Monday, October 26, 2009


Last week the battery in my Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) died.
It was four years old, and over a year out of warranty so I complained little.
In checking on the company website for a replacement battery, I was encouraged to buy a whole new UPS as the newer ones use less power, have better batteries, etc..
And.... they will buy back my old UPS as a trade-in.
I did some checking and decided to buy a new one.

But I knew that there was a wiring problem with the house receptacle that my old UPS was plugged in to.
The ground was not connected to the earth ground of the house.
So before I could plug in my new UPS, I had to fix the wall receptacle.

I knew that the only solution was to rewire this receptacle.
From the main service box.
It was a project that I had been putting off for four years, but I knew had to be done some day and this was the ideal excuse to do it.

So.... I went to the giant house-stuff store and bought 100 ft of house wire.
The scheduled day for the project was Friday.
So, after my weight workout, I set about re-wiring my bedroom receptacle.

My service box in in my utility room, so I stated from there, feeding as much wire as I could up into the slit into my attic.
Then it was up into the attic (with my work light) to find the new wire, get my aging body over to it (with a combination of duck walking and crawling on the edges of the ceiling joist/trusses).
Once I got hold of the wire, I had to pull it through the attic to my bedroom wall.
This involved crawling/duck walking down the center of the attic and reaching around the truss supports as I pulled the wire along.
This was a good core workout.
Too good.

Finally, I found the bedroom wall plate and the hole where the wires were run down into the wall to the receptacle.
I pushed the new wire into the hole (fortunately it was large enough to accept another wire).
Then I climbed down from the attic and cut a 2 inch by 2 inch hole in the wall next to the receptacle.
This was to help me find the new wire.
With a small mirror and my flashlight I look for new wire in the wall cavity.
No see.

So I cut over another two inches.
Still no wire.
I cut the sheet rock two more inches and look again.
No wire.

This time I expanded my slit over two more inches and up by two more inches.
And when I poked in my mirror and flashlight, Voila!, I see my new wire a few inches above my slit.
My wall hole is now big enough for me to stick my arm into the wall, grab the wire and pull it down to the wall box.
Into the box it went.
I pulled enough through to give me enough to work with, stripped off about 9 inches of the outer sheath, and stripped about an inch off the ends of the black and white wires.
I bent them into a hook shape, slid them under the screws and cranked them tight.
(I had turned off the breaker to this receptacle earlier.)

Then it was back into the attic to pull the slack out of the wall.
This amounted to about a foot or two, at most.
Then back down out of the attic and into the utility room to pull a little slack.

Then I had to rout the new wire through the holes cut into the rafters in my utility room over to the service box.
That was a good shoulder workout.
Too good.

Once I got it to the service box I did a rough measurement of what I would need to attach the wires inside the box and cut the wire.
I routed the new wire into the box and stripped off about 12 inches of the outer sheath.
Oh, and I turned off the main power breaker.
Now there were only two little places where I could get shocked.

I stripped the wire, put the ends in the appropriate holes, and tightened the screws.

With that wire.

I flipped on the breaker.
I listen.
No arc welding noises.
No sparks.
This is good.
I go into the bedroom again and with my DMM (Digital Muli-Meter) and my handy-dandy, all-in-one socket tester, I check the receptacles in the box.
Voltage reads good, hot to neutral (122vac), neutral to ground (0 vac), ground to hot (122 vac).
But now, instead of it reading "hot/ground reversed", it reads "open neutral".
How can this be?
All I did was add a ground wire.
Oh, well.

Since my stereo/entertainment center is wired similarly, I decided to re-do the receptacle for it in a similar manner.
And today was the day.
Since I had not killed myself in the previous exercise, I was encouraged to proceed.
I found the breaker to the living room receptacle, flipped it off and went through the same process,(poke new wire up into attic from utility room, climb into attic, pull more wire into attic, poke wire down through wall hole, climb down from attic, cut hole in wall, look for wire, etc)
After a couple of wall hole expansions I found the new wire and re-wired the receptacle.

I repeated the wire pulling service box measuring, cutting, bending, stripping, bending, inserting, screwing, etc.

Flip breaker on.
No noises.
No sparks.

I test.
Same deal.
Good voltages, but "open neutral".
AND when I plug my stereo into the receptacle and turn it on, strong 60 Hz hum in my speakers.
Not good.

It took me almost exactly four hours to wire two receptacles.

Time to call in someone who knows what they are doing.
I made the call, but they have not yet come to look at the situation.

(I tested many -not all - other receptacles in my little house and NONE of them read correct.
So I have a problem. Since many of them are "not right" in a similar way, I suspect something is not right in my service box. Wee shall see....)

Stay tuned.

In God we trust.

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