How to repair a damaged TempZone™ electric floor heating system with an open circuit

Troubleshooting a damaged TempZone™ electric floor heating system


Video Transcript

OK, we've come out to a floor that is not working, so what we have is as our troubleshooting kit and the first thing we're going to try to get an idea of is where the problem is in the floor. So I've got a short stop here. I'm also going to be using a digital ohmmeter in between. Those two things will be able to get an idea in the floor where the problem is, once we get an idea where the problem is, we'll zap it with high voltage to find the sparks and the spark will tell us exactly where the damaged wire is. 

 OK, now this is the offending wire, and if you look, what we have here is we have a red conductor and a black conductor and I've twisted them together. That leaves the ground. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to take the black connector and I'm going to attach it to, the alligator clip to the ground. I'm going to twist the red and the black together. And I am going to then put of the connector on there and I'm going to press this and we're getting 189. So we're going to go ahead and use these numbers to give us an idea of where in the floor. The problem is. Look, the first step to doing any troubleshooting on the floor is to find out what the owner's reasons are and we're going to ask you that on the phone. The first thing we do so always get a digital ohmmeter. Never, ever use an analog meter with a needle, with the needles. Those are no good. They will not work on the floor. Don't even try to use them. This meter right here cost $15. You can get it in any big box store. They're worth their weight in gold. So what we're going to do is we're going to set our ohmmeter to the 200 ohm range and we make sure it works by touching the two probes together. When you do, you should see the numbers change. That tells us that we have this thing set up correctly. And what I'm going to do now is I'm going to go from the ground to the red conductor, and this should be open, if I didn't get a reading here, it would tell me that I have a short. Next thing I'm going to do is I'm, going this will be red for 240. This would be yellow for 120. What I'm going to do this go from Ground to black to see if I have a short and there is no short here. So that's a good sign. You want this to be open OL zero, something like that. 

The next thing I'm going to do is I'm going to get the actual reading of the floor and this will be on your installation plan when the ohms are supposed to be. But if I do a test here, I can see that I have no arms, which means the floor is open, the floor has been damaged. And what we need to do is we need to find out where the damage is. So there's three test from red or yellow to ground, red to black and from black to ground. And we can see that we have opened every way we tested, which means the wires are completely severed somewhere. So the next thing we're going to do is we're going to get out our high pot tester. OK, now I have got a high voltage tester, which is a high pot. This unit is designed to test the insulation. So if you send voltage down the black wire and you put a ground on the ground, you want to make sure that the insulation is isolating the black wire from the ground inside the cable. Same thing with the red to ground. You want to make sure that the insulation is good all the way through the entire mat. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to take the black clamp. I'm going to put it on the black wire. So what I do is I set up like this. I see if I can get it to make a spark, and I do, it resets, so once I'm aware of what that is, I press the reset button and I drop the voltage and I keep dropping the voltage until I can get it to reset at the lowest voltage possible. This makes sure that it doesn't damage the wire anywhere else. OK, so I'm getting a reset at about 600 volts. OK, homeowners should not do this or should be a licensed electrician. And insured before this is because, as I said before, you use this because, as I said, you can go from anywhere from 100 to 2,500 volts. So you don't want to be doing this unless you're trained in electricity. 

 So what I'm going to do now is I'm going to push the reset button and hold it down and I'm going to hit this with short bursts of only one or two seconds, maybe three at the most. And that's going to show a hot spot in the floor. OK, now that we found the spot I marked with a Black magic marker and what I'm going to do now is I'm going to break up the thinset around it so I can pull the cable up to make the repair. I always hit, you see the cable runs here and here and here, I'm going to run the break it up in between the wire. So that way I'm never, ever going to hit the wire with any of these tools. See, not only we worry about right where the spot is, but we've got to be able to lift the cable up to make the repair. Right now, we're pretty lucky because we had the bad spot, we found it before the tile went down, but you can still do this repair even if there's tile on top. That's what's so great about this, because you can use a thermal camera to find that hot spot. Now, you can see I've gone right after where the bad spot is, we're going to have to cut through there anyway, so I need to be able to get this cable up. So I'm going to go right at the bad spot. OK, here's our bad spot. So what we're going to do is we're going to take a blade and we're just going to cut it. The wire is no good here anyway, so I go ahead and separate it. And now I've got to open it up to get at the wires and I'm going to strip the wire back about an inch on each side. And that way I can make my connections between the two voltage carrying lines and the ground. When you're doing this, do not try to use a wire stripper or wire stripper will not work on this wire because it's not a standard gauge. So there's nothing to set your wire stripper to. The way you need to do it is very carefully take a blade and just cut around the surface enough so you can see that you've broken through the blue outer cover. And that's really not as easy as it sounds because that is designed to keep the wire from getting damaged. Then I cut the insulation down the length. That let's me take the outer sleeve off and then I begin to work on the ground. 

