circuit dead with open hots-help

Old 12-11-04, 04:22 PM
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circuit dead with open hots-help

everything that is on one circuit went dead, yet the circuit breaker did not trip. before it went dead, the overhead lights on it started flickering for several minutes, and my daughter touched the light switch on the wall, and it shocked her .we installed new breakers but that did not fix it.

just tested outlets with tester- half show open hot, half show normal-even though they don't work. looked inside them and in switches to lights, couldn't see any thing loose. but the light switch that shocked us, inside is very old and has that oldtime wire with the woven cloth lining. it is a 3 pole, by the way, as it works the top of the stairs and has a twin down at the bottom of the stairs. our house is 75 years old, by the way. this was also the light that flickered along with the neighboring bathroom light. the bathroom light switch is different from all the others- it has wires going into the back of the switch instead of the side screws, so you can't see what is going on in there. should i just replace some or all the light switches or what? i did not look inside the receptacles on this circuit that tested normal,should i have?

also, my dining room receptacles have never worked since we moved in. i just tested them, and they show open hot on that circuit. this is a different circuit from the one above.

the dining room we can do without. but the other has our second floor stairs, our third floor stairs, our bathroom, and our third floor in the dark, which is a real problem, with all those stairs and a house full of kids.

any help would be appreciated.
Old 12-11-04, 08:30 PM
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It sounds like a loose connection at the main panel, either at the breaker or the neutral.You need to look for signs of melted insulation or charred wire at each.The circuit with the open hot may also be at the breaker.The switch that is causing shocks is a ground fault,the switch must be replaced.I would also like to caution you NOT to use the back stabs on the receptacles & switches you replace.These connections become very unrealiable over time.If you are at all uncomfortable about work in the breaker panel by all means DONT do it !!! Call a pro,good luck,becarful.
Old 12-12-04, 05:22 AM
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Receptacles that don't work, such as your dining room ones, need to be investigated. You should not have left these so long. The likely cause is a loose wire. A completely disconnected wire does not pose a hazard (unless it is touching something else), but a loose wire that might periodically make connection is a fire hazard.

You need to investigate why your dining room receptacles don't work and fix the problem. You also need to find out why the other circuit is not working. If it is an open hot, then you need to find it and fix it. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, then call an electrician. But do not leave it as it is. That could be dangerous.

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