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Author Topic: cheap and dirty outlet tester that works.  (Read 9877 times)

frank kayser

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Re: cheap and dirty outlet tester that works.
« Reply #20 on: February 13, 2015, 11:13:40 am »

Probing around my house, with no grounds used anywhere  and random line-neutral wiring I found some light switch feeds that were always hot and some that only indicated when the light was switched on.
JR
Every time you write about the wiring in your home, I shudder just a bit.
frank
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: cheap and dirty outlet tester that works.
« Reply #21 on: February 13, 2015, 12:03:33 pm »

Every time you write about the wiring in your home, I shudder just a bit.
frank

I have to resist the manly-man approach to laugh in the face of danger and ignore the situation. IMO It is not overtly dangerous, and the only time I got shocked by my house it was out in my yard by a mud hole caused by a broken water line but the shock hazard was caused by a neighbor's horribly mis-wired extension cord (line swapped with ground  :o :o :o ), and a proper earth ground path back to my service panel.

I asked my neighbor, if he knew who was trying to kill him, (or me?)  ;D It was not chance that was standing as far away from the water filled hole as the line cord would allow when I plugged in my sump pump. I felt the shock from current flowing through the wet ground, enough to know something was wrong, but not enough to blow a fuse. The sump pump didn't work, but the extension cord apparently had power. If I was standing in the water filled hole it could have turned out differently, but "momma didn't raise no fool".  Another reminder to not ASSume borrowed electrical cords are safe. 

I continue to make improvements when I can relatively easily. In recent years I have installed GFCI outlets in my bathroom and kitchen (by the sink). When I replaced my dishwasher I replaced the two wire power feed with a proper 3 wire cord, albeit plugged into a 2 wire outlet. On my to-do list is to install a GFCI outlet to that same outlet where my washing machine plugs in, and add a separate ground wire back to a screw on the service panel that is only a few feet away.

I have identified several reversed polarity outlets in my house, but with modern equipment that should not be a serious problem. If my house had bootleg wired 3 circuit outlets it would be a serious candidate for RPBG since the electricians who wired this house were not rigorous at all about wiring line and neutral properly.

JR

PS: I notice a relatively new house about a half mile from mine only built a few years ago has burned down.. I wonder if it was wired by the same guy.  ;D
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: cheap and dirty outlet tester that works.
« Reply #22 on: February 13, 2015, 01:35:15 pm »

I was pretty cavalier about the old wiring in my house until January 2007.  I only had one wire I was concerned about-the old service entrance wire that should have had a 60 amp ampacity.  It had been repurposed as a feeder to overhead lines to outbuildings.  I installed a 30 amp breaker-giving me some leeway-or so I thought until that wire caught fire at 1:30 am and caused over $250,000 damage in next 2 hours.  I am very thankful no one was even treated for injuries-but I became a much more conscientious electrician!   
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: cheap and dirty outlet tester that works.
« Reply #23 on: February 13, 2015, 02:48:43 pm »

Not to waste too much bandwidth on my personal problems, but I have several 30A fuses still in my old fusebox used by a previous owner. I bought some 20A fuses and replaced any that failed, but I don't lose many fuses as long as I don't do more foolish hot switch or outlet replacements.

But even a 20A fuse is NOT completely protective against fire if there is a high resistance connection somewhere. Good news is I do not have any aluminum wiring (AFAIK) but I did replace one old outlet that was getting warm from a heater plugged into it. I figured if the plug and outside was warm, the outlet could be hot.

A few years ago my electric stove burner was not getting hot. I crawled underneath it and found some loose hand twisted wires. That could have been a fire waiting to happen but the burner not getting hot got me to fix that pretty quickly. But the evidence suggests there could be more dodgy wiring around..   Electric in-wall heaters, what could go wrong.   ::)

JR

PS: I do have a smoke alarm and keep it in batteries.
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: cheap and dirty outlet tester that works.
« Reply #24 on: February 13, 2015, 03:02:34 pm »

-FWIW, If I could not do a complete rewire, I would try to get a beaker panel and use the new arc fault breakers as much as possible.  They won't work where you have shared neutrals-but if you can use them they should trip even with loose connections.  I am pretty sure arc fault technology would have prevented my fire.  To me it is ironic that they are required in new homes/wiring-but they could actually be more effective with old wiring.  Yes they are expensive-but so are fires, yes insurance covered the money but not all of my personal cleanup time-and my deductible was high enough to fill a typical panel with arc fault breakers.

Sorry to veer this far OT-but I think this info could be a lifesaver for someone who reads and heeds.
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Steve Swaffer

John Roberts {JR}

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Re: cheap and dirty outlet tester that works.
« Reply #25 on: February 13, 2015, 03:35:57 pm »

-FWIW, If I could not do a complete rewire, I would try to get a beaker panel and use the new arc fault breakers as much as possible.  They won't work where you have shared neutrals-but if you can use them they should trip even with loose connections.  I am pretty sure arc fault technology would have prevented my fire.  To me it is ironic that they are required in new homes/wiring-but they could actually be more effective with old wiring.  Yes they are expensive-but so are fires, yes insurance covered the money but not all of my personal cleanup time-and my deductible was high enough to fill a typical panel with arc fault breakers.

Sorry to veer this far OT-but I think this info could be a lifesaver for someone who reads and heeds.
If they are that effective the insurance companies should offer deep discounts for home owners upgrading to them.

I am pretty curious about why the (new) house up the road burned down.. I need to ask around about that.

JR

[edit] I asked my local fire dept.  and they say the fire started on the second floor but they don't know the cause. Neighborhood gossip is that fire may be suspicious. [/edit]
« Last Edit: February 13, 2015, 05:09:06 pm by John Roberts {JR} »
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Mike Sokol

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Re: cheap and dirty outlet tester that works.
« Reply #26 on: February 13, 2015, 04:37:07 pm »

My favorite dual sensitivity tester is the Klein NCVT-2. Costs about $20 in a lot of big box stores.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2015, 07:16:27 am by Mike Sokol »
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: cheap and dirty outlet tester that works.
« Reply #27 on: February 13, 2015, 10:30:14 pm »


If they are that effective the insurance companies should offer deep discounts for home owners upgrading to them.


My experience is that they tend to refuse to write new policies for homes with K & T or fuse boxes.  The only choice new owners have is to upgrade the panel and/or wiring and then the AHJ mandates the AFCI.  Why discount when you can strong arm?
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Steve Swaffer

Steve M Smith

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Re: cheap and dirty outlet tester that works.
« Reply #28 on: February 14, 2015, 06:41:35 am »

A few years ago my electric stove burner was not getting hot. I crawled underneath it and found some loose hand twisted wires. That could have been a fire waiting to happen

In my last house, the light above the stairs which had two way switching stopped working.  In tracing the wiring, I lifted up some insulation in the roof space and found a spaghetti like jumble of wires and connector blocks.  Any part of the 1950s rubber wire which I touched crumbled away to dust.  That was definitely a fire waiting to happen.


Steve.
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Re: cheap and dirty outlet tester that works.
« Reply #28 on: February 14, 2015, 06:41:35 am »


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