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Thread: Outlet with 10-3 Romex

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  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member mavisb's Avatar
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    Default Outlet with 10-3 Romex

    My home was built in 1973--no reason to think that this outlet isn't original. The outlet is in a bedroom with little use.

    We had a nightlight short out in the outlet and smoke up. I assumed that it was a defective Chinese plastic-light issue; the light actually swivels around, breaking the electrical connection except in 90 degree positions. BUT something seems wrong.

    The outlet has 4 Romex wires coming in. One of the Wires is a 10-3 and the others are 10-2. All whites wires were on one side of the outlet and all blacks were on the other. (OK) The copper grounds were attached to ground. (OK) The red of the 10-3, however is pigtailed to a GROUND WIRE. With the circuit shut off a the box, I still receive a hot 120 with one pair of wires--but the intended connections are off.

    It SEEMS to me that a Traveler SHOULD NOT be wired to a Ground Wire. Does ANYONE know of a time that you would do this?

    If no other outlets are effected, I'm inclined to terminate the use of the traveler.

    Any comments would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Nuclear Engineer nukeman's Avatar
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    Only comment I have right now is: are you sure they are 10-3 and 10-2? That seems a bit crazy. I would expect to see 14-2 for a bedroom circuit and possibly 12-2 if it was a long run from the panel or if the electrician wanted to go overkill, but 10-2 seems a bit insane.

  3. #3

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    I have a dumb question... Is that a single gang electrical box?

    If yes and actually 10 ga., how on earth did they cram all that wiring in there?

    And is the 10-3 with an additional ground wire? Or just 10-3 without ground?

    Any idea where the 10-3 wire goes and what is at the other end?
    Last edited by Billy_Bob; 11-29-2009 at 07:34 PM.

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member mavisb's Avatar
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    Default Wrong guage noted.

    Correct--I was wrong. The wires are 12-2 & 12-3.

    I must have knocked the wire off a side post when I pulled it out of the wall. Must NOT have been wired to ground because it was evidently the brain circuit of the whole house. I lost power to various circuits upstairs and down.

    I placed 4 whites on one side, 3 remaining blacks on the other [red was pigtailed to a black], left the 2 blacks tied together as were, and all works as was.

    I was concerned initially because the breaker killed the outlet, but not the hot wires in the box. Saw spark coming off the ground and the pigtail black was on that side.

    Anyway, thanks anyway. It might not be wired correctly, but it is as was. No more cheap Chinese nightlights. I appreciate your responses.

  5. #5
    Nuclear Engineer nukeman's Avatar
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    So, you are saying there are 4 ROMEX cables... Three 12-2 cables (3 white, 3 black, 3 grounds) and one 12-3 (white, black, red, and ground), correct? It sounds like the box is overfilled. Is this a single gang box?

    I'm guessing the problem was not the nightlight. Due to being so full, there probably was not a good connection to one of the wires and it came off and shorted. Is the box metal? If so, is it grounded?

    If it were me, I would try to move some of the wires so it was not so stuffed. If it is overfilled like I think it is, there could be a fire hazzard there. If it is overfilled, the other option would be to use a larger box (like a 2-gang).
    Last edited by nukeman; 11-30-2009 at 05:58 AM.

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member mavisb's Avatar
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    Default Thanks nukeman.

    Thanks for your reply. Yes, this was a single gang box with 4 wires--and evidently with one extra hot wire running through from and to parts unknown.

    I appreciate your advice and experience. I'll add that to the list.

    Many thanks.

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