Thanks to all who responded to my earlier post on this subject. Those who
cautioned me about "vapor volts" were right, and switching from a digital to
an analog meter resulted in a reading of about 8 volts between conduit and
neutral instead of 50. The bx cable in question, by the way, is just a
short section of bx spliced into the two-conductor cloth covered cable and
so the metal bx conuit is truly not grounded. I still haven't figured out
how a circuit that shows line voltage on both sides of the fuse in the
fusebox can shut itself off and then turn itself back on like this one does,
without blowing the fuse. The circuit wire seems to be aluminum, by the
way; I don't know if that makes any difference.
Durham, North Carolina
Unless that was a top quality analog meter, 8V is high.
Do you meant the wires in the home or just the wires coming from the
pole to the breaker box.
If the wires in your home are aluminum you could have a serious problem.
Unless they have been properly updated they are a hazard waiting to happen
and could well explain what you are seeing.
8 Volt is still too high. Sounds like you need thorough inspection of
your wiring. Al wire not properly installed and disturbed can be even
fire hazard. Main difference between analog and digital meter is digital
one is much more sensitive having higher input impedance. That's why I
have 3 different meters; analog, digital, and VTVM(for higher frequency
use). And I own an oscilloscope as well.
Unfortunately, Tom, what you are experiencing is the result of many
years of abuse and improper wiring by previous owners. Your wiring is
to the point where it is a fire hazard and needs to be replaced. I've
seen this sort of wiring way too many times in my 30 years of doing
electrical work. From my experience, any time spent trying to
troubleshoot/repair a wiring system such as yours is better spent just
pulling in new circuits. Additionally, any repairs that you make,
since the wires are brittle from years of overheating, may lead to
IF your wiring is salvagable, and I doubt that it is, is takes an
electrician with lots of experience dealing with old abused wiring to
make the decisions that will result in SAFE repairs to your wiring.
That wire that "looks like aluminum" is probably copper that has been
overheated to the point that it has discolored.
You probabaly have a bad connection somewhere in the circuit. My guess
is that you will find it where a previous owner decided to splice into
cable, probably without using a box either. From my experience, you
will probably find that one nightmare leads to another. When checking
connections, the best thing to do is remake them....visual inspection
usually does not suffice in these situations. Also keep in mind that
just moving existing wiring may lead to damage because the insulation
is so brittle.
This is not a DIY project! Please call an electrician who is
experienced in old, abused residential wiring. I'm not trying to scare
you, however, it would be irresponsible for an experienced electrician,
such as myself, not to warn you of possible fire hazards.
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