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ASK THE EXPERT - ELECTRICIAN

Postby Michelle » Wed Apr 04, 2007 8:27 pm

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Hi All:

Daddy Mathis made a comment in the section on Stuff to Build that he thought it would be helpful to have various sections where you could get the advice or feedback of various experts in specific areas.

The forum thread is here
viewtopic.php?p=1474#1474

Well, you know what happens when you ask for things.... :)

Here is a section where if you have any questions that involve electricity, you can ask Daddy Mathis or any other person who has knowledge as an electrician. If you have need of expertise for other areas, please post your request at viewtopic.php?p=1474#1474
and we will add that Ask the Expert for that area as well.

Postby DaddyMathis » Wed Apr 04, 2007 9:06 pm

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Hey guys,

Just thought I'd give a little background info. I'm a licensed electrical contractor in Georgia. I learned completely by hands on experience so I know some cool ways (and some BAD ways) to power things up.

I've done electrical work for the past 7 years. Everything from high voltage and industrial controls, to residential, to the hobby electronics I've been tinkering with for one of my inventions. The invention I'm auditioning with is electrical. So, I've found some cheap and easy ways to put electrical parts in my prototype-(most easy to find too).

Just remember, don't mess with electricity if you're not comfortable with it...but don't get too comfortable with it. Now let's make some stuff work!

Postby idkidd » Mon May 14, 2007 5:42 pm

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Hi, I have an electrical question I was hoping you could help me with.

The other day I was watching tv and I heard a "Pop" and the light at the top of our basement stairs went off. I realized a fuse had blown so I went downstairs and flipped the switch in the fuse box and it didn't come back on. For some reason, I had the idea to remove the light fixture I thought I had heard "pop" from the ceiling. Once I did that, I flipped the fuse box switch again and this time the other lights tied to that fuse came back on no problem. Can you diagnose the problem? Is the light that I removed permanently dead? Would replacing it with a new one fix the problem? Any help would be really appreciated!

Postby Road Show » Mon May 14, 2007 6:53 pm

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This is an interesting first post from someone new to an invention forum, but what the heck. The light at the top of your stairway is undoubtedly controlled by two three way switches; these allow you to turn the light on or off at both the top and at the bottom of the staircase. I am not an electrician, but it sounds to me as though one of the three way switches is blown. I don't know which switch would have blown, but I'd check both of them to see if there is melted plastic or flamed terminal screws. Turn off the breaker first! hahaha

RSG

idkidd

Postby DaddyMathis » Mon May 14, 2007 9:13 pm

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The "pop" you heard sounds like a short circuit. If the sound came from the light (and it's not just a blown bulb), then the fixture is probably bad. Since you already took it out and the other lights work fine now, your best bet is to replace the fixture. But just to be sure, if the fixture is bad you can probably see some damage to the wiring inside it. Look for damaged (brownish black, cuts, or brittle) wires.

Postby idkidd » Tue May 15, 2007 7:32 am

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Thanks guys! I will check for the damage you speak of.

Postby bottleslingguy » Tue May 15, 2007 5:56 pm

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First of all, what was that light doing on while you were watching tv in another room? Just kidding. What was happening just before the breaker went off? Did someone else turn the light on or was it already on and then popped the breaker out of the blue? You say you removed the fixture you thought you heard pop. What did you do with the wires after you removed the fixture? Did you wirenut them so they wouldn't touch each other? Did the light pop and then throw the breaker? A burnt light will not throw a breaker. A short circuit will. What made you realize the breaker was thrown? Was the bulb bad and was that the pop you heard? How many switches control that light?

I suspect the light just burnt out making the pop. You flipped the breaker and didn't turn it on but actually turned it off allowing you to remove the "bad' fixture. You went back down and switched it on and then the other lights came back on. There's a lot of information missing on your part and some things aren't clear. Be really careful. There could be other things grounded to that bunch of wires. My brother wired my house and I learned quickly how throwing a breaker doesn't always shut off the juice to that junction box and it will pop a pea sized hole through the hardened steel of a good pair of dykes in a split second.

Electrical Question

Postby Hungry » Tue Sep 11, 2007 7:42 pm

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Hi,
I have no electrical experience and want to create a prototype that plugs into standard household outlets. It will power a heating element sheathed in ceramic for conduction-basically a hot-plate-to a maximum temperature of 42 degrees C. Should I cannibalize an existing appliance, order a custom-made, or is it too dangerous to try inexperienced?
Thanks.

Postby Road Show » Wed Sep 12, 2007 5:24 am

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I'd use a water bed heating element for your prototype. Most are adjustable.

RSG