Power outage revisited

It's been a few weeks but just an FYI for those who helped me and are interested in the outcome of the circuit which was out. It ended up being a fried neutral behind my medicine cabinet. The medicine cavinet hid a huge cutout in the wall. The wires were in the wall (not in a box) exposed and TAPED, not wire nutted. All neutrals were tied together as were all blacks (3 each) then the wires ran through a hole in the wall into the rear of the three lamp fixture above the cabinet and the rest continuing the run. The romex wiring was old and brittle, but there was corrosion and burning. The scary part is the thought of it catching fire because you could clearly see the burn marks on part of the wall.
It took awhile because I upgraded my service panel. When I learned it wasn't in the panel, I went back to the search with my hunch to the bathroom fixture since the main wire started from the panel to the bathroom.
The more I remodel or repair, the more I learn whoever did these jobs was an idiot.
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You're very kind to share with the rest of us. We may face the same problem, any time. Yes, some tradesmen don't do very good job.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
It's been a few weeks but just an FYI for those who helped me and are interested in the outcome of the circuit which was out. It ended up being a fried neutral behind my medicine cabinet. The medicine cavinet hid a huge cutout in the wall. The wires were in the wall (not in a box) exposed and TAPED, not wire nutted. All neutrals were tied together as were all blacks (3 each) then the wires ran through a hole in the wall into the rear of the three lamp fixture above the cabinet and the rest continuing the run. The romex wiring was old and brittle, but there was corrosion and burning. The scary part is the thought of it catching fire because you could clearly see the burn marks on part of the wall.
It took awhile because I upgraded my service panel. When I learned it wasn't in the panel, I went back to the search with my hunch to the bathroom fixture since the main wire started from the panel to the bathroom.
The more I remodel or repair, the more I learn whoever did these jobs was an idiot.
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On 01/28/2013 04:14 PM, Meanie wrote:

Generally it is a good idea to put followups in the original thread so that people have something to reference it with; you can leave the subject as-is, or follow it with [Followup], so that people know what it is.
In any case, I'm glad you solved your mystery, and thank you for posting your followup.
Jon
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On 1/28/2013 7:52 PM, Jon Danniken wrote:

I assumed replying to the old thread would have been lost in the past and thus, many would miss it. Is there a better way to followup as a newer thread?
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This worked, Don't worry about it. We appreciate the follow up though, many people come here, ask questions, never tell you the results.
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-snip-

In most newsreaders, and even Google groups, I think-- When you post a new message to a thread it 'bumps' it up to the top of the list. [that's while you'll see the impatient folks just reply 'bump' to their own question- hoping to get it back in view]
But you're good-- thanks for the follow-up. Every once in a while I used to curse at the idiots that came before me in this old house---[and 2 before it] then I think back to some stupid crap I might have done when I was 21 and bought my first house.
As long as nobody gets hurt- it is all part of the learning experience.
Jim
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On 1/28/2013 7:52 PM, Jon Danniken wrote:

I assumed replying to the old thread would have been lost in the past and thus, many would miss it. Is there a better way to followup as a newer thread?
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wrote:

Yes, always interesting to know the outcome.
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On Tuesday 29 January 2013 00:14 Meanie wrote in alt.home.repair:

Oh dear... There's always some fool who should not be let near anything more demanding than changing a torch bulb...

Can you get a full electrical test done?
Don't know what your standard offerings are here, but when I test (my own, British system) wiring with a Megger, the principle standard tests are:
0) Test the main incoming line (hot) to ground impedance.
1) Loop impedance (very low ohms) test done at low voltage on a dead system. Eg with a radial socket (and maybe lighting) system such as you probably have, we would remove the cable from the breaker in the panel, connect line to neutral (or I suppose line to line, for one of your 220V circuits), isolate or bridge any lighting dimmers and other electronics, remove all loads plugged in and any lamps then go round all sockets and measure between line and neutral.
Ditto at lamp holders.
Now bridge line to ground at the breaker and repeat. Then neutral to ground.
This is an incredibly sensitive test that would almost certainly show up taped and loose joints. You can usually pin the fault down to a particular patch of cable too.
Actual max values permitted depend on breaker value and tripping characteristic (curve) protecting that circuit.
2) With everything still isolated, bridges removed, do a high voltage resistance test (ours is done at 500V DC on 240V wiring, your system will probably be done diferently) between L+N, N+E (ground) and L+E.
3) Recconnect and test the RCD/GFCI if fitted - again, needs a special meter to test as we are looking for adequately fast disconnection times on both a top side and bottom side (of the sine wave) trip as well as it operating at the right leakage.
So in short, there's not a lot that gets by that testing regime even before you open up sockets and switches for a visual inspection.
Cost - usually a couple of hundred pounds UK for a small/medium house (if done right, it takes 1/2 a day to a full day). I assume you would have something similar - perhaps someone can say what it's called? Anyway, I'd get one done, unless you are planning to replace all your wiring in short order.

