Mrleft8

Another stupid electrical question

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The 4 tube fluorescent fixture in my bathroom blew a ballast (starter?) the other day, and I'd been intending to replace it anyway. So I took down the old fixture, and noted that the black wire on the fixture was spliced into the black wires in the work box. The white wire in the fixture was spliced into the RED wires in the work box. I thought it odd that there were 3 each of red and black wires (about #10) in the box to begin with, but figured they were attached to other fixtures somewhere else. The bare ground wires were spliced together and grounded properly. I turned the wall switch off before starting this job.

 So I took my new fixture, and spliced red to white, and black to black, and in a moment of carelessness before the wire nuts were installed, the red and black wires arced, and popped the breaker. I thought that odd, seeing as the switch was off. I finished installing the new fixture, threw the breaker, and voila! There was light! But the switch was in the off position...... I flipped it to the on position just for kicks. No difference.. OK bad switch. I replaced the switch. Same thing....

 First...... Why are there 3 positive/negative wires feeding the work box when there's only one switch, and one fixture that I can see?

Second, if the switch used to turn on and off the ceiling light up until the day it died, why does it now do nothing?

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Positive and negative?! Get someone who knows electrical basics before you hurt yourself or someone else for God’s sake! 

You just can’t be everything for everyone all the time lefty! :lol:

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27 minutes ago, Mrleft8 said:

The 4 tube fluorescent fixture in my bathroom blew a ballast (starter?) the other day, and I'd been intending to replace it anyway. So I took down the old fixture, and noted that the black wire on the fixture was spliced into the black wires in the work box. The white wire in the fixture was spliced into the RED wires in the work box. I thought it odd that there were 3 each of red and black wires (about #10) in the box to begin with, but figured they were attached to other fixtures somewhere else. The bare ground wires were spliced together and grounded properly. I turned the wall switch off before starting this job. 

 So I took my new fixture, and spliced red to white, and black to black, and in a moment of carelessness before the wire nuts were installed, the red and black wires arced, and popped the breaker. I thought that odd, seeing as the switch was off. I finished installing the new fixture, threw the breaker, and voila! There was light! But the switch was in the off position...... I flipped it to the on position just for kicks. No difference.. OK bad switch. I replaced the switch. Same thing....

 First...... Why are there 3 positive/negative wires feeding the work box when there's only one switch, and one fixture that I can see?

Second, if the switch used to turn on and off the ceiling light up until the day it died, why does it now do nothing?

 

for god's sake,  go turn the breaker off... you never know if a braindead electrician wired it backwards  , then put a meter on the wires to be double sure... 

if i was smart enough to build a time machine, it's first job would be to go back so i could throttle the electricians who wired the house I live in ...

yes, the extra set of wires are daisy chained to something else in your house  good luck finding what...     i put a gfi in a hall bathroom and decided to leave off the extra set.. later went into a spare bedroom down the hall,  ceiling fan and light wouldn't come on ..  they ran an extra 30' of wire from the bathroom to the ceiling fan switch,  there was an electrical junction box about 2' away from where the wires ran down to the switch..

 

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And get a circuit tester - trusting your life to a light switch is not that smart - although we've all done it.

Hell, I've rewired stuff while it was hot more than once.

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Switch for light is connected to one side of circuit - in this case it's the neutral side. Voltage testers are cheap - just get one that has a light and 2 prongs. And turn the breaker off, been there done that. 

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I've got testers and meters. They don't tell me why the wall switch used to turn the light on and off, but now it stays on. I did not disassemble anything except for removing the 3 wires from the previous fixture, and replacing them with identical wires from the new fixture.

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7 minutes ago, Mrleft8 said:

They don't tell me why the wall switch used to turn the light on and off, but now it stays on.

Maybe the switch is on the neutral and the changes you made now give it the circuit a different path to ground?

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2 minutes ago, weightless said:

Maybe the switch is on the neutral and the fixture is finding a path to ground because of something that got changed?

But (other than the arcing of the two bunches of wires) nothing was changed.... And why did the wires arc when the switch was in the off position?

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You're sure you don't have another switch in the circuit somewhere? Sounds like wiring from a 3-way.

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Just now, Ishmael said:

You're sure you don't have another switch in the circuit somewhere? Sounds like wiring from a 3-way.

That's what I thought, but it's a small bathroom, with one door....

