DIY Home Improvement, Remodeling & Repair Forum > DIY Home Improvement > Electrical and Wiring > Want to track down problem with half of my old house wiring out




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Old 03-14-2013, 11:39 AM  
jteam
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Appreciate all the Advice I have received, all of the ideas are important to help to solve problems like mine, that's one of the things I like about this sites forums , you are all important to these forums,I am going to purchase a tester like Villa suggests, I will keep you posted. Joel



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Old 03-14-2013, 11:54 AM  
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Villa; Good proceedure, you left out the test for bad neutral . In the first test you make sure nothing is turned on, if you have power right to the end, then you turn on a light there and work your way back.

I have seen some war time house wired like this, only using 2 fuses.



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Old 03-14-2013, 01:10 PM  
JoeD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nealtw View Post
Guys: He has already said, he can't afford an upgrade right now. He likely has 2 fuses that are not being used.
Then he certainly can't afford a new house when it burns down. His choice I guess. At least change the fuses to 15 amps and manage the loads if they start popping.
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Old 03-14-2013, 03:01 PM  
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C'mon guys! You know how the car mechanic wants to change out all the parts to get the vehicle PERFECT? You say NO because you can't afford "perfect."

JTeam wants a safe interim fix before doing the complete re-do. Good idea to downsize the fuses. Good idea to locate the burned wires and restore power ... he might even discover something more hazardous that needs immediate fixing.

But, until he has the cash (tax return?) let's just help him get back on his feet and help him to open the garage door!

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Old 03-15-2013, 05:16 AM  
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There is nothing wrong with fuses. Having the ability to easily upsize fuses to unsafe sizes is a problem and I have been guilty of jumping up to a 20 amp myself for a short period of time. I knew my loads and my wiring.

The advice to put the 15’s back in right now would be wrong not to give and also to point out how the loads heat the wires and the potential for fire. In the old town where I live almost all the houses are still wired this way and many had a second power in from the meter added in the 60’s or 70’s to second panel to get the service up to 100 amps. Most of these old places also still have some knob and tube wiring and when people do get a panel upgrade they get into some or all rewiring and that’s where the costs go up. Many don’t have grounds run also. I still see huge bins of three prong adapters at hardware stores so someone is buying them and every garage sale I go to and find a power tool half the time the ground prong has been snapped off.

The OP was pretty clear he wanted and had planned for an upgrade to the panel before he fell on hard times. So his intentions are in the right direction IMO. To make his house safe in the meantime he needs to limit the size fuses he is using to 15 amps per circuit and he need to find the source of the failure and correct it. When things improve my advice would be to put a panel upgrade high on his list. And hopefully have some rewiring done to balance out his loading and adding more circuits. That’s every bits as important as the new panel.

If he has 15 amp fuses in the box and is running an extension cord out to the garage as someone suggested. That might not be the best but at least he’s going to blow the fuse before he melts down again.

It’s not that hard to run down an open circuit like this. It takes a systematic approach and all the above advice on how to do that is sound. Chances are it will be in a junction box inside an old time wire nut. My experience has been the original wiring is mostly always done correct. The homeowner add on stuff really needs to be looked at. So the above post saying don’t be surprised if you find a few other problems waiting to happen during the investigation of this one is very true.

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Old 03-15-2013, 11:33 AM  
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Once again a fuse when properly used is every bit as good as a circuit breaker and in some ways they can be better. Fuses react and open a circuit in .2 of the 60 cycle time span of one cycle, Breakers take 1.5 times a single cycle. A fuse once open will restrict huge amounts of current from arcing. Fuses have no moving parts and will protect for long periods of time in dirty environments. They do a better job protecting electronics because of their fast break time. Breakers are easy and safe to reset but every time they trip there is an arc and wear. If you trip a breaker the second time you should be looking into what is causing the problem. Most people don’t because it’s so easy to reset, but just like a fuse you are overloading the circuit and should find the cause. Some recommend exercising breakers once or twice a year to make sure they are free.

Fuse panels are looked at as unsafe because of the misuse they are given. Insurance companies in some areas of the country won’t write a policy on a house with one anymore, or will charge extra. It’s based on tables of when there is a fire what caused it and they see people are overloading them with too big of fuses but it simplifies down to “no fuses”. The fix to blowing fuses isn’t replacing them with larger sizes just like the fix to circuit breaker tripping isn’t resetting.

I remember a system they had as a kid that had each size fuse have a different thread and when you screwed the fuse in the first time the insert locked in the hole. It was a method of preventing using the wrong amp fuse but my dad always said it was a method of making you buy their fuses for more money and he would pry the inserts out of the holes. It’s been so long that I have bought a fuse I don’t know if that company is still around.

One interesting factoid is Edison had patents on both systems.

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Old 03-15-2013, 11:48 AM  
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I got called to fix a blown fuse problem on an old (1940's) house. Replaced blown fuses, traced wires, found no proximate cause. A modest rain storm ensued and the tenant lost power -- and he replaced the blown fuses -- twice before I came back.

Up on the roof, it turned out the branched main feed which ran from roof fascia to fascia must have been there for decades in the sun and rain. The insulation had become brittle and broke off in spots. When the winde blew hard enough, the wires would touch and arc. Wish I had pictures.

Replaced the feed wiring between fascias. Fuse problem stopped. OH MY!

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Old 03-15-2013, 12:27 PM  
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A couple years ago in the winter during an ice storm my son in early 20’s calls my cell and said everything is exploding he said I turn on a light and it is so bright and then it explodes. Says smoke is coming from appliances not turned on and out of the TV. I told him to be careful but he had to throw the main. He thought the world was ending or something and I was really glad someone was home when it did happen. It’s a freak thing but stuff happens.

I get home and here the ice caused the service line to rub on a tree limb and the wire (old) had a break in it and it was putting one leg of the 220 on the neutral. The ground wire that went into the earth was not doing its job and I ended up with about $5000 in damaged stuff mostly electronics. The only thing that wasn’t hurt was the computer that was on a fancy power strip with all the protection built in. I now have all kinds of gizmos protecting my stuff.

On a side note my brother in law has a bunch of rentals and he was having a lot of strange electrical problems he couldn’t figure out last summer. Come to find out times are tough and the people took the ground cable off the power pole and sold it for scrap. This happened right after they took the aluminum siding off his rental up about 9 feet as high as they could jump. And removed his copper pipe in the basement without turning off the water. Only to mention a few.

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Old 03-16-2013, 10:13 AM  
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Update on my house wiring problem I have replaced all the screw in fuses with 15 amp. I have pulled out the main cartridge fuses ,two 60 amp and tested the receptacles behind them, of the 4 points of contact . Three of the points light up and beep at me and one does not. When I pull out the other cartridge fuses, two 60 amp again for the oven range ,out of the 4 points of contact behind them the bottom two light up and beep at me and the top two do not.

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Old 03-16-2013, 10:27 AM  
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Gosh, JTeam, pictures would REALLY HELP.



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