Electrical Question

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Electrical Question

Postby Kraftster on Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:43 am

I have a situation with the electric in my kitchen. My house is about 65 years old and it has most of the original wiring, so things are pretty old.

The major appliances using electricity in the kitchen would be microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher, stove (gas). The dishwasher and stove are in outlets on a different circuit than the microwave and fridge. Recently, on particular occasions, when we would run the microwave it would "short" the few outlets on the kitchen breaker. I use "short" with probably the most lay meaning possible. I will attempt to describe what was happening.

The microwave would stop working mid-cook. The digital display would be blank. I would go down and check the breaker box to find none of the breakers to be tripped. I would usually unplug the microwave, plug it back in and get the digital display back. Start the cook again, and it would usually finish. After this happened a handful of times, the next time it happened, the refrigerator lost power as well. Again no breaker tripped (not even sure if this is the right word but you know what I mean). I think there were a couple times that resetting the breaker (manually powering off then back on) would get the fridge (and microwave) to start working again.

Eventually after 1-3 times of this, the fridge would no longer work in the kitchen outlets (all three on that circuit with the mircrowave), and that is where we stand right now. If I plug in the baby monitor in those three outlets (both top and bottom) it works. We have since moved the microwave, so I'm not sure if it works right now. The fridge does not work and is being run, by extension cord, into an outlet in the living room. This is very annoying because it becomes dislodged frequently when the dog eats his food in the vicinity of the extension cord. I figure I'm going to wind up coming home to a warm fridge one of these days soon.

To my neophyte eye, it appears that the fridge is not getting enough power? What could be causing this? Could the connection to one of the outlet boxes be compromised and that is throwing off everything that is "down stream" if that makes sense?

Help.
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Re: Electrical Question

Postby Troy Loney on Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:52 am

Something similar happened to us with our dryer, my ex's dad bought some part and hooked it up to the electric box and going forward it worked. I'm sure that doesn't help, but do you really plan on messing around with the electric wiring or are you just going to get someone who knows what they're doing to come out and fix it?
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Re: Electrical Question

Postby Kraftster on Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:54 am

Troy Loney wrote:Something similar happened to us with our dryer, my ex's dad bought some part and hooked it up to the electric box and going forward it worked. I'm sure that doesn't help, but do you really plan on messing around with the electric wiring or are you just going to get someone who knows what they're doing to come out and fix it?


Depending on the issue, I might do it. I'm cheap. I successfully moved the light switch from a wall in the basement to horizontal above a door (totally in violation of code I am sure) in order to have an Invisible Fence system installed on the wall where the outlet was located. I also assisted (read watched) a friend flip an outlet from an exterior wall into a closet. Electric work is intimidating, yes, but as long as you have the circuit shut off, nothing bad can happen to you while doing the work. So you might have a house fire when you turn it back on -- that's what insurance is for.
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Re: Electrical Question

Postby mac5155 on Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:58 am

Are these GFI outlets? You could have a bad ground. GFI = Ground fault Indicator. Chances are if they are old, and you didnt recently buy the house (like 2000 on) they aren't GFI, and they probably should be. Code is now GFI for all kitchen outlets.
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Re: Electrical Question

Postby Kraftster on Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:59 am

They are not GFI outlets, but they are at least grounded outlets (the only ones in the house).
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Re: Electrical Question

Postby Gaucho on Mon Oct 22, 2012 11:00 am

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Re: Electrical Question

Postby mac5155 on Mon Oct 22, 2012 11:00 am

Additionally. are they 3 pronged plugs? sometimes, what someone does is runs a 3 pronged plug, which requires a ground, off a 2 wire run from the breaker box (read no ground wire). If this is the case, you would need to run a ground wire from the box the whole way up to the outlets. If they are all 3 on the same breaker then you run the ground to each individual outlet on the run. You "technically and safely" cant have a 3 prong outlet with only 2 wires. Lot of electricians get lazy and ground it to the outlet box, which is not good.
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Re: Electrical Question

Postby Kraftster on Mon Oct 22, 2012 11:05 am

mac5155 wrote:Additionally. are they 3 pronged plugs? sometimes, what someone does is runs a 3 pronged plug, which requires a ground, off a 2 wire run from the breaker box (read no ground wire). If this is the case, you would need to run a ground wire from the box the whole way up to the outlets. If they are all 3 on the same breaker then you run the ground to each individual outlet on the run. You "technically and safely" cant have a 3 prong outlet with only 2 wires. Lot of electricians get lazy and ground it to the outlet box, which is not good.


I think it might be grounded at the outlet box. These are all 3 pronged plugs being plugged into 3 pronged outlets (not GFI). When we flipped the outlet box from wall to inside closet before, we put in GFI outlets. The outlet isn't grounded, but as I understand it from talking with the electrician friend who did this work, the GFI outlet still serves some function for you.

So the ground can be bad and this can screw stuff up? Because I have the fridge right now plugged into a surge protector extension cord into the living room, with the surge protector being plugged into a 3 pronged to 2 pronged converter and into the wall which has only a 2 pronged outlet.
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Re: Electrical Question

Postby mac5155 on Mon Oct 22, 2012 11:10 am

Yep, I'm no expert electrician by any means but it sounds like you have a bad ground somewhere in the span of the circuit that's throwing the whole thing off. Running a sweeper or TV off a 2-prong adapter isnt bad. Running a refrigerator off a surge protector off a 2 prong adapter probably isnt the best thing to do. I'd look into getting either a legit 3-prong plug, or a GFI plug to plug the refrigerator directly into the wall.
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Re: Electrical Question

Postby Kraftster on Mon Oct 22, 2012 11:14 am

mac5155 wrote:Yep, I'm no expert electrician by any means but it sounds like you have a bad ground somewhere in the span of the circuit that's throwing the whole thing off. Running a sweeper or TV off a 2-prong adapter isnt bad. Running a refrigerator off a surge protector off a 2 prong adapter probably isnt the best thing to do. I'd look into getting either a legit 3-prong plug, or a GFI plug to plug the refrigerator directly into the wall.


Yeah, I figured that was not the smartest idea. Unfortunately, the only other grounded outlet is across the kitchen. Running an extension cord through the middle of the kitchen floor with a 16 month old running around? An equally bad idea.
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Re: Electrical Question

Postby mac5155 on Mon Oct 22, 2012 12:42 pm

I would think an experienced electrician could have you fixed up (and safe) in a few hours, for less than $3-400. But, one of my best friends in HS is my electrician, and he usually gives me the hookup.
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