Advice needed - please!

I'm a single woman with no experience in electrical things, and I need help.
My lights started acting weird a few weeks ago. Sometimes they would work,
other times not. Then the other day most of them just quit working. I can't afford an electrician so I have to figure this out myself, and I have no clue where to begin.
First I should explain about the wiring in my house, because it is strange.
There's a circuit breaker box outside and a fusebox in a closet with two rows of four fuses. The top row has three fuses in it - the last one on the right is empty - and the bottom row has two fuses, one on each end is empty, and of the two that exist, one has "ref." written below it, so I assume that means refrigerator. None of the fuses are burned out.
At the circuit breaker box there are 8 switches, all I know about them is that one turns off my water pump at the well, another was for the electric water heater before I changed to gas.
In Oct. 2001 a light switch went bad in the kitchen, and after that, none of the outlets in the whole house were live except for one inside a kitchen cupboard where the refrigerator is plugged in. The ones inside and outside the well house also worked, and the electric water heater also worked.
For almost a year I lived with that situation because I could not afford an electrician and had no idea how to fix it myself. I just made do with extension cords. Then a friend offered to wire some new outlets for me, without a labor charge, and so of course I agreed. All the new wiring is visible, tacked to the walls and ceiling, as are the new outlets.
He ran Romex from the fusebox and made an outlet in the closet, and from there to a light in the bathroom, and next to a switch for the porch light, then it splits, with one wire to an outlet in the living room and the other to an outlet in the bedroom.
So, not counting the refrigerator and well house outlets, a total of three outlets and two light switches worked, until a few days ago.
I don't see a burned fuse. The outlet in the closet *does* work, but the next thing down the line, the bathroom light, does not. I took the cover off the light to see what I could see, but I have no idea what to look for.
One further thing I should mention about my friend's wiring job: When I plug my surge protector into any of the three new outlets he made, the little red ground fault indicator light comes on. It doesn't do that when plugged into the refrigerator or well house outlets.
I'm really hoping someone here can help me figure this out.
Thanks in advance.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 2 May 2004 11:42:23 -0500, "Pat"

The little red light means you have a ground fault which is a potentially dangerous situation but will probably not cause any damage immediately. It is however not to code. Do you rent or own?. If you rent, this is a job for your landlord. If you own..... buckle down and find the means to get an electrician in there immediately.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I rent, but the landlady is worse off than I am.
wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@fidnet.com says...

She is exposing you to (quite possible) fire or electrocution. No matter how poor she is, she has no right to subject you to the dangers as suggest here. It is *your* life here. Do you have children living with you? If so, it becomes a matter for the state (actually it already is). Get these problems fixed, NOW!
--
Keith



Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 2 May 2004 19:04:37 -0500, "Pat"
Then you get the electrician and deduct it from the rent. I understand your situation but she is required by law to keep a safe environment. You might even be close friends, I don't know, so if you are, deduct it over the next 3-6 months or whatevers equitable. Just remember, the fire department, hospitals, insurance companies don't give a damn what your relationship with her is or what her situation is. No matter what happens, it will be her liability but your injury. Do not hesitate...get it fixed by a professional now or it will cost both of you much much more later.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
| I rent, but the landlady is worse off than I am.
In a rental situation, the exception that allows homeowners to do their own wiring does not apply. Only a licensed electrician would be allowed to do this wiring.
Time to move!
Or someone will have to sell something and get that electrician in there. Otherwise the next people involved could be firemen, doctors, or undertakers.
--
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Phil Howard KA9WGN | http://linuxhomepage.com/ http://ham.org/ |
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 2 May 2004 11:42:23 -0500, "Pat"

Surely you have a friendly handyman you can trust who could avise you, free of charge. Even an electrician, given your situation, might give you a real deal. What is worse; to pay an electrician for a couple of hours work (say $100) or to have a fire because the wiring was dangerous.
It sound as though your friend wired the hot to the neutral and vice versa for those outlets he added. Potentially dangerous.
It also sounds as though the fridge is on the same circuit as the light that works - and that is a no-no undewr the code. The fridge is supposed to have a dedicated circuit and breaker.
Please go for the electrician's advice before we read about it in the newspapers.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Rusty, $100 is a huge amount for me, I live on about $600/month as it is, and have no savings.
I do have a book on electrical repairs. But I won't even think of using it until I know how to shut off all the power to the house. Can you at least tell me that much?
Thanks.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sun, 2 May 2004 19:22:36 -0500,

Pat, even if someone told you how to shut off the electricity you could not be sure *IT IS REALLY OFF*!!!
You already stated you had a circuit breaker AND a fuse box - no one in this - or ANY Internet forum would be able to tell you how to shut it off safely!!!! An electrician has to come look at it..
Pat, you already got the best advice you could possibly get. Have a licensed electrician come and check this problem out for you. It's a matter of life safety.
Please just make the call, or have your landlord call.
Best wishes, Graham
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Graham,
I appreciate this and will have a pro come when I can afford it. In the meantime, if it is so dangerous a situation, I want to shut off the power to the house. It should not be that difficult, and since it could be months before I can afford a pro to fix it, I obviously need to shut off whatever might be dangerous.
What I have done for now I turn off all the switches in the breaker box except the one for the well house and water pump, and removed all the fuses from the fusebox except for the one marked "ref." The computer is running off the outlet at the well house, as it did for almost a year before my friend installed the new wiring.
As to whether things are "really off" or not, isn't there a way to test with some simple device?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Mon, 3 May 2004 08:59:57 -0500,

