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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Over the past few days we've gotten some hints that we have a problem with our electical system at home. Our dining room chandelier is buzzing when it is on, there is an electrical smell in the bathroom and our hardwired fire alarm went off last night.

We live on a farm, our house is over 200 years old and it's the time of year for an increase in animals trying to get into the house where it is warm. I'm concerned we've had something in the walls or attic that has chewed on the wires.

Is there anything we can do to check or test this? I'm very concerned, but what am I supposed to tell an electrician without him recommending total rewiring (which we know we will have to do at some point soon, we just don't have the money yet).

Any ideas how we can test it on our own?
 

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I'm not an electrician, but I did rewire my old house.About the only way to "test" your wiring is to look at it. If your chandelier is buzzing and it's not fluorescent, it's probably arcing in the box in the ceiling...not a good thing. Don't use it. An "electric smell" comes from hot wiring, either from an overload or arcing. Smoke detectors go off for a reason. Even if you can't smell smoke, it may be picking up on some ionization that's going to be smoke in the very near future.

You can try isolating your circuits (figure out which circuit goes where and does what) and see what load you have on each one. If you are in a really old house that hasn't had it's electrical updated since it was first installed, you may only have a 60 amp service. A couple space heaters could use 30 amps of that. Throw in a fridg, freezer, water pump, toaster, coffee maker, microwave, and a handful of light bulbs and you'll have an over-loaded system. To counter an over-loaded system, you then put in higher rated fuses and you get overheated wiring that WILL burn your house down.

Until I figure out what was wrong and fixed it, I wouldn't sleep too soundly in your house.

Lee
 

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My husband (who is in the business) says that you have a VERY serious problem. You can't get a guy out to your house fast enough!!! Kill you breaker to both of these rooms NOW if not to the whole house. Let me repeat, this is SERIOUS!! There is no quick, cheap fix. You are risking loosing the whole house. Kill the breaker.
 

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Please tell us you shut your electric off .........

and if you don't know how, call somebody locally who can help you.

Maybe you can call your fire department on a NON emergency line, and see if they have someone who could come out and do a courtesy check for you.

I also hope you have fire insurance.......you may need it.

You mention not having money to fix this.....
but that will be way cheaper than building a new house.....

and this is NOT a normal do it yourself project..........
you either have electric experience or you don't have any.
Not a gray in between matter here.
 

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Please tell us you shut your electric off .........
If they did, then she can't. ;)

and this is NOT a normal do it yourself project..........
you either have electric experience or you don't have any.
Not a gray in between matter here.
Agreed. I do my own electrical work because I've been trained in BE&E. Otherwise I wouldn't touch it!
 
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Yes, please be safe! Turn off your electric, check your insurance coverage, call an Electrician ! Blessings.
 
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My hubby worked for a plumber electricion for awhile, and they did new housing projects. When we moved here, he wired our electric set up on the pole. Had a friend check it out first before we called for the final inspection. Hubby wired our garage that him and I built together. And wired our new room when we added on 4 yrs ago. Most recent project was the furnace blower when that was squealing so bad. Original furnace and 20 yrs old.
So he shuts any electric off first and I stay out from under his feet. Best for his sanity and mine both :)

Years ago, when we lived in the old farm house, I decided to defrost the freezer. My method was to unplug it. When I did, sparks flew everywhere, smoke, and a burning smell. My first reaction was to call the fire department. The farmer was NOT happy I made the call. He said it was a simple problem to fix.............
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks everyone for your quick responses and advice. We turned off the electrical, and called our neighbor (an electrician who has always worked on this house). Luckily, we had a loose plate in the diningroom that was causing the buzzing sound (it was a vibrating buzz, not a sparks flying buzz).

The electrical smell in the bathroom was caused by a space heater we have (or should I say had, we tossed it at our neighbors advice).

The fire alarm going off is still a mystery, but we have heard mice in the ceiling above where the alarm is located. He's coming back to pull those wires, and give us a final price on re-wiring the house.

It might not be as expensive as I feared, and I agree with you all that it is something that needs to be done and we can't cheap out on it.
 

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I'm glad you got most of it figured out. Stay safe. Maybe you should pick up a smoke alarm or two that isn't hardwired into hour system, just to be safe.
 
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