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Troubleshooting Receptacles, Determining If A Junction Box Is Switch Controlled Or Not and Romex Sheath Colors Explained

January 19, 2009

Question mark Robert Reinhart asks:
I have one room in my home in which none of the receptacles are working have replaced the fuses but still not working.

This could be a loose connection, bad receptacle or broken wire(s). The first thing that you need to do is determine if there is voltage on the load side of the fuse for this circuit. If you have voltage here, then check for voltage at other working devices on this circuit. If all of the devices in that room do not work, then check devices in other rooms which share the common walls.

I’ll bet it is probably a wire which came loose from a “stab loc” connection. This is where the wires are just “stabbed” into the back of the device instead of being wrapped around the screws. Without more information is is difficult to offer a definitive solution.


George asks:
My sons bedroom has 2 3-way switches, one with 2 3-wires and the other with 3 2-wires, he has 5 receptacles and each one has the top controlled by the 3-way switches and the bottom is always hot, there is a junction box on the wall about 5 feet from the floor that looks like it should be used for a light, in this box is 2 3-wires and 1 2-wire, the 2 reds are connected together, the 3 blacks are connected together and the 3 whites are connected together as are the 3 bare wires(grounds) I am guessing that this junction box can support a light fixture controllable with the 3-way switches, how can I do this otherwise why would there be a junction box wired this way?

To determine if this box is controlled by the switch or not, check for voltage between the black and white wires with the switch on and with it off. Do the same between the red and white wires. If there is voltage with the switch on and no voltage with the switch off, then this box is controlled by the switch. If you have voltage at this box regardless of the switch position, then this box is not controlled by the switch.

Do you have electric baseboard heat in the room? This box could be for a thermostat. I really need more information to solve this problem.


Doug Paterson asks:
Is there a different colored out sheath wire that is used in bedroom to identify Arc Fault circuits?

The different colored outer sheath was created to help inspectors determine the wire size in a house easily. The white sheath is 14 AWG wire, the yellow sheath is 12 AWG wire and the orange sheath is 10 AWG wire.

Currently arc-fault protection is achieved by using an arc-fault breaker. However, there will also be an arc-fault receptacle in the future as well.

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