Electrical trouble, 2/ 2

*Continued from previous message.
P > I'm really hoping someone here can help me figure this out.
Hope this gave you some idea. Is your electrican friend available to help figure this out?
- barry.martinATthesafebbs.zeppole.com
* A memo from the Department of Redundancy Department files
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RoseReader 2.52 P003186
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Hi Pat!
P > My lights started acting weird a few weeks ago. Sometimes they would work, P > other times not. Then the other day most of them just quit working. I can't P > afford an electrician so I have to figure this out myself, and I have no P > clue where to begin.
The working/not working would indicate an intermittant connection somewhere. The lights worked when the connection was present, didn't when the fault opened. May have been temperature-related: worked when cool.
The 'trick' is to figure out where the fault is. What is the 'common point' to the problem? All the lights don't work, so you don't need to look at the individual lights but rather a common point such as the wall switch controlling the lights (assuming the lights are controlled by a common switch in this example). A $10 voltmeter can be a handy tool, though at a switch the white wire can either be a switched black or the neutral. (Refer to other sources for explaination.)
P > The wiring in my house is strange. There is a circuit breaker box outside P > and a fusebox in a closet with two rows of four fuses. The top row has thre
P > fuses in it - the last one on the right is empty - and the bottom row has P > two fuses, one on each end is empty, and of the two that exist, one has P > "ref." written below it, so I assume that means refrigerator. None of the P > fuses are burned out.
Are the fuses still being used? Don't assume anything when "playing" with electricity -- just because the fuse is marked "ref" doesn't mean it still goes to the refrigerator. Test and be certain!
It is possible the fuse isn't making contact -- we had that problem occasionally when we had fuses here. Try screwing in a little tighter. You can also test if there's "output" from the fuse with the voltmeter. Open the fuse panel, black lead to the output of the fuse (wire to the rest of the house) and white lead to ground. You should also check to see if there are any loosened wires inside. (Personally I would pull the main cartridge fuse when I'm doing this.)
P > At the circuit breaker box there are 8 switches, all I know about them is P > that one turns off my water pump at the well, another was for the electric P > water heater before I changed to gas.
Would be a Good Thing to have a sheet of paper indicating what fuse / circuit breaker does what. Tape to the panel, inside the cover, whichever is convenient.
P > In Oct. 2001 a light switch went bad in the kitchen, and after that, none o
P > the outlets in the whole house were live except for one inside a kitchen P > cupboard where the refrigerator is plugged in. The ones inside and outside P > the well house also worked, and the electric water heater also worked. P > P > For almost a year I lived with that situation because I could not afford an P > electrician and had no idea how to fix it myself. I just made do with P > extension cords. Then a friend offered to wire some new outlets for me, P > without a labor charge, and so of course I agreed. All the new wiring is P > visible, tacked to the walls and ceiling, as are the new outlets.
<shudder> Better than extension cords but it's going to be 'fun' trying to sell the place!
P > He ran Romex from the fusebox and made an outlet in the closet, and from P > there to a light in the bathroom, and next to a switch for the porch light, P > then it splits, with one wire to an outlet in the living room and the other P > to an outlet in the bedroom. P > P > So, not counting the refrigerator and well house outlets, a total of three P > outlets and two light switches worked, until a few days ago. P > P > I don't see a burned fuse. The outlet in the closet *does* work, but the P > next thing down the line, the bathroom light, does not. I took the cover of
P > the light to see what I could see, but I have no idea what to look for.
Loose connections, black marks indicatng arcing. Just because an outlet or light is next to another outlet or light does not automatically mean they are on the same circuit.
P > One further thing I should mention about my friend's wiring job: When I P > plug my surge protector into any of the three new outlets he made, the P > little red ground fault indicator light comes on. It doesn't do that when P > plugged into the refrigerator or well house outlets.
Probably indicates the ground (bare or green) wire is not connected to the house ground somewhere. WIth that condition your surge protector is nothing more than a fancy outlet strip.
Continued in next message.
* A memo from the Department of Redundancy Department files
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<snip>
They are not. All I have is lamps, and the porch light switch.

When I unscrewed the one marked "ref." below, the fridge shut off.

Can one of them suddenly come loose without being touched?

It's a 50-year-old mobile home, falling to pieces around me. It will never be sold because it would fall apart if it was moved.

Everything my friend installed is on the same circuit.

when
That's why I have only used it in the outlets where the light does not come on: (a) where the fridge is plugged in, or (b) at the end of an extension cord from the outlet on the well house.
Thanks, Barry!
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Hi Pat!
P > > The 'trick' is to figure out where the fault is. What is the 'common P > > point' to the problem? All the lights don't work, so you don't need P > > to look at the individual lights but rather a common point such as the P > > wall switch controlling the lights (assuming the lights are controlled P > > by a common switch in this example). P > P > They are not. All I have is lamps, and the porch light switch.
OK. There are still 'common points'. Outlets are generally chained together, one feeds another. Simplified:
Fuse/ CktBkr ========> Outlet1 ====> Outlet2 =====> Outlet 3.
The porch light could come from that chain:
Switch =====> Porch light || Fuse/ || CktBkr ========> Outlet1 ====> Outlet2 =====> Outlet 3.
P > > Are the fuses still being used? Don't assume anything when "playing" P > > with electricity -- just because the fuse is marked "ref" doesn't mean P > > it still goes to the refrigerator. Test and be certain! P > P > When I unscrewed the one marked "ref." below, the fridge shut off.
Tends to indicate that fuse goes to the refrig! <g>
P > > It is possible the fuse isn't making contact -- we had that problem P > > occasionally when we had fuses here. Try screwing in a little P > > tighter. P > Can one of them suddenly come loose without being touched?
Yup. Back when this house had fuses the first fuse would have to be tightened every so often (months).
P > > P > visible, tacked to the walls and ceiling, as are the new outlets. P > > P > > <shudder> Better than extension cords but it's going to be 'fun' P > > trying to sell the place! P > It's a 50-year-old mobile home, falling to pieces around me. It will never P > be sold because it would fall apart if it was moved.
Ah! That probably explains why the guy used surface wiring. There are surface mount kits - plastic channels for the wire to run in. Just looks nicer. Does protect the wire a little too.
P > > Loose connections, black marks indicatng arcing. Just because an P > > outlet or light is next to another outlet or light does not P > > automatically mean they are on the same circuit. P > Everything my friend installed is on the same circuit.
That's good to know for troubleshooting. If for example Outlet 1 works but Outlet 2, 3, etc. do not then the problem is probably at the output of Outlet 1 or the input of Outlet 2. Outlet 3 gets it's feed from Outlet 2, so if Outlet 2 doesn't work Outlet 3 isn't going to either. Simple! :)
P > > P > plug my surge protector into any of the three new outlets he made, th
P > > P > little red ground fault indicator light comes on. It doesn't do that P > when P > > P > plugged into the refrigerator or well house outlets. P > > P > > Probably indicates the ground (bare or green) wire is not connected to P > > the house ground somewhere. WIth that condition your surge protector P > > is nothing more than a fancy outlet strip. P > P > That's why I have only used it in the outlets where the light does not come P > on: (a) where the fridge is plugged in, or (b) at the end of an extension P > cord from the outlet on the well house. P > P > Thanks, Barry!
You're welcome. We all had to learn. I'll be trying to keep the explainations simple.
- barry.martinATthesafebbs.zeppole.com
* SHOPPING MATH: A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need.
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He's not where I can contact him anymore.
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