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Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 2938
Experience:  29 years as a Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, 5 year college Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma in Digital Electronics, Former Illinois Licensed Home Inspector
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I have no power to my upstairs unless I ground to my ac

Customer Question

I have no power to my upstairs unless I ground to my ac duct. The wire I have to ground is apparently a power wire because somehow I have 2 power wires going to upstairs with no ground...help
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Kevin replied 5 months ago.

Hello and welcome to Just Answer. My name is ***** ***** I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question.

1) Are the wall receptacles 2 or 3 prong type?

2) Do you have either a 2 wire lead AC voltage tester (a contact type) or an AC voltmeter available to check a few voltage measurements on the dead wall receptacles?

3) How many circuits are dead?

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I have a meeter and a light stick. My house is older so it has the porcelain wire nodes
Expert:  Kevin replied 5 months ago.

Thanks for the replies.

1) So the home is wired with Knob & Tube wiring, is that correct?

2) Does the home contain any wall receptacles that are 3 prong type and grounded or are they all 2 prong receptacles?

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
The last few weeks every time I turned on certain light switches it would make a sizzling noise and the lights would flicker. Yesterday I found a coon living in my attic. I went up to remove the varmin, now the lights and plugins do not work
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I believe they are all 2 prong
Expert:  Kevin replied 5 months ago.

1) Sizzling noise suggests that arcing is taking place. Flickering lights also suggests a loose wire splice or termination. The arcing and sizzling noise can both be attributed to a faulty splice or a loose wire.

2) If the home was wired prior to the late 1930's, most likely you have Knob & Tube wiring. If K&T exists, back in the day, they didn't splice the wires inside a junction box as they were only tapped with black electrical tape.

3) I recommend to perform a visual inspection inside the attic area and look for any tapped wire splices. Most likely a loose or a faulty splice that the racoon got tangled up with would be my guess.

Expert:  Kevin replied 5 months ago.

1) If the problem cannot be immediately located and corrected, I suggest to remove the fuse or turn OFF the circuit breaker on that circuit until it can be repaired. Arcing can lead to a possible fire.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
there was a few wires taped together inside of 3 junction boxes. I have un taped all splices replaced with caps and re taped. Also the wording appears to all be in tact. I have followed all wires and they appear good
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I cannot figure out why I have no ground to fixtures but I have 2 powers. If I ground a single power..that I noticed was broken, it will turn my power back on
Expert:  Kevin replied 5 months ago.

1) You can try to plug in a table lamp in one of the dead wall receptacles. Then wiggle the cord plug side to side at the receptacle and see if the lamp starts to flicker. If so, then a loose termination or a faulty wire splice is present. You can also try the wiggle procedure at the attic splices and have an assistant downstairs to confirm if the table lamp or light fixtures start to flicker again. This will also confirm is a faulty splice.

2) If the home was built prior to 1962, ground wires were not required. Since the receptacles are only 2 prong, there is no ground wire. Only 1 hot and 1 neutral wire.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Should the neutral be powered though?
Expert:  Kevin replied 5 months ago.

1) On a 120 volt circuit, the hot wire is the source of voltage since it originates from either a fuse or a circuit breaker. The neutral conductor is the return conductor that completes the circuit path. The neutral wire should never have voltage, only the hot wire has voltage. The neutral wire will have current just like the hot wire has current.

2) The A/C metal ducting should never have voltage or be used as a return electrical path. If the ducting is electrical charged, this suggests that a hot wire has come into immediate contact with the metal duck work. This is unsafe and can cause a fire and/or shock and/or electrocution.

Expert:  Kevin replied 5 months ago.

1) What is the approximate age of the home?

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
it appears my neutral wire is at fault. My duct does not have power. I used the duck to provide a grounding source.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
When I touch the "neutral" broken wire it completed the circuit?
Expert:  Kevin replied 5 months ago.

1) It is not safe and it is also a violation of the National Electrical Code to use HVAC metal ducting as an equipment grounding conductor.

2) If the home does not contain an exterior ground rod or if not grounded to the street side of the cold metal water supply pipe, then there is no grounding electrode conductor.

3) If all of the wall receptacles were wired using K&T wiring and they are 2 prong, then an equipment grounding conductor does not exist. Therefore, the entire home is NOT grounded if all of the above are applicable.

4) I suggest contacting a local licensed electrician and have them assess the existing wiring and electrical panel for safety reasons.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
The electricians are fairly sprndy around here. I can not afford to pay there prices....that is why I was hoping for a fixable solution on here.
Expert:  Kevin replied 5 months ago.

1) Yes, I understand your dilemma. However, if the home is older and was wired using K&T wiring, this can lead to a potential fire and/or safety issue.

2) Since I am not able to be present, I can only advise you to check all of the splices and/or terminations that reside on that circuit. Somewhere, you have a loose wire or a faulty splice.

Somewhere, you also have either a neutral conductor that has been "bootleg" grounded to the metal HVAC duct. That is a total code violation and a safety issue. Not worth loosing the home to a fire or possibly being electrocuted in my opinion. Due to the events that took place and the wiring methods used, only an experienced licensed electrician should be hired to locate and correct any code violations.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
The wires are not connected to the HVAC. I found a broken wire and accidentpy touched the HVAC pipe while moving it and my lights flickered. I then touched it on there again and the lights came on. The wire is no longer touching the hvac
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
When I attempt to reconnect the broken wire together nothing happens. Also I checked the junction at the splices, all wires in the junction are powered. I assume they are not supposed to all be powered
Expert:  Kevin replied 5 months ago.

Yes, but there may be a bootleg grounded neutral conductor that is coming into contact with the duct work at another location.

HVAC metal duct work has nothing to do with an electrical circuit whether or not a wire comes into contact with the ducting.

If you touch an electrical wire to an HVAC metal ducting and the lights start to work, that means the ducting is being used as a neutral conductor which is a fire hazard and a code violation and a good way to get electrocuted. The power to the home needs to be de-energized and a continuity tester from each branch neutral conductor inside the electrical panel to the metal ducting needs to be confirmed and isolated in order to rule out or confirm a bootleg ground.

Expert:  Kevin replied 5 months ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks................Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 5 months ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks................Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 5 months ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks.................Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 5 months ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks................Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 5 months ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks................Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 5 months ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks................Kevin:)

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