A Safe Bet?


I can't find the circuit breakers for any of the upstair bedrooms in this old, 1908 built house. Would it be reasonably safe to replace a light switch wearing rubber gloves and rubber-soled shoes if it comes down to having nno other options?
Ron
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Better would be to get a flashlight or a portable lantern, and shut the power to the house.
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A single pole non-grounded switch has two wires attached to it. One the hot feed and the other runs to the light.
Your chance of a shock are remote as long as you do not touch the bare part of the wire or the bare wire to a metal part.
Assuming you do not a heart problem a DRY shock from a 110v circuit isn't going to hurt you much anyway.
Colbyt
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This is risky. You need to find the main and know its location.
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Ron wrote:

Why wouldn't you just shut off power to the whole house and do the job with a flashlight or lantern?!?
a
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Ron wrote:

It all depends on your expertise and experience. If I were you, by all means I'd track down the right breaker.
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Ron wrote:

Replacing the switch "hot" is a very risky proposition, as others have pointed out. The first order of business should be to find the disconnect means and overcurrent protection. Start your search at the meter and work your way outward from there. Every homeowner and tenant should know where the protective devices are.
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Ron wrote:

Chances are if you attempt to replace it hot, you will need to find that breaker anyway to turn the circuit back on when you short something.
Look for a sub panel in a closet or behind an appliance, or in an attic, behind a picture etc.
I wouldn't use rubber gloves as sharp wire ends or other metal parts can easily puncture through and the extra perspiration inside the gloves would seen to me to be worse than no gloves at all. I would use leather gloves.
Kevin
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OP-
As some posters have said, you really need to know where the circuit breakers (or fuses) are.
I change switches & receptacles all the time without shutting off the power.
Less than 10% of the time, I get a "nip" (slight shock). Seldom do I short to something & blow the circuit breaker.
But I have years experience changing switches & receptacles "hot" and I figure the risk (for me) is acceptably low.
YEARS ago I was shown the process & practice by more than one electrician. I think it's safe (for me) but I'm not sure I'd recommend it to a rookie without demonstrating safer practice.
In my experience, the danger & possibility of injury from a short during this process is much greater than a simple shock.
Over the years I have "welded" a few screw drivers (actually only three) and imo the danger of flying molten metal is WAY more serious than getting a minor shock. Plus the "arc" caused by a short will leave you seeing spots for a while.
Dry & clean leather gloves are a better bet than rubber gloves and safety glasses would be a good idea as well.
I watched an electrician work on a service entrance "hot"; he used new, dry, clean leather gloves, a wooden ladder and safety glasses.
cheers Bob
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It would be much easier in a new house that has better quality wiring and plastic boxes. Quite possibly the insulation on your wiring is going to be old and brittle and will break off when you remove the switch. Also the splices will most likely be soldered and taped. If the wire breaks while you are removing it, you may have to take apart a splice. This is risky to work on even for a professional.
It is possible that the source of power for this is in some old fuse box or circuit breaker panel somewhere else in the house. Check the attic. Another possibility that I see occasionally in older homes is one circuit fed by two separate circuit breakers. Try shutting off all of the circuit breakers at once instead of one at a time. As others suggested, if you have a main breaker, shut that off and have someone hold a flashlight while you work. I use a headlamp for situations like this.
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That depend on you I work weekly on hot lines but you not me Tony

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Only if competing for your own personal darwin award.
There is always a way. If worst comes to worst, shut off the main breaker for long enough to do the job.
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No. Do you have a death wish? Look harder for the breakers/fuses. If next you're going to say there arean't any, then get the hell out of that house and fast!
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