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1 hour ago, Mrleft8 said:

I've got testers and meters. They don't tell me why the wall switch used to turn the light on and off, but now it stays on. I did not disassemble anything except for removing the 3 wires from the previous fixture, and replacing them with identical wires from the new fixture.

go to home depo and get one of the employees in the electrical department to explain to you what you need to do.

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Sounds to me like your system is wired for a three way (which is why there's a red wire) and somewhere in the replacement process you managed to pick the wrong wire and bypassed your switch.

Black is HOT

White is Neutral - return

Red is the extra wire that goes between the two switches to make it a three way.

Probably you have red coming into the fixture so that you can fit a fixture that has it's own (3 way) switch on it, but so you can turn it on and off from either the wall switch or the local switch. Both three way switches are "Change Over" make-after-break type switches. That way you can wire them up so that power can flow or be interrupted by either switch changing state.

 

 

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Check to see if your current is AC or DC; hold one of the live “hot” wires in one hand and the neutral wire in the other.

If your teeth chatter it’s AC current, if they clench together it’s DC.

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Here's a way to fix it.

Root through the switch junction box and find a wire that's live - use a volt meter of some kind, or an AC circuit tester. It's probably a black wire. Flip the breaker and see if that turns the power to that wire on and off.

Wire that black wire to the HOT of your (check it) "single pole" switch.

Put the electric meter across from the basket of wires in the switch box to the wires in the light and see which are connected. Use the "Ohms" function and you are looking for a very low number.

Put that one into the "line out" terminal of the switch and into the "hot" terminal of the light.

Root around in the light and find a white wire going into the wall.

Short the new "hot" wire to it briefly to make a spark and blow the breaker. You found neutral the easy way. Or ground - it's important not to connect this to ground so be careful.

Wire the neutral to the "return" of the light.

Flip the breaker!

Call the fire brigade and some paramedics, if necessary.

 

 

 

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14 minutes ago, WhoaTed said:

Check to see if your current is AC or DC; hold one of the live “hot” wires in one hand and the neutral wire in the other.

If your teeth chatter it’s AC current, if they clench together it’s DC.

True, but if you get the DC polarity backwards, your jaw will open as far as possible instead of clenching. 

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I think this is what you have, confuses the average home owner every time.

You may have another red and black going of to another fitting. (white and black in your case)

light_ceiling_rose_single.jpg.9e7e90f845ba19f05727396100e372bf.jpg

Its also a good way to get yourself killed if you are not smart enough to turn the breaker off before starting any electrical work....

FFS, call the man. remember, the man needs to buy beer too.

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58 minutes ago, IStream said:

True, but if you get the DC polarity backwards, your jaw will open as far as possible instead of clenching. 

Pretty sure he’s in the northern hemisphere so his teeth should “clench”.

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Sounds like it is time to upgrade to a new bathroom...

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1 hour ago, Wet Spreaders said:

Sounds to me like your system is wired for a three way (which is why there's a red wire) and somewhere in the replacement process you managed to pick the wrong wire and bypassed your switch.

Black is HOT

White is Neutral - return

Red is the extra wire that goes between the two switches to make it a three way.

Probably you have red coming into the fixture so that you can fit a fixture that has it's own (3 way) switch on it, but so you can turn it on and off from either the wall switch or the local switch. Both three way switches are "Change Over" make-after-break type switches. That way you can wire them up so that power can flow or be interrupted by either switch changing state.

 

 

There are 3 RED wires. No White wires from the work box..... Just RED and Black.

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I did find another light fixture over the washing machine/dryer nook...... But even after I replaced the bulb, no juice. It has no dedicated switch.

 The guy who built this house used to be a commercial building contractor. Orange juice factories in Brazil, and concrete block factories in the DR..... I'm guessing he used whatever he had left over to wire this place. It's a fucking nightmare every time something goes wrong..... Same thing with the plumbing, and field irrigation systems. Nobody who's been called in to help can figure out wtf the guy was doing.

 When I win the lotto, I'll build a proper house, and fucking bulldoze this one...... But I'll keep the 80'X30' four bay industrial garage...... Even though he never bothered to wire that, it's a nice space.

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1 hour ago, WhoaTed said:

Check to see if your current is AC or DC; hold one of the live “hot” wires in one hand and the neutral wire in the other.

