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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is their a way to test receptacle outlets for loose/hazardous connections without removing the receptacle to visually see?

Ideal Sure Test Circuit Analyzer seems like a great tool for testing and comparing the impedance of the hot and neutral conductors and for performing load tests for voltage drop. But this tool is expensive.
Is there an alternate way to test for loose connections and series arcs?

I was thinking of connecting an AFCI breaker to every circuit but that would mean digging through the panel so I can locate the neutral for each circuit.

I hope there is another method out there one you ingenious electricians know about.

Thank you.
 

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Is their a way to test receptacle outlets for loose/hazardous connections without removing the receptacle to visually see?

Ideal Sure Test Circuit Analyzer seems like a great tool for testing and comparing the impedance of the hot and neutral conductors and for performing load tests for voltage drop. But this tool is expensive.
Is there an alternate way to test for loose connections and series arcs?

I was thinking of connecting an AFCI breaker to every circuit but that would mean digging through the panel so I can locate the neutral for each circuit.

I hope there is another method out there one you ingenious electricians know about.

Thank you.
The best way is to do the work, Get a screw gun and pull them out and look at them.
 

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^^^^ What Harry said.

Any kind of plug-in tester is no substitute for a good visual inspection.

Plug in testers are also notorious for giving false indications.

Take the time and do it right..that's why you're a professional, not a DIY or HI. :thumbup::laughing:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
You might consider megging, but you've got to be used to it, and careful of what not to meg


~CS~
I like the idea of using a megohmmeter (megger).
How would you go about using this tool to test for loose connections or series arcing for receptacles and lights?

Otherwise, rather than unscrewing every outlet (uhhh), I was thinking of using an AFCI breaker to test each circuit, but this would mean organizing the wiring in the panel. This may take less time than removing and replacing every outlet. If the AFCI does detect a problem, then I will note it, so I can write a separate contract to fix it. This job is not a T and M job where I can spend as much time as I need to fix any problems. I do upfront pricing, which is what California law requires. That would be another forum topic though.
 

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I make all the electrons line up for their Flu shots
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Scientists sometimes stumble across stuff before they are able to come up with explanations.

Take out the non contact volt tester and touch it to some non electrical items in the structure- walls, doors, etc and see if it constant rings. I have noticed before by accident that if you have this happening in a dwelling, there is usually some bad grounding stuff to be found or else they are using 14-2 for travelers on three way switches. It is vodoo for sure , but.... I have seen it happen more than just once or twice.


And I ain't sayin it's a ghost, but...... Its a ghost. :rolleyes:
 

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THE "BIG RED MACHINE"
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time to test the system you could probably replace about half the devices.
sell your customer a whole house device upgrade, tamper-resistant devices, commercial grade, GFI there's a new codes now. offer to do a couple rooms a month to reduce the financial burden. sell them a panel tune up, upgrade with all the new codes nowadays.

flat rating: those projects are easy
 

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THE "BIG RED MACHINE"
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just get a 1500 watt heater plug it in to each outlet, reg up an AFCI and start testing your circuits in the panel. after that Meg out your circuits.

how much would you charge for that kind of test?

I think it's better to sell the customer device replacement
the whole nine yards in the house.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
just get a 1500 watt heater plug it in to each outlet, reg up an AFCI and start testing your circuits in the panel. after that Meg out your circuits.

how much would you charge for that kind of test?

I think it's better to sell the customer device replacement
the whole nine yards in the house.
I agree with you about R/R all devices, selling a panel upgrade, etc. I have done it before with great success and will do it again. In order to give the customer a proper estimate on what needs to be fixed and suggestions on what could be done to make the house safe, an efficient and thorough diagnostic should take place.

What are some methods for diagnosing electrical hazards, like loose connections, shared neutrals, false grounds, etc?

I suggested connecting an AFCI breaker to each branch circuit in the panel to check for shared neutrals, series arcs, and loose connections. That way the electrician has a better understanding of how much work needs to be done.

Upgrading GFCIs in locations, etc. is standard. I am concerned with loose connections and shared neutrals and false grounds, which are difficult to detect from a visual inspection alone, since j-boxes may exist in attics and crawl spaces.

How would you go about using a megger? No load can be connected. I would use the panel and connect each circuit to the megohmmeter and check the resistance of each conductor to ground. I presume low resistance readings would indicate arcing or shorts.

