Electrical Q's 1 room is dark :(

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by rio002, Jun 2, 2006.

  1. rio002

    rio002 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    459
    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2002
    Location:
    WA
    Good Morning! sort of lol. We have a 1980 double wide, original wiring and switches to most of it. Yesterday morning flipped on the light in the master bedroom and it had about a 2 second delay before coming on, last night went in to flip the light on and nothing...but it's not only the light, all the plug ins are out too. I checked the breaker, it wasn't kicked off but I kicked it off and back on and still nothing. Replaced the breaker and still nothing. I had the old breaker tested at Lowe's and it tested fine...so now I am completely baffled. The guy at Lowe's said the light switch could be bad and if it's wired a certain way it would take out the power to the rest of the room, is that possible? Any advice? :shrug:
     
  2. crystalniche

    crystalniche Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    880
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Please be careful with the 80's mobile homes wiring. A local family was burned out, 2 people were killed in the fire. There was a lot of publicity about the aluminum wiring in those homes and it causing fires. They recommended replacing the wiring if you have the aluminum because it is unsafe. For your families' sake, yourself too~please check your wiring very carefully.
     

  3. Txcopperhead

    Txcopperhead Future Homesteader

    Messages:
    21
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2005
    Location:
    North Central Texas
    It is very unsafe to have a 80's model moble home because of the fact of what they used. But your problem could also be the fact that when wired they ran it to the switch then to teh outlets and if they did that then if the switch went out or shorted then it would cause nothing in that line of wire to work untill the switch is replaced.
     
  4. alabamared

    alabamared Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    244
    Joined:
    May 22, 2005
    Location:
    Alabama
    Aluminium wire is NOT unsafe. Having the wrong switches and receptacles is unsafe. If the wires are silver colored, it's aluminium. The switches and receptacles for aluminium should be marked CO/ALR.
    I bet you have a short in the light fixture.
     
  5. davaseco

    davaseco HERE chickie-chick-chick

    Messages:
    289
    Joined:
    May 4, 2006
    Location:
    Missouri
    It's an easy check to see if it is indeed the light switch. New lights switches are very cheap in price. Pick up a couple at the hardware store...it's good to have a spare around.
    First, since your breaker checked out fine, put it back into the panel and turn it OFF. If you are still uncomfortable, turn the MAIN breaker OFF. Second, the light switch is nothing more than a few screws, take the plate cover off and unscrew the two screws holding the light switch in.
    Third, LOOK carefully at the wiring connected to the back of the light switch. If there are ANY black/burned looking places on the wiring STOP and call an electrician, you have a bigger problem than a light switch. If the wiring looks OK ....Take the top wire and disconnect it from the old switch and connect it to the top of the new switch. Do the same for the bottom. Once the wires are secure....go ahead and turn on your breaker on and check the light switch and outlets. If they work, finish instlling the light switch and cover. If it doesn't work....more than likely you have a short in the circuit run leading to that area.
    HTH
     
  6. rio002

    rio002 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    459
    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2002
    Location:
    WA
    Thanks all, over the ten years we've been here I have replaced every light fixture in the house (3 of them with fan/light setups) plus all the kitchen outlets but no light switches. The wiring here is definetly copper fairly standard 1 white 1 black and one copper ground. I do have a slight fear of electrical work from the early years of getting a jolt here and there lol so I usually just shut off the main breaker, which is what I'll do for this one. I did pop out the switch and see the basic wiring I'm used to but it also has lots of other wires behind it implying that the outlets are wired through the light switch. I'll pick up some switches, boxes (these switches are attatched to the "box" as a single plastic unit) and face place plates (the face plates are also part of the single unit :rolleyes: ) tonight and crack into in the morning. Thanks for the safety reminders too, it never hurts to be extra careful not to fry your hiney off :baby04:
     
  7. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

    Messages:
    7,220
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    aluminum wiring can be unsafe in certain conditions. if it comes in contact with other types of metal and is not properly treated with an anti-corrosive agent, it can corrode(sp?).
     
  8. alabamared

    alabamared Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    244
    Joined:
    May 22, 2005
    Location:
    Alabama
    That's what I said.
    Aluminum wire has to be used with the correct switches and receptacle.

    However, rio002 stated that it was CU.
     
  9. Beststash

    Beststash Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    132
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2003
    Location:
    Liberal Texas (Austin)
    There are two ways to wire a room - to wire the drops (switches, outlets) in series and in parallel. It sounds like yours are wired in series. If this is the case you probably have a connection from the breaker to outlet or switch and then thru the switch, and on to the next outlet or switch. If you can locate the first appearance then it will be easy to find the problem. If nothig works in the room then either it is not making it to the first position or that position is bad, etc. Also, some people use the push-in connectors in sw. or outlets - don't do it. Take the time to use the screw connectors - they will last the life of the switch and you won't have any future problems. Be careful - you can get a shock easily and quickly.
     
  10. Fire-Man

    Fire-Man Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    5,487
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Check the wires behind the switch-------sounds as though one of the connections that feeds the outlets and switch is loose. Good Luck!! Randy
     
  11. rio002

    rio002 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    459
    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2002
    Location:
    WA
    OK I replaced the switch, and yep all the outlets are wired through the light switch because I had 3 black, 3 white, and 3 grounds to connect to one switch. This process took almost an hour lol, real tough to fit 3 wires to each screw. I double checked my work that all the colors went to the right screws, flipped the main breaker back on and still nothing...... all the wires behind the switch looked good, no melting or corrosionj etc. But I am still baffled by this.Don't really have the funds to call an electrician either. Any other ideas?? :shrug:
     
  12. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

    Messages:
    7,220
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    you should try to check the continuity of the circuits. perhaps you have a broken wire somewhere. there is also the chance someone did not properly code a nuetral wire or such making repairs confussing.
     
