Electrical question...

Dom

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So I have an outdoor outlet without any power. Since there isn't any point to an outlet without power, I've set out to resolve the problem.

The outlet sits on the back deck and above it is the deck light. Above that light is a second floor bedroom, where an outlet was replaced. It was while changing that outlet that power to the deck outlet went out. But once the new outlet in the bedroom was installed, the deck outlet came back on.

Based on this, I came to conclude that the deck outlet was being fed from the outlet on the second floor.

Fast forward several years later to today, where the deck outlet is now without power.

I've removed the deck outlet and tested directly to wires to be sure the outlet itself wasn't the culprit. No power.

I then went to the second floor bedroom outlet mentioned above. Everything seems connected correctly, but I am puzzled by some of my voltage readings...

Below is a picture of the bedroom outlet:

1. The black and white wires on the lower right have no voltage.

2. The white wire, which is left of the red wire and the black wire that is still connected to the outlet read 120v AC.

3. The voltage across the black wire connected to the outlet and the red wire reads 240v AC.

How is this possible in a building that is only 110 service?

Nothing else in the house is effected with the outlet as pictured. Frankly, I'd like to cap off the red and not use it.

Any electricians that can help me understand what's going on here?


FullSizeRender.jpeg
 
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So I have an outdoor outlet without any power. Since there isn't any point to an outlet without power, I've set out to resolve the problem.

The outlet sits on the back deck and above it is the deck light. Above that light is a second floor bedroom, where an outlet was replaced. It was while changing that outlet that power to the deck outlet went out. But once the new outlet in the bedroom was installed, the deck outlet came back on.

Based on this, I came to conclude that the deck outlet was being fed from the outlet on the second floor.

Fast forward several years later to today, where the deck outlet is now without power.

I've removed the deck outlet and tested directly to wires to be sure the outlet itself wasn't the culprit. No power.

I then went to the second floor bedroom outlet mentioned above. Everything seems connected correctly, but I am puzzled by some of my voltage readings...

Below is a picture of the bedroom outlet:

1. The black and white wires on the lower right have no voltage.

2. The white wire, which is left of the red wire and the black wire that is still connected to the outlet read 120v AC.

3. The voltage across the black wire connected to the outlet and the red wire reads 240v AC.

How is this possible in a building that is only 110 service?

Nothing else in the house is effected with the outlet as pictured. Frankly, I'd like to cap off the red and not use it.

Any electricians that can help me understand what's going on here?


FullSizeRender.jpeg
Electrician here.... that red and black are giving you 240 v so there must be a 120/240v single phase service feeding from somewhere. I'm taking a stab here that the black (likely load to the deck receptacle) and red were joined together at some point? Whites all joined. If you connect that red to the black on right does your deck receptacle come live? Let us know...also so long as its dead, that white and black on right you can join together go to the deck receptacle and verify that you have a continuity tone on your meter between black and white or large and small prong on outlet. If you do ,thats the load wire from upstairs to deck.
 

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So I have an outdoor outlet without any power. Since there isn't any point to an outlet without power, I've set out to resolve the problem.

The outlet sits on the back deck and above it is the deck light. Above that light is a second floor bedroom, where an outlet was replaced. It was while changing that outlet that power to the deck outlet went out. But once the new outlet in the bedroom was installed, the deck outlet came back on.

Based on this, I came to conclude that the deck outlet was being fed from the outlet on the second floor.

Fast forward several years later to today, where the deck outlet is now without power.

I've removed the deck outlet and tested directly to wires to be sure the outlet itself wasn't the culprit. No power.

I then went to the second floor bedroom outlet mentioned above. Everything seems connected correctly, but I am puzzled by some of my voltage readings...

Below is a picture of the bedroom outlet:

1. The black and white wires on the lower right have no voltage.

2. The white wire, which is left of the red wire and the black wire that is still connected to the outlet read 120v AC.

3. The voltage across the black wire connected to the outlet and the red wire reads 240v AC.

How is this possible in a building that is only 110 service?

Nothing else in the house is effected with the outlet as pictured. Frankly, I'd like to cap off the red and not use it.

Any electricians that can help me understand what's going on here?


