jogged it around enough to make contact. The other outlets were fed through that one.
I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the connections at that receptacle were "backstabbed" (using push-in terminals on the back side). If so, you just found out why backstabbed connections aren't a real good thing. I hope you used the screw terminals when you installed the new ones.
--
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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DonkeyHody wrote:

Breaker switched off...

... breaker switched on.

The circuit breaker was most likely tripped. On a variety of different brands of breakers its very difficult to tell if they're tripped by visual inspection.
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Jack Novak
Buffalo, NY - USA
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Don't think so. He said near the beginning of his post:
" It didn't look tripped, but I flipped it back and forth to be sure."
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Doug Miller wrote:

I read that to mean the GFCI.
I did notice that the OP said he checked the voltage at the wire lug of the breaker and read 120V to ground. I've be known to measure voltage on the wrong breaker occasionally. :-(
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Jack Novak
Buffalo, NY - USA
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I read that to mean the "GFCI breaker" that the OP said he checked and flipped.
The relevant paragraph in full: "Yesterday I noticed that neither of the bathroom lights worked. Knowing that the lights are on the same circuit as my wife's hair dryer (because the lights dim a little when she fires it up), I deduced that the GFCI breaker had probably tripped. It didn't look tripped, but I flipped it back and forth to be sure."
Two specific references in the original post to a "GFCI breaker" mean either that the GFCI and the breaker are one and the same, or that the OP is using terminology incorrectly.
I'm gonna go with the former.

I've *never* done anything *that* dumb. <shuffle, shuffle, mumble, mumble> Not often, anyway.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Just to clarify a few points . . .
1. I'm talking about a Sqare D 15 amp GVCI circuit breaker. The GFCI is provided at the breaker, not on a receptacle.
2. I checked the voltage at the wire lug on the breaker several times and flipped the breaker on and off to verify that the voltage drops to zero when the breaker is off. By the way, the digital tester apparently doesn't carry enough current to trip the GFCI when I tested the voltage from wire lug to ground.
3. All the wiring in the house is copper. This circuit happens to be 14 gauge copper. The house was built in 1976 with 14 gauge wire and a single GFCI breaker serving lights and receptacles in two bathrooms, two receptacles in the living room, two kitchen counter receptacles by the sink and two outside receptacles. Several years ago I split the circuit, added a second 20 Amp GFCI breaker, and ran 12 gauge copper to the OTHER bathroom because a hair dryer in either bathroom dimmed the lights so much, and two at once would trip the breaker (DUH). Without so many loads on the wire, the 20 amp circuit doesn't dim at all with the hair dryer, and the 15 amp dims just enough to notice if you're watching it.
My main question was whether the most likely culprit was the old receptacle with stab-in connectors or a loose connection at the breaker. I think you've convinced me it was probably the receptacle. Thanks for all the replies.
DonkeyHody "Every man is my superior in that I can learn from him."
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wrote:

Was the device use to connect the wires in the run. If so that is what was wrong, pigtailing to the device ensures voltage beyond a bad plug (device).
Mark (sixoneeight) = 618
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Markem (sixoneeight) wrote:

This the most significant post in this thread. Good electrical workmanship requires receptacles in series to be pigtailed. Most building codes require it. And sadly, way too few DIY'ers ever do it. My pair of pennies.
Joe
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Joe wrote:

See, I learn something new every day. I didn't know wiring in series was a substandard way of doing it. Most every receptacle I ever pull out of a box uses the receptacle itself to transfer the power down the line. And most of them have the wires stabbed in the back instead of screwed to the side. I can see the advantages of pigtails, and I'll do it that way from now on. I don't think I'll go yanking my receptacles out to retrofit though. Thanks for the tip.
DonkeyHody "Every man is my superior in that I can learn from him."
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wrote:

Wire nuts with pigtails with a machine crimped lug. Fast efficent and now when the problem reoccurs (and it will) having some around will make for quick repairs.
Mark (sixoneeight) = 618
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I believe pigtails are required by National Electric code now. The city here gives out a booklet to homeowners doing their own wiring and lists common things that homeowners miss and pigtails are listed as a requirement.
Brian Elfert
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wrote:

Got a cite for that?

Might be a requirement in your local jurisdiction, but AFAIK this is *not* in the NEC.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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On Fri, 05 Jan 2007 15:31:24 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

Only NEC requirement I know of is that a device will be removable with out interrupting the neutral in a run. Kind of implies that the neutral be pigtailed.
Mark (sixoneeight) = 618
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(sixoneeight)@hotmail wrote:

Got a cite for that? <g>
Seriously, I've never seen that one either. Doesn't mean it isn't there... but I'll have to see it in the Code before I believe it.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) writes:

Section 300-13 (b) (1999 NEC). Only applies to multiwire branch circuits.
scott
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wrote:

Yep -- that's because opening the neutral on a multiwire branch circuit results instantly in a 240V potential across 120V devices. AFAIK there's no general requirement to pigtail anything, just in that one circumstance.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) writes:

I don't see how a 120 device (wired with one current carrying conductor, a grounded conductor and a grounding conductor) can suddenly have a 240V potential simply because the grounded conductor no longer is.
My assumption here vis-a-vis multiwire circuits are those where two current carrying conductors from different legs are paired with a grounded conductor to allow e.g. 12-3NM w/g to provide two distinct 120V branch circuits, or in a commercial setting using 208 three phase using 4 wires to provide 4 120 circuits.
scott
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