  13. Hammer4

    Hammer4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    486
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2005
    Location:
    Missouri
    Go back and take the switch out and leave the wires dangling out but away from each other, turn the breaker back on, take your volt meter or test light and verify that one of the wires has power coming from the breaker.

    If none of the wires have power, you have a problem between the breaker and that location, if you have power, you have a problem between that location and the light or outlet.

    Then after turning the breaker back off, hook the wire that brings power from the breaker to the other wires one at a time and check that the light comes on or the outlet gets power.

    What color wires were hooked to the light switch? There are different ways to wire them up, normally if the power runs to the switch then to the light, the switch should have two black wires, one at each end, most likely a ground ( bare ) wire as well.

    One wire should be coming from the breaker, one going to the light fixture and one going to the outlet from what you describe.
     
  14. Fire-Man

    Fire-Man Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    5,487
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    Location:
    South Carolina
    You should not try to put 3 wires under one screw------you should crimp/wirenut the 3 wires together with a short extra wire making it 4 wires to join--then take the short extra wire ans put it under the screw.

    OK--------try to figure out which breaker goes to that circuit--then check at that breaker for a loose connection-----if all is good then I would go back to that switch--look for wall plugs or other switches close to that switch--using something to test with---lamp/fan/etc plug into the wall plugs close to that switch, there might be a wall plug on the wall in the room behind the switch--turn off breaker---if it cuts off a test device close to the switch-------pull that wall plug out and look for a "loose connection" there which would probably be a "feed" line to that switch. Good Luck!! Randy
     
  15. tiogacounty

    tiogacounty Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,069
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2005
    As an electrician for the last 24 years I agree with the last post by fire-man. Trailer builders are famous for illogical wire runs that travel all over the place and rely on receptacles to continue the continuity(electrical "flow") of a circuit. Not only is it tough to trace, but they tend to use the cheapest garbage outlets they can find and they push wire the backs of the outlets. If you want to really do it right, as you change individual outlets, take the wires off the back of the outlets . Wire nut them together, and add an extra foot long piece of wire. Use wire nuts to make the connection. So, as an example, you pull an outlet out of the wall and find two black (hot), two white (neutral) and one bare wire attached to the outlet. Put the blacks together with another foot long piece of the same size wire, called a tail, do the same with the whites. Now fold everything back into the box and attach the tails to the receptacle using the screws. The other trick is to buy an upgraded outlet. "spec" grade outlets are heavy duty and required in most commercial applications. They can be as cheap as a dollar, or so, more than a residential grade and they are far better. By tailing the wires and using a quality outlet, you will have an outlet, or switch, that will be trouble free for the life of the house. I would reccommend that you think about doing this to all your switches and receptacles as time and money permits. I have a fairly new, high end modular home. As I painted each room, I replaced all the outlets and re-did all the wiring in the outlet boxes. I found at least two serious problems, that had the potential to cause a fire. Factory wiring can be flaky at best. I have found lots of code violations and poor workmanship over the years. Good luck, BTW, aluminum Romex is NOT an issue that an house built in the 80s would have. This is more of a late 60s early 70s issue. Good luck.
     
  16. rio002

    rio002 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    459
    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2002
    Location:
    WA
    Alright, last night the breaker was on but the switch was off and the fan/light and all outlets were working out the clear blue while I was outside--this was odd. As soon as I flipped the light switch on it threw the breaker off (yes I have switch in right side up lol) So I replaced the breaker because it was easy and wanted to rule it out--but no change. So I used the some of the advice from here and some from a friend in the electrical dept. plus the box instructions for installing the switch. As of now I used a voltmeter to find the one hot black wire and hooked it alone to the top screw on the light switch then pig tailed the other 2 black wires and 3 whites together and put them on the bottom screw, and all 3 grounds are on the green ground screw. Here's what's happening now is when the switch is off everything is off, and the second the switch is turned on it throws the breaker almost instantly. Gosh I hate mobile homes lol
     
  17. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

    Messages:
    7,220
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    http://www.outlawnet.com/~oclass/electricity/main.htm

    here is some basic info. i hope it helps. i will try to find some diagrams.

    i hope i am not speaking out of turn, but it sounds like you wired the hot wire directly to the return wire. this would give the full current to the breaker and kick it off. it would be like taking a piece of wire and connecting one screw on the breaker to the other. it would draw the full curent, heat up really fast and the breaker would kick off.

    i would think you need to pigtail all blacks together and run a tail to the screw and do the same with the whites.
     
  18. Hammer4

    Hammer4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    486
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2005
    Location:
    Missouri
    Ok the switch should control the black wire.

    Hook all three white wires together but don't hook them to the switch.

    Hook the black wire coming from the breaker to the switch, hook the black wire coming from the outlet to that same screw.

    Hook the black wire going TO the light to the other terminal on the switch.

    Again, no white wires on the switch.

    The switch should have two black wires on it and a ground wire ( or all 3 ) on the green screw.
     
  19. rio002

    rio002 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    459
    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2002
    Location:
    WA
    WOOHOOO! VICTORY DANCE!!!! :dance: :dance:
    Got it --thanks Hammer4 and thank you to all who replied I have learned alot on this thread (Meloc that link is quite handy, I read through this morning and it cleared up alot of definition problems I was having)

    One more question though--what are the white wires there for? I mean since I can cap them off and everything works right, then are they considered the neutrals for the return current?

    :banana02: :goodjob: :bouncy: Thanks again!
     
  20. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

    Messages:
    7,220
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    lol, i have no idea. i think i am having trouble visualizing your situation as it still makes little sense to me. as long as it works!