Electrical Wiring in the Home/outdoor string lights

Advertisement


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,  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wv0e_VEuZ8I

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,      

Let me know if you need anything else at all,  
About Electrical Wiring in the Home
This site answers questions related to home electrical wiring, home wiring, general electrical help,and other electrical questions related to aleternating current (AC). You can find help on the National Electical Code, home electrical issues, wiring electrical outlets, installing lighting, electrical grounding, and general electrical help for do-it-yourself projects not require an electrician. If you do not see your home electrical wiring question answered in this area then please ask your electrical wiring question here

Electrical Wiring in the Home

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Will Babbitt

Expertise

Electrical issues of all types, wiring, control, appliances, components, specialty in Electric MOTOR or APPARATUS trouble shooting, electric motors, electrical problems, single phase, three phase, DC, capacitors, elevator MG-Sets, modifications, reverse engineering, VFD Drives, single to three phase convertors. Repair of most any electrical/mechanical/electronic apparatus, OEM, AC, DC, Industrial Applications, Three phase, single phase failure mode, determining the root cause of the equipment failure BEFORE failure repeats, Antique appliances, electric motors, fans, ceiling fans, base mount fans, poor equipment performance, Modifications, habitual failures, vibration, redesign, obsolete issues, collectible items restored, rewinding. Owner of EMR Repair Inc www.emrrepair.com More information on electric motors, under Engineering/Motors Ask about any electrical or mechanical problems in the home, office, or even at your work. B2B or business to business CONSULTING I can do but it would be a much more complex issue, that would require a significant amount of time. repair@mearservice.com from there we can discuss and begin work on about anything. Industrial electric motors, controls, troubleshooting, vibration, alignment, any type of industrial or commercial electric/electrcical equipment For the home owner, renter, apartment if you have odd things going on, describe to me, photos are normally very helpful, appliances, heating and air conditioning issues, light switches, installation, DIY PROJECTS FOR THOSE NOT EDUCATED IN ELECTRICAL, we can do some things, but for safety and sanity reasons, I may refer you to a local electrician, and help you find one, help you with pricing and even speak directly with anyone you hire if you have issues,

Experience

Over thirty years with a major repair and sales company, VP of Operations, and former owner of my own specialty repair shops, MEAR Services local to Kansas City Missouri EMR Repair Inc., located in Kansas City Missouri, 2014 sold both businesses to JCI Industries, Lee's Summit Missouri wbabbitt@jciind.com Evaluation and repair of electrical/mechanical apparatus. Electrical and mechanical repairs, trouble shooting including, vibration and balance issues. About.com provides this service, and the huge costs to provide help on about any subject. They provide the servers, the people to vet the experts, costs that would be the same as operating a good sized business, They should be appreciated for what they do, the huge costs and the great help they provide for free, Electric motor questions, can be answered here but there is a dedicated category that has other experts to help and add to a solution. Other common questions, are noises in the walls, breakers tripping, devices not starting or shutting down for no apparent reason, smoke alarms buzzing, thermostat change outs, or sizing wire or needing information for a new project, but anything can be resolved, anything, with enough effort and patience, DIY, with electrical is possible, but in most cases the use of a simple ohm meter or volt meter is needed, they can be purchased at any hardware store for a few bucks. If you have smoke, or smell smoke, don't be writing me, call 911 the Fire Department has no problem looking for smoke smells, better then spraying water on a blazing fire. DO NOT GET CAUGHT INVESTIGATING AND TRAPPED IN A BASEMENT LOOKING FOR A BLOWER FAILING< As to the tip jar, it is up to you, it is appreciated, every expert spends out of pocket that I know, we spend on IP time, computer wear, printing documents, books, and of course our time, but if we prevent a $400 service call, we did well,

Organizations
Former IBEW, EASA, IEEE, UL, ..............

Publications
SEE ELECTRIC MOTOR CATEGORY

Education/Credentials
10 plus years, various Technical Schools, followed by Industrial College Credit and non Credit Courses, electronics courses, experience in most any electrical apparatus, electric motors and generators, AC OR DC, fractional to above 5000HP, other electrical apparatus, slip rings, sleeve [plain] bearings, lubrication, identification-no data plate, control components, service and sales. I have continued night schools for decades, the list is extensive. I have been in the business of repairing most anything with wires or mechanical parts for decades, I have some helpful hints and directions you won't have to dig up. Or hopefully not have to pay a huge service call invoice to find.

Awards and Honors
Yes

Past/Present Clients
Federal Government, National Weather Service, NOAA, Commercial Power Plants, Major Vehicle Manufacturers, Printers, Other industrial and Commercial Businesses

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.