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#28057 - 08/09/03 01:39 PM sticky situation  
waterboy  Offline
Junior Member
Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 3
Asheboro, North Carolina USA
I have a sticky problem. I am remodeling a old house where some of the electrical wiring and main panel has been replaced. The homeowner wanted me to install a range hood and a fluorescent light underneath the sink. I am a licensed contractor, licensed plumber and have a limited electrical license, so I can perform some basic wiring in the proper situations. The new electrical panel is directly outside the kitchen wall where the range hood was to be installed. A feed was already rolled up inside of an outlet box, and the other end was in the main panel, but not yet connected to a breaker.

I removed the single box and installed a double-gang box. Then I made a junction in the box and wired the range hood and a switch to the fluorescent over the sink. I also wired a GFCI outlet in the same box. I tested the GFCI with my plug-in tester and it tested correct.

Here's the first problem. The fluorescent light would not work. I purchased another one and wired it, but it would not work either. I wired the fluorescent light on another circuit, but it still would not work.

Then the home owner told me that he had a problem getting his fluorescent lights to work in the house. He said that he had to run a bare ground wire to one of them in order to get it to work. That got my attention.

I tested the hot wire with my meter and it read 148 VAC. In addition, when I leaned my arm on the top of the metal stove and inadvertently touched the neutral wire, I received a substantial shock. However, I cannot detect any voltage in the neutral wire with my tester when measuring it against the ground wire.

The house also feeds a sub panel to a shop building. I suspect that the sub panel is not wired correctly or the neutral or ground has been compromised somewhere in the house or shop circuit.

Here's the sticky part. The homeowner pulled the electrical permit himself and his father-in-law, who is supposedly an electrical engineer, partially re-wired the house. The electrical inspector tuned the job down three times and the homeowner told me that he was a bad inspector. I don't think so.

However, if I am going to explain what is wrong with this wiring I will need more than my level of understanding electricity to get my point across diplomatically. Anyone have a suggestion?

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#28058 - 08/09/03 04:04 PM Re: sticky situation  
sparky  Offline
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,311

the members here could 'splain this down to atomic levels, however i feel as a contractor, if you don't mind, i need to interject just one word.......


#28059 - 08/09/03 04:15 PM Re: sticky situation  
ZR600  Offline
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 46
Stevens Point, WI, USA
If you just wired a counter top recept GFI and then tapped off to a range hood and light you just made a code violation yourself. I would get out of doing any wiring in that house, and get the owner to call a licensed electrician, before someone gets hurt. If the owner and father in law were doing the wiring then why didn't they do the kitchen work too? I would take the advice from above.....RUN, and fast.............Brian

[This message has been edited by ZR600 (edited 08-09-2003).]

#28060 - 08/09/03 09:58 PM Re: sticky situation  
waterboy  Offline
Junior Member
Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 3
Asheboro, North Carolina USA
Actually, there were two feeds in the box. The old two wire feed that went to the old recepticle. The wires were okay, so I added a ground and replaced the outlet with a GFCI because it was relatively close to a sink. The new feed was for the range hood and the flourescent light. However, maybe I should take sparky's advice, only the electrical is a small part of what I'm doing on the job, and I really need the work.

I do not know the reason that the father-in--law/electrical engineer didn't finish the wiring. Maybe he was skeered...of the inspector. :-)

#28061 - 08/09/03 10:55 PM Re: sticky situation  
waymag  Offline
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 67
dallas, texas, USA
Well it sounds to me there is an open neutral somewhere. I am also gonna asume you got 148 volts to ground. The stove has the neutral bonded to the frame(some cases). Maybe who ever hooked up the cicuit to the stove tied the neutral to a breaker instead. The lonely ole stove is not grounded till you touch it and become the ground path.

#28062 - 08/10/03 11:53 AM Re: sticky situation  
ThinkGood  Offline
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,081
Milwaukee, WI
Just curious, what do you all think would cause 148V as opposed to, say, 115-125?

#28063 - 08/10/03 12:27 PM Re: sticky situation  
electure  Offline

Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 4,260
Fullerton, CA USA
Poorly grounded/ungrounded neutral.

#28064 - 08/10/03 12:57 PM Re: sticky situation  
iwire  Offline
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,391
North Attleboro, MA USA
Thinkgood If you disconnect the neutral of a multiwire branch circuit you now have the two circuits in series with each other across phase A and B.(240 volts between A and B)

If the load on both circuits is equal no problem, both loads still get 120 volts.

If the load is unequal you end up with different voltages at each load.

With 148 volts on one load you would have 92 volts on the other load. (148+92=240)

Now you can expand this to loosing the neutral outside at the pole, all the loads in your house will end up with possible voltages of 0 to 240 volts. (240 volts would mean a load on one of the phases also had a short circuit.)


Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician

#28065 - 08/11/03 08:43 AM Re: sticky situation  
waterboy  Offline
Junior Member
Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 3
Asheboro, North Carolina USA
Hi all,
I checked the hot to the neutral and read 148 VAC. It read the same from hot to ground. I checked the main panel and everything appears fine there. The guy could have tied the ground that he ran to the exiting fluorescent light to the neutral. My suspicion is that the sub panel in the shop is wired improperly. He rebuilds salvage vehicles in the shop so there is a lot of equipment hooked to the sub panel. If the neutral and ground is connected in the subpanel, it may be the source of the problem. Because the guys father-in-law is involved, I have to be diplomatic when I ask to investigate. He's already told me that the inspector was wrong and his father-in-law was right. No doubt he will not accept my opinion either. I will let you all know when and if I discover the problem.

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