If your teeth chatter it’s AC current, if they clench together it’s DC.

that is absolutely wrong it is not "you're" teeth that clinch together it is "you're" ---------

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16 minutes ago, Mrleft8 said:

There are 3 RED wires. No White wires from the work box..... Just RED and Black.

duh cheep fuck who built duh place ran out of whitie wires so he just used whatever he had. Just follow the wire to the next previous box and start over

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13 minutes ago, VWAP said:

duh cheep fuck who built duh place ran out of whitie wires so he just used whatever he had. Just follow the wire to the next previous box and start over

Sorry, although I may seem like a cockroach, I'm incapable of following a wire from one work box to another.

 I'd rather win the lotto and bulldoze the place. My wife likes it however, because it has massive steel girders and framing, and concrete board siding where it isn't vertical ribbed steel siding. She has visions of hurricanes dancing in her wee little head.

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1 hour ago, Mrleft8 said:

There are 3 RED wires. No White wires from the work box..... Just RED and Black.

Run away run away. Someone with less knowledge than you initially wired that. If you do not know how to trace, identify, and wire the existing wires, including where they come from, HIRE AN ELECTRICIAN.

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3 hours ago, nacradriver said:

Sounds like it is time to upgrade to a new bathroom...

Shit, I ended up with a house remodel when the new refrigerator didn't fit...

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1 hour ago, dyslexic dog said:

Run away run away. Someone with less knowledge than you initially wired that. If you do not know how to trace, identify, and wire the existing wires, including where they come from, HIRE AN ELECTRICIAN.

You seem to be of the misconception that such a person exists in North Florida.

 There are no electricians, plumbers, or carpenters..... Just people who "Know how to do that stuff."

 And they don't.

 They wouldn't get hired to paint the inside of a garage in most places.

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19 minutes ago, Mrleft8 said:

You seem to be of the misconception that such a person exists in North Florida.

 There are no electricians, plumbers, or carpenters..... Just people who "Know how to do that stuff."

 And they don't.

 They wouldn't get hired to paint the inside of a garage in most places.

Video your next steps, you might get your own entry in the Florida man thread.

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1 minute ago, Gissie said:

Video your next steps, you might get your own entry in the Florida man thread.

Fuck off Giselle. You want to help? You know more than I do about residential wiring?

 Come on by. I'll feed you and even offer you the going rate for a all purpose tradesman.

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51 minutes ago, Raz'r said:

Shit, I ended up with a house remodel when the new refrigerator didn't fit...

How about $30K later for a new kitchen after the wife only wanted a new light fixture to spritz things up...

Ran into a similar situation with electrical and the plumbing...  Wife came home from a business trip and the kitchen was gutted...  most wife type units would have been horrified... mine jumped for joy...  this was pre mini NACRAS.. That stunt wouldn't work today..

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1 minute ago, nacradriver said:

How about $40K later for a new kitchen after the wife wanted a new light fixture.... 

Ran into a similar situation with electrical and the plumbing...  Wife came home from a business trip and the kitchen was gutted...  most wife type units would have been horrified... mine jumped for joy...

My wife wouldn't notice until she realized that we'd been eating Chinese take out for 2 weeks.

 

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11 minutes ago, Mrleft8 said:

Fuck off Giselle. You want to help? You know more than I do about residential wiring?

 Come on by. I'll feed you and even offer you the going rate for a all purpose tradesman.

Certainly know a shit load more than you obviously do. :D

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8 minutes ago, Gissie said:

Certainly know a shit load more than you obviously do. :D

Then come on by.

 I'll be out in the field planting trees tomorrow if it's not too cold, but if you pull in, I'll stop what I'm doing, and let you have a go at this fucked up wiring.

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4 hours ago, Mrleft8 said:

There are 3 RED wires. No White wires from the work box..... Just RED and Black.

I once saw a complete AC circuit made with only green wire. Craziest thing I’ve ever seen, but it just goes to show that it can happen. 

Electrical circuits work using the smoke circulating in the colored wires. If the smoke gets out, you have to replace the wires.

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19 minutes ago, Mrleft8 said:

Then come on by.

 I'll be out in the field planting trees tomorrow if it's not too cold, but if you pull in, I'll stop what I'm doing, and let you have a go at this fucked up wiring.

Giselle is in Orstraya.

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Thankfully, aside from the small burst from the arcing wires, none of the magic smoke has been released.

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1 minute ago, Ishmael said:

Giselle is in Orstraya.

So?..... What's a small 27 hour flight among friends?

