Are these wires dangerous?


Yes. Evacuate the house immediately and do not return. Call your insurance company and have them total the entire building and by you a new home. Tell your neighbors they should vacate the area as well.

It's not that serious. But yes. You should avoid all temptations to lick or touch the metal conductors of those wires directly with your skin. Whoever installed that light fixture was an idiot. And now you get to fix their mess:

Buy a multimeter or a non-contact voltage detector wand. Turn off the breaker to that fixture and use the NCVD or multimeter to make sure the circuit is de-energised. Then go to your nearest non-trademarked home center and buy some proper mounting screws for that thing. My best guess is some toggle bolts would do the trick. Use an appropriately sized drill bit to make a hole for the toggle bolts. If there's a stud very close by the wire then you might be able to use a wood screw with that, and only one toggle bolt.

Once that white...

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You haven't told us which country you live in, or what this wire connects to. (It makes a difference if it's say, a refrigerator or microwave oven, as opposed to a small room fan.) Still, if it's connected to your mains (115/230V) power, as others have mentioned, your friend was right: that wire's a serious accident waiting to happen.

In addition to the excellent answers you've already received, let me add a couple things that I hope will be relevant not only to you, but others in similar situations:

Sanity check

Whenever I find myself pondering things like the following, a sanity check is surely needed:

My friend claims that this is highly dangerous, but I don't think that touching it would be lethal

I think an important test is that you've a) been told it's dangerous by someone who presumably cares about you, b) you have willfully rejected that advice, yet c) you haven't actually tried touching it yet! (DON'T try touching it. Please....

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Answers to questions:

1. Yes, there are other things potentially plugged into the circuit. I didn't even think about that. I'll have to go back and measure again with everything unplugged.

2. No, all the outlets in the house aren't like this, but all the outlets in the office are (and those are all on one run).

3. Romex vs conduit. The outlets in question are romex, as far as I know, but there is lots of knob & tube in the house, and I think there are parts where some knob & tube runs were extended with romex, so that could be the case here. I have yet to map out the whole house (and welcome tips on noninvasive ways of doing that). Frankly, I think the wiring in this house is pretty sketchy.

4. Yes, I have basic multimeter competency. :) It's on the 0-250 scale, and it's going to 60 on that scale. I have also verified that other outlets in the house behave as I would expect (120 from hot to neutral and hot to ground, 0 from neutral to ground).


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The Current in Speaker Wires

People are taught to be cautious around electrical wires – all kinds of wires. Commonly in American homes, most of the wiring carries either 110 volts or 220 volts, but what about speaker wires? Are they dangerous? Do I need an electrician to hook them up?

That depends on how you want to install the wires, and the power output of your amplifier or stereo system. Speaker wires don’t get plugged into the wall outlet, so they don’t carry the same high level of current as a normal power cord. Speaker wires carry whatever level of current comes out of the amplifier. A typical 100 watt amplifier powering an 8 ohm speaker would produce about 4 amps at 30 volts, which most people would not feel.

If the installation is a simple one, if it does not require running wires through walls or floors, and you do not have an especially powerful sound system, there should not be any safety issues. An electrician would not usually be needed to hook...

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How is barbed wire dangerous – Barbed wires are so dangerous because this type of wire has sharp points every few inches.

When you are going to go through a farm fence made of barbed wire, there is a high probability that your clothing will be caught by these sharp points. This will reason your friends to laugh at you.

If you get in touch with barbed wire, it is painful and will likely break your skin or puncture it. That causes cuts, bleeding and possible infection as the steel used is often rusty and not sterile.

Barbed wire fences are deemed to be a dangerous fence. These fences are prohibited where:

The barbed wire fence is straightforwardly next to a park. The barbed wire shaping piece of the barbed wire fence is inside two meters starting from ground level of the park The premises on which the barbed wire fence is raised is incorporated into zones other than the Rural Zone and the Rural Residential Zone under the nearby government’s planning scheme....
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Ellie Woodbourne is a mother-wife-teacher-writer who read English and Art History at Nottingham University before turning to church youth work and teaching. Her writing (on the side) includes a seven-year stint on a monthly media and arts column, a published non-fiction title tackling the emotional and spiritual issues surrounding infertility and a YA novel, The Lion That Ate the Future, recently shortlisted for the national UK Creative Arts competition.

This piece is in memory of my great aunt Mary who worked for British Intelligence in Cairo during the North African Campaign of 1940-42, listening to the chatter of German airmen as they attacked Allied positions in Egypt’s Western desert.

Wars are not just fought by men with guns. Women often play significant and strategic roles using skills that can be overlooked in the medals and honours lists. They can be even more dangerous to the enemy than men. Take women like my great aunt Mary, for example. Practical,...

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Important safety warning regarding the EC-1,
the S-38 and S-38b Hallicrafters Radios
an essay by
John Fuhring

This warning includes any "hot chassis"
radio of similar design (including many
of the famous "All American Five" radios).
This warning does not apply to some late model AA5 radios that
were designed with an "isolated return bus" (-B bus) so be sure
your radio actually has a "hot chassis" before trying to modify it.

You can tell if your radio has a "hot chassis" or not by

running some simple tests detailed in the text below.


As they are wired from the factory, these radios are deadly dangerous and you shouldn't even plug them in until they have been made safe. These radios have what is called a "hot chassis," and that makes them very dangerous to work on or even to plug in. Do not attempt to test or repair them until you or a skilled technician have rewired them as I...
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As an electrician, you've probably seen or at least heard about electrical fires. Fortunately, they are not an everyday occurrence. However, the statistics surrounding them are sobering. According to data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Quincy, Mass., in 2006, an estimated 20,900 reported U.S. nonconfined home structure fires (involving electrical distribution or lighting equipment) resulted in 500 civilian deaths, 1,100 civilian injuries, and $862 million in direct property damage. What are the influencing factors behind these numbers?

In my experience as a forensic engineer, there are three main independent modes of electrical overheating that lead to electrical fires: excessive current, poor connections, and insulation breakdown. There is a rare fourth mode — inductive heating — which will not be discussed in this article.

Excessive current is rare, because circuit breakers and fuses (if sized correctly) typically protect against this...

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HOME SitemapBackground for Home Wiring Troubleshooting

When troubleshooting electrical problems in a house, you can avoid watts of frustration by learning or reviewing things about your electrical system. When you have learned enough, you'll be ready to go to the page for Troubleshooting these problems in your own home. Disclaimer.

Your Electrical System
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How Things Go Wrong


Your Home Electrical System

Electricity flows to your lights and appliances from the power company through your panel, its breakers, out on your circuits and back. Here is a schematic picture of all the major parts of your home electrical system.

There are many connections along these paths that can be disrupted or fail, and there are many ways that electricity could go places you don't want it to. See my Is electricity mysterious? article and my Electrical as a second language...

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Tinning the wires (melting some solder into the filaments with your soldering iron) before joining them will make the next step of soldering of the splice much easier. It helps distribute the heat quickly, and the pieces require heat for a much shorter time, since you don't have to spread as much solder around later. This reduces the likelihood that you'll melt through the wire shielding near the splice, or damage nearby components if soldering to a circuit board or to a component itself.

You want even distribution of the solder between the filaments, but not so much that the solder starts to swallow the filaments. The top wire in the picture is just about right, but the bottom one has too much solder. Too much solder will make the wires quite stiff, and they still need to be fairly pliable for the next...

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