I have a short circuit in part of my house - the breaker immediately
trips when I try to reset it and it's not the breaker because I tried
switching the wires with another good breaker and it makes it trip as
I checked all the outlets and light switches in the two affected rooms,
everything looked ok, unplugged one at a time and tested the breaker,
I think I know what the problem is though, I put in two nails into the
wall to hang up some pictures recently... I'm going to call an
electrician, but wanted some insights as to what he can do to fix the
problem and how big a job will it be? Does he have to tear down all
the drywall, etc?? What would be a reasonable quote?
Any input appreciated.
Only if you managed to break the insulation on two conductors and leave
them touching after the offending nail was pulled. Possible, not real
probable although more likely w/ stranded than solid wire, though.
I'd question the likelihood of the problem being that though, because
unless you used a really long nail or the wiring was improperly
installed too near one wall or the other, you should not have been able
to reach hidden cable.
Now, if you saw/heard the breaker trip the instant you drove one of
them, that would be a good indication. If, otoh, it happened sometime
removed, even though after the actual nail-driving party, I'd suspect
How the heck could you possibly expect to get a usefull answer to a
question posed that way, Bob? You haven't given us a clue about your
"house". How many floors? Finished basement? Where in the house was that
nail driving exercise located?
Based on your description, my "estimate" for a reasonable quote would
be, "More than $50 and less than $20,000."
Now, f you are really convinced the problem was caused by bad luck when
nailing into a wall, then I'd suggest you just carve away the drywall
around the nail holes, making say a 3" diameter hole you can shine a
light into and see if there really IS a wire there. Holes like that are
quite easy to patch, and as you were going to hang pictures there anyway
you could probably put off painting until the next time the whole room
If you DO find a damaged wire there, then call in an electrician if you
can't handle the repair yourself. I'm no code mavin, but it might be
possible to make a legal splice of a damaged wire without having to pull
a whole new length by installing a box in the wall with a cover on it,
and that box could be hidden behind a picture.
As long as there's enough slack in the cable to pull it into the box, while
leaving enough to make splices there, that's certainly Code-compliant. The big
question is whether there's enough slack in the cable... and it's likely there
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Aren't there approved in-line crimp connectors and tools to install them
which could be used to join the three wires in a typical piece of Romex
after the ends had been fed into a box? Seems like that might take
little or no "slack".
My understanding is that you can't make a splice in a box which isn't
accessable. i.e. you couldn't hide it behind plasterboard. That's why my
suggestion would end up with a box cover flush with the wall, behind an
easily removed picture.
Could someone please clue me in about crimp connectors for that sort of
application and also "inaccessable" boxes?
Don't know about approved crimp connectors, but you could accomplish the
same task with the approved quick connect connectors that are being used
in manufactured housing now. They would allow you to make the same
no-slack type connection just snipping out the tiny damaged section.
Suggest you try removing all loads from the circuit in question, i.e.
anything plugged in to the now dead outlets and remove any light bulbs
from built in fixtures and see if you still have the fault. It's
entirely possible that one of the devices on the circuit has developed a
fault, light bulbs have on rare occasion been known to fail in a short
Are you kidding? Pull the nails out and check if
the circuit works. If it does, use shorter nails
and put them in a different place to hand the
pictures. If it still flips the circuit breaker,
the electrician will need to cut a hole(s) in the
wall to repair the wire where the nail penetrated
the cable. then you have to repair the holes cut
in the wall.
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