 It'd be a business write off for her, right?

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1 minute ago, Mrleft8 said:

Thankfully, aside from the small burst from the arcing wires, none of the magic smoke has been released.

With AC, most of the magic smoke comes from you.

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31 minutes ago, Mrleft8 said:

Then come on by.

 I'll be out in the field planting trees tomorrow if it's not too cold, but if you pull in, I'll stop what I'm doing, and let you have a go at this fucked up wiring.

Would love to, but a bit far to go from way down here. Doing the final work on my pump system. Summer is coming and need to get irrigation going.

But I do feel your pain, scratched my head too many times wondering what some supposedly tradie was smoking when he did shit.

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It sounds like it's a electrical junction box not just a fixture box.

One pair red and black is the feed from cb panel, you need to test to see which pair. Seperate all wires, turn on breaker there should be 110v on only one of the black wires against the reds (use a meter ^_^).There may or may not be voltage on all the reds as neutral are tied together at the panel.

Another pair going to the switch and then back to the fixture black wire can be found by continuity test between red black while flipping switch. The black wire going to switch connects to incoming (line) black wire from panel. Red to black wire on fixture (load).

Other pair are going to something possibly in another room or outlet or fan.Something doesn't work somewhere else.

Are any of the wires marked with tape? Which would indicate a change of status of color like red becoming hot coming back from switch.

Or not, who knows:blink:

 

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If it can be done, shut off all the power for an hour.

Then use the continuity range on your multimeter to document which wire belongs to what in that switch box, light receptacle and the alleged circuit you think protects it.

Best to uncouple wires tied together, but use white electrical tape to write which were together.

Then you can start to make some assumptions on how it was wired.

 

Or call in someone who can figure it out.  Cheap insurance compared to coming out of the shower and electrocuting yourself.

There are some highly incompetent electricians out there who are even worse then homeowners. In the town I grew up in the local electrician was considered the source of 3 house fires due to faulty work before they took his license.

In my 8 year old home, we found the hot tub was not on a GFI and the junction box by the kitchen sink is a work of art tying dissimilar circuits together to save a circuit even though we have two 200 amp boxes and buku open slots..

A good electrician can debug rats nests and make it safe pretty quickly.   Just had one in doing a house expansion and he took on some chicken shit stuff in the original house that I did not want to deal with. His solutions were top notch and all completed in less than a day.

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3 hours ago, Mrleft8 said:

You seem to be of the misconception that such a person exists in North Florida.

 There are no electricians, plumbers, or carpenters..... Just people who "Know how to do that stuff."

 And they don't.

 They wouldn't get hired to paint the inside of a garage in most places.

And you wonder why these are so popular...no wonder you got called an arrogant prick over here

forums.sailinganarchy.com/index.php?/topic/211992-greedy-smith-dts/

i_dont_care_how_you_did_it_up_north_florida_bumper_sticker-rfb427c76cbcb4528a32da302d418a426_v9wht_8byvr_540.jpg

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14 hours ago, SloopJonB said:

Hell, I've rewired stuff while it was hot more than once.

In our previous apartment I was cutting a window between galley and living area. With Dad's ancient all metal original Sawz-all. Hit something hard and I thought it was a nail. So I keep going.

Who knew they used to put wiring inside steel conduit?  Very big blue flash and everything goes dark. In the whole building... Quickly run to the utility room/electrical breaker box and find the breaker for the whole building which I had tripped.

Oops. What can I say - all my previous electrical work was cars and our boat. 12 vdc is more forgiving.

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I kind of did a face palm as soon as I read "turned it off the switch, should be all good" found out the hard way why you always cut things off at the panel, luckily all those years of SMAW process welding must have made me somewhat resistant to electrocution (more likely just plain lucky!)

 

I'll be the first to admit wiring can be tricky, a few years back my neighborhood experienced kind of an odd ball incident where the local lines became energized with WAY more voltage than they were ever intended to carry, a transmission line parted, still thank my lucky stars it blew the main in my home almost instantaneously (neighbors lost an oven/range to that, the utility replaced it).

After normal service was restored all of the circuits on the North side of the house were dead, thus was started a merry search for the problem (it included all of my down stairs entertainment, computer, TV, the whole shitteree, & a mission critical freezer), I wound up pulling down some plywood paneling looking for burned wiring & such (both installed by my step-father circa 1975, grrr! ring shank nails in the paneling) & I still found nothing amiss, WTF!!?