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What you describe sounds like it is absolutely correct. But, I have never heard of a similar test protocol here in the USA. Maybe someone can inform me if this is done here.
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On Tuesday 29 January 2013 15:53 snipped-for-privacy@sbcglobal.net wrote in alt.home.repair:

Interestingly, whilst I have one of these:
http://www.test-meter.co.uk/products/17th-edition-test - equipment/multifunction-testers/megger-mft1552-multifunction-installation- tester/
(mine was half price from fleabay, still with warranty)
the nearest I can quickly find for the US market is:
http://www.testequipmentdepot.com/amprobe/wire&cabletracers/insp-3.htm
It's clearly designed with the same target market - the electrical installation inspector (who's usually also an electrician in the UK)
But the loop tests are different - seems it dumps a moderate load (20A) in the circuit and measures the volt drop (although I do wonder as they say "simulate"). The "No trip GFCI" is believable - the Megger has the same feature.
However, it does suggest there is a person who would own something like that - maybe the term is "Wiring Inspector". I suspect if one rang an electrician, either they'd be able to do the tests or point you at someone who could.
Anyway - I reckon, armed with one of those, I could find all the dodgey joints in the OPs house - at least to the point of "it's between that socket and that socket". And validate the rest - without taking up floorboards or destroying walls[1].
[1] Of course, fixing any problems is another matter ;->
The loop tests, done in the way that the Megger does it, could also be done with a high quality multimeter with a very low Ohms range (need to go down to the tens of milliohms to be useful) - but there would be none of the protection the Megger has if you accidently stuck it on a live circuit.
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wrote:

Including many professional electricians. Every one of the houses I've owned had dumbass stuff like this. I just found another exterior light with no box. The Romex just goes out a hole in the siding and is terminated in the base under the fixture. No box.
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On 1/29/2013 3:06 PM, snipped-for-privacy@attt.bizz wrote:

taken aback to discover the lack of workmanship, consideration, decency and pride within the service world. One thing I can always look back on my life is my reputation for good work because simply put, my reputation represents who I am. I cannot understand why anyone would want a shoddy reputation following them other than greed.
It's no wonder why those of us choose to do our own work.
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Two things... Who knows, or remembers, subs? By the time the problems show up, if they ever do, even the builder is long gone.

Absolutely right. I laugh when I see the Chicken Littles telling people they'll void their fire insurance if they dare to so much as look at wiring. The pros suck. I can do a *far* better job than they ever will.
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On Wednesday 30 January 2013 14:20 snipped-for-privacy@attt.bizz wrote in alt.home.repair:

People are hugely surprised in England (which has diverging rules to the jocks and the leek munchers) when I say:
"Yes you can DIY your own gas plumbing[1]";
"Yes, you can do your own wiring[2]".
The sheeple here have been so brainwashed that they think they are going to prison[3] or as you say, voiding their insurance[4] if they do any of these things...
[1] If you are "competant" (not defined in the law, but killing someone would probably be taken to demonstrate that you were not) - AND you are not doing it for "hire or reward". This is actually very sensible - it means you can do your own, if you cack it up and hurt someone, you are going to gaol and you are not allowed to do it for other people (at least not for any sort of payment, even in kind).
We have one registered body - GASSAFE (used to be CORGI) whoes ID card will tell you waht the guy is qualified to do (eg natural gas, LPG, etc).
That all started after this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronan_point
though I think it took several years or more for the finer points of the law to be enacted.
[2] For the last few years, this has been covered under Building Regulations. You can do minor works yourself. You can do major works (new circuit, full rewire, work in special locations like outside, bathrooms or kitchens) but, like if you build a house or knock a load bearing wall out, you must register the job with the council who will send a Building Inspector over.
In practise, this does not work well, because almost no building inspectors are qualified to test electrical installations. I told mine because I was telling him about a load of other notifiable work. Next time, for a bit of purely electrical work, I doubt I'll bother.
[3] "Failure to notify" notifiable building works is a non indictable crime (magistrates job) punishable by a fine of a few thousand pounds and/or 6 months in gaol. No DIYer has ever been charged to my knowledge or ever will be. This law is used for cowboy builders.
[4] Never seen any such clause.
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On Tuesday 29 January 2013 20:06 snipped-for-privacy@attt.bizz wrote in alt.home.repair:

House I grew up in had all the lighting grounds twisted together outside of various junction boxes because the dickhead did not realise they made 6 terminal boxes as well as 4 (I'm being charitable - the real reason is he could not be arsed to walk 10 minutes to the shop and buy one I expect).
Funny you should say that about professional electricians... Someone on uk.d-i-y was complaining the other week that they had to fire an electrician for twisting and sellotaping wires together (I kid you not).
We have this peculiar thing where either an electician can be registered with one of serveral approved bodies - or his company can. He was the latter case.
This is why I got qualified (partially at least) and agreed with the Building Inspector that I would do my own certification. If nothing else, DIY just means you can take a little extra time to do it better.
I've caught a gas fitter out as well - and their registration procedure is extremely stringent...
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It's interesting how the workmanship issues and the DIY thinking of most of us here don't change no matter which side of the pond we live.
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Tim Watts wrote:

It must suck to live in a jurisdiction that requires all manner of government supervision, intervention, inspections, or permits to do something as simple as replace a 200-Amp circuit breaker box.
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On Wednesday 30 January 2013 15:52 HeyBub wrote in alt.home.repair:

Yes.
Especially as the number of deaths due to fixed wiring faults (as opposed to extention leads and appliances) is less than 10 / year in the whole UK.
In other words, a microscopic proportion of road deaths!
Most of us do not bother when it comes to odd jobs (we are slowly learning to be more like the French in the respect - sign the rules then ignore them). But if you have the Building Inspector around for genuine building work (for which they are often incredibly helpful) it's not wise to shove "naughty stuff" right in his face :-o
BTW - technically we need to tell him if changing a window, external door or insulation. Really, no one does and the inspectors thenselves have told me they regard it as a complete waste of their time. They are genuinely more interested in making sure pikey builders put in the correct fire escape routes and protections and that buildings do not fall over.
of course, every now and then you run into a jobsworth bastard...
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