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Unread 04-20-2019, 10:03 PM   #1
Baron57
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Tile Saw caused localized powe outage

My contractor was working on the front porch, and the power went out. So he moved to another outlet. When I came home the doorbell, porch lights, outlets etc along that wall no longer work. He claims he does not know why. I checked the breaker. It was not tripped, but I turned it off & back on-did not help. I only have 1 gfci and that's only bc I updated the bath last year. Resetting it did not help (bathroom power never went out).
I called the electric company, the meter is fine & the tech was kind enough to open the panel, & check the porch breaker it tested fine. The porch outlets are not burned, I pulled the 1 he plugged into out checked the wiring it's fine. Since it was old, I replaced it, when I turned the breaker on. I touched a wire and was shocked, but no lights came on.
The contractor is not taking any responsibility. The doorbell has a camera, that is how I knew right away that something was wrong.
Does anyone have any ideas on how to repair?
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Last edited by Baron57; 04-20-2019 at 10:06 PM. Reason: Typo's
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Unread 04-20-2019, 10:16 PM   #2
Tool Guy - Kg
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Welcome to the forum, Baron.

I think I’m following you, but correct me if I’ve misread.
So, if you’ve got power at the breaker...
..and you’ve got power at the porch outlet...
...but nothing beyond...
...then the break in power lies between the porch outlet and the very next thing it feeds.

Can you trace where the power extends to after the porch outlet?

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Unread 04-20-2019, 10:17 PM   #3
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You dropped a neutral somewhere in the circuit. Check adjacent boxes or junction boxes.

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Unread 04-20-2019, 10:17 PM   #4
cx
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Welcome, Baron.

You do realize we are a ceramic tile information website, yes?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baron
I pulled the 1 he plugged into out checked the wiring it's fine.
Did you check to see if there was voltage at those wires? Is that the place where you indicate you were shocked?

In situations like that I find the best troubleshooting method is to find where you do have voltage available and work forward from there to determine where you cease to have said voltage. Or you can work from those places - outlets or switches or lights or "other" - where you have no voltage and work backward until you find where you do have voltage.

Pretty difficult to armchair diagnose an electrical problem where we know nothing more than you had power there, but now you don't.

PS: I can't imagine how you would hold your contractor responsible for such a failure. Even if his equipment that was connected to your power source was faulty, the worst he could possibly do would be to trip your circuit breaker.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 04-20-2019, 10:43 PM   #5
jadnashua
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At some time, someone may have protected those receptacles with another GFCI buried somewhere. TOday's codes want them almost everywhere, but especially in kitchens, bathrooms, outside and basements.

A tile saw can have a fairly heavy draw. IF there's a loose connection, it can create some weird results, too. Especially on exterior devices, a little moisture, lots of temperature variations, can cause some corrosion and literally loosen an improperly torqued connection.

It's also possible that the breaker is either bad or the bus bar connection is loose or corroded.
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Unread 04-20-2019, 11:34 PM   #6
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I am with Jim. There is a gfci outlet somewhere that's tripped. Its the one with the red and black buttons labeled test and reset. You may have to search the whole house to find it. Maybe it's in the kitchen, bathroom, or probably garage. It's most likely buried behind a pile of stuff about 4 feet high.

As for your tile contractor. He did nothing wrong nor did he or his tools cause damage to your electrical. Your electrical was subpar long before he got to it.


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Unread 04-20-2019, 11:48 PM   #7
Baron57
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Yes I realize this is a Tile Forum. I just thought i would ask you just in case. everything worked before the saw was plugged in. Yes I have electricity at the outlet, but when I plug in a lamp no light.
The electric company tech checked the panel thoroughly while I watched, he definitely checked the front porch breaker.

I do not know where to dig for underground gfci, but those were not required until 1970, the house was built in the 60s.
How do I determine what is fed next from the porch outlet. No I do not know how to trace the path.

Thanks to all for the responses. I was hoping I missed something easy to fix. I need an electrican...
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Unread 04-21-2019, 12:09 AM   #8
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First thing I'd do is pull the cover off of the receptacle that no longer works. Look at the cable(s). Is there more than one coming into that box? Is there a ground wire? If there is, measure between the black wire and ground. If you get voltage (should be 120vac if there's power there), but things don't work, check between the black and white wire. That should also be 120vac. If it's not the same (within say a volt or two) with the hot to ground, you have a problem in the white (neutral), which was mentioned. Note, modern, high-impedance multimeters can give you misleading results if you're not familiar with what's going on.

There should never be current on the ground, or safety line. Back in the panel, ground and neutral should be tied together, but as things age, those connections may not be great any more.

To actually get things to work, the power must come from the black lead, through the device in question, and return on the white wire. The ground has nothing to do with the power unless there's a fault, then it can trip the protection device.

