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pressureseal 09-19-2009 01:22 PM

Outlet Has Strange Power Source
I have an outlet in my kitchen which is not working. When I measure it I get 75 volts so there is some power there, just apparently not enough.

My main issue is that I am having trouble diagnosing the problem because I cannot turn the power off to the outlet. I turned off every single breaker and it was still registering 75 volts. It was not until I turned off the main breaker switch to the entire panel that the outlet stopped registering 75 volts.

One other thing I noticed was that there is a breaker, which I believe is the one that controls the plug, that I cannot turn on. When I tried to turn it on there was some fireworks and it shut itself off. Is it possible that the breaker has been damaged and is allowing some power (75 volts) to go through?

inspectorD 09-19-2009 04:51 PM

Change the breaker...what kind of panel is it? General electric, Murray.....Federal Pacific:eek:

pressureseal 09-19-2009 04:52 PM

Okay, well I actually figured out my problem.

After talking with an electrician, it turns out that the outlet was being powered by two different wires. The outlet is in the kitchen, the breaker (the one that was smoking when I turned it on) was a double, and there are 2 hot wires (red & black) going to the outlet. When the electrician heard this he said it was 2-phase wiring which I now know is pretty standard for kitchen outlets. The solution was to break the little metal tab on the side of the outlet where the red & black wire in so that they are not crossing. I guess without the tab removed the outlet was pulling 240 which completely overloaded the circuit and caused the break to not turn on.

I am not sure why the outlet had 75 volts without the breaker on, the electrician suggested it might have been coming from the neutral wire. At any rate, by breaking the tab and turning on the breaker the 75 volt issue went away and the outlet works.

Hope this helps someone.

JoeD 09-21-2009 09:58 PM

That is what is called a split wired receptacle. What was happening with the tab in place was you were shorting directly from one leg to the other. A direct short across 240 volts.

You were also using a digital meter and reading a phantom voltage. Digital meters are not a good choice for AC electrical work.

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