electrical problem, revisited


Hi all,
Once again I can't find my original post, so I will start a new one.
To refresh, a couple days before Christmas our lights flickered, then went off for a couple minutes, then completely. It seems like the things that are off are the same things that go off when a fuse blows, but it doesn't seem to be a fuse.
Thank you all for all your advice and information. This has proven to be just beyond me though, and although my husband has more electrical knowledge than I do, he is too ill to help much.
I have called 3 electricians to come over and give estimates, in the hopes that one of them would come up with something we might be able to afford. One took the time to check out the fuse box and says he feels the problem is not in the box. He also changed my husband's jumper-clipped fuse holder to a light socket with a fuse screwed in to it, which I am sure is much safer. The first two said that if they can't find and fix the problem easily, they would need to change the fuse box to a circuit breaker panel because though they could bypass the break there would be no room to put the new wire. What my husband wonders is why couldn't they put in the new wire where the old wire was, and are they just saying that as an excuse to put in a new box. Apparently to follow code, putting in a new box would entail moving the meter and a whole bunch of other expensive stuff.
The man yesterday said something about breaking apart the dryer fuse circuit (I hope you can understand what I mean because I didn't understand clearly what he was talking about) and putting a smaller box to the side of the main one. I don't know why he would do this, if he is also indicating that he would need more room, or just in case we needed room for something in the future. He said that way City Light couldn't make us move the meter. I wonder if you could tell me if this would be a viable alternative or even necessary. If it would, I guess I would somehow have to find out if it meets code, as I wouldn't want to throw money away on work that would need to be redone.
One electrician said that the first thing to do would be to check all the outlets. Another one said our knob and tube wiring doesn't work that way. The one who talked about breaking out the dryer fuse and putting a smaller box to the side wanted to troubleshoot and said that he was really good and that if he didn't find the trouble in two hours we should kick his butt out and whatnot, and I almost agreed but my husband mustered up all his strength to keep him from it. He was going to start by looking in all the outlets but my husband says he thinks that would have been a waste of time, that the break has to be closer to the fuse box because of all the things that aren't working or something.
Meanwhile my husband's friend rewired his own house 30 years ago and he keeps trying to get me to read a book and rewire ours myself. Ha!
Anyway, it's been almost a month since we lost partial power and I'm really wearing down here and at a loss.
If any of you can help me with my many questions, it would be much appreciated.
Thank you so much!
Loretta
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Loretta, did you eer call your power company and have them check your lines/their transformer? this would be a starting point, and has been reccomended by others on the group
josh
bubblegummom wrote:

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If three electricians didn't find anything obvious right away, everyone here will only be guessing. From your description the whole thing is a hazard and really needs to be replaced unless you can find someone willing to patch it up.
I recall your situation but you need to start looking out for yourself, too. It may not be easy, but it's time to get someone in there and tell the husband to shut up. I know that sounds cruel, but I also know what you're dealing with...
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be
be
PS...tell your "friend" (who might have "read a book" and helped you out instead of letting you sit there for a month in this situation) to shut up, too....
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You have antiquated wiring, and antiquated service equipment, however, having read all your posts, my impression is that you simply have an open circuit,(bad connection to one of the wires on that circuit) This is not something that an electrician can give you an estimate to repair without knowing where the "open" has occurred. Once found, it's probably a simple fix. You need to get a competent electrician and give him the couple of hours he needs to find it and fix it. Replacing the K&T and upgrading your service equipment is a separate issue and should be handled as such

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wrote:

Any electrician should be able to definitively tell you if the problem is in your fuse box. If all the wires leaving the fuse box are hot, that eliminates the fuse box as the cause.
This should be the first check.
BTW your old messages are here:
http://groups.google.com/groups/search?q=bubblegummom&start=0&scoring=d&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 &
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bubblegummom wrote:

I'm afraid you're not in a good position. From everything you indicate it appears that your house electrical is well below current standards. While it is "grandfathered" in and legal, the problems your report indicate that it has probably deteriorated to the point of becoming a hazard.
The specific problem you have appears to be break in the circuit somewhere beyond the service panel. This type of failure can be difficult to locate on modern electrical systems and on knob and tube electrical where the conductors for a particular circuit often don't even run next to each other it is even more difficult.
With more modern wiring all connections are made in accessible junction boxes making a failed connection much easier to locate though still time consuming. Because K & T wiring typically has junctions that are located in wall cavities and not in accessible accessible junction boxes it is very difficult to locate failure points.
There is a small, perhaps 10% chance that the break in the circuit was caused by something other than old and deteriorating wiring. Unfortunately ods are 90% that the cause of the break is indeed overall deterioration and there are other connections in the system in a similar state.
Since the next connection to fail could well fail in an "arc for a while and set the house on fire" state, you really need to prepare yourselves for the probability of having to replace / upgrade everything. This is not a fun scenario, but it may well be the only scenario that doesn't put your entire house and potentially your lives at risk.
Pete C.
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bubblegummom wrote:

A good electrician should be able to tell you if your fuse panel is correct in about 5 minutes. Its a fairly simple check with a voltmeter.
He should also be able to clip a device on one of the affected circuits to trace which wire at the fuse box it is.
Another way is a simple continuity check at the fuse box .
Depending on whats affected it may be cheaper long term to get the circuit rewired. In my area code allows repairs without needing to upgrade the fuse box.
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