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Answers to Electrical Questions About Someone Tapping Into Your Power and Wiring a GFI Receptacle

December 21, 2008

Question mark John asks:
My family lives in a 19-year old 3-story townhome with an attached common wall. Our next door neighbors moved out and new ones moved in a little over a year ago. A week after they moved in, all of the power on the third level (all bedrooms, etc.) began to go out and you could hear the inside circuit breaker tripping in our master bedroom.

This went on for a few more weeks and after it would happen, I would walk outside to see that the main circuit breaker panel would be left open, but no one was there so I would close it back. In time, our television downstairs would turn on/off on it’s own, the master bathroom lights would flicker when turned on, and our computer would lose internet connectivity repeatedly as well as shut down on it’s own while plugged into any upstairs a/c electrical outlet.

These occurrences never happened with the old neighbors. We contacted the Power Company and they sent out a technician who explained to us that someone had tampered with the outside breaker panel and that it required being locked down as this was all he could do.

Not too long afterward, we began to experience higher voltage than normal coming through the a/c outlets which resulted in the following components being “fried”: 2 computer monitors, a pc system board, a 300gigabyte external hard disk (lost all data after power surge), Xbox 360, and a few other items (items mentioned had been connected to non-overloaded UPS surge protected equipment).

We contacted our home warranty insurance and had 4 different electricians come in to investigate as they literally all said the same thing – - “there might be a problem but can’t figure out what it could be because it’s not happening at the time.” We also attempted to speak to the neighbors about the issue(s), but they were not very cooperative.

We had to then hire an independent electrical contracting company to come in and do extensive testing to which the troubleshooting electrician committed to paper that “he believes our home’s electrical appears to be tapped by someone on our grid.” What would you recommend we do to resolve this problem as well as isolate and protect our electricity? Thanks for your help.

Answer:
If someone tapped into your power you should be able to see the additional wires; unless the tap is underground. If the tap is underground, then dig it up with a witness and take pictures. Call the police and have them file a report. I’m definitely not qualified to offer legal advice, but I would start with the previous steps and ask the police officer what needs to be done next. After everything is documented, then disconnect the wires that are tapped into your power.

If your breaker box is outside, then I highly recommend moving it inside. The only thing required to be outside is your main breaker. I also recommend hiring the independent electrical contracting company to come in and resolve this problem for you.

 

Ron asks:
I am putting in a GFCI in a mobile home. It is a kitchen switch and a plug I have one red hot wire and two (one black and one white negative and a ground I ohm the replacement I have two wires on the top of the plug I assume are for the switch I’m not sure exactly how to wire it any ideas?

Answer:
I really need more information to solve this problem. You need to determine which wires are your power supply. Are there only 4 wires (red, black, white and ground) in the box? If so, use a volt meter and check voltage between the red and white wires. Repeat this with the black and white wires. The pair which measures approximately 120 volts are your power supply.

After determining which wires are your power supply, you may terminate the wires. First ensure that the power is turned off. Next attach 2 pieces of ground wire approximately 6 inches long to the existing ground. Now do the same for the hot wire. Next connect one of the ground tails to the ground screw on the switch and the other to the ground screw on the GFCI receptacle. Now connect the white wire to the silver screw on the line side of the GFCI receptacle. Next connect the red wire to one of the terminals on the switch; it doesn’t matter which one. Finally, connect one of the black tails to the brass terminal on the line side of the GFCI receptacle and the other to the switch.

If you have more wires in the switch box or this configuration does not work, then I recommend using my paid service where I offer DIY Electrical Wiring Help from a Master Electrician.

DIY Electrical Wiring Help from a Master Electrician Do you need assistance with your electrical wiring project? Please visit my DIY Electrical Wiring Help from a Master Electrician page. Where I provide electrical wiring tips, expert electrical advice, answers to your electrical questions and electrical consulting & design services over the phone, via instant messenger or via email.

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Comments

One Response to “Answers to Electrical Questions About Someone Tapping Into Your Power and Wiring a GFI Receptacle”

  1. Electrician on January 7th, 2009 11:24 am

    Hi, I am an electrical contractor and I really like this site. I just found it while surfing. There is alot of good information and answers for homeowners and for electricians to reference to.

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