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Identifying and fixing electricity circuit problem

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Eve | 20:10 Thu 16th Jun 2011 | Home & Garden
15 Answers
I found a couple of nights ago that none of my downstairs ceiling lights would work so figured there was a problem with that particular circuit.

It's an older fuse box with the pull out blocks with the wire inside - I took the two fuse blocks out for the lighting circuits (one for upstairs and one for downstairs - not sure which is which), had a hell of a job trying to get them back in but finally managed it and got all excited when the downstairs lights came on only to find then upstairs wouldn't work so must have put them back in the other way round...duh!

I can't see any problem with either of the fuse wires, nothing burnt or snapped or similar. I guess my next step is to work out which is the "duff" one and replace the wire? Looks like a simple enough job and I'm guessing I can get wire from somewhere like B&Q, just wanted a more informed view before I go and electrocute myself or do something wrong!

Not sure what I did (or if connected) but my house alarm (unset) went off screaming in the early hours and nothing would switch it off, not even tripping the electric. It eventually stopped itself and thought it might have been from tripping the electric before I went playing with the fuse box? Worried about it happened again for my sleep/sanity and so I don't Fosters the neighbours off.

Any help greatly appreciated.

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If the fuse wire is OK – then replacing it will not fix your problem.

Normally the fuse-wire is held in place by a screw at each end. Check that the screws are tight, and carefully inspect the fuse-wire for a break.

It could be crud on the fuse-block pins or the pins bent out of alignment resulting in poor electrical contact.
If by changing the carriers over you have rectified the fault then it sounds like the wire had failed.If its just broken and a bit black then you may have an overload situation or the wire may have become fatigued.Replace with a 5 amp wire only and see how it goes.
As for the alarm...it may be a good idea to get the back up battery tested as they do strange things when the power is lost.....it may be wired on the lighting circuit.
If the fault changed with the fuse insertion swop then the problem is with the fuse. Replace it again. It's not that difficult. Just make sure you use the right current rating.

I don't know why no blown part is being seen, maybe the problem is to do with how it makes contact when in. Compare the 2 and see if there is a difference that could account for it.

Also if you still have the old fashioned fusebox you may want to consider checking the house wiring. Implies it may not be that new. Wiring problems could account for voltage spikes setting off alarms and stuff.
Question Author
Thank you all for your advice. I think the house is around 13/14 years old. I will have a look at the fuses in more detail, it looked like both wires were fine so maybe it is something to do with connection. Will see if I have a suitable screwdriver to have a fiddle and see if that helps.

I'm sure I've had a couple of occasions when they lights haven't come on and I've thought a bulb had blown (have multibulbs but only have one or two working (don't need any more, would be a waste) but then they have come on later so maybe it is some kind of connection issue.

Just hope it doesn't set the alarm off again! Will see if I can get the back up battery checked. Will mention to the owners about the wiring as well.

Thank you all again :)
The alarm back up battery normally only lasts between 4 and 5 years as it's constantly charging, I fit alarms and I always recommend that they be changed after 4. If you still have rewirable fuses, I would also get some quotes from electricians to have it changed to a Miniature Circuit Breaker board, easier to reset an MCB and safer to..
Question Author
Well I had a fiddle with the fuses and upon putting the electric back on the house alarm went off again, finally went off then right back on again...and again...

I rang the alarm people having found a number and he just said there was no way to reset it and it'd go off eventually and if it was the back up battery (as you'd said) and should go off and stay off and to ring him in the week about getting it sorted.

It kept going off this time and had a rather wits end moment and knocked on next door to apologise for the disturbance and turns out nice Mr Neighbour is an electrician and bless him he came and had a look and ended up taking the old battery out and sorting it for me so I regained some peace and quiet (and sanity).

He said there might be some issue with the battery supply to the actual fuse box which would send a funny signal to the alarm and cause it to go off like that.

On a brighter note all the lights are back on so it must have been a contact issue I've managed to sort by my rather untechnical faffing with all your kind assistance. So just the other issues to sort and hopefully a quieter life :)

Thank you all so much for your help, you're all brilliant :)
I cant imagine anyone putting in a consumer unit of this type 13 or 14 hears ago. The trip reset type were very common at this time.
Question Author
I was quite surprised when I saw it as I'm used to the ones with all the switches and have lived in much older houses than this one. The switches make everything so much easier and the one I've got flummoxed me!

I had a look around on the net to see if I could work out when they were built and from the houseprice sites it looks like the the late nineties. I didn't think they were even that old.

Could it have been a cost thing? Would they have been cheaper to put in?
Could you have a trip-switch style fusebox fitted, jenna? I haven't seen anyone with fuse wire for years!
according to ieee regs.a new consumer unit should have been installed in the property before the board signed off on the supply.you should contact your supplier and landlord to get these issues rectified asap.I`ve been an approved electrician since 1974.
Question Author
I don't think I've ever seen one before Boxtops. I'd initially asked a guy at work about checking the box as it wasn't a switch one and wanted to make sure I didn't end up electrocuting myself or breaking something - I let myself down thinking by a proper old fuse box they'd have the fuses in them like plugs do, had no idea they were actual wires!

I'll speak to the landlords. Bit worried about raising any expensive non-urgent issues as I'm worried they will decide to sell up and I'm in no financial position to move for the time being. Could it actually be dangerous?

Been having another look on the web and looks like it could be as far back as around 1995 when these houses were build although that's when the LR registration came compulsory round here I think. They don't look old houses by any means, I thought they were only about 10 years old max though that doesn't mean much as I'm not that up on what was built when and before I even moved up this way.
Not necessarially dangerous if checked and fitted with correctly rated fusewire.We got along well enough for decades without ecbs but please for safetys sake get them checked.
jenna, I googled, came up with this AB question from a couple of years ago. Exactly as Tommy says, if it works, no need to change it. http://www.theanswerb...n/Question721016.html
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Thank you Boxtops and all. I will definitely get it checked out. Off to bed now but will update. NIght all.

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