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Old 05-08-2012, 05:25 PM   #1
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Brain Teaser
I got a phone call from a family member the other day that owns a tourist resort. Spring cleaning was underway and once the stoves are cleaned they test them. Low and behold they turned on a burner and the lights came on, switch for lights did nothing when turned off or on. main breaker was turned off then back on and everything went back to normal
cottage was built in the 1930's, wired in the late 50's, addition added ten years ago( no problem in the interim).
All lights except for the living room are plug in lamps, no appliances blew. Fuse panel.
Cottage is a four hour drive for me so i told him as there's no one staying there yet to yank the fuses and throw the main until the electrician up there gets back home from a two day trip. Better to err on the side of caution even through everything seems back to normal

Somehow one leg of the stove was making contact with the wire leading to the lights, I think he got lucky and when he flipped on the switch they happened to be on the same leg in the panel. I can see where perhaps an animal may have gotten into the attic over the winter and chewed through the two wires but i can't figure out how it would clear after a main breaker reset. Unless it was a nest of some sort and the material making contact was burnt away and he happened to flip the breaker at the right time. Again getting lucky he didn't start a fire.

But hey all i'm doing is guessing and i'm too far away to physically see it so i thought i'd pick some brains here. It's too weird a story not to share anyways
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Old 05-08-2012, 06:19 PM   #2
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My guess is one of the hots was out, poor contact in panel or breaker. Flipping the breaker jiggled the connection and it appears to be repaired. Problem could return at any time.
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Old 05-08-2012, 06:26 PM   #3
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hmmm....my guess is that everything on the leg with the light was dead due to a loose connection or slight oxidation on the main breaker contacts. The lamp itself didn't draw enough current to complete (arc) the circuit but the heavy draw of the burner did. If it's a loose connection it could be anywhere between the transformer and panel buss.
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Old 05-08-2012, 06:29 PM   #4
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What a pathetically slow typer I am. At least we were on the same page.
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Old 05-08-2012, 06:32 PM   #5
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Im going to guess that the oven was back feeding the panel.
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Old 05-08-2012, 07:13 PM   #6
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Check main breaker first. Bring beer.
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Old 05-08-2012, 09:43 PM   #7
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My guess is one of the hots was out, poor contact in panel or breaker. Flipping the breaker jiggled the connection and it appears to be repaired. Problem could return at any time.
poor contact would allow the switch to work as it would still be feeding the lights line side of the switch

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hmmm....my guess is that everything on the leg with the light was dead due to a loose connection or slight oxidation on the main breaker contacts. The lamp itself didn't draw enough current to complete (arc) the circuit but the heavy draw of the burner did. If it's a loose connection it could be anywhere between the transformer and panel buss.
same as above

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What a pathetically slow typer I am. At least we were on the same page.
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Im going to guess that the oven was back feeding the panel.
again doesn't explain why the switch wouldn't turn off the lights

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Check main breaker first. Bring beer.
I think if i drive the four hours HE should be the one buying the beer
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Old 05-08-2012, 09:47 PM   #8
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for the switch to have no effect on the circuit the problem would have to be on the load side of the switch.
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Old 05-08-2012, 10:15 PM   #9
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for the switch to have no effect on the circuit the problem would have to be on the load side of the switch.
I misinterpreted that part of the problem. I don't have a clue.
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Old 05-09-2012, 08:17 AM   #10
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For there to be a relationship between turning on the burner and having the light turn on, there would have to be contact between the burner switch and the light wiring... pretty much impossible. The wiring to the stove would be hot all the time, turning on the burner would have no effect other than to create current flow, and to generate enough current to induce a light bulb to glow would trip the breaker immediately (we hope).

My guess is you have a bad switch. The fact that the light turned on when the burner was switched on was pure coincidence. Toggling the switch put things back to normal, not turning off the main.
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Old 05-09-2012, 09:39 AM   #11
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Turning on the burner on with one hot line open takes the live hot line and feeds it through to the open hot line and then the strange things start happening.
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Old 05-09-2012, 04:21 PM   #12
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For there to be a relationship between turning on the burner and having the light turn on, there would have to be contact between the burner switch and the light wiring... pretty much impossible. The wiring to the stove would be hot all the time, turning on the burner would have no effect other than to create current flow, and to generate enough current to induce a light bulb to glow would trip the breaker immediately (we hope).

My guess is you have a bad switch. The fact that the light turned on when the burner was switched on was pure coincidence. Toggling the switch put things back to normal, not turning off the main.
toggling the switch did nothing to the circuit, the lights just stayed on, after attempting to flip the switch back and forth then the main was thrown and turned back on and everything cleared. Now everything works exactly as it should. Switch is fine.

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Turning on the burner on with one hot line open takes the live hot line and feeds it through to the open hot line and then the strange things start happening.
again here the switch would still work. why would one hot be open on the stove?

whatever happened made it so that the switch breaking the circuit had no effect on the state of the lights.
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Old 05-09-2012, 07:40 PM   #13
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Brain Teaser

All lights except for the living room are plug in lamps, no appliances blew.
Hmm... do you suppose he moved the lamp from one outlet to another during this process? This would sort of fit the description if, say, an outlet was split wired and a lamp was moved from one half to the other.
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Old 05-09-2012, 08:49 PM   #14
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The hot is not open on the stove it is open at the panel. When you turn on any 240 device the voltage flows through the 240 volt device and energizes the other hot line. But things are in series so strange things happen. I have seen it where turning on one light switch makes lights on other circuits come on, often dim because of being in series.
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Old 05-09-2012, 10:01 PM   #15
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Hmm... do you suppose he moved the lamp from one outlet to another during this process? This would sort of fit the description if, say, an outlet was split wired and a lamp was moved from one half to the other.
they were ceiling lights not lamps

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The hot is not open on the stove it is open at the panel. When you turn on any 240 device the voltage flows through the 240 volt device and energizes the other hot line. But things are in series so strange things happen. I have seen it where turning on one light switch makes lights on other circuits come on, often dim because of being in series.
i fully understand how the current flows in a 240V system, and i see your point with the open leg at the main breaker. The open leg would backfeed the opposite leg of the panel, creating a potential of 120 with respect to ground. Makes sense except for the fact that the switch should have still turned the circuit on and off being as your still feeding the lights essentially through the panel albeit taking the scenic route through the stove. If you can come up with a reason the lights stayed on with the switch in the on and off postion(circuit being broken) I'll go with that theory for sure.

At one point i was even contemplating whether the neutral somehow became the hot as it's obviously not switched but that would have resulted in a dead short. For a open switch to have power pass through it goes against the laws of physics.
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