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Jennybird 11-02-2010 02:15 PM

Light switches not working but outlets are
House is nearly 120 yrs. old, electric hasn't been updated since I don't know when (I moved in late 1990). Last night, I went to turn on the bathroom light switch upstairs (which is actually in the hall) and it looked like something out of Poltergeist--lights started brightening, then dimming, then out completely (not just the bathroom, but hallway too). Today, none of the wall switches in any of the bedrooms or bathroom are working (but outlets in those rooms still have power). There are no problems on the lower level. The breaker box (?) in the basement has old plastic switches that move horizontally; I turned everything off and switched each one back and forth. Still nothing.

I realize I'll need to contact an electrician (I'm good with DIY projects, but I don't mess with electricity); but for now, I'm worried about any fire hazards (and of course, if anyone has ideas on why this happened, I'd greatly appreciate hearing them). Thanks!

kbsparky 11-02-2010 06:16 PM

When the lights got brighter, was it brighter than normal? This is important, since a bad neutral connection can cause this...

I'd leave everything off until you get a professional electrician in there. Attempting to use even the receptacle outlets under these conditions can cause much damage to anything that is plugged. This damage can occur in seconds.... :furious:

frenchelectrican 11-02-2010 07:51 PM

I agree with KBsparky this part it will be wiser to get a electrician to come out and deal with it.

There are too many items to cover so A electrician can cover this item pretty fast and they will know what to look for.


Jennybird 11-03-2010 09:32 AM

Hmm...can't recall if they got noticeably brighter but I'm inclined to say yes (it was late, I was tired, one of those "what the...?!" moments). I haven't used any of the switches beyond trying one more time to see if it was just a fluke. My computer, phone, etc. are all plugged in upstairs and I need them for work (God help me if the computer fries). I've found three local electricians in the phone book and am calling today. Will post the outcome. Thank you so much!

Jennybird 11-04-2010 10:15 AM

Electrician coming tomorrow (sadly, no such thing as a free estimate when dealing with electrical in ancient houses, I'm told--$105/hr. with 1 hr. min.). Someone mentioned the possibility of a bad wire at the circuit that the same as a bad neutral connection?

Another surprise...last night I was worried I'd left the hall switch in the ON position, so I flipped it in the opposite direction (everything's upside down & backwards in my house). Lo and behold, a few minutes later the hall light came on. I turned it off and I'm not messing with it until electrician arrives. :mad:

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