Electrical Saga Continues

Howdy,
Earlier this week I posted about an electrical problem we are having in our home. Here is the thread:
http://groups-beta.google.com/group/alt.home.repair/browse_frm/thread/d10c75d3c66178a1/5365caec4c66262c?q=sparks+outlet&rnum=1&hl=en#5365caec4c66262c
In any event, the saga continues. We have had no power in one wall of our master bedroom since Sunday after the sparking occured and have had HELL trying to find any electrician who can come over before the first week of August!
So, we have no used that room (been in the guest room) but last night had a friend who was trained in electrical work but is not an electrican come take a look at the situation as he knows a hell of alot more than we do. He brought his equipment and found:
1. All of our breakers are fine and none at tripped at all. We even turned off and on every breaker in the house twice, still no power on that one wall.
2. All lines from the breaker box have full power and see fine, but the "dead" line in the bedroom has some current, just not enough to power anything.
3. He searched everywhere and could not find the source of the problem. The only thing he could come up with is he felt the "main line" from the breaker must connect somewhere in an overhead bedroom light fixture and then travel to the outlets. Since he could find nothing wrong at all with any of the outlets or their connections, he think there is a short overhead in the light fixture, but being 99 degrees yesterday, he couldn't go up in the attic like that and wanted to wait until Saturday to return and keep investigating.
4. He repaired NOTHING nor did he find the source of the problem. When he left, that area was dead as it has been since Sunday.
However, this morning, we woke up, flipped the light switch in that room out of habit and the lights CAME ON! Somehow, over night, power has been restored to that area. No one found the problem or repaired anything.
We will not use those lights or outlets until a professional inspects everything, but I have called 3 more electricians this morning and all say "we can't come out until the first week of August".
This is very frustrating! I am very uneasy with what has happened and that the power to this area has now restored itself. That scares the crap out of me.
Does anyone here, with this additional information, have any idea what the heck is going on! Been in this house for 5 years and never had an issue like this.
I'd appreciate any input or thoughts while I continue to try and find an electrician who will actually come NOW and inspect everything.
Thanks!
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Perhaps you have a junction box in the attic, and the heating/cooling of summer time has caused a poor connection to begin acting up. Or, do you have aluminum wiring? Or, as your friend suggested, if there is no box in the actic, it is possible that an overhead fixture is the junction box, but I would vote for a box in the attic. Wiggle wires where you can and see if anything goes off. Do this with the breaker ON, so you can observe what happens. --Phil
Ryan wrote:

http://groups-beta.google.com/group/alt.home.repair/browse_frm/thread/d10c75d3c66178a1/5365caec4c66262c?q=sparks+outlet&rnum=1&hl=en#5365caec4c66262c
--
Phil Munro Dept of Electrical & Computer Engin
mailto: snipped-for-privacy@cc.ysu.edu Youngstown State University
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Ignore that! Let someone who knows what they are doing look at it.
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Don't know what your problem is; it is just a matter of tracing the circuit and checking everything over until you find the problem. Can't do that from here.
It is not rocket science; any competent handyman ought to be able to do it.
But open the damn breaker before you burn the house down.
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No Kidding. Not to be rude or offensive, but go back and read the first few posts. TURN OFF THE BREAKER. You do NOT want electricity in those wires. Any of the circuits that seem to be having trouble (the one that is dead, the one with the AC on it, and any other lights/plugs/etc that are acting strange) should be DISCONNECTED. Even if you think it is dead (especially if you think it is dead), it needs to be disconnected by turning off the circuit at the main breaker panel.
Think about it this way. If your car radio wasn't working, and you also happen to notice gas dripping on the ground, and there was smoke coming from the hood, and sparks flying from dashboard, would you then simply turn off the radio and leave the car running?
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Now, do you have the circuit OFF yet?
If your friend is competent, it should be possible to find the problem, it might just take a while. It sounds like he didn't check the wires for continuity, or ground faults, or even attempt to trace the layout of the circuit or even figure out which devices are on the circuit. Those last two would be my very FIRST steps. Once the layout of the circuit is known, and you know exactly which receptacles, lights, fans, ovens, and whatever else is on the circuit, and with the power OFF at the breaker, then a knowledgeable handyman can start to check the connections and wires one by one, starting at the breaker and working outwards, checking for continuity, physical damage, ground faults, heat damage/charring, loose connections, miswired devices, etc.
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Maybe there's a second run on that line and it was disconnected. That would mean that 50% of the electricity is leaking out the open wires and leaving you short. OK, that was really bad but somebody had to take the cheap shot. That's what life's all about>

