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Old 02-08-2014, 07:30 PM   #1
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Electricity but no light


I live in an old house. I cannot see a neutral or ground wire in this box or light fixture. Light does not work. Electronic tester says that there is electricity everywhere, including on the entire lamp. I can touch, without feeling a thing. No other tester, so I cannot tell what the voltage is. Please see pics. Help much appreciated!

How do I fix this?
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Old 02-08-2014, 08:31 PM   #2
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Electricity but no light


If you have used those CFL bulbs in that fixture for some time, I suggest you try a real light bulb first and a second fixture second (you can buy a single bulb pigtail for a few $.

Those wonderful CFLs may have fried the wires in your fixture. Only two wires in a switch box usually means there should be more wires in the box.

Also that switch does not look like it belongs with the wires in the box

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Old 02-08-2014, 09:03 PM   #3
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Electricity but no light


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Originally Posted by takingtoolong View Post
I live in an old house. I cannot see a neutral or ground wire in this box or light fixture. Light does not work. Electronic tester says that there is electricity everywhere, including on the entire lamp. I can touch, without feeling a thing. No other tester, so I cannot tell what the voltage is. Please see pics. Help much appreciated!

How do I fix this?
Its either set up for a switch or for a fixture cant be both with only 2 wires.
Didnt see other pictures.doh
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Last edited by plummen; 02-08-2014 at 09:29 PM.
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Old 02-08-2014, 09:14 PM   #4
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Electricity but no light


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If you have used those CFL bulbs in that fixture for some time, I suggest you try a real light bulb first and a second fixture second (you can buy a single bulb pigtail for a few $.

Those wonderful CFLs may have fried the wires in your fixture. Only two wires in a switch box usually means there should be more wires in the box.

Also that switch does not look like it belongs with the wires in the box
Thanks Colbyt. I tired changing the bulb and fixture. See pic. No luck. There is still every electricity everywhere, including on this new fixture (ceramic, I believe?)

Thanks!! BTW, what did you mean that the switch does not look like it belongs with the wires in the box?

Thanks!!
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Old 02-08-2014, 09:14 PM   #5
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Electricity but no light


You, very clearly, have knob and tube wiring. If you have no experience with electricity or troubleshooting, you should call an electrician. You need to be able to actually meter these wires in order to start figuring out what is going on.

It could be something as simple as a bad switch and a switched neutral (which was very common), or something much more extensive, such as a bad "flying" splice somewhere behind the walls/ceiling.
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Old 02-08-2014, 09:31 PM   #6
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Electricity but no light


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Its either set up for a switch or for a fixture cant be both with only 2 wires.
Didnt see other pictures.doh
Thanks plummen. I think I may be misunderstanding the difference between a switch and fixture. This is just a switch to turn on a light.
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Old 02-08-2014, 09:50 PM   #7
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Electricity but no light


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Thanks plummen. I think I may be misunderstanding the difference between a switch and fixture. This is just a switch to turn on a light.
Yeah I didnt see all the pictures you posted,im too lazy to walk to the basement to turn computer on so I was trying to see everything on my phone screen. Hahaha
Have you tried installing the fixture and just tying the wires in switch box together with a wire nut to see if theres any differance.
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Old 02-08-2014, 10:38 PM   #8
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Electricity but no light


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Yeah I didnt see all the pictures you posted,im too lazy to walk to the basement to turn computer on so I was trying to see everything on my phone screen. Hahaha
Have you tried installing the fixture and just tying the wires in switch box together with a wire nut to see if theres any differance.
Connected a light fixture directly to the wires coming out of the box, but still no luck. Again shows electricity on the surface of the light fixture.
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Old 02-08-2014, 10:43 PM   #9
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Electricity but no light


Quote:
Originally Posted by takingtoolong View Post
Thanks Colbyt. I tired changing the bulb and fixture. See pic. No luck. There is still every electricity everywhere, including on this new fixture (ceramic, I believe?)

Thanks!! BTW, what did you mean that the switch does not look like it belongs with the wires in the box?

Thanks!!
Like K Buz said you need to be able to meter the voltage. Saying electricity is everywhere isn't telling you anything.

Knob and tube was commonly done with open splices and taped & I 've even seen splices soldered.

Is there an attic above this light fixture ? Cause there has to be a splice somewhere ....
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Old 02-08-2014, 10:43 PM   #10
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Electricity but no light


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Connected a light fixture directly to the wires coming out of the box, but still no luck. Again shows electricity on the surface of the light fixture.
Did you try hooking the light to the wires from light fixture then take the two wires from light switch anf just tying those two together?
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Old 02-08-2014, 11:19 PM   #11
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Electricity but no light


Thanks folks. Nothing seems to work. I will give this a break for a few days while i get an electric meter. Will be back at that point. Thanks in the meantime.
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Old 02-09-2014, 12:04 AM   #12
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Electricity but no light


If your tester says it live !
But the light don't work !
Youv'e probably lost your neutral !

Also testers can lie !

You need to load the line down for an accurate test !
If a load makes it go away,
It's a ghost voltage !
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Old 02-09-2014, 12:11 AM   #13
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Electricity but no light


This does not happen to be a 3-way switched light per chance. In other words, two light switches control it. See the following, regarding Carter System for Knob & Tube wiring. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carter_...#Carter_system There is also the California system that was used back in that day.

Also they used to use fuses for both the Hot & Neutral in Knob & Tube wiring. For more info, see. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knob_and_tube_wiring
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Old 02-09-2014, 12:15 AM   #14
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Electricity but no light


Quote:
Originally Posted by dmxtothemax View Post
If your tester says it live !
But the light don't work !
Youv'e probably lost your neutral !

Also testers can lie !

You need to load the line down for an accurate test !
If a load makes it go away,
It's a ghost voltage !
Thanks dmxtothemax. But what does "load the line down" mean. I did some googling on what's load and line, but what I learned did not help me interpret the meaning of "load the line down". How do I "load the line down"? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 02-09-2014, 12:19 AM   #15
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Electricity but no light


If you're using a non-contact tester it is easy to get a false reading. I can make mine show "hot" by touching my finger to it. Get a real volt ohm meter and take some measurements.

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