Electrical Wiring in the Home/Electricity anomaly


QUESTION: Husband and I own a rancher w/daylight basement built around 1970. For several months we have had issues with the wall light at the basement stairwell which has, of course, a 2-way switch. We had to replace the light bulb many times but now it now it just doesn't work at all.

Now, just over this past weekend, add a phenomenon scenario as follows:

Doorbell rang (presumably on its own) about 11:30 p.m. Saturday night and then the doorbell units continued to buzz. Finally held front doorbell switch in until it stopped.

Units like microwave and smoke detectors have "chirped" for no apparent reason recently.

Sunday night, went to set our security system and 2 times as I went to enter the code it sounded loud beeps (never heard before).

Monday (just hours ago), husband reports that the doorbell did it again ... as did the security system.

I am contacting our electrician ... but unsure how soon they can come.  In your expert opinion, is this an emergency situation?

ANSWER: Yes, if your neutral wire has become disconnected, it is an emergency.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Follow-up question:

Thank you, Bob.

Question on "neutral wire" issue.  Since I know nothing about house wiring, is there a main "neutral wire" which could cause/effect all of these anomalies?

Not being sure our normal electrician can come immediately, my husband and I would like to be somewhat intelligent in placing a call to another electrician to report our problem.

I would just tell him what is happening.

If the neutral wire becomes disconnected, it will put the two phases of your house in series with each other, and one side will be over 120 volts, the other side will be less.  The side that is getting more voltage will have things damaged on it.  Low voltage on the other side could also damage things too. (Every other breaker = one side)

Another thing, is that the ground wire connected to the water pipe will try to connect, through the water pipes, to a neighbor's neutral.  This can overheat the wire in your house or in a neighbor's house and catch on fire.  That is why I answered right away and said it was an emergency. But I don't know for sure that is the problem.  An electrician would have to look and see what the problem is. You can Google disconnected neutral and learn more.
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Electrical Wiring in the Home

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Bob Sponaugle


Just about any home wiring question. (not appliance repair) I have done all kinds of home wiring for myself, including adding a new breaker box, etc. Please, questions from North America only. Please be specific with details.

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