FullSizeRender.jpeg
Or another thought..... you have a light midway between the deck outlet and upstairs? How is it controlled? A switch somewhere? Or 24/7 power on a motion detector etc? Is it possible that the deck receptacle could be fed by a switched lead accidentally and only comes on when light is on?
 
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Dom

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Electrician here.... that red and black are giving you 240 v so there must be a 120/240v single phase service feeding from somewhere. I'm taking a stab here that the black (likely load to the deck receptacle) and red were joined together at some point? Whites all joined. If you connect that red to the black on right does your deck receptacle come live? Let us know...also so long as its dead, that white and black on right you can join together go to the deck receptacle and verify that you have a continuity tone on your meter between black and white or large and small prong on outlet. If you do ,thats the load wire from upstairs to deck.

Check out the photo below. I should have included it in my OP.

While the wires at the deck and on the second floor outlet are the same color, they are different gauges, so, I didn't think it what was feeding the deck. But I did check continuity and as it turns out the black and white on the lower right are NOT what feeds the deck outlet.

I haven't tried connecting the red to the back on the right because I've concluded it doesn't feed the deck. And yes, looking at the picture before I started, the red and the black on the lower left were connected when I started.

It sounds like you're on the right track.

IMG_8125.jpeg
 
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Dom

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Or another thought..... you have a light midway between the deck outlet and upstairs? How is it controlled? A switch somewhere? Or 24/7 power on a motion detector etc? Is it possible that the deck receptacle could be fed by a switched lead accidentally and only comes on when light is on?

Yes, the light is controlled by a switch with is located on the inside portion of the wall by the door.
 
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Yes, the light is controlled by a switch with is located on the inside portion of the wall by the door.
I'm wondering if we have a box somewhere else in between or something is a bit funky in that light box, possible loose connection in there if wiring travelling through it either related to switching or unrelated and just joints are made in there, to complete a circuit. Wheels are turning in my head here gradually, we'll get there soon enough lol...
 
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I'm wondering if we have a box somewhere else in between or something is a bit funky in that light box, possible loose connection in there if wiring travelling through it either related to switching or unrelated and just joints are made in there, to complete a circuit. Wheels are turning in my head here gradually, we'll get there soon enough lol...

Was the picture showing the connections helpful? In your opinion, was it correctly connected? If so, can I put the bedroom outlet back together?

I'm thinking the problem may be in the box where the light is. They had to remove it when they put on new siding. They may have done something wrong.
 

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Was the picture showing the connections helpful? In your opinion, was it correctly connected? If so, can I put the bedroom outlet back together?

I'm thinking the problem may be in the box where the light is. They had to remove it when they put on new siding. They may have done something wrong.
Yes, helpful... I would put back together as in last photo. Looks to be correctly connected likely feeding something else ....somewhere...

Ya, if that light was removed and things were not reconnected properly that could definitely be it. The fact you are getting proper voltages between wiring upstairs and not some strange numbers, tells me that area is good.
 
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Yes, helpful... I would put back together as in last photo. Looks to be correctly connected likely feeding something else ....somewhere...

Ya, if that light was removed and things were not reconnected properly that could definitely be it. The fact you are getting proper voltages between wiring upstairs and not some strange numbers, tells me that area is good.

Ok.... I'm going to put it back together. I'll let you know what I get when I start with the light.

Thank you!
 

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Ok.... I'm going to put it back together. I'll let you know what I get when I start with the light.

Thank you!
No problem. You could also test at deck receptacle between hot (small slot) and U ground. If you had voltage (120) at that point that would tell me there is a broken neutral somewhere. Or is it possible there is another exterior outlet in line with it somewhere, that the GFCI is tripped and it could be load feeding the one that is giving you a headache.
 
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This conversation stresses me out just reading it.
I am waiting for another sparky to weigh in too lol... there is probably something ( heck several things ) I haven't thought of yet. Glad I'm not the one ripping things apart for a change though!
 
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No problem. You could also test at deck receptacle between hot (small slot) and U ground. If you had voltage (120) at that point that would tell me there is a broken neutral somewhere. Or is it possible there is another exterior outlet in line with it somewhere, that the GFCI is tripped and it could be load feeding the one that is giving you a headache.

I do have another exterior outlet. But it is located at the front of the house, so I doubt the two are related.