OK, so what I've done is I've separated the two center core wires. They carry the voltage and I have separated them from the ground. So I'm going to take this ground and I'm going to twist it together and I'm going to make sure it's not intertwined with the voltage carrying wires, because if they do get intertwined, you have a chance that when you get done with your repair that you may still have a short. So the idea is to get these wires isolated as well as possible before you do anything else. I now have to take the insulation off the inner core wires. And it's a clear insulation and I get a little more than about a quarter of an inch. Once again, this is not a standard size wire, so never, ever use a wire stripper on this wire. Okay so that one is off. So we've got our wires separated now, we've attached, if you want to take a look over here, we've attached our outer heat shrink. And I'm going to take these two little black insulators, these are going to isolate the repairs from each other. And it is going to make the repair waterproof. So by the time I'm done here, I'm going to have 2 waterproof repairs here and a waterproof repair that goes over the entire assembly. I'm going to move this one over here because I got a little bit more room between it and the repair that don't want the heat shrink to shrink up on me. So I'm going to do a solder repair. This is the best repair you can do because it's the most permanent. All right, once I have a good connection there, I can go ahead and move over the shrink tube. And it covers the repair right there, and what I'll do is I'll go ahead and heat shrink that, that'll help hold it together right now. And I make sure they don't see any exposed wire on either side. Then take the heat gun. That repairs complete, let it cool down a little bit. I've got good connection there, I've got no exposed wires, so the next one is going to be this side. Now, our center core wires are isolated from each other and they're going to be isolated from these grounds, so the next thing we're going to do is we're going to take the grounds. We're going to connect them using this mechanical butt splice connector Since you're using a soldering iron, You can use solder to make this connection if you like. I've already shown you how to do the solder connection. So I'm just going to show you, if you have a mechanical splice connector, it comes with a kit. I'm just going to go and show you how to do it. I trim the ground wires so they make a good connection inside there, they don't, they can't overlap inside this type of but connector, because it's got a little piece of metal that sits down in the middle that keeps the wires on their own side. Once we do that, we get out our wire crimping tool. Get that side on there. Make sure that I've got a good connection on this side. Make sure the grounds are nice and tight, and then once they are, we've got our two center cores and our ground connected. We take our outer heat shrink, which may be red, may be black. So once I know where that connection is. And I know that I'm not going to be too short, I don't want to end up like that, I get this over here, make sure I have a good covers on each side, and then it's time to use the heat gun again. When you're using the heat gun, it's very important to get both sides. So it completely shrinks. If you only hit it from one side, it won't shrink all the way down. 

 The good thing about this tubing is it has glue on the inside and the glue does two things, it helps glue it to the wire, but it also helps to flow inside to make that repair waterproof. So it's going to keep the water from getting into the wires. So now we've got our repair completely done. And at that point, we can go out and cover it back up with thinset and then put tile over the repair. So what we're going to do now is we're going to do our voltage test here, our ohms test, to make sure before we close up our repair that it's a good repair. So I'm going to go across the ground here to make sure I don't have any shorts. Nothing there, nothing there, and now I'm going to see if I have continuity between the electrical and I do and it reads perfect. When you're using the Hi-pot device, that high voltage, please make sure that an electrician does that work. That does it for us today. Thanks so much for watching. We'll see you next time at

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