Then I noticed an up high outlet that was intended for a lamp, pulled down the plywood & found the culprit! Turned out be the "cheapo style just jam the wire in" type outlet & the wire had popped loose & arced, in light of the fact I had nothing plugged into it I bypassed it with some wire nuts &...service restored!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

& on the 12 volt side, I did rewire my 69 Road Runner, fascinating work actually, though I was never able to source the right connections for the ignition switch, no worries, by passed it with 3 toggles & an under dash button, still never figured out why the back up lights wound up "hot wired" though, not my problem anymore.

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Loving this, but is it,

is it....Colonel Mustard in the larder, with a length of lead piping?

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3 hours ago, shelly said:

Loving this, but is it,

is it....Colonel Mustard in the larder, with a length of lead piping?

but the body was found in the bathroom with the switch  wires hanging out..

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That said

this has the all the makings of a public service short film on DIY, my knowledge of electricity is shallow and carefully maintained making the OP

something of a hero in my eyes anyway....

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I need a ground man (person).... This scrambling up and down ladders and running out to the breaker box, and scrambling back up and down ladders, and dropping wire nuts and screws, and tools is wearing me out..... And that's just from thinking about it, not even doing it!

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They are all behind you Digitally at least as am I

 

thussly......

 

high five.jpg

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With the help of a neighbor who was willing to run hither and yon, and back again every time I tested a set of wires, and with the help of a strong flashlight. It was discovered that a previously undetected YELLOW wire was hanging naked and alone in the work box..... It was apparently grounded when the other wires were stuffed back in. The two mystery legs of the equation were.... The separate, but adjoining wall bathroom overhead light fixture, and the adjoining bathroom vent fan.....

 God only knows why this was wired this way, but in theory, it is solved.

 If I do not post tomorrow morning, look for a puff of magic smoke over North Florida..... That may be me.

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On 12/3/2019 at 5:17 PM, Mrleft8 said:

With the help of a neighbor who was willing to run hither and yon, and back again every time I tested a set of wires, and with the help of a strong flashlight. It was discovered that a previously undetected YELLOW wire was hanging naked and alone in the work box..... It was apparently grounded when the other wires were stuffed back in. The two mystery legs of the equation were.... The separate, but adjoining wall bathroom overhead light fixture, and the adjoining bathroom vent fan.....

 God only knows why this was wired this way, but in theory, it is solved.

 If I do not post tomorrow morning, look for a puff of magic smoke over North Florida..... That may be me.

When you are carted off in full arrest from electrocution, the headline will read "Florida Man...."  

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Thought it had gone quiet here as well, so it's good its still current after all

 

 

 

/holds sides laughing

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40 minutes ago, shelly said:

Thought it had gone quiet here as well, so it's good its still current after all

 

 

 

/holds sides laughing

To be honest, I was shocked that the solution was so simple.....

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3 hours ago, shelly said:

Indeed, we just need more lightning rods like OP to show us what (not) to do basically

This coming from the author of "Frankenstein"..... :rolleyes::P

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2 minutes ago, Mrleft8 said:
3 hours ago, shelly said:

Indeed, we just need more lightning rods like OP to show us what (not) to do basically

This coming from the author of "Frankenstein"..... :rolleyes::P

Do you no Mary?

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7 minutes ago, Snaggletooth said:

Do you no Mary?

There's something about her.........

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On 12/3/2019 at 4:17 PM, Mrleft8 said:

With the help of a neighbor who was willing to run hither and yon, and back again every time I tested a set of wires, and with the help of a strong flashlight.

dude, just use a cell phone...

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9 hours ago, shelly said:

I alternate between your thread & picture thread here

 

 

swap-strip-light.jpg

i have a set of lights in a stairwell like that..  also a set of lights on the back wall of the landing ,  guess which one my wife leaves on all the time..  i keep telling her, she gets to change the bulb when it goes out, the other fixture i can walk up to and change the bulb...    and I'm not so fortunate to have those two rails as my wife would insist they'd be too dusty..

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4 hours ago, dyslexic dog said:

Rule of thumb, if your electrician has no eyebrows, do not let him in your house.

 

I'm thinking the opposite.  It's a sign of experience.  I've never seen an experienced lumber mill operator that wasn't missing a digit or 2.

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19 hours ago, shelly said:

Makes for an entertaining spectator sport all the same

Hair raising at times!

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