The GFCI outlet is an interesting thought. The kitchen is on the other side of the wall where the outlet in question is located. And there are GFCI outlets.

But when I renovated the kitchen, I installed a sub panel off the main and did all new 2 conductor throughout. That light and outlet was functional when there wasn't electricity in the kitchen.

So the power for that light and outlet is coming from somewhere else... who knows where. But the more we discuss it, the more confident it is the box servicing the light.
 
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just to try to help you understand whats going on in that box...it appears you have a piece of 3 wire (red black white) going into the box and a piece of 2 wire (b&w) going out...the red and the black of that 3 wire are separate circuits attached to 2 different circuit breakers which are next to each other in the panel...and they share the white wire between them...this way of feeding outlets is cheaper than running 2 separate pieces of 2 wire but isnt used much anymore because gfi's and arc fault breakers wont work with shared neutrals...every other breaker in a panel uses a different leg of the 2 hot wires that come into your house...if you connect one of those legs to a neutral you get 110...if you connect 2 of them together you get 220 ...thats why you're seeing 220 between the red and black...so basically the black and white went to the outlet itself and is powered by one circuit breaker and the red leg attached to the black wire of the 2 wire and powered whatever is downstream of that box (possibly your outdoor outlet) on a different breaker....if your outdoor outlet is indeed powered through this box and someone installed a GFI outlet outside the gfi will not turn on due to the shared neutral....so if you have power in the bedroom box and none going into the outdoor one the problem is somewhere between the 2 (like the box for the light)...just be aware that there are 2 circuit breakers supplying this so dont get zapped by the red one just because you turned off the black to the outlet and i'm not standing there actually looking at this so i could be completely wrong...the outside outlet could be fed from a completely different source....and if this is an old house any number of halfast things could have been done by previous owners and handymen...even the box itself looks like it may be one of the ones with rounded corners that are usually surface mounted and run with steel conduit in shops...and i might see bx style connectors in there....so maybe finding someone who has a clue to look at this is your safest option
 
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Dom

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just to try to help you understand whats going on in that box...it appears you have a piece of 3 wire (red black white) going into the box and a piece of 2 wire (b&w) going out...the red and the black of that 3 wire are separate circuits attached to 2 different circuit breakers which are next to each other in the panel...and they share the white wire between them...this way of feeding outlets is cheaper than running 2 separate pieces of 2 wire but isnt used much anymore because gfi's and arc fault breakers wont work with shared neutrals...every other breaker in a panel uses a different leg of the 2 hot wires that come into your house...if you connect one of those legs to a neutral you get 110...if you connect 2 of them together you get 220 ...thats why you're seeing 220 between the red and black...so basically the black and white went to the outlet itself and is powered by one circuit breaker and the red leg attached to the black wire of the 2 wire and powered whatever is downstream of that box (possibly your outdoor outlet) on a different breaker....if your outdoor outlet is indeed powered through this box and someone installed a GFI outlet outside the gfi will not turn on due to the shared neutral....so if you have power in the bedroom box and none going into the outdoor one the problem is somewhere between the 2 (like the box for the light)...just be aware that there are 2 circuit breakers supplying this so dont get zapped by the red one just because you turned off the black to the outlet and i'm not standing there actually looking at this so i could be completely wrong...the outside outlet could be fed from a completely different source....and if this is an old house any number of halfast things could have been done by previous owners and handymen...even the box itself looks like it may be one of the ones with rounded corners that are usually surface mounted and run with steel conduit in shops...and i might see bx style connectors in there....so maybe finding someone who has a clue to look at this is your safest option

What you say makes sense to me. And yes, the previous owner was a do-it-yourselfer who had a tendency to overbuild.

The outdoor outlet is not getting supplied from this box... at least not directly. While the wires in the inside and outside boxes are the same color, the wire gauges are different. Also, I conducted a continuity test and the black/white pair located in the inside box didn't ring out when I connected the outside box wires with alligator clips.
 
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Dom

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remind me, have you opened the light switch yet?

No. The next step is to remove the light. But I was thinking...

What may be feeding the light may be coming from the basement. There may be a direct feed to the outside outlet and from there the light is fed with the switch in the middle.
 
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