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electric wire questions

1609 Views 48 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  fishhead
Last December a tree fell on my powerline ripping a yard light wire out of the attic. Previously the yard light wire was just cut and the end wrapped in electrical tape. The other end was just 2 wires that look like they were connected to a switch. There was only 2 wires with no bare ground wire. The ripping loose of the wires also disconnected my bedroom light.

There are 3 wires in the attic and each wire has two wires. They look identical to me so I'm wondering how do I know which one is the ground and which is hot? The wiring is old and has the wire covered with a twisted cloth layer and a paper layer on top of that. One of the wires seems to have a slight silver color on the twisted cloth covering but I can't say for sure.

I checked the wires with one of those pens today and they are all hot. When I first looked at the wires after the storm there was a connection within a metal box. It was just a few wires left. My guess is that the box is where the now disconnected yard light connection was made. If I can't figure out the wiring I'm going to have to start cutting holes in the sheet rock.

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I'm not following your description of the wiring or exactly what you are trying to do. Reconnect your bedroom light?

Sounds like the yard light wires had been disconnected earlier---right?
Yes. Reconnect the bedroom light. I'm assuming that there must be a connection that got pulled apart. The yard light wiring will be removed.
Do you have a volt meter?
No plus I don't know how to use one. It did seem that when I was checking the wires with the pen it wasn't as bright as the other one.
The wiring is marked Romex and it's 2 wire.

I expect that if I did contact an electrician they would just say that they can't work on it and need to replace it. My house is up for sale and a standing offer is from someone who will knock the house down so it doesn't make economic sense to pay an electrician thousands of dollars to run new electric wiring or for me to run new wiring like I've already done in part of the house when I replaced the sheetrock. That was all approved by the state electrician.

For now I'll have to turn off the power and see if I can backtrack the wiring to the damaged wire or connector. If that works I can just replace that run of wire.
Flip the breaker, use your best guess on how to fix it, turn the breaker back on and watch for smoke and for the breaker to trip.

Then, if you see no smoke and no tripped breaker, try the light switch.

Repeat until it works.
That's what was suggested. It seemed risky but I guess that is what breakers are supposed to do. A friend is coming over with a volt meter. He worked in electronics for decades so I trust what he says.

I took a look at the yard light wire and one end was wire nutted and taped. The other had the end of the wires curled and looked as if they were pulled off the screws of a switch. It looks as if the wires are missing from the yard light switch but I need pul it out of the switch box to take a closer look with the power off.
It took us a good 4 hours but the bedroom has a working light switch again. We did it by turning the breakers for that circuit off off and then twisting wires together until we identified the wires with the volt meter. Once that was done I connected the wires and we flipped the breaker. The switch to the yard light has been removed and the wire nutted to cover the end.

I really need to learn how to use a volt meter. I don't expect to ever work on pre-existing wiring again but I may need it checking on my solar collectors.
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Before I replaced the fuse box with a breaker box a friend pointed out that someone had run a wire AROUND the fuses. We fixed that on the spot and then years later when I was replacing the sheetrock I replaced the fuse box with a load center.
I know what I'm going to do with my rebate check now. :)
Can anyone recommend a decent electric meter? I don't need one that can build a nuke plant just something that let's me find circuits and also work on a solar array.
$7???? Is this a trick?
I've got a hefty refund from Menard's so I guess I'll just look for one around $10 and NOT autoranging.

Thanks for all the help.

I learned something important. Do NOT disconnect any of the connections until they have been photographed or drawn on paper. I did that and immediately forgot how the wire connection looked and which wires were involved. That turned a 1/2 hour job into a 4 hour job.

I'm pretty certain that the chain of events was as followed. The storm knocked down a big tree which pulled the end of the wall off the house. That took the yard light wire with it and yanked the yard light wire off the switch and completely away from the house. As the yard light wire was being yanked away it yanked it off the yard light switch and broke the connection of the 3 romex wires. To fix it I had to just connect the wires within the two romex wires. The third romex is mostly likely the yard light on the other end of the house. As soon as I get the meter I will verify that and track it all down and remove the romex wire and switch.
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I bought a Smart Electrician digital multimeter 364-5017.

While skimming through the instructions I saw what looks like a glitch.

It says "Do not test current on circuits higher than 10 amps." Aren't all general circuits in a house rated for 15 amps?
Thanks! That simplifies it. So can I use it to check AC circuits but not measure AC current?

I'm not even sure what I'll be doing with it other than to see if a current is going through the wire or if it's making a circuit.
Maybe I"m confusing AC current with AC voltage?
That helps. Thanks. I think that I'll watch that youtube that was posted a few times.
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