LESLIE: Now we’re going to take a call from Fred who’s experiencing some electrical problems in his house. What’s going on?
FRED: Thanks so much for taking my call. Basically, I have random on-and-off circuits and ceiling fixtures going on in the core of the house …
TOM: Ooh, that’s weird.
FRED: … and inexplicably occurring. No circuit breaker changes; nothing that seems to be causing it.
TOM: Alright, well it sounds to me like you’ve got a major short somewhere. Let me ask you this, Fred. How old is your house?
FRED: One hundred years …
TOM: Oh, it’s a real old house.
FRED: … but it was rewired about five years ago.
TOM: You rewired it five years ago. The original wiring in the house, was it knob-and-tube wiring?
FRED: I don’t think so. When they did the rewiring, there was some BX cable.
FRED: Then they put in that Mylar or roplar or something like that.
TOM: Alright, well that’s good they rewired the house. But I tell you what; something is definitely shorting here and it sounds like it’s in one or more circuits. And you’re going to have to identify which circuits are causing this problem. Can you identify it down to one or more circuits or does it seem to be bigger than that?
FRED: You mean which particular wall fixture (inaudible at 0:16:30.7)?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, like is it all in the same circuit that seems to be going on and off or is it in different parts of the house where it would be multiple circuits?
FRED: I think it would be multiple circuits because it’s in different rooms, different floors.
TOM: Here’s what I would do. I would do two things. First of all, I would have an electrician open up your electrical panel; check all the wiring there; open up a few of the circuits, a few of the fixtures where they’re flickering; have a good inspection of the wiring. The second thing I would do is I would call your electrical company, the utility; I would report what’s happening and I would have them come out and measure the voltage into the house to see if you are having any brownout problems. If they had, for example, a bad transformer somewhere on the street, your voltage could be going all over the place and …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, it could be surging like crazy.
TOM: Right, fading and surging; it could be sagging and surging and if that happens, that would cause exactly what you’re describing to us. But one way or the other, this is something that you definitely cannot put up with. You’ve got to get to the bottom of it. So my first concern is your safety; that’s why I want it looked at by a pro. And secondly, I want you to report this to the electrical company and have them come out and check that voltage in the area and make sure that you’re getting all of the power that you think you are.
FRED: OK, great. Now, is there any risk of fire?
TOM: There potentially could; especially if it’s a short. That’s why I said that I want you to have a professional electrician check these circuits.
LESLIE: And the surging is not healthy for computer equipment, electronic equipment, appliances that you might have in your house. You know, you really need to be concerned about not just your safety but your items as well.
TOM: Get on it right away, OK, Fred?
FRED: Thank you very much.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.