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  1. #1
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    Oct 2008
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    Default replacing outlet

    OK, I want to replace an outlet in my friends house that was burnt out, the outlet burnt out. But here is the problem:
    There are 2 service wires coming into the J box, one of which is black, which I've never seen before, and which has 4 wires + ground. The other service wire has the regular 2 wires + ground. Which ever way I configure the wires there is always something not connected, either the wall outlets won't get power or the ceiling light won't get power. So we elected to go with the outlets getting the power. BUT when this configuration is set up the outlet that I'm working on doesn't get any power. So now not only do I not have the ceiling light but the outlet that I was replacing doesn't have any power either which I really don't understand.
    The service box says that switch is 15 amps and I put in a 15 amp outlet. I do not have access to the attic so I can't see where anything is going or coming from.
    Do you have any suggestions, PLEASE.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: replacing outlet

    2 questions :

    1 - before removing the old recetacle .... how was everything hooked up?

    2 - is this receptacle .... or half of it ...... controlled by a switch ?
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  3. #3
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    Oct 2008
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    Unhappy Re: replacing outlet

    The old receptacle, which had basically crumbled due to the little fire, had one hot wire attached normally and two attached via the rear, the two grounds were twisted together. I assumed that this configuration is what caused the fire. I don't know and my friend doesn't know whether the switch controled that outlet. She moved in after the outlet had the problem. I'm assuming that it didn't but you know what assuming does, lol.
    When I configure the wires so that the ceiling light works, the rest of the outlets doesn't work.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: replacing outlet

    had one hot wire attached normally and two attached via the rear, the two grounds were twisted together.
    Alrighty then ... going to need more detail .... you're there and we're not .... pretty hard to see what's what over the internet.

    There are 2 service wires coming into the J box, one of which is black, which I've never seen before, and which has 4 wires + ground. The other service wire has the regular 2 wires + ground.
    Which cable's black wire has 120 volts when the breaker is turned on ?

    What combination do you connect to have the lights work and not the receptacles?

    What combination do you connect to have the receptacles work and not the light?
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  5. #5
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    Default Re: replacing outlet

    Given a combination of factors:
    • * the strangeness of the cable coming in (four wires plus ground? very unusual)
    • * the fact that you've already tried some things that didn't work
    • * the fact that there was a fire most likely caused by an incorrect installation

    this is probably a good candidate for calling in an electrician.

    It might be worth paying a couple hundred bucks to have the peace of mind that someone experienced has checked it out and fixed what needs fixing. Then if the house burns down, it'll be the electrician's insurance & bonding that you can go after.

    I'm all for DIY, but when things turn strange, that's when it's time to call in someone with experience.

    That one with the 4 wires plus ground -- are you sure it's not two cables coming in through the same knockout? If so, that might simplify it. Or not. If you've got an ohm-meter or continuity tester, with the power shut off you should be able to figure out what wires go where. That will help us figure this thing out.
    Last edited by Fencepost; 10-03-2008 at 04:58 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: replacing outlet

    curious what the colors of the four wires plus ground is/was the insulation on the wires.

    thinking you might have originally had half the receptacle controlled by the switch with feed through on the other half always on instead of pigtailing on the other half mabe it originally had intermitant stripping and wrapped around a screw not terminating on one, and that you have multi-wire branch circuits sharing the grounded conductor or mabe the switch is a 3-way not a single pole switch and power is to the switch first and then to outlet and half of the outlet was always on or power goes on through to other outlets in the room through the switch box beyond to the other outlets?

    since its not your house and you don't live there, your friend should get an elevtrician in. I agree with the other poster, especially since there was a fire.

    most places you need a licensed person in, unless you live there then you can work on it yourself. most places will look the other way if you're a family member but don't actually live there, but this is your friends residence and your not related so you and your friend could have problems diy'ing it. no good deed goes unpunished, if your friend gets another fire or killed or something you don't want that on your head. if your frien can't afford it mabe you could pay for a electricain visit.

    somebody who knows how to trace a circuit and test things to make sure they are safe to use since there was a fire of sorts apparantly should be checking things out not just guessing. arc faults, dead shorts, overheated wiring, circuit protection, all concerns.

    that black cable with four wires plus ground should have marks on it mabe 2' back? could it be TC cable? xhhw i think its in 340? could this be a mobile home/trailer home that your friend has? is the ground wire bare or insulated (green)?
    Last edited by Blue RidgeParkway; 10-03-2008 at 06:07 PM.

  7. #7
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    Oct 2008
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    Smile Re: replacing outlet

    Thank you all for your responses. Having only a very, very basic knowledge of electricity and no instruments, I'm going to let this one stay as is for now. I really appreciate all of the suggestions and will let your know what is decided by my friend and what the outcome is. Thanks again.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: replacing outlet

    Quote Originally Posted by Fencepost View Post
    Given a combination of factors:
    • * the strangeness of the cable coming in (four wires plus ground? very unusual)
    • * the fact that you've already tried some things that didn't work
    • * the fact that there was a fire most likely caused by an incorrect installation
    this is probably a good candidate for calling in an electrician.

    It might be worth paying a couple hundred bucks to have the peace of mind that someone experienced has checked it out and fixed what needs fixing. Then if the house burns down, it'll be the electrician's insurance & bonding that you can go after.

    I'm all for DIY, but when things turn strange, that's when it's time to call in someone with experience.

    That one with the 4 wires plus ground -- are you sure it's not two cables coming in through the same knockout? If so, that might simplify it. Or not. If you've got an ohm-meter or continuity tester, with the power shut off you should be able to figure out what wires go where. That will help us figure this thing out.
    I have a suspect it's a 14/3 cable and he's including the ground conductor in the count..... and totally agree if they're not sure what to do it's best to leave it to an electrcian.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: replacing outlet

    Currently I have a two position 110 outlet (top & bottom) and want to convert it to a 4 positon outlet (2 on top and 2 on the bottom) . Any suggestions on the best way to do this

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