Troubleshoot receptacle issue

bnk920March 22, 2014

Hello forum, ...I tried a search but didn't find what I'm looking for. I'm anxious to get some input.

I'm installing 3 outlets around my workbench in the basement. Not for heavy tools, just a lamp or two.
Hidden behind the previous owners pegboard was 14/2 Romex that was not connected to anything. Voltage tester said it was hot.

I turned the breaker off, extended the line with a junction box and wired 3 receptacles. When I flipped the breaker back on, not only were the receptacles all dead, but now the original wiring was not reading any voltage.

Disconnected the run, and the original wiring was hot again.

Reconnect, and tried the wiring in what I believe to be both series and parallel. Triple checked all the wire nuts and all the screw terminal connections. Still no voltage reading.

Disconnect the run. Connect receptacle directly to original wire and all hot....but outlet does not work.

My only guess is that maybe there's something going on upstream that I cannot see or get to. To be honest, I have no idea where the original wire comes from....or what it may be connected to.

Does anyone have any ideas on this? See pic

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What are you using to test for voltage?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 9:35PM
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When you originally tested it did you check hot to neutral or hot to ground. You might have power but no neutral. If you test power to ground with no neutral you will read power even without a neutral

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 9:36PM
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Try testing the new outlets hot to ground and hot to neutral. If you still have nothing take everything apart and test it the way you did in the beginning. All else fails cap of the old wire and run a new one. Also in an unfinished basement the outlets need to be gfi protected, it's code and safer.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 9:40PM
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thanks for the quick replies....

I'm using a voltage detector, 50-100v AC.

And I don't know what it means to test hot to nuetral/ hot to ground.... I just touched the device on the wire...... (??)

And thanks for that tip....I'll back up a bit on this and run GFI receptacles!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 10:09PM
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Your NC tester is giving you a phantom reading. NC testers have limitations and their results should never be taken as 100% truth. The wire is probably dead. If you don't know what neutral to hot/neutral to ground means and you don't know to use GFCI protection in a basement you might want to ask someone more qualified to help you, this is very basic and if you don't understand it you probably shouldn't be doing this on your own, very easy to make a simple mistake that could be deadly.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 10:25PM
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I'm not uncomfortable with this job...I just need to figure out where the issue is. I don't depend on the detector (though it has always been reliable, either hot or zero).... I actually flip ALL the breakers, including the main, when I work. My device detects, it doesn't now I understand the line ground/ line nuetral tests. I was checking here first to see if I was missing something or if this was a common problem. I'll purchase a voltmeter and measure per Niick's suggestion....

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 11:38PM
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Joefixit is right If you don't know those few things you should prob call someone who does. Electric is dangerous and need to be taken seriously. If you do something wrong you could kill someone.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 9:35AM
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Thanks for the help. I'll move to a different forum.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 10:22AM
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Buy a real volt meter not a non-contact tester. You will never figure out what is going on without it.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 11:19AM
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I can make my non-contact tester howl by stroking my cat. I rely on mine to occasionally tell me that something is hot, but never to tell me that it's not.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 6:00PM
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I installed a whole new circuit and replaced the first receptacle with gfci. Easy. Thanks for the feedback on devices!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 11:11PM
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