I was destined to be powerless

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I was destined to be powerless

Postby Ira » Sat Feb 11, 2006 6:15 pm

Remember THIS doozy of a thread of mine?

http://tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?t=6398

Followed by THIS beauty?

http://tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?t=6607

Fast forward three weeks of doing no work, I finally get to the boatyard to wire like the wind, and this is what happened:

The panel is wired, and I want to connect the 15amp line to the outlet. I connect the wires, plug into shore, hit the main breaker and that line breaker on, and I'm in business. Brrrrrrrrrrr goes my drill when I test. I'm a happy man.

I turn everything off, screw the outlet to the metal receptacle/box, and as soon as I turn power back on, it immediately trips the main breaker off.

First I'm thinking that maybe when I had to squeeze those lengths of wire into the box, something got screwed up. So I remove it from the box, test again, and it's fine. I reattach it to box, then it's NOT fine.

Finally, I remove it from the box, it's fine again, and all I do is thread ONE of those screws just like ONE revolution, just making contact with the box.

And it trips off immediately.

So in other words, if I was using a plastic box, it would be fine right? But why is this happening? (I wired it exactly per Jack and Jim's instructions.)

After discussing it with a friend, is it possible that some insulation wore off where the wire goes through the punchout of the box, it's making contact with the box, and THIS is causing it to short?

But those little butterfly things with the holes that attach to the box have nothing to do with the workings of that outlet anyway, right?

Any ideas? I am REALLY disgusted right now.
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Postby madjack » Sat Feb 11, 2006 6:29 pm

....first off, didja run any ground wires(connected to the metal box...second, is the green wire run from the receptacle to the common ground bus in the panel...you almost certainly have a short from the metal box to the black wire...one other question...the receptacles have screws on the sides...silver on one side and gold colored on the other...the white wire goes to the silver side and the black wire goes to the gold colored side and the green to the green screw on the recptacles metal frame...check that out and look for a scraped wire and let us know...by the way does this happen with any of the other receptacles
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Postby Ira » Sat Feb 11, 2006 6:51 pm

madjack wrote:....first off, didja run any ground wires(connected to the metal box...second, is the green wire run from the receptacle to the common ground bus in the panel...you almost certainly have a short from the metal box to the black wire...one other question...the receptacles have screws on the sides...silver on one side and gold colored on the other...the white wire goes to the silver side and the black wire goes to the gold colored side and the green to the green screw on the recptacles metal frame...check that out and look for a scraped wire and let us know...by the way does this happen with any of the other receptacles
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The outlet is wired correctly--hot to the brass screw and neutral to the silver. And a ground wire runs from the common bus of the panel to the ground screw on the outlet.

There's no ground connected to the box at all. I just screwed it on the wall.

I would be glad to tell you if this happens to any of my other outlets if I HAD any other outlets done yet. This is the FIRST connection I'm making.

Man, this is a real headache--it's even a pain just connecting the wires to the panel--those screws are so damn short.
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Postby Micro469 » Sat Feb 11, 2006 6:56 pm

Ira wrote:
madjack wrote:....first off, didja run any ground wires(connected to the metal box...second, is the green wire run from the receptacle to the common ground bus in the panel...you almost certainly have a short from the metal box to the black wire...one other question...the receptacles have screws on the sides...silver on one side and gold colored on the other...the white wire goes to the silver side and the black wire goes to the gold colored side and the green to the green screw on the recptacles metal frame...check that out and look for a scraped wire and let us know...by the way does this happen with any of the other receptacles
madjack(concerned) 8)


The outlet is wired correctly--hot to the brass screw and neutral to the silver. And a ground wire runs from the common bus of the panel to the ground screw on the outlet.

There's no ground connected to the box at all. I just screwed it on the wall.

I would be glad to tell you if this happens to any of my other outlets if I HAD any other outlets done yet. This is the FIRST connection I'm making.

Man, this is a real headache--it's even a pain just connecting the wires to the panel--those screws are so damn short.


It is possible Ira, that if the box is crammed full, that the sides of the plug are touching the sides of the box, creating a short. a lot of electricians wrapp the plug with electrical tape to prevent this.
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Postby Ira » Sat Feb 11, 2006 7:03 pm

You mean they wrap the outlet, right? My friend said the same thing, but...

Like I said, at one point, all I basically did was just touch that little screw to the box,one rotation--the outlet was basically outside with no chance of anything touching it from there.
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Postby Micro469 » Sat Feb 11, 2006 7:12 pm

Okay, two things possible... when you connected the wires to the outlet, they could be touching each other or their connections(too much bare wire) or the outlet itself is faulty. The metal plate that you use to screw the outlet into the box is connected to the ground wire, so you must have live touching ground somewhere....
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Postby Kevin A » Sat Feb 11, 2006 7:29 pm

Ira, can you post some detailed photos of the box and wiring? Might help if we could see what you're working with.
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Postby Ira » Sat Feb 11, 2006 7:37 pm

Kevin, I'll see what the weather's like here tomorrow to try and get back there and take some photos, but it won't be easy to see.

