problems with lights and wiring in an old home


Old 11-19-00, 09:42 PM
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my husband and I are moving into an old square block house. Their is an outside breaker box and an inside fuse box with 4 screw in fuses and 2 pull fuses. This is an old block house with additions. The lights do not have the light fixtures over them, someone took the light fixtures and left the wires hanging loose from the ceiling. The lights in the back part of the house work. The lights in the living room, 2nd bath and kitchen (where fuse box is located) do not work. The plug in receptacles work but when my husband puts the meter up to the wires hanging from the ceiling there is no power on any of them. These fuses also control a plug in receptacle on the back porch that was used for the washing machine. This works but the lights do not. My husband can get the other 3 screw in slots to register power but the one on the end doesn't want to unless you do a certain thing he said with the meter and then it registers very faintly on the meter. Also my husband said the light wires hanging in the 2nd bathroom shocked him, he said something about they were both hot and even when you turned the light switch off it was still hot. This has my husband very puzzled. Is there any suggestions as to what the problem might be. Or things to try to figure out the problems.
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Old 11-20-00, 11:03 AM
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Sounds like you may have a damaged fuse holder in the panel. I would try to move the wire on the dead fuse in the panel to the next fuse beside it exchanging the two wires temporarily. If you find the circuit that did work now doesn't and the circuit that was dead does work your problem is in the panel as suspected. If exchanging the two wires on the two fuses does not energize the dead circuit, then put the wires back the way they were on the fuses and then I would start tracing that dead circuit from the fuse to the end of the circuit making voltage tests until you voltage is lost between the black and white wire. If you are unable to trace these wires then I would hire an electrician to do it for you. It sounds simple to diagnose if by a qualified electrician.

Good luck

Let us know if you get it running again.

Old 11-21-00, 09:34 AM
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I have a thought - the main fuses to your panel are contained in the pull-out block on the left. There are two cartridge fuses inside. You simply grab the handle and pull firmly straight out. It is possible that one of these fuses is going or gone. Low voltage instead of all or none is a possible indication of this, as is power to half the place and not the other half. Another thing to look for is blackish or bluish discoloration of the copper parts of that fuse holder. If you find this condition clean the discolored parts with a brass wire brush or scotch-brite, bend them very slightly closer together so they grip the fuse better. If your husband's meter has ohms or continuity have him test each of the fuses.

If it's not that, it's possible that when the previous occupant removed their light fixtures they interrupted portions of some circuits by dismantling the pigtails in the ceiling boxes. Let us know what you find.

Good luck,


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