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Discussion Starter #1
Gentlemen,

I have recently moved to Mexico to work on an orphanage for about a year (at least that's how long I PLAN to be here). I've been here a month now. Nothing spectacular until today. Just normal fix and repair kinda stuff. This morning though, I had an interesting engagement. Ever worked on a project that had metal chicken wire lathe that was hot?

It's such a long story, I figured I'd just point you to my blog for today.
 

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You just gotta start turning off breakers until the lath is dead, then you'll know what circuit to examine that's shorted to the lath. I see this is an apartment, so it might not even be that particular apartment. Try every main in the place to at least get it narrowed down to which panel it is in, then you can try the individual fuses or breakers in that panel. If nothing de-energizes it, then the service cable may be shorted to the lath where it passes through the wall or where it touches the exterior of the structure.

Lots of stuff to check, but straightforward enough.

[consquently, why Mexico? Don't you know that the Mexicans are coming up here, not the other way around? ]
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yeah, this will be a project for another day. There are at least two service feeds into the place. They tell me you used to get shocked if you wiped the walls. You know those little electrical testers that flicker and beep when you get near HV? They say you use to be able to just point it at a stove and it would blow up! LOL

They did some work on it before I arrived and apparently fewer people were getting shocked. It is a project for another day. There are at least 12 breaker boxes that I'm aware of in the place and I could probably find more. I'm on the third floor and there is a circuit in my apartment that goes to a breaker box on the first floor. That was a tough one to find too.


consquently, why Mexico? Don't you know that the Mexicans are coming up here, not the other way around?
I'm here on missionary work. Chapultapec, Mexico. Just south of Ensenada. My church is renting this place for 2 years. The widow that owns it doesn't have the resources to fix it up. So we are. Most of the 'apartments' are little more than drywall. I'm going to be going through them fixing them up, when I'm not dealing with these kinds of issues.
 

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Have you got a good circuit tracer?
Might be possible to tap onto the chicken wire and run the other end back to a service entrance neutral outside the building on a single conductor.
I have found faults in buried conduits this way
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I actually found the problem this last weekend, but was going to wait and post it on my blog. We had some volunteers down over the weekend, one of which is a self proclaim electrician, and since I had tons of other stuff to do, he decided he wouldn't go home until he found the problem. That was Saturday. Monday afternoon he decided to just put everything back like it was and go home! I have to admit, it is a headache.

Well, I decided that I'd go ahead and give it a go. I approached it from a logical standpoint though. I turned absolutely every breaker off. (had them turned of actually). Then I had the service mains turned on. We checked the sinks and screws, no problem. Then, one at a time, I activated other breakers. About the third one, all of a sudden things were hot. This was the first box we started to power up, so it was on the first floor.

We traced the feed out of the box and it went to another service box that was no longer used. However, there were a lot of wires that had been pulled from this box and just 'taped' together. Well, one of them looked like it went up to the top of the box and down into a hole. That's the way it appeared anyhow. I didn't even think, at the time, about the fact that you'd never drop a wire down into a box like that from the top, being exposed to the weather.

Turned out that both white and black in this cable were hot and that the cable had just been cut and was resting on top of the box, but one of the wires apparently pooked through a bit and was welded to the box! How about that? We pulled it off, and our 110V that we used to get from a switch screw to the sink, or to the shower valves, went to 'nada'. Long story, I know, but if you saw the size and complexity of this place, you'd see while I'm very thankful we were able to find the problem.
 
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