You can get a voltage tester like this one: http://doityourself.com/store/6116024.htm
But if you don't use it properly you'll get a "false negative" reading. You might want to call these contractors and explain the situation, they may be able to work out a payment plan.
CEC ELECTRIC CONTRACTING 7125 LITTLE BOONE CREEK RD, SULLIVAN, MO, 63080 Phone: 573-457-6863
CENTRAL ELECTRIC & SUPPLY INC SULLIVAN, MO, 63080 Phone: 573-468-3143
HULSEY ELECTRIC 1046 LOUISIANA ST, SULLIVAN, MO, 63080 Phone: 573-468-3316
KASE ELECTRIC 248 E SPRINGFIELD RD, SULLIVAN, MO, 63080 Phone: 573-468-6928
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
|
| |> |> Pat, even if someone told you how to shut off the electricity you |> could not be sure *IT IS REALLY OFF*!!! |> |> You already stated you had a circuit breaker AND a fuse box - no one |> in this - or ANY Internet forum would be able to tell you how to shut |> it off safely!!!! An electrician has to come look at it.. | | Graham, | | I appreciate this and will have a pro come when I can afford it. In the | meantime, if it is so dangerous a situation, I want to shut off the power to | the house. It should not be that difficult, and since it could be months | before I can afford a pro to fix it, I obviously need to shut off whatever | might be dangerous.
Call the power company and have them come shut off the power service drop.
| What I have done for now I turn off all the switches in the breaker box | except the one for the well house and water pump, and removed all the fuses | from the fusebox except for the one marked "ref." The computer is running | off the outlet at the well house, as it did for almost a year before my | friend installed the new wiring. | | As to whether things are "really off" or not, isn't there a way to test with | some simple device?
The power company should be able to cut the power before it gets to the mess.
--
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Phil Howard KA9WGN | http://linuxhomepage.com/ http://ham.org/ |
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
TROLL ALERT!!!

to
fuses
with
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Hi Paul,
Since I had never heard or read any sort of definition of the term "troll" as applied to newsgroup posters, but had seen the term used in a very negative context at a few places online, your post inspired me to find the following page:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll
Now that I know a lot more about the meaning of the word troll, I'm a little confused a to why you said what you did.
In any event, no reply is necessary, and I shall refrain from further posting in this group.
Thanks,
Pat
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Pat wrote:

Pat, I'm not sure Paul was talking about you there, but actually to G. Morgan. Either way, don't take offense to him, you can post wherever you want. It's not his newsgroup.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

The advice to have your situation looked at by an electrician is spot on, and should be taken for your safety. The cost of not having the situation evaluated and corrected will greatly exceed any costs to correct the problem. Not to mention possible serious injury, or death. One thing is certain. This situation wont get any better, or cure its self!
Everyone has skills and value of some sort. If you locate an agreeable electrician you might even be able to barter for the needed repairs. One way or the other get it done. Don't put it off any longer. If you have an interest in such repairs the electrician might even consent to teaching you "on the job" during the repairs.
Louis-- ********************************************* Remove the two fish in address to respond
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
| Rusty, $100 is a huge amount for me, I live on about $600/month as it is, | and have no savings.
And how much would the doctors in the emergency room charge?
| I do have a book on electrical repairs. But I won't even think of using it | until I know how to shut off all the power to the house. Can you at least | tell me that much?
In the situation you are in, anyone giving you written advice, such as online here, which can be traced back to them, could open them up to legal liability. Even though people here are competent, correctly understanding exactly what your wiring situation is, through what you are saying, is not very accurate. Assuming what you are saying is an accurate observation and description, I can think of 2 or 3 things that could be wrong. Very likely more than one thing is wrong.
--
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Phil Howard KA9WGN | http://linuxhomepage.com/ http://ham.org/ |
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 2 May 2004 11:42:23 -0500, "Pat"

All the new wiring is visible, tacked to the walls and ceiling, as are the new outlets. Damn, did he work for Jack-Leg Electric?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

That's how I told him to do it, since he was working free of charge I wanted it to be as easy and quick as possible. He didn't work for any electric company, but at least I had lights for over a year and a half before this failure.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Your situation is difficult and my best advice is that you ask for outside help. I would suggest contacting a reporter at your local TV station or newspaper (give them a written account of your difficulties) and they may be able to do a story and bring your problem to the attention of your community.
By asking for help, I'm sure that you will find a competent electrician that is willing to donate their services for free or perhaps a reduced rate or extended payment plan. I'm sure that there are many electricians that would be personally outraged if they saw improper wiring tacked up on the surface as you described.
Also, many local governments offer reduced rate loans for seniors and disabled people (Not sure if you are in this category - I just made an assumption that you might be). to make necessary home improvements, especially if a life-safety issue is involved. In my community, they can put a lein on the property so the owner has no out-of-pocket expenses - the loan gets paid when the owner of the property sells or passes away.
Beachcomber
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.