How to Identify Old Home Wiring Problems
How to Work with Old Electrical Wiring: Repairing Old Electrical Wiring, Old Electrical Wiring Problems.
Identifying and Repairing Old Electrical Wiring Problems
Electrical Question: I have a 110 year old home that always has odd electrical challenges. Much of the electric has been updated or modified through the years but multiple owners have left a variety of quality to the fixes.
The current issue that has me stumped:
- I have one Breaker (200A service) that feeds most of the ceiling lights and a few wall outlets. This breaker also feeds all electric to a small kitchen that was added on 50 years ago.
- Last week, all of a sudden ALL of the electrical in this add on kitchen went dead. All lights and receptacles. But, the rest of the items on this breaker are still good.
- I looked around for a hidden old fuse panel (there are still 1 or 2 in this house that serve small areas but they are downstream from breaker box). I Cant find a fuse box issue related to this issue.
- Today started digging a little deeper and find that all receptacles in this add on kitchen are not DEAD but are showing as “double positive” – that is to say that both sides of my receptacle are showing positive voltage. No neutral service at all?
So this has me stumped, and these are my concerns and questions:
- How dangerous is it for these lights and receptacles to be sitting as a double positive element?
- What could have happened along the line to cause this?
I cant imagine how “out of the blue” this section of electric could end up like this. A break in the neutral, OK- I could see that. But, to end up with both lines as positive. I Need help with that one. Any ideas?
This electrical wiring question came from: Chris, a Handyman from Virginia.
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Chris.
Application: Repairing Old Electrical Wiring
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a Certified Electrician or Electrical Contractor.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience and ability to work with tools.
Precaution: Identify the circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Important: Burnt or damaged wiring and circuit components should be replaced with new electrical materials of the same voltage and amperage rating.
Notice: Repairs to Home Electrical Wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes and installing new or replacement electrical parts or equipment may require a permit and inspections.
How to Work with Old Electrical Wiring
- Electrical Wiring in Older Homes
- The electrical wiring that is still found in older homes can be a challenge to figure out, especially if additional electrical wiring has been installed.
- The best way to begin is to identify all of the know electrical circuits and what they control in the home which will allow you to map which devices have been wired to each identified circuit.
- Old Electrical Wiring Problems
- From the information that has been provided there must be another electrical panel that is served by the 200 amp breaker. It also appears that there may be a lost neutral or hot leg which would explain why there are unusual voltage readings.
- The best thing to do is positively identify all the electric panels and the circuit that they are supplying power to. A careful inspection must be made of all the main connections at these panels and voltage checks should be made at the circuit breakers and fuses to verify the components that are working correctly and identify those that are not.
- Through this process of elimination the problem will be discovered. based upon this discovery repairs will be needed to be made.
More about Home Electrical Wiring
- Electrical Junction Boxes
- Electrical Code for How Many Wires in Junction Boxes
- House Wiring Circuits and Circuit Breakers
- Kitchen Electrical Wiring
- Electrical Panel Circuit Listing
- Electrical Codes for Services
- Wiring Electrical Codes
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Basic Home Wiring Diagrams with Pictures
This link is helpful as a Handyman
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wiring!The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester, [amazon.com], I use for the detection of Standard Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.
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