If the cable only has black and white with no ground, if you measure some voltage between the B and W wires, but things don't work...plug something in, and measure again. If there's a loose connection, the voltage level typically will be much less.

If you don't feel comfortable doing this, by all means, get an electrician...messing with electricity when you don't know what you're doing can be dangerous...even if you do, but are careless, it could kill you.
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Unread 04-21-2019, 07:41 AM   #9
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I'd be very careful to blame the contractor. Even if his saw malfunctioned, a properly equipped electric circuit would respond adequately by tripping the breaker (overcurrent or ground fault) and thus protecting the circuit.

You might have some weird wiring configuration with a loose neutral or a GFI outlet hidden somewhere. I know the wiring in my 1960s home was a hot mess in many ways. Pun intended!
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Unread 04-21-2019, 08:26 AM   #10
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I dont think it is a gfci. I think there is bad connection somewhere that came loose once the large startup current of the saw went through that connection. The wiring on a given circuit goes from one box to the next and if you lose connection in one box all the outlets downstream from there will also lose power. My guess is the wires connect through the spring compression part out of the outlet (rather then screw down section ) and that time and heat have made that connection fail on one of the outlets. Seen this happpen many times.

The fact you think your the tile guy is somehow responsible for your sub par wiring and that you shocked yourself in the process of repair is not indicative of someone who understands residential electrical well enough. I suggest you contact a licensed electrician.

Fyi Jim you are thinking of current flow in a DC circuit. In an AC circuit current flow alternates equally. There is no posative or negative. The hot and neutral carry current in both directions.

https://physics.stackexchange.com/qu...e-neutral-wire
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Unread 04-21-2019, 09:28 AM   #11
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John - while you are correct that ac flows both ways only the black wire carries the source power. In most houses of that age the neutral and ground are tied together in the panel.

As a FYI, newer homes since mid 2000 use isolated neutral which feed into AFCI Breakers. I’ve had issues with AFCI breaker “learning” about a certain saw and tripping after a few minutes. After resetting the breaker, it will immediately trip anytime that saw is used on that circuit.

Agree that the problem is inside of one of the supply side boxes. I’d start pulling the covers and checking the power one by one until I found the loose connection.


Also agree that this is not a time to learn about electricity from scratch and a licensed electrician would be a good idea.
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Unread 04-21-2019, 09:29 AM   #12
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I'll bet John's got it right.

Either a backstab outlet that's not feeding downstream or perhaps an in-box connection that is no longer viable. I've had wire nuts appear to be installed right, and yet one conductor is kinda pushed out of the twist rather squashed into it. (how's that for technical jargon?)

I've seen these work for years with minor arcing which ultimately resulted in an open circuit. The inrush current on tile saw may have been straw that broke camel's back, but that's a wiring problem, not a saw problem.


It's one of the downsides to daisy chained outlets, but it's code compliant. I much prefer to pigtail each one, which is also acceptable.
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Unread 04-21-2019, 10:10 AM   #13
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I’m with you Pete, pigtail every connection especially with non-AFCI. Those push in are a failure waiting to happen and those “micro” arcs are a significant source of household fires.
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Unread 04-21-2019, 09:27 PM   #14
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FWIW Backstabbing is no longer to code in my fair state.

On my last commercial job I was told to use a certain outlet for my old Felker tilemaster. When we arrived to start work the next day the outlet and wall it was attached to were gone. The GC pointed to an already overloaded outlet and told me, "Use this one" I reminded him our contract stated we get our own 20 amp outlet to protect the computers in the offices. He said to use it anyway. When we flipped the switch on the saw the lights went out on the entire floor. In the dark I reminded him of why we had that clause in our contract.
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Unread 04-22-2019, 12:49 AM   #15
jadnashua
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I prefer the devices that have you put the wire in the back, but then, it's anchored by a plate being pushed against it when you use the screw...

While the back jabbed receptacles can work, if the thing is used long periods at higher current, the spring can loose tension and create some issues down the road. That can also affect the spring tension on the blades for the plug when you insert it. It should take some pressure to insert the plug. When it slides in (or out), it's time to replace it.

A gfci works by comparing the power on both the hot and neutral...if it differs by more than 5ma, it trips. Any that strays outside of the intended path is a fault...power is finding its way to ground via a fault...thus, ground fault for short.

Voltage and current can get confusing. There's current on the neutral, but referenced to ground, it should be zero volts if everything is working right. You won't get current flow without voltage, so between neutral and ground, there shouldn't be any, as they are ultimately, tied together at some point.

Subpanels, from what I understand, have the neutral and ground separated, but in the main panel, they're connected. Has that changed?
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