d3c66178a1/5365caec4c66262c?q=sparks+outlet&rnum=1&hl=en#5365caec4c66262c
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d10c75d3c66178a1/5365caec4c66262c?q=sparks+outlet&rnum=1&hl=en#5365cae c4c66262c
There's no need to go into the attic-the wires are inside the box under the fixture canopy....
As others have pointed out, it's almost impossible to diagnose electrical problems over the internet. There may even be remnants of knob and tube wiring in a house that old.
Just no way of knowing without seeing things.
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The breaker is off.
What drives me nuts is I know nothing about these things, our buddy is knowledable but couldn't find a problem and can't come back until Saturday and I have now called 5 electricians. The earliest anyone can come is August 3rd.
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Not a slam against you, but that's what makes internet fixes so difficult. It's hard to get a reliable, accurate assessment of the problem and condition of the complete system from someone who doesn't know anything about what they are trying to describe.
For instance, your outlets could be wired using those rotton back stab connectors instead of the screws, but we have no way of knowing that. Likewise, how many modifications have been done. As others have said, the circuit needs to be traced. Who knows how many things have been rerouted and added on in 75 years?
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Ryan wrote:

Ryan, money talks. If it's really bothering you that much to have to wait then offer those electricians double or triple time pay to come out tomorrow. Betcha one of them will be over in the morning.
Hell. I'll even do it for you for my "preemptive time" $275/hour door to door rate, plus travel expenses (I fly first class of course.)
Jeff (Who concurs that your buddy either doesn't know enough to really help or you're not accurately reporting what he did.)
--
Jeffry Wisnia

(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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Well, I'd like to extend my condolences. Seems like you oughta be able to find someone sooner. But, they must be totally busy. What a shame.
--

Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
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Two points of note regarding the qualifications of the person who looked at your electrical circuit. I would doubt his knowledge and ability to diagnose problems with house wiring if the thought that "reduced current" could be caused by a short. This is a term used by many people who have no knowledge of electricity -- a short would trip the breaker or fuse or create a fire. So that is not your problem. If he thought that he had to go into the attic to check the wires in a ceiling fixture, he doesn't know how wiring is done. That said, as another poster mentioned, there may be a separate junction box in the attic, but it won't be the light fixture that you access from above.

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http://groups-beta.google.com/group/alt.home.repair/browse_frm/thread/d10c75d3c66178a1/5365caec4c66262c?q=sparks+outlet&rnum=1&hl=en#5365caec4c66262c
If I had to take a shot at what's happening, I'd say that the sparking in your outlet box is a sign of a loose connection and perhaps the rest of the outlets that are off are wired through that outlet.
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FDR is correct IMO, turn the breaker off and look at the outlet that was sparking, look for whatever has signs of arcing, therein lies your loose connection that is most likely causing the problems. A wire may have come loose from a stab in outlet, a screw may have never been properly tightened, a wire nut connection may be loose.
If there was partial voltage showing on the circuit, I would bet someplace BEFORE the partial circuit the neutral ( usually white ) wire is loose causing a not full return to ground hence the partial voltage. Be very careful around anything plugged into that circuit in the meantime while the breaker is on, you don't want your body to suddenly be the connection to ground or another proper neutral connection via a water pipe, other appliance, whatever.
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Check all your junction boxes and plug and switch boxes, yuou must have a bad contact somewhere.

http://groups-beta.google.com/group/alt.home.repair/browse_frm/thread/d10c75d3c66178a1/5365caec4c66262c?q=sparks+outlet&rnum=1&hl=en#5365caec4c66262c
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Here's a wild guess for and more likelty to be wrong than right but a place to start...
You said you replaced the outlet that was sparking correct? That outlet did not just start sparking it had been running hot for a while and then started spariking a little over time unitl it grew to the problem that caught your attention.
The wires in the box have been overheating for months and overheating does some vey strange things to wires. My bet is that when you pulled the wires out to replace the defective outlet one of the wires broke inside the insulation. I would have your friend pull that outlet back out and start looking from there.
Steve B.
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Ryan wrote:

http://groups-beta.google.com/group/alt.home.repair/browse_frm/thread/d10c75d3c66178a1/5365caec4c66262c?q=sparks+outlet&rnum=1&hl=en#5365caec4c66262c
OK. Just make sure you turn the one in question back off after the testing.

"some" current? I guess this means it has low voltage. Which in this case is a sign of high resistance. Current passing through a resistor creates heat. This is how the cigarette lighter in the car works.
Do all the outlets in that room on that circuit have low voltage? or just the one?
You could have poor connections. Sparking will have covered the wire with soot, so the replacer should have cleaned off that wire(s) with a wire brush or sandpaper. Plus you should have diagnosed the source of the sparking, I dont recall what it was?

How did those lights come on if the circuit breaker was off? Because it wasn't off.
SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!

yea me too considering the CB was supposed to be off.

Well the fact that sparks only came when the A/C was on is an indication of a loose connection and not a short. Could be your A/C is overloading the wiring and the CB is improperly sized for that wiring. And yoru wiring and connections have degraded over time to the point you have today. That is the A/C could have always been too big for that wiring and in the end that wiring may need to be replace as its damaged.
Gotta get the electrician in there.

--
Respectfully,


CL Gilbert
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