Faulty light fixtures in ceiling


  #1  
Old 11-10-21, 11:37 AM
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Faulty light fixtures in ceiling

My house was built in the 1930s and has some electrical issues. Someday I will overhaul all the wiring, when I can afford to. In the meantime though I'd like to be able to solve a couple of small problems.

One issue is a couple of the ceiling light fixtures keep causing new light bulbs to burn out. Sometimes it happens immediately, other times it takes a few times turning the light on and off. All the fixtures worked fine for years then suddenly there are these problems. Also some of the wall sockets will cause anything plugged into them to fry, or plugging something into them causes the outlet itself to stop working.

My question is what causes these things to happen? I remember one time before I moved into the house, when it was rented to someone else but I owned it, a wall outlet went bad. A friend fixed it for me while I watched. I don't remember what he did, but I know it didn't take long and was pretty simple. Too bad that friend is no longer with us, so I can't ask him. Thanks for any help.
 

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11-10-21, 01:45 PM
2john02458
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I saw this and your other thread about beginner questions. In addition to the information given by others there you need to know the following:

Electricity can be dangerous and can kill you. You need to have a good understanding of how electrical systems work and where the danger points are. Terms like "line", "load" "hot", "neutral", "ground", "switch leg" have specific meaning and using them correctly will allow quicker troubleshooting. Wire colors sometimes help (if conventions and codes are followed) but are not always used consistently.

Many electrical problems are simple to fix by DIY. Some are much larger and need the attention of trained, licensed professionals. You need to know the difference.

Whenever possible (and for DIY that is always) you should not work on circuits that are energized. The simplest way to do that is to know where your electric panel is located, what type it is (breaker or fuse), whether it has a main breaker (that shuts down power to the entire house) or whether the breaker is at the meter, and what circuits are on which breakers (or fuses).

You should have a meter that measures volts, amps, ohms, etc. (And if you don't know what those are then you need to learn. The most common meters available are digital (DVM) but you need to know that they can give questionable readings under certain circumstances. A non-contact proximity tester is NOT a meter. It can warn you that voltage may be present in the wires, boxes, outlets, lights, etc. that you are working on but they cannot be used to identify problems consistently. An outlet tester and maybe a circuit tracer (if you are going to be doing a lot of troubleshooting of old wiring) would be useful but a meter can usually tell you the same things if you know how to use it.

The problem you are having with blown lights, frying outlets, etc. can be caused by major problems with your system (like 220 volts at a 120 volt outlet due to an open neutral) and need to be investigated cautiously and in an orderly fashion to track down the cause.

Do some homework, get smart about electricity and know that we are here to help.
 

Last edited by 2john02458; 11-10-21 at 01:47 PM. Reason: Bogus spellcheck substitutions.
  #2  
Old 11-10-21, 01:45 PM
2
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Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: USA near Boston, MA
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I saw this and your other thread about beginner questions. In addition to the information given by others there you need to know the following:

Electricity can be dangerous and can kill you. You need to have a good understanding of how electrical systems work and where the danger points are. Terms like "line", "load" "hot", "neutral", "ground", "switch leg" have specific meaning and using them correctly will allow quicker troubleshooting. Wire colors sometimes help (if conventions and codes are followed) but are not always used consistently.

Many electrical problems are simple to fix by DIY. Some are much larger and need the attention of trained, licensed professionals. You need to know the difference.

Whenever possible (and for DIY that is always) you should not work on circuits that are energized. The simplest way to do that is to know where your electric panel is located, what type it is (breaker or fuse), whether it has a main breaker (that shuts down power to the entire house) or whether the breaker is at the meter, and what circuits are on which breakers (or fuses).

You should have a meter that measures volts, amps, ohms, etc. (And if you don't know what those are then you need to learn. The most common meters available are digital (DVM) but you need to know that they can give questionable readings under certain circumstances. A non-contact proximity tester is NOT a meter. It can warn you that voltage may be present in the wires, boxes, outlets, lights, etc. that you are working on but they cannot be used to identify problems consistently. An outlet tester and maybe a circuit tracer (if you are going to be doing a lot of troubleshooting of old wiring) would be useful but a meter can usually tell you the same things if you know how to use it.

The problem you are having with blown lights, frying outlets, etc. can be caused by major problems with your system (like 220 volts at a 120 volt outlet due to an open neutral) and need to be investigated cautiously and in an orderly fashion to track down the cause.

Do some homework, get smart about electricity and know that we are here to help.
 

Last edited by 2john02458; 11-10-21 at 01:47 PM. Reason: Bogus spellcheck substitutions.
bulova, Suzuko voted this post useful.
  #3  
Old 11-10-21, 03:00 PM
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A bad neutral connection in your main panel .can cause high voltage on one part of your house & low on other parts.

You need a DVM, & a 100w bulb to eliminate phantom voltage readings (the bulb goes across the meter leads).
 
  #4  
Old 11-10-21, 03:15 PM
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A bad neutral connection in your main panel can cause high voltage on one part of your house & low on other parts.
Is there a way I can tell by looking at something in the breaker box that a bad neutral connection exists? If so, what would I look for?
 
  #5  
Old 11-10-21, 03:31 PM
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I'm going to study up on this "open neutral" situation. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction!
 
 

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