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I recently moved into a house and found one outlet that did not work. Figuring it was a bum outlet, I shut off the breaker to the room and took the outlet out. I found two white wires, one red, and one bare ground.

I wired it up with the two white wires to silver, red to brass, ground to ground and found that the outlet still did not work.

Leaving the wiring open, I restored the circuit and found that none of the outlets in the room work. So, I imagine that it was wired in series rather than in parallel.

The voltage measured between the two white wires is 120V. I did not expect that.

EDIT: Red to ground is zero. But when both whites are hooked up to the silver, the outlet does not work but all the outlets in the room do work.

Can you shed some light on what's going on? And how to hook it up properly. Thank you in advance.

There are two grouping of wires coming into the box. One side has a white, black, red, and ground. The other side has a white, black, and ground. The black wires from each group are connected with a twist-cap.

  • I expect that when you wired both white wires to the silver screw on the outlet, that it tripped the breaker as soon as you turned it on? If not, you may have even bigger problems. What's the voltage measurement from red to ground? – CoAstroGeek Dec 16 '16 at 21:42
  • Red to ground is zero. But when both whites are hooked up to the silver, the outlet does not work but all the outlets in the room do work. BTW, thanks for your response. – user4819549 Dec 16 '16 at 21:48
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    Welcome to electrical work. Key issue: it also matters how the wires are grouped as they enter the junction box. There will be more wires in the back of the box, and they matter, and how they are grouped matter. Typically one cable has one black one white and one bare. Sometimes also a red. When you see two of a color, you probably have two cables. What their OTHER wires are doing is important. (grounds need to be hooked up, but can be ignored while figuring things out, they are often omitted in diagrams). – Harper Dec 16 '16 at 22:11
  • harper- thanks for the response. i've updated the post with information about the groupings. – user4819549 Dec 16 '16 at 22:22
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    Is there a switch nearby that doesn't seem to do anything? With a 14/3 (white-black-red-ground) and 14/2 (white-black-ground) coming into this box, I suspect that this might be a switched outlet. Take a look at the original outlet that you took out - does it have the tab between the top & bottom plug on the brass side broken off? – CoAstroGeek Dec 16 '16 at 22:44
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With a 14/3 (white-black-red-ground) and 14/2 (white-black-ground) coming into this box, CoAstroGeek suspected that this might be a switched outlet. Exactly right.

There is a switch in the room next door that we had no idea what it was for. once i switched it on, there was power to the outlet. the short of it is- the room used to be the garage and was converted into an office 40 years ago. there are two switches on the wall in the room next door; one for an exterior light and one for that outlet. must have been an overhead light or something.

  • Glad I could help – CoAstroGeek Dec 17 '16 at 15:25

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