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Murphy's Law 12-18-2012 11:18 AM

Bare 240 volt wire...oh, and it
 
Unusual situation. Oh, and my electrical knowledge is bare minimum.
I bought this old house recently and it is a small 2 br 1 bath, not a fixer upper, it has been remodeled and is fairly good shape, but has a lot of noticeable traces of poor DIY, hence the negotiable price I managed to get.

While installing cable around the outside of my home, I noticed pieces of old wire here and there, with staples in the middle, and just unsightly scrap wire that I began to remove.
When I got to the outside breaker box, I noticed coming out of the back bedroom ceiling, just under the eaves is an old, thick ( 240?) wire sticking out of the wall about a foot, so I figured while I was there on my ladder, I would remove it too. Wrong. I cut it with my metal shears, and boom, it was so hot
it melted a 1/4" hole in my shears where it hit. So, I go to check all my breakers, thinking I may have knocked out all the power to my house, and all the breakers are still on, nothing was knocked out.

There is in the living room an old 220 plug for what was probably a large ac,
but other than that, I have no idea what this wire is, or how to go about safely removing it or disabling it, since it does not seem to be on any of my breakers. Which is likely why the DIYer who knew about it, decided to just tape off the end and leave it hanging out of the wall.

I guess my first thought is to get a tester, and turn everything off, test the hot wire again to see if it is still hot, and go from there. I don't even know what sore of tester you use to check the liveness of a 240v wire, so this is where I ask for help, before I call an electrician.

My biggest concern is, now I have a bare spot on this live wire where I tried to cut it, which I suppose I could wrap some duct tape around it for now.

Definitely a fire hazard, any help would be greatly appreciated.

G

joecaption 12-18-2012 11:25 AM

Use a wire nut not duct tape, duct tape is never used in electrical work.
Look for a sub panel.
The breaker your looking for will be a double pole breaker, not a single.
Use a muliti meter.

TTW 12-18-2012 11:49 AM

In this situation, I really think you need an electrician.

I am very glad you were not injured.

You would be up on a ladder trying to use a tester you are not familiar with. I would be appreciating this with a great deal of caution and respect myself.

That wire might have been tapped off of a circuit somewhere now hidden.

How high up is it and what diameter is it? 1/4", 1/2", 3/4"?

I really think you should get a pro. Ask your neighbors who they use.

Where are you located?

Oh and NO duct tape!

parman 12-18-2012 11:50 AM

Get yourself a non contact voltage tester like this or similar.
http://www.fluke.com/fluke/usen/elec....htm?PID=56048

These are not full proof testers and sometimes give false readings so be aware. But they are good to have to give a quick test.

It's possible that those wires do go to your panel and it did not trip the breaker. It's also possible that they go to a sub panel that you are not aware of.

Based on your description, they probably went overhead to a garage or outbuilding. Either the garage or outbuilding is gone or not fed with electricity or fed a different way.

I like your idea of turning everything off and seeing if the wires are still hot. If they do go off, turn things on one at a time to see if the wires come on again and note which breaker they come from.

diystephen 12-18-2012 12:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Murphy's Law (Post 1075311)
...but has a lot of noticeable traces of poor DIY, hence the negotiable price I managed to get.

I would definitely advise an electrician in your case. I have bought homes with obvious poor DIY work, but only because I knew they would be completely rehabbed. If there are obvious visable signs, then it's likely there are problems that cannot be seen. Poor electrical work is very dangerous, and a large safety hazard. It might be a good time to take some of the money you saved on the house and delve in deeper to find the "what else."

By the way, did you get a home inspection?

joed 12-18-2012 01:15 PM

Some breakers do not looked tripped. Did you try every handle? The tripped one might look on but will feel loose and need to be turned OFF before it can be turned back on.

eastcoastsparky 12-18-2012 03:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Murphy's Law
Unusual situation. Oh, and my electrical knowledge is bare minimum.
I bought this old house recently and it is a small 2 br 1 bath, not a fixer upper, it has been remodeled and is fairly good shape, but has a lot of noticeable traces of poor DIY, hence the negotiable price I managed to get.

While installing cable around the outside of my home, I noticed pieces of old wire here and there, with staples in the middle, and just unsightly scrap wire that I began to remove.
When I got to the outside breaker box, I noticed coming out of the back bedroom ceiling, just under the eaves is an old, thick ( 240?) wire sticking out of the wall about a foot, so I figured while I was there on my ladder, I would remove it too. Wrong. I cut it with my metal shears, and boom, it was so hot
it melted a 1/4" hole in my shears where it hit. So, I go to check all my breakers, thinking I may have knocked out all the power to my house, and all the breakers are still on, nothing was knocked out.

There is in the living room an old 220 plug for what was probably a large ac,
but other than that, I have no idea what this wire is, or how to go about safely removing it or disabling it, since it does not seem to be on any of my breakers. Which is likely why the DIYer who knew about it, decided to just tape off the end and leave it hanging out of the wall.

I guess my first thought is to get a tester, and turn everything off, test the hot wire again to see if it is still hot, and go from there. I don't even know what sore of tester you use to check the liveness of a 240v wire, so this is where I ask for help, before I call an electrician.

