Electrical Wiring in the Home/outdoor string lights
Expert: Will Babbitt - 11/17/2014
Question QUESTION: I recently purchased a condo that has a string of outdoor lights. The cord goes into the house and is hardwired. One bulb at the end of the string was missing so I screwed a light bulb in and the whole string went out. No breaker tripped and all the sockets around that area still work including another outdoor light on the same light switch as the string of lights that went out (there is also a wire for an electric awning that goes into the house with the string of lights and it still works). When I looked into the socket with the missing bulb there was a screw wedged in the back across the contact for the light bulb which I removed. Was that in there because the lights were in series and someone jury rigged it? How can I fix this without replacing the entire string - which would entail either splicing the wire or rerunning it to the socket it is hardwired into or is that the only solution. Thanks
ANSWER: You say this socket was at the END of the string, with a screw preventing the last bulb from being energized?
What kind of string, are we talking holiday or all year party type ?
If the sockets were in series why would someone block off the last bulb? [Thinking outloud]
If it is THE END and nothing else can be plugged in, why not just take the last socket apart and see if the neutral has a carbon track I bet the socket is messed up so whomever put the screw in so the bulb would not let the carbon track, broken insulator or something to be energized,
It is the last one right?
Most likely the string is in parallel, but the screw would close the loop which is a bad but workable fix, why not cut the last one off?
Im not understanding what kind of string this is, can you send me some pics at my personal email and let me take a look?
One the circuit all toll with everything else was at the brink one more lightbuld and the breaker trips, so it is a load thing,
OR the last socket is jacked up has to be one or the other ???
I know following someone's stupidity is frustrating but step back and look at like no one jacked with it, I bet you come up with a reason,
If not send some photos, give me your best guess of individual loads to the main circuit,
It happens three loads on a 15 circuit, one load is 5 amps second is 5 amps, third is 5.01 amps, get the idea?
Let me know, this is interesting
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: The light set is an RV awning globe set (if you look it up on google) and has six bulbs. It was the last one in the line that had the screw in it. I replaced the socket in the last one and still none of the six lights work. I then got a volt meter and there is power going into the light switch but there is no power in the cord when it exits the house.
ANSWER: Power in the switch you understand that a true switch leg is supposed to be one hot wire brought to the switch, the switch opens and closes one wire basically it cuts it in half and puts it back together, the only power in a switch should be from either side of the switch to ground,
Take a look at this video, and see if anything relates, the voltage value you provided is way off anything that should be found, and I assume you were measuring from hot to ground?
Im wondering if someone before YOU made a mess and maybe the screw is there to prevent too much load on that circuit but what a way to do something,
Take a look at the tutorial and see if that gives you any insight if not we will talk again I am in the middle of selling both my businesses and it is a nightmare, so I am behind on everything and apologize for that, if we need to I can turn this over to someone, but hopefully we can figure this out step by step,
Start slow and dont try to absord all that is going on at once, if voltage is at the switch then NOT at the load either a volt drop is present prior to the load or wire to the outside, or someone wired off half a circuit here and half a circuit there, hard to say what was done BEFORE YOU the worst to diagnose, so I understand your pain, let me know if the video gives you some tips it is faster than me listing everything to look for,
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hi. Thanks for the response. I believe the light switch burned out when I originally screwed in the missing light bulb and it came in contact with the screw (it also blew out three of the other light bulbs in the strand) as I ended up replacing the switch and it works now.
Answer Peter, that all sounds plausible so are you up and working? Everything is OK? If not let me know and we will keep digging, but it sounds like you did a hell of a job of diagnostics, way to go,
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