Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Don't get your wires in a knot...

When I started in on my main circuit breaker panel, there were a lot of breakers with two wires coming off of them.  Probably not a big deal... but I either got lucky or God was watching out for me!  But let's back up for a second...

I started out this project flipping breakers and figuring out what it turned off in my house.  It all went fine till I flipped one and couldn't figure it out... actually, there might have been three of those.  No big deal, I'll figure it out later... right?  Well as I've been swapping wires over from one panel to the next, it opened up breakers in the main.  Then I'd take the doubled up wires and spread them out, so they no longer share a breaker.  During this time, I don't think I ever moved two special wires, but I did discover that when one wire was energized, the other one was too!  It got to one point where I had to flip BOTH breakers in order to turn off the lights in the basement... hmmm... why?

This weekend my neighbor came over to help me trouble shoot the wires... my wife caught me with the drywall saw about to attack the problem and told me to call the electrician.

What kind of self respecting man calls a professional before exhausting all other options?
That's an easy one...                             THIS ONE!

So my neighbor came over, talked me into putting down the drywall saw and started walking through the problem with me.  In the process, as I was about to pull the two wires off one breaker and put one on another, he suggested I stop... as in DON'T DO THAT!

As I pointed out before, when one wire is in a circuit turned on, the lights are on.  I should also mention that the other wire is hot at this point, indicating that the two wires are connected somehow.  I proved this with my volt-meter by testing for voltage from the wire to the ground terminal... yep, 125 volts!

Now the reason I shouldn't put that other wire into a second breaker is that I would then risk putting it into the other leg of the power coming into the house... this would create a 240volt circuit instead of 120volts... a very potentially dangerously risky thing to do in terms of burning down your house... those light's are not designed to take 240volts!

Well we eventually narrowed it down to some 3 way switches and a switch box with all of the black (hot or energized) wires tied in together in a single red wire nut... well there were two wires that shouldn't have been tied in together and when we pulled them apart, everything worked just as it should.

So now I can wire my living room into the sub-panel without any worries...

Why not just leave them on one breaker?

The problem is that I wanted to only wire up the living room to the sub-panel.  If I had done this without correcting this problem, when operating on generator power, I would have ended up with one wire coming out of my sub-panel that fed power back into my main panel and hence, back out to the power lines the line-men are trying to repair... defeating the whole point!  It was a stupid mistake by whomever wired up the house, but I'm glad we got it fixed...

Besides, if I had called the electrician, I'd be out money, pride and the knowledge I gained from this experience... and knowledge is one thing that can't be taken away from you.

With that, have a good one!


No comments:

Post a Comment