My biggest concern is, now I have a bare spot on this live wire where I tried to cut it, which I suppose I could wrap some duct tape around it for now.

Definitely a fire hazard, any help would be greatly appreciated.

G

i hope u werent on a aluminum ladder, that is exactly why we always use fiberglass ladders

Murphy's Law 12-18-2012 03:46 PM

I was thinking the same thing, since the wire comes out pointing across the yard to my garage, it was probably an old wire going to it, and, there were 2 main breakers inside the 2nd bedroom closet where indoor box is located, which did not have any numbers or info on them, so I just flipped them both off for now, until I can find out which one the wire is on. I am definitely a little cautious about testing that wire ( it is about an inch and half in diameter, so is probably 240 v or something in that area) but will get as much info on the proper way to go about it, and am bidding on a good used multimeter on Ebay right now.
Thanks for all your ideas and help, and yes, I am very lucky I was not seriously hurt. I can't believe the thin coated handles on those metal shears kept me from feeling anything, as they were fried. I guess God still wants me to do something, considering how many times I have nearly killed myself doing routine things around the house. Knock on wood, 57 years old and a lifetime of hindsight, just a little low on foresight.

I was looking at wiring my garage soon, so this is all good to know, as I was wondering where I would hook my line going to the garage, now I see its already there.

BTW, what would be the best way to repair that gash I cut into the wire, if not duct tape, electrical tape?
Like really thick many times around?
Wire nuts would not work in this case. The exposed wire is about a foot long, and I cut into it right about 2 inches from where it comes out of the house, but the wire is still sticking out about a foot, only now it has a huge gash in it, leaving it exposed to rain etc.

G

silversport 12-18-2012 04:28 PM

I'm with the others. Be thankful you're still here and call an electrician. He can verify that the cable is fed by panel in closet and then remove it altogether. Would be money (probably not that much) well spent.

Murphy's Law 12-18-2012 06:07 PM

I can appreciate that, and I would give the same advice. I'm not real stubborn,
but my whole life, I get a problem and I become like a Jack Russell Terrier. I get real single minded and nothing matters except finding the solution.
I once painted my front door, a metal door, and I ended up painting it and stripping it seven times, before I was satisfied with it. Of course a lot of that was the poor conflicting advice on how to properly prime and paint a metal door, and what type paint/primer to use, from people you expect would know of these things since they work in a paint store or paint dept.

Anyway, if I ever paint another metal door, I will get it right the first time, after all that. Maybe if I had come to this site first, I would have gotten some good advice. But I also could not get the right shade of red, so twice I put it up, and stood back and it didn't look right at all, so I took it back down and headed back to the paint store.

On the other hand, at least in this town, people have gotten real flaky about how they do business, and its sad to say, but after so many times paying for services, and getting little or nothing in return, it makes you want to do it yourself, at any cost. I can promise you this, I won't kill myself, now that I know that is a live wire, but will proceed with great caution. And I will end up having a lot more electrician/electricity knowledge by the time I'm done.

TTW 12-18-2012 06:52 PM

"" there were 2 main breakers inside the 2nd bedroom closet where indoor box is located ""

Can you post a picture of the breakers in the closet? and also where the wire comes out?

and maybe one of your main panel too?

Oh, and please add your location to your profile the codes vary greatly by location.

silversport 12-18-2012 06:55 PM

Making mistakes while learning to paint a metal door is a whole lot different than making mistakes while learning to do electrical work. Just saying.

I'm a DIY'er to the core and only call in pros when I know I've hit my limitations. Sounds like you took a pair of multi purpose clippers to a live service wire. You might be at your limit. But at least post some pictures so the folks here can walk you through what to do next.

diystephen 12-18-2012 07:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Murphy's Law (Post 1075545)
[I can promise you this, I won't kill myself, now that I know that is a live wire, but will proceed with great caution. And I will end up having a lot more electrician/electricity knowledge by the time I'm done.]

It's important to learn. You did break a cardinal rule of electricity though (cutting a wire without checking if it had power.) Just like you always assume a gun is loaded, one should also assume every wire is live until proven otherwise. That mistake alone should make you wary to proceed; you really are lucky that decision didn't cost your life.

Electricity/wiring is nothing like painting (or several others trades) and it's possible you have additional electrical problems besides your current issue. Even using the utmost caution it's possible to make a simple mistake. I've seen folks (when using a meter for the first time) slip with a probe and short across the two hot wires of a 240 line. If nothing else, it's an action that can blind you.

I wish you the best, but please please be carefull...and you need to invest in PPE before proceeding.

TTW 12-18-2012 08:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by diystephen (Post 1075351)

By the way, did you get a home inspection?

Curious here too,

If so, I wonder if there is any recourse. Not catching that is gross negligence.

I agree with diysteven,

You had a close encounter with the almighty today. There was molten and vaporized metal flying out of that short in all directions at incredible speed.

I have had two serious shocks and I remember both like they were 10 minutes ago. The first was about 30 years ago.

Murphy's Law 12-18-2012 09:36 PM

I am working on getting some pics, and will get them up shortly. Maybe a short video.

Thanks again.


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