Micro, the hot and neutral screws on the outlet are on opposite sides--no way they can touch other. Also, this happens when the entire outlet is a mile AWAY from the box--the only thing near the box is the end with the screw hole.

Also, my box is not grounded to anything at all. SHOULD IT BE? The only ground runs from the common ground bus of the panel to the ground on the outlet.
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Re: I was destined to be powerless

Postby Steve_Cox » Sat Feb 11, 2006 7:43 pm

Ira wrote:After discussing it with a friend, is it possible that some insulation wore off where the wire goes through the punchout of the box, it's making contact with the box, and THIS is causing it to short?



I didn't see anyplace in your postings that you checked this....I might have missed it though. Seems that short wires, sharp punch out edges, could be the problem. Your panel also has that reverse polarity feature that might not come into play as long as the wires are loose. as soon as you touch the grounded tabs on the box that might do it. It would trip the main breaker. Your source of power might have the polarity reversed, it might not be you. If that is the case, easy to detect with a volt meter.

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Re: I was destined to be powerless

Postby Ira » Sat Feb 11, 2006 7:52 pm

Steve_Cox wrote:


I didn't see anyplace in your postings that you checked this....I might have missed it though. Seems that short wires, sharp punch out edges, could be the problem. Your panel also has that reverse polarity feature that might not come into play as long as the wires are loose. as soon as you touch the grounded tabs on the box that might do it. It would trip the main breaker. Your source of power might have the polarity reversed, it might not be you. If that is the case, easy to detect with a volt meter.

Steve[/quote]

Okay--maybe we're getting closer here.

Steve, I didn't check for wire coming into contact with the box. That's my next step.

You're right about the reverse polarity feature of my panel (what the heck is that anyway?), but what do you mean by "as long as the wires are loose?"

Also, the owner of the boatyard kind of made a face when he was talking about how THEIR power was hooked up. That it was screwed up.

Could that really be the case? And finally, I DON'T have to ground the box to anything, correct?
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Re: I was destined to be powerless

Postby Steve_Cox » Sat Feb 11, 2006 8:14 pm

Ira wrote:Okay--maybe we're getting closer here.

Steve, I didn't check for wire coming into contact with the box. That's my next step.

You're right about the reverse polarity feature of my panel (what the heck is that anyway?), but what do you mean by "as long as the wires are loose?"

Also, the owner of the boatyard kind of made a face when he was talking about how THEIR power was hooked up. That it was screwed up.

Could that really be the case? And finally, I DON'T have to ground the box to anything, correct?



1 Check for shorts on both hot and neutral wire... that you will do next.

2 Boat yard guy - power screwed up? Only things it could be and still work is open ground or reverse polarity, Which is nothing more than hot and neutral hooked up backwards. If that's the case your reverse polarity light will come on when the breaker is tripped and it won't reset.

3 "The only ground runs from the common ground bus of the panel to the ground on the outlet." I'm going for 2 problems a. Reverse polarity
b. bare neutral (at least what you think is neutral ) wire touching the box, (it might really be the hot wire.)

Steve

Ya got a volt meter?
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Re: I was destined to be powerless

Postby Ira » Sat Feb 11, 2006 8:26 pm

Steve_Cox wrote:

1 Check for shorts on both hot and neutral wire... that you will do next.

2 Boat yard guy - power screwed up? Only things it could be and still work is open ground or reverse polarity, Which is nothing more than hot and neutral hooked up backwards. If that's the case your reverse polarity light will come on when the breaker is tripped and it won't reset.

3 "The only ground runs from the common ground bus of the panel to the ground on the outlet." I'm going for 2 problems a. Reverse polarity
b. bare neutral (at least what you think is neutral ) wire touching the box, (it might really be the hot wire.)

Steve

Ya got a volt meter?


1) I have a circuit tester and tested each wire. It was the first thing I did. Everything checked out okay. Is that what you mean?

2) I have a reverse polarity light? That's news to me.

3) I am a total idiot with this, but I feel extremely confident that even I am capable of discerning 3 colored wires and sticking them to the right spots.

I gotta buy a volt meter now???
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Postby Micro469 » Sat Feb 11, 2006 8:28 pm

Ira... you didn't put a screw through the wires when you were building it did you?? ;)
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Postby Sonetpro » Sat Feb 11, 2006 8:38 pm

Ira, Just a wild guess. Is it possible you might have run a screw though a wire when you screwed the box? No pic's so just guessing.
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Postby Steve_Cox » Sat Feb 11, 2006 8:42 pm

Sonetpro wrote:Ira, Just a wild guess. Is it possible you might have run a screw though a wire when you screwed the box? No pic's so just guessing.


That would trip the breaker, when you attached the outlet to the box...

Ira - Answer to your reverse polarity light question, we have the same panel, mine is just older, I got a refurbished one. Anyway the second indicator light under the main breaker is reverse polarity on my panel, I see you have a light there but no nomenclature for that light in your gallery photo. Here is my panel :

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