Electrical current disappeared - why?

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mike_0 snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

That's further evidence that the wire is fine. If the test light glows where the wires connect to the lamp socket, but the bulb in the socket doesn't light, there must be something wrong with the the socket, the bulb, or the connections to the socket.

How did you connect the 60 watt light? If the bulb on post 2 lights, there must be continuity from the breaker panel to post 2.

I wouldn't hope to find a broken wire. I'd fear breaking one if I dug.

I wonder if there's an intermittent connection to that outlet. Sometimes that happens if the wires are stuck in instead of screwed down.
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I trenched and replaced the wire to lamp post #1 from the house today, all fixed. i don't think i explained my testing procedure well enough, if you could not follow me. there was no doubt that wire was bad.
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On Tue, 29 Sep 2009 04:54:41 -0700 (PDT), "mike_0 snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com"

There may be a series of lamp posts, but i'm pretty sure you have them wired in parallel. If you actually do have them wired in series, that could account for why they don't light up. Below I say you should buy a meter, a volt-ohmmeter, or mulitmeter. If you mesure the voltage across the lightbulb with the lightbulb screwed in, and it's 55 or 60 volts ac, then indeed you do have them wired in series like you say.

To be blunt, you'd be a fool to start digging based on the little bit of info you have now. Buy a meter and learn how to use it.
Neon lights use very little amperage so maybe they can be powered by an induced current, but regardless, the only way to know what's going on is is with a meter, and if it shows unusual things, some time spent thinking about the results, or asking someone if necessary.
Since you seem to have stray voltages, it's worth buying a low-impedance meter, one that uses a moving needle, (at 20,000 ohms per volt, which you might see in black in a corner of the white scale plate where the needle moves.)
It's probably pretty accurate, but you can verify that it is by plugging the meter into the two slots on any wall outlet or extension cord, but before you do that, make sure it is set to AC V. AC volts, on a scale at least 120 volts, probably 200, at the setting switch.
Then when you measure the voltage, you'll will be able to learn far more than what a tester light tells you. If you don't know how to use the meter, post back.
You could have a bad circuit breaker feeding the circuit for example.
Unless someone has been digging with power equipement in the area of the wire, I have doubts if you have a short or an open in the underground portion.
P&M
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On Tue, 29 Sep 2009 04:54:41 -0700 (PDT), "mike_0 snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com"

I forgot to say that this thought reminds me of those who fix their car by replacing one part after another, with too little testing first. If you're paying a mechanic and he can put in a 10 dollar part in 5 minutes, I don't like it but I admit it can be cheaper than paying him to spend 15 to 30 minutes on diagnosis, but people do this with expensive parts too. And car electrical parts come out and go in, usually with little trouble. Here you're talking about digging up the yard.
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The part may go in and out with little trouble, but parts outlets usually don't accept returns on electrical parts. A misdiagnoses involving replacing a $80 part can more than offset the cost of paying a mechanic to do the diagnoses.
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On Tue, 29 Sep 2009 17:28:23 -0500, AZ Nomad

Yeah. I didn't mean you coudl return it. I should have said "go out and go in with little trouble."
P&M because the group fills quickly

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mike_0 snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote: ...

I'm virtually certain they're wired in parallel; otherwise a burned-out bulb in one would cause the other to go out as well (like the old Christmas light strings).
More than likely what you have is a neutral connection that is bad or maybe even open. You're seeing voltage and very minimal current; the bulb needs the current to light even though it is apparently seeing voltage.
Had a neutral here at the pole feeding an out-building that broke; same symptom of voltage but no current.
I'd start at all the connections and then do continuity checking between each end disconnecting one from the next to at least try to "ring out" where in the circuit the break might be before just digging. It's quite possible the problem is at one of the connections.
--


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Darro wrote:

The current may have gone down because:
1. All the light bulbs have burned out.
2. The switch is OFF.
3. You didn't pay your electric bill for 3 months.
4. Something else is wrong.
Now reread the other responses for some serious answers.
Jeff
--
Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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*Nothing lasts forever. Things break down. Some possibilities are that the switch is bad, a connection became loose or failed, bad circuit breaker or some really bizarre wiring from a previous do-it-yourself homeowner whose inept installation is manifesting itself now.
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Darro wrote:

Stray voltage means nothing. You may have a GFCI open on an outlet that supplies that circuit. A wire may have popped off the switch or at an outlet that supplies it, Switch can fail or something else shit the bed.
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It's those damned electrons, on strike again of course.
Darro wrote:

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I have seen wire connections "go bad" twice in my house. One was a wire nut in a kitchen ceiling fixure box which served as the J-box for half of the kitchen. In another case, a connection to a bathroon switch for the fan stopped "working." In each case, I just "re-did" the work without replacing any component. So that's twice in about 12 years in a good sized home.
Oh, on another occasion a connection to a duplex outlet "went bad" and I didn't catch on until the outlet overheated from a minor load. In that case the outlet had to be replaced.
The house wiring was/is a mix of original stuff, DIY from the prevous owner, and my DIY. I might have been resonsible for the bathroom problem. The others were like that when we took over the place.
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