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Discussion Starter #1
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
 

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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.
 
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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!
 

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Get yourself a non contact voltage tester like this or similar.
http://www.fluke.com/fluke/usen/electrical-testers/Electrical-Testers/Fluke-1AC-II.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.
 

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...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?
 

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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.
 

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Murphy's Law said:
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
 

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Discussion Starter #8
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
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
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.
 

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"" 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.
 

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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.
 

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[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.
 

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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.
 

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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 areabut 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
I wrote the underline part.

Did you loose any power to upstair part ? If so that is your subpanel feed if not then it possiblty go to the other area.( could be to be used for garage circuit )

I doubt that is for large window shaker the size of conductor you describing it is too large for window shaker for sure.

It kinda common in old days to have breaker box in cloth closet and by the way it is no longer legal for quite a while.

Go ahead and post the photo or post the veido we will like to see that and also take a photo of the subpanel and main panel so we can able assit you on that.

Merci,
Marc
 

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An inch and a half in diameter?? That is a huge wire.

I am with Marc... That must be a main feed or something. Maybe it is and old feed in from the main line that was cut but not disconnected and is now feeding back from the breaker panel?
 

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I was wondering the same thing, it could have been tapped into the main side in the panel or something , you might have to have the power company pull the meter to kill it.

Probably not, but possible.

I would not assume that a breaker in a closet that just happens to be nearby has anything to do with that cable.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Hi,

No, the reason I think it is going to the inside panel, is the location of it, and direction it is pointing to, and
my general orientation of how pretzel logic the previous owners decided to do things. Not that I am any better, but it is easier for me to see other's mistakes than to actually do the right thing myself, on matters I know little about. Or in fact they may have done the best thing in this situation, so I can't rule that out either.

As far as codes, I definitely don't think having a live wire sticking out of your home with nothing connected to it is anything but a code violation anywhere,
but I will either fix it, remove it, or hook it up to something. In this town the city inspectors are pretty lax for the most part, and so that is not a factor in whether I would or would not do anything around my home. Most people in this town do not even get permits for various projects, unless the inspector happens to get wind of it, then they are asked to go get a permit. I on the other hand, paid for a permit to simply widen my front porch by 2 feet so my rockers would fit comfortably on it, and was even told by the lady in the permit office that it was "probably" not needed for that, meaning, technically it is, but...they probably wouldn't have said anything. But I wanted to be square with it so I bought a permit. Then the county tax appraisers got wind of my "improvements" to my property, most likely from the fact that I got a permit which they have access to, and my home value went up a thousand dollars (20.00+ a a year for the rest of my life). Their argument was, they didn't even have a front porch on my original assessment. Eventually I gave up arguing, as it was clear the more I did, the more they were going to try and find ways to raise my taxes even more.
Needless to say, I am not much of a believer in taxes or the ways they are levied.

Once I get some pics up, and I am headed to Walmart to shop for a camera today, I will show you what I mean. And btw, I know I sound like an idiot of sorts, but at my previous address, I built a 1,000 gal fish pond, and ran a 110v wire 100' up to the house and connected to the breaker box, inside a 1" schedule 40 pvc pipe, so though I am not professional level, I do have some working knowledge of these things, but for the most part am at basic level, very basic.

I want to comment on the level of integrity, ethics and sincerity, I am feeling from this forum. All of your comments warnings and useful knowledge is priceless, and rare in the online forum scenarios I have experienced.
By comparison, I can see how the danger level with working around electricity
influences that attitude, and the well deserved price of your services when doing this for a living.

Will post some pics soon,

George
 

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Discussion Starter #20
(See pics below)


Okay,

Now that I look at it, it was'nt a 240 v wire but 110. I guess being from Texas where everything seems bigger, and the fact that I almost killed myself, may have made the wire appear bigger but it is obviously a 110. The old rusty box is the outside box and the other one is in the bedroom closet, the bare wire coming out of the house is about 3 or 4 ft to the right of the outside box, and lines up perfectly with the inside box. The 2 breakers at the top of the inside box are now in the off position, however, neither were tripped when I cut the line outside, and there is a lot of play in the switch, which makes me think they need to be replaced, and may not work at all. Or, the wire is connected to somewhere else. B ut all the other breakers under the main one that has the 20 AMP stamped on it were all on, and they all go to something in the house.

Also don't know yet how deep the cut into wire I made, so it may not be repairable, but once I verify the power to it is off, I could finish cutting it off and splice a new wire to it with wire nuts, if I wanted to still use it. Yes or No?

And I took a close up of those wires in the outside box, because that doesn't look safe, no wire nuts, and looks like some wires are exposed.











 
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