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I'm trying to deliver power to a simple circuit, and need help identifying the source of smoke and sparks from an outlet outside our house when I try to connect wires going outdoors.

The wires outdoors go to a 2 outlet receptacle in a shed and a switch & light located in a cave. I suspect there's a short in the circuit, because when I turn on 1 outlet of the 2 outlet receptacle, it's fine, but both can't be on or else smoke comes from the outlet from the house and the 20Amp circuit breaker turns off.

I included a diagram of my wiring job. I disconnected the light and attempted to wire in series. The only configuration I could think of making both outlets work was disconnecting the light bulb. When I flip the switch off, it will cut power to one of the outlets. So far so good. However, just recently the power supply outside the house started buzzing loudly and smoke/sparks come from the plug connecting the outdoors circuit when the switch was ON. I'm at a loss at where I went wrong wiring the circuit, and what's causing the apparent short circuit. Please ask if further clarification is needed.

enter image description here

EDIT: Green wire shouldn't come from the power supply as the drawing shows.

enter image description here Here's a picture of the box inside the shed. one black wire carries power from supply. the other black goes to the cave. 2 white neutrals (one from cave and one from shed, also the mystery red wire)

enter image description here light fixture in cave (not sure why wires coming from cave end up at the outlet at the shed. Also, how do i get power to the light with one black wire carrying power?) outlet outside power supply (red-green,white-white,black-black)

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  • 3
    Turn the breaker off, leave it off, and call an electrician. You have created a fire hazard. – duskwuff Dec 21 '17 at 23:36
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    Can you post photos of the insides of the boxes in question? – ThreePhaseEel Dec 21 '17 at 23:38
  • google "darwin awards" .... you will make the list if you continue with this – jsotola Dec 22 '17 at 5:10
  • "schematic" has both too many and too few wires in it. DIY shouldn't extend to mains wiring for most people. – dandavis Dec 22 '17 at 6:06
  • According to the drawing you have your hot and neutral on the same side of the outlet, is there 2 hots? It is hard to troubleshoot with so many errors. On the outlets the brass colored screws both on the same should have the hots connected, the neutral connections should be on the silver screws or the other side. If red is hot from a second breaker than the black you may have 240v across the outlet when the light is turned on but this should pop the breaker immediately because red and white are on the same side of the switch. The red wire may just be a spare wire that was run remove it first. – Ed Beal Dec 22 '17 at 14:11
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Did you remove both tabs from the receptacle?

If not there is a dead short on the right side of the receptacle. Between the red and the white. Also your wiring diagram on the left shows the black and white of the light wire nutted together which accomplishes nothing and the white is connected to the black from the switch and back to the receptacle. This creates a 240 volt circuit on the bottom of the receptacle if this is how you actually wired it.

You need to check the connections on this entire circuit and update your drawing or change the wiring.

Good luck!

  • Thanks for the advice and suggestions - I know my drawing is incorrect otherwise the circuit would be working properly. At the very least, I was hoping to figure out why a 2 outlet receptacle would have 6 wires going to it (2 pairs of black/white, ground, and the red one). This would be a good starting point for me. – user79392 Dec 22 '17 at 6:20
  • What do you mean when you say the drawing is incorrect - do you mean it isn’t accurately illustrating the wiring, or it is accurate but you realize that both the drawing and wiring are incorrect? – Mark Dec 24 '17 at 3:51
  • I meant to say the drawing accurately shows my wiring job, but that the wiring itself is incorrect. – st4rgut Dec 24 '17 at 17:20
  • my mistake,, the green wire in the drawing actually does not return to the power supply, but presumably goes to the cave.@ArchonOSX how do I get a 240 volt circuit if there's only one power supply (110 volts)? – st4rgut Dec 24 '17 at 23:04
  • To get any help with this you’re going to have to explain exactly what you’re trying to do, and a better drawing and photographs. For example, is the switch in the cave supposed to turn on the light in the cave, or half of the outlet in the shed? Where are the wires connected on each device - i.e. which color wire is on which terminal at every point - are wires in the shed outlet actually connected to the sides of the outlet as shown, or is that just a simplification? Your drawing implies that the light in the shed is not connected to anything. Where are the power source wires connected? – Mark Dec 24 '17 at 23:45

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