Is there an effective method to using a meager in a home?
Thank you.
 

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...
I suggested connecting an AFCI breaker to each branch circuit in the panel to check for shared neutrals, series arcs, and loose connections. ...
AFCIs don't even start to look for a problem unless there is a load of at least 5 amps on the circuit. An AFCI cannot detect a poor or loose connection and there is little to no evidence that a series arc can even exist at dwelling unit voltages.
 

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Wouldn't this go so much faster if the damn wall plate screw was also a Philips too?
I have a small pair of 12 volt rigid screw guns. I keep one loaded with a small flathead. The other with a #2 Philips. With the slide extensions that go over the screw on both. That's the quickest way I have found to deal with recepts and plates. Just adjust the chuck accordingly so you don't crack the plates. :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
AFCIs don't even start to look for a problem unless there is a load of at least 5 amps on the circuit. An AFCI cannot detect a poor or loose connection and there is little to no evidence that a series arc can even exist at dwelling unit voltages.
A series arc is an arc in series with a conductor; that is my understanding. Why can't that be possible in a house? AFCI detect arcing and loose connections, from my experience installing them; so I recommend them for all homes. Your right though, thanks for reminding me, about putting a load on the circuit under test, but I think it can be under 5 amps, according to their spec sheets.
Thank you. I will have to plug in my drill or something.
 

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On some jobs I have been on, they have used fluke thermal imaging cameras to check for hot spots on splices, panels and motor control centers. I'm sure you can probably use this camera for receptacles but I'm not sure of the cost of this equipment and how well it will work on receptacles. I'm sure you could find some hot spots of hidden splices in walls, but I'm sure it's only as good as the user.
 

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Other than a visual inspection, a voltage drop test under full load can sometimes be a way to ferret out a marginal connection. (it might also just mean that you're near the end of a long run). Exactly what amount of drop would be considered normal and what amount of drop might mean a loose connection somewhere? Beats me. I suppose a test like that, along with visual inspection, might help a guy develop some historical data. The Tasco Inspector II or Arnett's Mega Beast would be two tools you could use for that.
 

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THE "BIG RED MACHINE"
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I don't think there's a simple accurate and comprehension test you can do, that's accurate and trustworthy without opening up all the device boxes. I've never heard of one that is solely accurate by testing alone' if I find burn device boxes I don't like doing just the one oor two repair I like to look at all of them in the whole house ( when you have a burnt device why should you assume the rest are all okay)
 

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A series arc is an arc in series with a conductor; that is my understanding. Why can't that be possible in a house? AFCI detect arcing and loose connections, from my experience installing them; so I recommend them for all homes. Your right though, thanks for reminding me, about putting a load on the circuit under test, but I think it can be under 5 amps, according to their spec sheets.
Thank you. I will have to plug in my drill or something.
I should have said a sustaining series arc, the only kind that can start an fire, are not possible at dwelling unit voltages. The arc will self-extinguish at the zero crossing and will not re-strike. There is nothing in an AFCI that can detect a poor or loose or high resistance connection.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I should have said a sustaining series arc, the only kind that can start an fire, are not possible at dwelling unit voltages. The arc will self-extinguish at the zero crossing and will not re-strike. There is nothing in an AFCI that can detect a poor or loose or high resistance connection.
Thanks for all your responses. I ended up R/R all devices and sub-panel.

There was an AFCI that kept tripping and the problem was a loose "back stabbed" outlet. After I re-connected the wire to the screw terminal with a wire loop, the AFCI did not trip under load. So that tells me that AFCIs do respond to loose connections. Another good reason to install them.
 

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Thanks for all your responses. I ended up R/R all devices and sub-panel.

There was an AFCI that kept tripping and the problem was a loose "back stabbed" outlet. After I re-connected the wire to the screw terminal with a wire loop, the AFCI did not trip under load. So that tells me that AFCIs do respond to loose connections. Another good reason to install them.
I hope you get a nice advertising check from the AFCI mfg!
Because you are the first person I ever heard say a loose connection tripped an AFCI.

There is a great video of a guy who set up both a series arc and a loose connection on a circuit wired to an AFCI. Neither tripped the AFCI!

The loose connection had the screw terminal glowing "cherry red" and it never tripped the AFCI.
 
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