Troubleshooting a Bathroom Outlet Problem
Mike in Vancouver, Washington asks: I had an outlet go bad in a bathroom and there were popping and crackling sounds, what would cause this? How to Correct an Outlet Voltage Problem, Troubleshooting Outlet Wiring Connections, Neutral Wires and GFCI Outlet Circuits.
Bathroom Outlet Problem
Electrical Question: I had an outlet go bad in a bathroom and there were popping and crackling sounds, what would cause this?
- When it went bad it took power out from the rest of that circuit.
- After replacing this outlet I still had no power.
- If I hook up the ground to the neutral side I get all power back.
- I tested voltage with it hooked up correctly and I have 50volts.
- If I test power from ground to hot I have 110volts.
- If I test power from ground to neutral I have 110volts.
- Why do I have power running through my neutral side.
- I also have to replace a breaker because it would not reset.
Hope you can give me some advice.
This electrical wiring question came from: Mike, a Homeowner from Vancouver, Washington.
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Mike.
How to Correct a Outlet Voltage Problem
Application: Troubleshooting a Problem with an Outlet Electrical Circuit.
Skill Level: Advanced – Best repaired by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, Voltage Tester or Volt Ohm Meter.
Estimated Time: Depends on the type and age of the electrical wiring and the access to the circuits and wiring to be evaluated.
Precaution: This is a project that should be performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor and typically requires specific tests of the electrical circuits.
Notice: Repairs to Home Electrical Wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes and installing new or replacement electrical parts or equipment may require a permit and inspections.
- Specific Answer for this Electrical Question:
- Mike: The Ground wire should never be connected to the Neutral terminal of the GFCI.
- The reason why the voltage readings are incorrect is because the neutral of the electrical circuit has been lost and the circuit is back feeding through another device.
- The fault or lost connection with the neutral will need to be located and repaired which will then correct the circuit voltage and the circuit breaker will reset normally.
- IMPORTANT: The main electrical system ground should be checked to make sure it is properly connected and bonded.
Troubleshooting Outlet Wiring Connections and Electrical Wiring
- Incorrect Connections of the Ground Wire
NOTE: Connecting a ground wire to an outlet instead of a neutral wire is very dangerous because when a device is plugged into that outlet it will have the potential of sending 110volts back through the entire ground system of the home.
- Neutral Wires and GFCI Outlet Circuits
As described in this question, the bathroom outlet wiring has most likely lost a connection with the neutral side of the circuit, therefore all of the neutral wiring connections will need to be inspected and checked until the fault it is found and repaired. The problem may be in the outlet box where the popping sound was heard. Once the repairs have been made be sure that GFCI protection is provided for the bathroom outlet circuit.
- Main Electrical System Ground
As mentioned above in the specific answer to this question, the main electrical system ground of the main service panel should be checked to make sure it is properly connected and bonded. If the main ground system is not installed and bonded properly there could be abnormal voltage conditions and potentially serious shock hazards throughout the home, especially in areas where there are water faucets and any sink, tub or basin with a drain.
More about Wiring a Bathroom Outlet
Wiring Electrical Outlets for the Home
Home electrical wiring includes 110 volt outlets and 220 volt outlets and receptacles which are common place in every home. See how wiring electrical outlets for the home are done.
Wiring Diagram GFI
The features and benefits of GFCI outlets and receptacles will give you a clear understanding of the importance why these safety devices are required by code to help protect you and your family against accidental electrical shock hazards.
Home Electrical Codes
Electrical Code Directory covering electrical outlets, GFCI Outlets and Electrical System Grounding.
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
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