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My Electrical problem: Help Please!!

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  • My Electrical problem: Help Please!!

    In our home we have an upper level which has five bedrooms and a bath. In three of the bedrooms, as well as in the bath, none of the light fixtures work. A while back, my step-son was sure that it was due to defective light switches, and he replaced them for me. However, that problem remained. One of the bedrooms was converted from a kitchen, and has an exhaust fan in it that also doesn't work. The bathroom also has an exhaust fan in it that doesn't work. In short, the only things working in the mentioned rooms are the outlets. The ceiling fans, in the three affected bedrooms weren't in the best of shape, and I kinda thought that one of them might have been the culprit. So I took all of them down. I could see nothing improper with the wiring, so I purchased one of those non-contact voltage detectors.

    According to this little electrical device, there was indeed power coming through all of the wires. In the one bedroom, however, power registered from both the black and white wires, and I don't know if that was supposed to be. If not, I would like to know what that could possibly mean.

    To have power registering in all of the lines (everything was checked except for the exhaust fans, and that was because of their housings) and not to have had operation of the fans, is something that has me baffled.

    We have a good friend coming in from the Netherlands on the 20th (Saturday) to spend a week with us, and I would sure like to have some possibilities to work into. We simply cannot afford an electrician to come in and diagnose/fix the problem, at this time, so any help, given here, would be IMMENSELY appreciated.
    ~Blessings~

    Nathan

  • #2
    Re: My Electrical problem: Help Please!!

    nathan, the first thing is to get a real voltage tester/ meter. those non contact don't measure voltage. just if power is present.

    sounds like too many outlets on a single circuit.

    if you really feel safe around life electrical, then proceed. if not stop while you're still alive

    need to verify what breakers control what circuits/ outlets.

    start from the panel and verify that there is proper power at the load side of the breaker. also check for proper neutral secure connection.

    you then can shut the power and verify that the wire connections in each box is connected properly. hopefully each box is accessible and not buried in a wall or ceiling.

    verify all wire connections both hot and neutral.

    unfortunately if it's something that's mis-wired, you might not pick up on it. then you'll need a real electrician to sort out the system.

    lots more to list, but you get the point.

    rick.
    phoebe it is

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: My Electrical problem: Help Please!!

      Rick & Jack ~ Thanks.

      This problem has been going on for some time, now.

      Due to a head injury that I suffered a few years ago, I will (at times) get a little absent-minded about some things. It had honestly slipped my mind about our having an electrician come out to our home, last year, and upgrade our service panel. At the time, he mentioned that we had a 'dead-short' on one of the circuits. I didn't really know what that term actually meant, but did know that the breaker could not be secured into the 'ON' position. If memory serves me correct, we weren't even apprised of that issue until after they had serviced our panel, and left. I kinda remember going upstairs, a little later (because of having something else to tend to at the time), and checking that all was well upstairs. Upon calling them back, and expressing that problem, I learned about the 'dead-short' issue. One thing that I know, for an absolute certainty, is that they never did respond to our other calls about coming out to address the problem. So I decided to look into the situation myself (hopefully), and see if there was anything that 'I' might be able to do to correct the matter. If not, I'll have no other choice but to wait until we have enough funds saved, by which to get a different electrical firm to do the job.

      The mention of, possibly, too many things being serviced by a circuit made me also think of something. We have a window air-conditioner that we hardly use at all, due to the fact of how warm it makes the outlet that it is plugged into. Now, this air-conditioner is in the lower level of our home, but I wonder that could be indicative of a problem with other switches/outlets. As I mentioned, it is on the lower level, but there has been so much 'jack-legging' here - by the previous owner - that there is really no telling as to just what is what.

      ...Oh boy.
      ~Blessings~

      Nathan

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      • #4
        Re: My Electrical problem: Help Please!!

        Rick has a great idea about getting a real AC Voltmeter. A simple VOM Multimeter can serve well. (Do be careful using it if you get one.)

        For now please think on the side of safety. Shut off circuit breakers to all circuits in question. I know it's no fun having to deal with dead receptacles (outlets) and non working lights but that's better than having an electrical fire or getting zapped.

