• Effective immediately we will be deleting, without notice, any negative threads or posts that deal with the use of encryption and streaming of scanner audio.

    We've noticed a huge increase in rants and negative posts that revolve around agencies going to encryption due to the broadcasting of scanner audio on the internet. It's now worn out and continues to be the same recycled rants. These rants hijack the threads and derail the conversation. They no longer have a place anywhere on this forum other than in the designated threads in the Rants forum in the Tavern.

    If you violate these guidelines your post will be deleted without notice and an infraction will be issued. We are not against discussion of this issue. You just need to do it in the right place. For example:
    https://forums.radioreference.com/rants/224104-official-thread-live-audio-feeds-scanners-wait-encryption.html

Any electricians in the house?

mmckenna

Well Known Member
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
10,447
Location
SNCZCA01DS0
A toner probably isn't a good tool for this. Inductive coupling between wires can be an issue. If it's an intermittent break, it's not going to help much. Checking continuity would tell you more.
If the quality/condition of the wiring is in question, hiring a professional would be a good idea. Replacing wiring in the walls can be done, but it's a big job.

Browned insulation could be from heat if the bulb wattage was too high. The break in the insulation could be from that. Removing the fixture and checking the wiring it connects to would be a good idea. Cheap light fixtures from Home Depot using cheap Chinese wire would be a concern, but that's easily fixed. Checking the wiring in the walls would be more important.
 

poltergeisty

Deep Thinker
Joined
May 7, 2004
Messages
3,808
Location
RLG, Fly heading 053, intercept 315 DVV
If inductive coupling is an issue when you are toning a wire, then why do electricians use them? I just want to make sure there is a connection then check continuity with the toner and DMM.

You need to read my first post. The issue is with an outlet, not a light fixture that the subject got changed to.

Yeah, if I hire an electrician it will be a fortune, especially if I have to have the whole bloody room rewired. As it is when I ran ethernet cable I ran it outside and not through the wall. HUGE job I wasn't at all wanting to mess with, but I certainly wasn't going to use WIFI for everything. No freaking way.
 

mmckenna

Well Known Member
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
10,447
Location
SNCZCA01DS0
If inductive coupling is an issue when you are toning a wire, then why do electricians use them? I just want to make sure there is a connection then check continuity with the toner and DMM.
It's fine for finding a breaker on a good circuit. They're commonly sold as "breaker finders". You can certainly use them to find the circuit as it passes through switches and other outlets on it's way back to the panel. But you have to know its limitations. It's easy to get a false indication due to inductive coupling. If you want it to figure out the path the circuit takes on the way back to the panel, it might be the right tool.

If you are looking for a way to test the circuit, then the multimeter is the right tool.

Figuring out the wiring path can be hard, but it'll at least let you check the circuit all the way through. Since it sounds like there is a fault somewhere (I bet it's at your original outlet), the multimeter is going to give you more information.
 

bharvey2

Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,111
As I mentioned before, toners are more of a "quick and dirty" tool to be used to narrow down one or more circuits. And as I mentioned before, they can give false readings. If you already know which circuit breaker your outlets are on, a toner won't be of much value. with the exception of nails and screws through wiring, or perhaps rodent activity, most of your problems will happen in the junction boxes. (Assuming of course that everything was originally installed properly. Failures will most often occur at junctions between wires, fixtures and receptacles. NEC code doesn't permitting splicing outside of those boxes. Outlets are usually run in a series (Not in series) along a wiring path. Once you've figured out which breaker is involved, shut it off (Good idea to lock it out especially of you have other people around) and pull the covers and receptacles of everything in the circuit. Visually inspect each one and repair or replace as needed. Once everything is back together. Power the breaker back up and check each outlet. Get yourself one of these:

Power Gear 3-Wire Receptacle Tester-50542 - The Home Depot

They're really handy and can give plenty of information. Use it before and after you pull anything apart. This process will be a bit time consuming but there isn't really any other way to do it properly. Be methodical and you'll get it all done and know things are up to par.
 

bharvey2

Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,111
I think you'll get a lot of mileage out of that testing devices. They aren't really helpful with switches and fixtures but I think it'll help you alot. The GFCI tester is a good add.
 

poltergeisty

Deep Thinker
Joined
May 7, 2004
Messages
3,808
Location
RLG, Fly heading 053, intercept 315 DVV
So now I'm reading a lot of scary crap about all this.

COALR CO/ALR CU-AL or AL-CU marked Electrical Outlets and Switches with Aluminum Wire


Aluminum Wire Repair Methods: authoritative source for repairing aluminum electrical wiring using the COPALUM, AlumiConn, Copper Pigtailing & aluminum to aluminum splicing


Replacement of all Outlets and Switches to CO/ALR type - Aluminum Wire Repair, Inc.


It appears that the "proper way " is a pigtail and those crimps using a tool that costs a freaking fortune.

I bought the Duplex ALR outlets. Is that not something I should use?

Then I read the anti-oxidation grease should be replaced periodically and the terminals re tightened.
 

bharvey2

Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,111

bharvey2

Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,111
The pigtail method is what I've used the most. From what I read of the article you linked to, The CO ALR worked better than the AL CU ones. They mentioned backfeeding the outlet which might be what caused many of the failures with the CO ALR outlets. The code change and limit to where backfeeding can be done isn't that old as it has continued to be a problem. It's a bad design idea no matter what wire is used. As I said previously, just don't do it.

With regard to aluminum wiring in residential homes, it was a cost saving measure at a time that copper was in short supply and therefor expensive. It will never be as good as copper and and the fixes, while they should be better than the original installation, won't live up to a full copper installation. Nothing short of a rewiring will correct that.

