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185 posts

Master Geek


Topic # 64672 20-Jul-2010 10:17
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Our house is very old and one half of the house is much much older than the other. The older fuses are all connected up to one fuse board and we all of a sudden have a problem with one particular light switch blowing all the lights in the really old side of the house when it's turned on (about 8 or so lights). The fuses are old school with wire, we have replaced it twice once we realised which light was causing the problem. The light bulb has not been changed etc. Why would this suddenly be happening and what can we do about it? An electrician might not be an option at the moment, it would be ok if the cost was small but a big bill is not possible!

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  Reply # 353812 20-Jul-2010 10:59
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Dying because your house burnt down due to bad wiring is a much cheaper option.....

Call an electrician.




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  Reply # 353824 20-Jul-2010 11:32
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The electrician will be able to make it safe without incurring big costs and they can give you an estimate of the cost to fix.

Note that "make it safe" may mean disabling between one and all eight lights!

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  Reply # 353829 20-Jul-2010 11:34
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It would be unlikely to be safe for you to fix this yourself. You need to call an electrician.

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  Reply # 353831 20-Jul-2010 11:36
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Replace the light bulb, see if the problem is still there. Find out if the problem is the bulb, or, in the fixed wiring, maybe a mouse has chewed through the wires, they are now shorting out?

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  Reply # 353833 20-Jul-2010 11:43
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If nothing you can see has changed, it means that something you cannot see has changed, most likely a socket or wiring is shorting, either was this is bad and dangerous, get a sparky to check it, or risk electrocuting yourself or burning down the house.

- If you had a gas pipe leaking in your house you would not hesitate in getting it fixed,  When an electrical wire is leaking you should do the same thing.



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Master Geek


  Reply # 353852 20-Jul-2010 12:10
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we'd love to get the electrician out right away its just at the moment we wouldn't have the money to pay him. powerbill due this week and it cripples us financially.

i have called my sparky though and he thinks its a fault with the cable that goes from the ceiling to the light bulb. we will try and get him out soon but he says for now just don't use that particular light switch.

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  Reply # 353867 20-Jul-2010 12:42
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You need to isolate the problem before using the circuit again. Attempting to use the circuit without resolving the problem is dangerous, and could very possibly cause a fire.

If, as you suggest, the issue occurs only when you use one of the lights on the circuit then the problem will be one of:

a) bulb - not likely since the bulb will blow long before the fuse on is circuit will

b) the switch itself: possible. If the switch is old and crappy it may have degraded to the extent that it is shorting. You may hear it buzzing, see it smoking or smell burning. Switches do have a finite life, especially cheap ones. To investigate the switch you'll need to ensure that the relevant fuse is pulled completely from the board; to be safe you might want to completely switch the entire house off at the fuse board on the master switch. If there's any doubt about how to isolate that switch, then don't try - but it is easy! Once isolated, get the cover off the switch and eyeball the innards for evidence of charring etc. You can then remove the switch from the wall, take out the wiring and replace the switch (v cheap) if you need / want to. Re-wiring the switch is no harder than wiring a plug.

c) The wiring on the circuit: highly likely this is the cause, rodent damage or degraded insulation causing wires that should be isolated to touch one another. This would cause shorting resulting in heating at that point which is where your very real fire risk comes from; if you can't see the wiring you won't see the fire until it's too late. Replacing the wiring is best left to a pro.

d) The bulb holder. Isolate the circuit and check for similar symptoms to the switch; light fittings do degrade, especially if they're old, get water in them (bathrooms etc), or have a brighter bulb in them than they should do.

I'm no pro but am happy to replace switches, plug sockets etc myself since it is not rocket science.

But if you can eliminate the bulb, the switch and the holder as the cause that only leaves the wiring - at that stage I'd get someone in.



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  Reply # 353873 20-Jul-2010 12:48
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thanks manta, i'll have to see if my other half is willing to give all that a go, but if not the sparky once we can afford his services. there is no smoking or burning smell at all, the other lights on that circuit are not used for long but are used for a small amount of time each day.

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  Reply # 353880 20-Jul-2010 13:02
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If the house is old enough it could have 'rubber' wiring in metal conduit, which does deteriorate. Definately do not mess with this, do not touch the conduit itself either - particularly not until it's checked out.

You may also find it's something simple (faulty socket, water in the socket or similar) and so not as costly as you fear. Whatever, as everyone else has said wait for the sparky, in this case if you need to ask this question then don't even think about going there .

Cheers, P.



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  Reply # 353890 20-Jul-2010 13:19
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thanks

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  Reply # 353904 20-Jul-2010 13:44
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beforenightfalls: thanks manta, i'll have to see if my other half is willing to give all that a go, but if not the sparky once we can afford his services. there is no smoking or burning smell at all, the other lights on that circuit are not used for long but are used for a small amount of time each day.


If there are long periods of the day you do not need to use the circuit, remove the fuse, then at least you know its dead and there is no risk of anything dodgy happening, ( or you could replace it with a breaker and switch it off)

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  Reply # 354050 20-Jul-2010 17:13
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You still have old rewirable fuses? Ouch, thats going to cost a bit to resolve.




Richard rich.ms



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  Reply # 354060 20-Jul-2010 17:22
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yes we do for half of our fuses, the other fuse box is modern! you have me worried now...!!!

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  Reply # 354066 20-Jul-2010 17:28
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Is the face of the board black or a light brown colour? Black old style fuse panels were installed in the era of rubber cables, which most electricians will not even open since the insualtion will fall off when the wire is moved. light brown ones are not as bad. At least with a second panel there, and I am assuming it supplied seperatly from the meter panel you can have new circuits moved over to the new panel gradually, assuming it has space in it for more breakers.

The new compliant RCD's are about 60 each, sinc ethey all have to be double pole now. Not all sparkys are up with the play and are still installing single pole ones which have not been legal since april.




Richard rich.ms

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