Solve This Service Call

480sparky

Senior Member
Location
Iowegia
OK, I know many of you don't like it when I post one of these. So to you, just hit the Back button and move on. For the rest of you, play along.

Please note I'm not going to post the final solution until we, as a group, have gone through the entire TS process. For some of you, this will be easy-peasy. But this is intended to help those who don't do repair jobs on a daily basis increase their ability to do so.

I we'll start with a call from an existing customer stating, basically, 'when I turn on the switch, half the house goes out." Upon arrival, the HO takes me to a 3-way at the top of the stairs with his fancy new idiot pen. He holds it out and turns it on. A bright green light comes on. As he moves it closer to the switch, it turns red. OK, I think to myself. There's power at the switch. Nothing earth-shattering here.

Now he moves the pen away from the switch and, regaling me with the virtues of his fancy tester, flips the switch and starts moving the pen closer to the switch. Now, instead of it turning red 2 inches away from the switch, it turns red 6 inches away.

So with nothing more than what I started with, what would be your TS process?
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
So to you, just hit the Back button and move on.
I open each topic in a new tab; makes it much easier. ;)

I we'll start with a call from an existing customer stating, basically, 'when I turn on the switch, half the house goes out."
That alone suggests that someone put the circuit's feed-out from the box on the (a) switch by mistake.

Now he moves the pen away from the switch and, regaling me with the virtues of his fancy tester, flips the switch and starts moving the pen closer to the switch. Now, instead of it turning red 2 inches away from the switch, it turns red 6 inches away.
That makes me think that there is an open neutral, perhaps on a MWBC.

Or, switched neutral on what is possibly K&T. Approximate age of the house would help.

So with nothing more than what I started with, what would be your TS process?
With the above hints, I'd break out an extension cord and my K-60.
 

480sparky

Senior Member
Location
Iowegia
Well, my response was his fancy-dancy tester wasn't telling me anything as he was turning the switch on and off and nothing happened except the lights in the basement were going on and off.

So I asked to see the switch that was turning off half the house. We went downstairs and he showed me the main panel. Cover was off. Pointing at breaker #14, he said, "Whenever I turn this breaker on, the main trips."
 

ramsy

Owner/Operator
Location
LA basin, CA
Occupation
Service Electrician 2017 NEC
So I asked to see the switch that was turning off half the house. We went downstairs and he showed me the main panel. Cover was off. Pointing at breaker #14, he said, "Whenever I turn this breaker on, the main trips."
Understood 3-way switch turned off 1/2 house plugs & lights, which I've never seen.
Didn't realize fuse box switch was involved, which it easier for me to understand and fix.

Larry appears to have seen 3-way switch wiring knock out 1/2 the house.
 

480sparky

Senior Member
Location
Iowegia
Understood 3-way switch turned off 1/2 house plugs & lights, which I've never seen.
Didn't realize fuse box switch was involved, which it easier for me to understand and fix.

Larry appears to have seen 3-way switch wiring knock out 1/2 the house.
I've seen it as well. However, when I asked to see said switch that turns off half the house, I was shown the panel in which turning on breaker #14 trips the main.
 

oldsparky52

Senior Member
Understood 3-way switch turned off 1/2 house plugs & lights, which I've never seen.
Didn't realize fuse box switch was involved, which it easier for me to understand and fix.

Larry appears to have seen 3-way switch wiring knock out 1/2 the house.
The way the OP was written, I understood like you and Larry.
 
Top