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  • A Question On "Dead Short".

    We had been experiencing a problem in the upper level of our home, where about 70% of the light switches do not work. We had all of the light switches replaced but, alas, that problem remained. We then (a few months ago) came into a little money, and decided to have our electrical service upgraded (100 to 150amp service). The old panel was on its last leg, and we also thought that the above problem might have been due to the one loose circuit breaker. But that was not the case, because we are still in the same boat. The electrician who upgraded our service mentioned that there was a 'Dead Short' - causing the one breaker to shut off every time that he attempted to set it in the 'On' position.

    Earlier on (before the upgrade, and before the switch failures) we were having problems with the ceiling fan in the master bedroom (it would sometimes work, and sometimes not). Then, after a while, the bathroom switches failed. After that, the balance of most of them failed. Just recently, though, I was informed (after explaining this very thing to someone) that they believed the problem stemmed from that ceiling fan. I took it down, but found that it did not effectuate a change in the situation.

    If I have to wait until such time as I could afford another electrician to come in here, it may be a might good while. So, I REALLY HOPE that someone out there may have some idea as to what I might be able to do.
    ~Blessings~

    Nathan

  • #2
    Re: A Question On "Dead Short".

    a short is where there is a completed circuit, (two wires touching some where, if wired properly it is the a black wire and either a white wire or a bare ground wire.)
    a open is where there is a break in the wiring some where and the circuit is not complete.

    since you removed the ceiling fan which you thought was the first to fail, and found nothing that you could Identify as the problem, I would probly start to check the attic, and see if any of the wire has been chewed on by mice rats or other, if it is accessible, (there are tracers that can be bought that will send a signal through the wire and one can trace it, (at least make sure your following the correct wire), (see url at bottom).

    It could be a wire nut that was never properly twisted on or a outlet that a wire worked it way off of, or other may be some one put a nail or screw threw the wire in some location and now over time it has shorted out). (even tho the lights are not working you can look on the "Bright" side of this and know the breaker did its job and you still have a house).

    (I have seen where mice have chewed the plastic wire sheathing clean off around drilled holes when remodeling a building),

    It may be that one will jsut have to abandon a section of wire and replace it with new,

    splices in areas that are not accessible are not permitted,

    Unless you can find some obvious sign of failure like chewed wires or some place in the switches that have touching wires more than likely you will have to call in some one who can fish you new lines or trace the old one out and find the failure,


    a thread on tracing a wire,
    http://www.ridgidforum.com/forum/sho...ht=trace+wires

    If you choose to work on this your self, shut off all power, you may have to disconnect the wire that is shorted from the breaker in the electrical box.
    if you do trace it out, and have a section of wire, that runs from point A to point B, one can disconnect that section and use a continuity meter to see if the short is in that section of wire, if there is no continuity then it probly is further down the line.

    the only way I know how to find it is to search it out and check ever slice and connection and if it is not in splices and connections then a section of wire is most likely damaged some where. and need to be replaced.

    (note: I have worked as general contractor and have been around electrical equipment a lot over the years but I am not an Electrician).
    Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
    attributed to Samuel Johnson
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: A Question On "Dead Short".

      BHD,

      Thanks for your quick reply. Our home is a little on the larger side, but it does not have a walk-in attic. There is a crawl space, up there, but we have never been in it, during the nearly five years that we have owned this property.

      I had hoped for something a little simpler , but I guess that I (deep down inside) knew better than that even when I posted my situation. We just shelled out for 15 much needed replacement windows, as well as some (also greatly needed) glass block windows for the basement. So, the 'dry pocket' syndrome is upon us right now. I believe that our best bet would have to be in waiting until such time as we can afford an electrician, over here, to properly diagnose & square this problem away for us.

      But I do thank you, ever so much, for answering what was asked.
      ~Blessings~

      Nathan

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: A Question On "Dead Short".

        "a short is where there is a completed circuit, (two wires touching some where, if wired properly it is the a black wire and either a white wire or a bare ground wire.)"

        The short could also be in many places in the circuit such as in a wall box where the integrity of the wire insulation is breached. Insulation that was stripped too far back leaving bare conductor exposed which is shorting out to a grounded, metal box. A ground and a neutral wire crossed somewhere or a three-way or four-way switch improperly wired.