From what I recall of the last CO ALR outlet I bought, It was about on par with the cost of using the pigtails. If you have a lot of outlets to work on, it might be worth it to visit an electrical warehouse in your area to buy in greater quantities. The pricing should be quite a bit better.

Yes, checking on and replacing the grease periodically is a good idea. It does dry out over time.

The wife and I have lived in the same house (along with aluminum wiring) for over 30 years. I did have a problem with some burned breakers due to aluminum wiring a few years after we moved in but having addressed them and pooping the lids on breaker panels and junction boxes every year or to to regrease and retorque the connections is just a necessary maintenance item for me. I haven't had any catastrophic failures since.

Once thing to keep in mind: Aluminum wiring is still fairly common between feeder and breaker panels and service entrances. (Where the power comes in to the building.) The service drop (wiring from the electrical utility to your individual house) is most likely aluminum. Those can go bad but the failures I've seen are almost always caused by the original installer not using the Noalox grease and /or failing to tighten the connection well enough.
 

bharvey2

Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,111
Don't "backfeed" a receptable. Some have a hole in the back that allow you to just strip the wire and push it in to the back of the outlet. It isn't a very sound connection method, even for copper wire. It's convenient but has been the cause of many failures that I've seen. Here is a photo of a receptacle that permits this method:

1554298517020.png

It relies only on spring pressure to maintain contact between the wire and outlet. Note that there is little surface contact between the wire and the outlet conductor material (The loops at the end of the brass colored metal body on the left is where the prongs of an plug would be inserted.

There is a similar connection method that allows the wire to be inserted into the back of the outlet but instead of relying on spring pressure, you tighten the screw on the side of the outlet and it binds the wire between two metal "washers". for lack of a better term. These are much better than the press in spring retention types. I hope this makes sense.
 

poltergeisty

Deep Thinker
Joined
May 7, 2004
Messages
3,808
Location
RLG, Fly heading 053, intercept 315 DVV
Oh, okay. Yeah, when I read you say that I made a mental note not to ever do it.

So what are the possibilities that the wire in the breaker went to hell? I'm hoping it's my wall outlet. Checking for continuity should confirm that? Or how should I test for such a thing. I can't mess around with breakers because I'm not an electrician.
 

bharvey2

Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,111
As I mentioned previously, failures usually occur at connection points so you'll likely see evidence of overheated and burnt wires within an inch or two of the switch, receptacle or breaker. If the correct breaker is off then a receptacle in a single outlet box should be safe for you to work on. However, its a good idea to double check voltages with your DVM before fingers contact bare wires. If you have others in the house or the breaker panel is outside, it's a good idea to be able to lock it out so that no one can turn it back on while you're working. (Failing to do so in a work environment would get you in a fair amount of trouble as it puts you in danger)

In a circuit breaker panel, you'll still have live wiring unless the panel is disconnected upstream. If your confident enough in your skills you could take the off the front cover of the circuit breaker panel and visually inspect where the wires enter each of the breakers. If you smell anything funny or see signs of overheating where the wires enter the breaker, call an electrician. If you really want to get fancy, if you have an IR thermometer, you can scan each of the connection points and look for hot spots. That's a method the pros use. In any case, don't still anything into the breaker panel and keep one hand in your pocket while standing and working around there. If you opt to do this, just be careful as you place the cover back on the panel and reinstall the screws.

You're not likely to have any problems with the wiring in between boxes unless of course someone drove a nail or screw through the wiring during construction.
 

poltergeisty

Deep Thinker
Joined
May 7, 2004
Messages
3,808
Location
RLG, Fly heading 053, intercept 315 DVV
Yeah, the breaker is tripped and off. That's what happened and I just left it off.

I do have an IR thermometer and a Seek thermal imager that connects to my phone.

In your opinion, and based on what I stated, how likely is it to be the breaker? i.e a fused wire or something at the breaker. If it's that I'm out.
 

bharvey2

Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,111
If the breaker is off, then the IR thermometer won't help you. You'll need current flow to generate hot spots if any. That testing method is more of a preventative maintenance measure that works without being invasive. There really isn't a way to tell which is more likely. The problem could be at the breaker or at any receptacle along the circuit. Do you have a specific outlet that you noticed was bad or did the breaker just trip without any forewarning? If the former, you can replace the outlet and power the circuit back up and look for symptoms. If the bad receptacle is at the end of the chain, you could temporarily remove it and just cap the wire ends with wire nuts (of any sort). No current will be flowing at the end so you won't have the dissimilar metal problem. If the circuit powers up and the breaker doesn't trip again, you've made progress.

Can you clarify something? Did the circuit breaker trip on it's own or did you shut it off because you suspected a problem? The aluminum wiring problem can rear its head and never trip a breaker. An aluminum to copper connection problem needs to progress quite a ways before a breaker will trip. You'll often have other symptom before the breaker trips. I'm wondering if you have more than one issue and you've just come across the aluminum wire problem.
 

bharvey2

Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,111
That could be deteriorating plastic or metal. It would be a good idea to at least remove the cover and shine a light in and inspect it. Pulling the receptacle would be even better. Do you own or rent? If the latter, you could take this up with your landlord.
 

poltergeisty

Deep Thinker
Joined
May 7, 2004
Messages
3,808
Location
RLG, Fly heading 053, intercept 315 DVV
I own.

I'm waiting for my supplies to arrive in the mail before I tackle this. I ordered 6 Duplex AL outlets planning on replacing as many as I can. I bought the anti-oxidation grease, a toner, and that plug-in ground check, reverse wire check device. I already own a breaker finder, but that requires the power to be on, thus I wanted a toner.

I know this isn't the right way to repair this absent of the pigtails, and a crimp with a very expensive tool that you need to know how to use, but what are you gonna do? If it's the breaker there's no way I'm messing with that.
 
Top