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AssuredElectrical
AssuredElectrical, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 4241
Experience:  Contractor-42+ Years in the ElectricalTrade
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Hi, I have installed two outdoor lampposts with a 14/2 outdoor

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Hi, I have installed two outdoor lampposts with a 14/2 outdoor gray feeder wire. Both posts run off the same wire and are connected to a GFCI outlet off my front porch. Each lamplight has a separate motion sensor attached to it. I connected blacks to grays, white to white and green to copper for neutral. One lamppost worked, the other didn't. I thought it might be a sensor issue, so I tried to replace it, and the new sensor didn't work either. I then tried to take the sensor out completely to see if the lamp itself was working, then the breaker tripped and it won't reset. Please help. I'm assuming this is a wiring issue or the breaker has gone bad.

AssuredElectrical :

Welcome. My name is XXXXX XXXXX would be glad to assist.

AssuredElectrical :

First, did you run from the house to the first post and then from that post to the second?


 

Customer:

I ran to a T and then split off in each direction.

AssuredElectrical :

a T? you have a junction point?


 

Customer:

Yes, I ran the wire thru a PVC conduit, then took two more wires to tie to that, one going to each lamp.

AssuredElectrical :

Ok, so oyu have 14/2 running from the house to a junction point, then ran the 14/2 to each light from that junction? Is that correct?

Customer:

Yes.

AssuredElectrical :

Ok, at the junction, do you have all the blacks together, all whites together and grounds together. All making good contact under the wire nuts?

Customer:

I have a lamp on each side of my sidewalk.

AssuredElectrical :

Ok, but at the splice point where all 3 cables meet, you have connections tight under wire nuts? color to color?

Customer:

Yes.

AssuredElectrical :

Ok, at the lamp post you have motion sensors or photo cells for nightime operation?

Customer:

Yes.

AssuredElectrical :

which?

Customer:

Both

Customer:

Only one works though.

AssuredElectrical :

ok, so you have a combination sensor at each light?

Customer:

The sensors came separate from the lights.

AssuredElectrical :

But the sensors are combo with both motion and photo cell?

Customer:

Each light has a separate motion sensor attached to it.

Customer:

Yes.

AssuredElectrical :

ok, understand that motion and phot cell are 2 entirely different operations, need to be sure what you have in place.

AssuredElectrical :

yours are definitely combination units?

Customer:

Give me a second.

AssuredElectrical :

ok

Customer:

They are Zenith motion sensing light post adapters. Model SL-4100. Got them thru Home Depot. It says the Photocell keeps the light off during the daylight hours.

AssuredElectrical :

ok


 

AssuredElectrical :

Can you connect the light post directly to the 14/2 cable and see if it works?

AssuredElectrical :

do not use the sensor

Customer:

I did that, and then the breaker tripped.

AssuredElectrical :

Ok, does it trip if you leave the cable disconnected from the light, free wires not touching anything?


 

Customer:

I haven't tried.

AssuredElectrical :

need to try that, that will insure your connections are correct at the junction point and cable is not knicked or cut

Customer:

Got a few minutes? I can go and disconnect it.

AssuredElectrical :

sure, be right here, not a problem


 

Customer:

Okay, I disconnected the light and the breaker is still tripping.

AssuredElectrical :

Ok, need to go to the junction point where they are all connected together. Sound like the black hot is crossed with a ground or white.


 

Customer:

Nope.. I did white to white, gray to gray and neutral to neutral.

Customer:

I double-checked everything.

AssuredElectrical :

Something is touching in the junction box or wire scraped

AssuredElectrical :

Go and disconnect the cable going to that light

Customer:

I put black taped and duc tape over each of the connections.

AssuredElectrical :

are the wires just twisted together? or wire nut?

Customer:

They are twisted together with a wire nut on each end.

AssuredElectrical :

ok, wire nuts are good.

AssuredElectrical :

Still need to disconnect the one light and check the breaker again. If it holds, your wire is scraped or cut and shorting out somewhere

AssuredElectrical :

nothing else will trip the breaker

Customer:

It couldn't just be the breaker?

Customer:

When you say its scraped, what does that mean?

Customer:

Is it from me removing the wire coating?

AssuredElectrical :

scrape is when the edge of the cable is missing a little insulation and toughing the next wire in the cable. UF cable like you have can touch each other when stripped to wire up

AssuredElectrical :

normally just pull them apart but have to watch and not do it so copper shows.

Customer:

I really don't think that's the problem. I was really careful when I put those wires together in that junction.

AssuredElectrical :

black white and bare grounds

Customer:

There is no black on these underground wires. They are gray.

AssuredElectrical :

need to double check that, sounds like the outside insulation is still on the black

Customer:

If there was a problem at the junction, wouldn't the other light be having a problem, too?

AssuredElectrical :

all 3 are encapsulated in the gray outer covering

AssuredElectrical :

if the breaker trips how can the other light work?

Customer:

I know there is a gray outside coating for all three, but there is also a gray inside wire instead of a black.

Customer:

The one light was working before I took the motion sensor out of the second to get it to work.

AssuredElectrical :

interesting, will have to see if a company made a change, black is standard on all cables

Customer:

I thought so too!

AssuredElectrical :

in order to eliminate everything, the second light needs to be disconnected and the breaker checked. OR , if you have a meter that does continuity, then it can be used.

Customer:

Well, the second light is now disconnected. I am starting to believe it may be a breaker problem, or is there a chance it is an overload problem?

AssuredElectrical :

breakers are either good or bad,

Customer:

Well, I guess I will have to get the breaker looked at.

AssuredElectrical :

if you disconnect the wires at the junction and check the breaker.

AssuredElectrical :

is the breaker a GFCI or standard one?

Customer:

I can't just simply disconnect those wires. They run under my sidewalk. The breaker is a red switch.

AssuredElectrical :

but the junction isnt underground?

Customer:

Yes, it is underground.

Customer:

The wire runs thru a PVC pipe underground.

AssuredElectrical :

splices must be accessible 100% of the time

Customer:

I can get at it, but it won't be fast.

AssuredElectrical :

they cannot be under the ground unless the cover is above ground

Customer:

I don't understand.

AssuredElectrical :

is the T under the dirt? or above the dirt? can you remove the 2 screws without doing any digging etc?

Customer:

Yes, the T is under the dirt, under my sidewalk. I would have to dig to get at the T.

Customer:

What screws are you referring to? The wire nuts?

AssuredElectrical :

ok, that is why the asking, it is not allowed to be under dirt, it is against codes

Customer:

Not even if it's in a PVC pipe?

AssuredElectrical :

yes, it must be above ground to access the wire nuts, no digging

Customer:

I think I need an electrician to come out. Thanks for the help.

AssuredElectrical :

cable is fine under the ground, but not a splice point

Customer:

Okay

AssuredElectrical :

you mentioned red switch?


 

Customer:

what about it?

AssuredElectrical :

the breaker has a red button? or something?


 

Customer:

The breaker is red.

AssuredElectrical :

the handle


 

Customer:

The flip button on the breaker is red.

AssuredElectrical :

ok, sounds like a Bryant


 

Customer:

so what does that mean?

AssuredElectrical :

if you want to verify the breaker, you can disconnect the wire on the breaker in the panel and then test


 

AssuredElectrical :

Nothing, just a brand name

Customer:

I need an electrician

AssuredElectrical :

ok, be glad to work further with if you need it

AssuredElectrical :

all up to you

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