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AC outlet trouble shooting and 2 hole -> 3 hole, possible?

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by T.T., Mar 5, 2004.

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  1. T.T.

    T.T. Guest

    Hi, there:

    Sorry for these two basic questions as I don't really know too much
    about basic electronics... here is what I'm trying to do:

    1. I found a dead AC outlet (see photos here: how do I trouble shoot and
    find out what's wrong with this AC outlet? I have checked the fuse and
    the circuit breaker box and it was OK. Usually for a technician, what
    would they do (and what kind of tools are used) to trouble-shoot a AC

    2. For this type of old "2-hole" AC outlet, is it possible that I
    could replace it with a modern "3-hold (with ground)" AC outlet?? Is
    there any step-by-step (with photo) DIY guide for doing such a task?
    Also, is it tough to physically "move" the AC outlet to some other

    3. on this Web site ( on the
    left hand side, the 3rd photo is a circuit box that was originally
    covered with a blank plastic panel... could anyone recognize exactly
    what kind of "wiring" it is for? I don't think it's phone jack wiring,
    so I guess it should be AC wiring although I'm not totally sure.. any

    Thanks again for your help!
  2. CFoley1064

    CFoley1064 Guest

    Subject: AC outlet trouble shooting and 2 hole -> 3 hole, possible?
    House wiring isn't too difficult, but there's a very steep learning curve if
    you make a mistake. You might want to offer a friend who knows something about
    electrical wiring a case of their favorite libation to spend an hour showing
    you what's going on.

    Good luck, and be safe
  3. the Wiz

    the Wiz Guest

    1. Dead outlets have several likely causes:

    bad/missing fuse, tripped circuit breaker
    (unless the fuse/breaker box has current markings, you'll need
    a circuit tracer to verify how things are *actually* wired)

    wiring disconnected to be used elsewhere

    damaged wiring (during other work - drills and saws are
    bas news for wiring)

    outlet controlled by a switch
    (so that's what that switch is for???)

    2. Unless the needed ground wire is included in the run to the outlet box, you
    can't do a proper replacement.

    3. That box is a junction where the AC wiring changes direction. In this case,
    the wiring makes a 90 degree turn, which you can't pull directly. The wire is
    pulled from some starting point (fuse/breaker box) to this junction box (think
    of a big pile of wire on the floor), then the wire is pulled to it's
    It might be possible to add an outlet there, but you need someone knowledgeable
    to check things on-site to verify what's safe (and maybe what's legal in your
    area) My city will issue me a permit to do wiring in my own home, but the
    wiring must pass inspection by a city electrical inspector. Not all
    jurisdictions allow this. I did get one question from the inspector: "Are you
    an electrician?"

    Moving an outlet is subject to the same conditions as putting an outlet in the
    junction box.

    More about me:
    VB3/VB6/C/PowerBasic source code:
    Freeware for the Palm with NS Basic source code:
    Drivers for Pablo graphics tablet and JamCam cameras:
    johnecarter [email protected] mindspring com. Fix the obvious to reply by email.
  4. Are the working outlets in the house the more modern 3-hole type? If
    so, the house has probably been re-wired, and these dead outlets were
    just abandoned.

    I would look in the basement below the dead outlets to see if I could
    see the wires that go to them - then trace the wires away from the
    outlets and see if they get anywhere near the breaker panel.
    Yes - but you would probably have to run new wiring to the outlet as
    well, to get a ground connection to it.
    Probably - look at Home Depot or other home improvement place (or a
    Not so much move as remove old and install new, then patch up the

    You may require an electrical permit from the city to do such work,
    and the work must comply with any applicable electrical code rules.
    If you are not familiar with electrical wiring, you should probably
    consult an electrician to get it done right.
    Looks like AC wiring to me. The box is just used as a "pull box" to
    help get the wiring around a corner. (and the fact that this box is
    there makes me suspect that the house has been re-wired at some time.)

    Peter Bennett, VE7CEI
    peterbb (at)
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