        In rooms where the mounted light fixtures don't work if you have any live receptacles you could use a floor lamp for now.

        From what I've read it seems like you have several problems and really do need to have a good electrician come by and diagnose all the real problems. Then he/she can discuss fixing them.

        If it comes to this regarding guests coming soon, you might get a few battery powered fluorescent lanterns at Walmart or such and a good stock of batteries. Try to only use them as needed. Later on in case of power failures they are very nice to have.

        The electrical system of a house is quite complex. Trying to figure what's wrong without being there and being able to do checks is really just taking wild guesses. Remember above all else to be protective of people and your house.

        The term "Dead Short" means a short circuit as if two or more wires are somehow connected together and shouldn't be. Please leave that circuit OFF until the real problem is found and fixed.

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        • #5
          Re: My Electrical problem: Help Please!!

          Originally posted by NLAlston View Post
          Rick & Jack ~ Thanks.

          At the time, he mentioned that we had a 'dead-short' on one of the circuits. I didn't really know what that term actually meant, but did know that the breaker could not be secured into the 'ON' position.
          Originally posted by Woussko View Post
          The term "Dead Short" means a short circuit as if two or more wires are somehow connected together and shouldn't be. Please leave that circuit OFF until the real problem is found and fixed.
          It sounds like you actually have two seperate problems. If there's a circuit that can't be secured in the on position because it trips instantly due to a dead short it would mean it's a seperate circuit from your non-working fixtures since they appear to be energized. Don't mess with the shorted circuit and have that fixed asap! That's very dangerous!

          As far as the non-working fixtures, if the wires are energized but they don't work then there's possibly a break in the neutral line at some point before the first non-working fixture in that circuit. You need to identify everything on that breaker and check the wiring on each one.

          Diagnosing this over the internet is impossible and figuring out where all the wires are supposed to go and if they are set properly can be very tricky if you don't know what to look for. Please leave this to a qualified person if you're unsure what you need to do.

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          • #6
            Re: My Electrical problem: Help Please!!

            Originally posted by Velosapien View Post
            It sounds like you actually have two seperate problems. If there's a circuit that can't be secured in the on position because it trips instantly due to a dead short it would mean it's a seperate circuit from your non-working fixtures since they appear to be energized. Don't mess with the shorted circuit and have that fixed asap! That's very dangerous!

            As far as the non-working fixtures, if the wires are energized but they don't work then there's possibly a break in the neutral line at some point before the first non-working fixture in that circuit. You need to identify everything on that breaker and check the wiring on each one.

            Diagnosing this over the internet is impossible and figuring out where all the wires are supposed to go and if they are set properly can be very tricky if you don't know what to look for. Please leave this to a qualified person if you're unsure what you need to do.
            Hello ~ and many thanks. The advice that you have given is sound, and will definitely be heeded. I guess it wouldn't hurt to pick up a few of those battery operated Fluorescent lights, in the meantime. As one poster pointed out, they would really come in handy in the event of power failure. So that is the plan. Just as SOON as we amass enough funds, an electrician will be summoned here, to correct the problems that we are experiencing.
            Last edited by NLAlston; 09-17-2008, 05:24 AM. Reason: Grammatical error.
            ~Blessings~

            Nathan

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: My Electrical problem: Help Please!!

              Nathan

              Good luck finding a good electrician and they are out there. The old $$$ factor is hard to work with at times.

              If you do get a battery powered fluorescent lantern be sure it takes D cells rather than 6 Volt spring terminal batteries. The reason is cost and availability for the 6 Volt batteries. Some (my older one) has an adapter so I can use both D cells or lantern batteries in it. Having it handy, I find it gets more use than I thought it would.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: My Electrical problem: Help Please!!

                Using a non contact tester tells you ther's voltage there. it doesn't really tell you from where. You could have a hot (black) wire with the insulation worn through making just enough contact from another circuit to light it up. Try this. Have someone go to your breaker panel, and as you hold the tester near on of those questionable outlets, flip the breakers on and off (not the one with the dead short) one by one and see if the tester goes off. if so you may be backfeed from somewhere. (nother circuit) Could be a hot/neutral swap or ground. For safety's sake though have a liscensed electrician fix your problem. The house you save might be yours

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