        Loose connection in breaker panel/wire not locked down tightly under clamp screw on a bus bar. I had this problem in our current house when we moved in. The washing machine would work most times and other times it would act like the breaker was tripped. Check the breaker it is OK, no trip. Wait a while (sometimes took a couple days) and it would work again. After a week of this we quit using the outlet which was for the washing machine and the only outlet on the breaker. There was another outlet only two feet away so we used that. About a year later I am adding a circuit for lights in the basement. When I go to land the neutral lead I am on the bus right next to the neutral for the troublemaker washing machine outlet. I find out that the neutral for the washing machine outlet and the neutral for another circuit are both terminated under the same screw but the wires are different size, one #12 and one is #14. The clamp screw is tight on the larger dia wire and the other is loose and making intermittent contact. This is what caused the outlet to act weird. It also caused a bunch of interference (buzzing sound) that we attributed to a street light because that is what the neighbors told us (they were picking up the buzz in their home intercom system. Well, I took the #14 wire out and moved it over to its own slot on the bar. With it clamped down tight no more buzzing and no more problems with the washing machine.

        Sorry to ramble on just trying to show sometimes it is the littlest thing that causes the problem. Do (or get someone to do) some proper troubleshooting before you commit to ripping out or re-wiring major portions of your home but you should get this fixed soon as it is a potential fire hazard. I find it hard to believe that the electrician told you there was a short and did not locate it and/or fix it. At the time it sounds like it was isolated to the one circuit that he could not get the breaker to reset on, there should have been some follow up on this by the electrician. This would be like a plumber telling you that you had a water leak inside a wall and not repairing it.
        "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" Bob D. 2006

        https://www.youtube.com/user/PowerToolInstitute

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: A Question On "Dead Short".

          Originally posted by Bob D. View Post
          I find it hard to believe that the electrician told you there was a short and did not locate it and/or fix it. At the time it sounds like it was isolated to the one circuit that he could not get the breaker to reset on, there should have been some follow up on this by the electrician. This would be like a plumber telling you that you had a water leak inside a wall and not repairing it.
          Hi Bob.

          Yes, I also thought that it was quite strange that the electrician said as he did - without taking the matter further or (at least) giving professional advisory as to what avenue should be taken to correct that issue. This coming Monday I will contact another electrician, and have him/her come out to (hopefully) give me some insight as to what's happening, as well as an estimate on what the job would cost for rectification. Depending on what that amount might be, it is possible that we could manage something sooner than we know think.
          ~Blessings~

          Nathan

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: A Question On "Dead Short".

            I doubt very much if you will get an estimate on troubleshooting work. Troubleshooting is usually billed "by the hour" until the problem is found. Most likely the fix to the problem is simple but it is FINDING the problem that cost the money. Be aware that if he works for several hours and can not find the problem, you may still be required to pay. A good electrician should be able to home in on the problem is a reasonable amount of time. I don'rt know what year your house was built, but there was a point in time that CHEAP devices were sold which were ONLY "back-stab-able", 20 years later they cause problems especuially if the lady of the house plugs a vac cleaner in every day or so in the same outlet. If that is the case, I would look there first. Backstabs casue problems!! Lou

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            • #7
              Re: A Question On "Dead Short".

              Originally posted by QROKING View Post
              I doubt very much if you will get an estimate on troubleshooting work. Troubleshooting is usually billed "by the hour" until the problem is found. Most likely the fix to the problem is simple but it is FINDING the problem that cost the money. Be aware that if he works for several hours and can not find the problem, you may still be required to pay. A good electrician should be able to home in on the problem is a reasonable amount of time. I don'rt know what year your house was built, but there was a point in time that CHEAP devices were sold which were ONLY "back-stab-able", 20 years later they cause problems especuially if the lady of the house plugs a vac cleaner in every day or so in the same outlet. If that is the case, I would look there first. Backstabs casue problems!! Lou

              Hello Lou.

              I realize, now, that I didn't word it right - and I apologize for that. It is for a certainty that the electrician will have to spend some time seeking out the problem, and I imagine that this could easily translate into quite a costly undertaking - depending on how long that process took. The 'estimate' that I made reference to was within the concerns of learning what a corrective measure would cost us - once the cause was determined.

              Our home was built in the late 20's. A number of years back, it was added onto and made into a double. We bought the home and have converted it (for the most part, so far) into a single. It's a nice place, in a nice & relatively quiet neighborhood - and we really like it. But there is a yet a lot that needs to be done. Once I get this electrical matter beneath me, it'll be (pretty much) smooth sailing - for I am kinda handy around the home, save for deep electrical & plumbing concerns.

              But we'll see what the verdict is, as soon as I can get an electrician out here, and I will post back with the results.

              Thanks.
              ~Blessings~

              Nathan

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: A Question On "Dead Short".

                Ok I didn't say this and you didn;t read it here..get a pigtail lamp socket and a 100 watt lightbulb...hook it between the breaker and the wire going to the breaker on the circuit causing problems..alternate turning on the circuit and disconnecting parts of that circuit..if the light bulb glows you haven't found the problem part yet..light bulb don't light bingooooo you found the problem part... please dont get a shock..... Sam

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