Only Half of Electrical Circuit Works

We recently purchased an old home (105 years old) and one day half of the lights on a circuit stopped working. They stopped when I turned on a sconce and it shorted and blew the circuit breaker. Half the lights on the circuit went out, not to be seen again.

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I have checked all of the old outlets and replaced them as I thought I might be shorting back through the common. I am stumped as to what I should do. I had an electrician come out and take a look and he is stumped as well. Any advice?

Rick from Iowa (in an old home)

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July 19, 20050 found this helpful

Hi Rick
One of the ancient wires or connections blew faster than the breaker.
You need a "tracer". That is a tool that you can get at electrical wholesalers and tool suppliers for tradesmen. It emits a tone when it is near a cable under power. You just follow along the cable, guided by the tone. Where the tone stops, that's where the break in the wire is.

Don't be tempted to just bypass that section. Dig it out and repair it properly. Otherwise, an intermittent contact could make contact again during a storm or any slight movement of the house and could cause it to burn down.

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By Pam (Guest Post)
July 20, 20050 found this helpful

I had the same type of thing happen to my home. It turned out to be the ground wire had melted. The old homes used aluminum and with todays load it is common for it to melt and break away if something causes a short. The electrician I had come out was resently repairing all the schools in our area with the same problem due to overloads in the classrooms now with computers and such. Anyway his solution was to put a grounding rod (lighting rod) and ground the entire home to the rod. Ask your electrician of this posability.

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July 8, 20100 found this helpful

One of the below answers is probably correct, but I think the real answer is to call in a different electrician. There is no problem of this type that a competent electrician should not be able to find and fix; they will have tools like the tracer mentioned below.

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And as ThriftyFun wrote, it's not safe to just work around this; it needs to be fixed.

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