+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    3

    Default Push button light switch

    I have a very old house approximately 100 years old and I have a push button light switch that I am having problems with. I cannot figure out how to test this switch to see if there is any power to it. I was wondering if someone could give me a picture of this switch or instructions on how to test it. There is no room to remove light switch.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Columbiana, Alabama
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Push button light switch

    One way to see if power is available to a switch is by using a non-contact voltage tester. They sell for about $14 at places like Home Depot and are mostly used as safety devices to detect the presence of voltage.

    It can be place on the outside of romex, switches, receptacles light sockets etc. and will "chirp" and light up if near or touching a terminal having a hazardous voltage. Most electricians use one all day long and would not dream of touching a wire without first using this handy little tool.

    Now, it will detect a voltage level in reference to ground or neutral but if a device (like a receptacle) doesn't have a neutral you can't get useful power at the receptacle...but it is still dangerouse if you touch the "hot" wire and a water pipe or ground.

    So, to answer your question if the chirper doesn't sound off near your switch chances are it is "dead".

    Be sure the breaker is "on" for this test and only stick the chirper into the switch box. If it sounds with the breaker "on" and is silent with the breaker "off" you've located the correct breaker (or fuse) and things are promising.

    You even be able to touch a wire leaving your switch or on the outside of the wall and detect if the switch is working by turning the switch "on" & "off" and seeing the chirper go "on" & "off".

    I've even tracked the wire path in the wall using a chirper on the wall face.

    It's a lifesaver for anyone around electricity.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,557

    Default Re: Push button light switch

    If you do an image search for antique push button switch you should find images such as
    http://img.search.yahoo.com/search/i...ei=UTF-8&type=

    you can see pictures of old and reproduction push button switches.

    However, be warned, if you have knob and tube wiring in your old house it may switch neutral rather than hot.
    What do you mean when you say "There is no room to remove light switch."?

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Push button light switch

    JLMCDANIEL,

    Well what I meant was that I tried to get the switch out of the box and there was no extra wire to be able to get to the switch to see the wires to test. Both posts are helpful to me and I appreciate the assistance from both you and The Semi-Retired Electric. It is also still the knob and tube wiring.

    Kent

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    1,095

    Default Re: Push button light switch

    Knob and tube wiring should be replaced. Most insurers now require this even in existing policy-covered homes. While it can be safe and adequate in some situations, it has too many known safety issues to keep on using it. At best it means that this is very old wiring that has not likely seen an inspection or overhaul in 50+ years. It was never intended to handle today's electrical loads and some of the practices in using it are now considered unsafe because of those known issues.

    It would worry me to have it in my home so I suggest that you think beyond the switch and begin thinking of rewiring the house instead.

    Phil

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Columbiana, Alabama
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Push button light switch

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastercarpentry View Post
    Knob and tube wiring should be replaced. Most insurers now require this even in existing policy-covered homes. While it can be safe and adequate in some situations, it has too many known safety issues to keep on using it. At best it means that this is very old wiring that has not likely seen an inspection or overhaul in 50+ years. It was never intended to handle today's electrical loads and some of the practices in using it are now considered unsafe because of those known issues.

    It would worry me to have it in my home so I suggest that you think beyond the switch and begin thinking of rewiring the house instead.

    Phil
    I agree Phil but in light of the tremendous cost and inconvenience of a complete rewire much benefit can be achieved by first installing AFCI breakers, which will eventually need to be done later, during a total rewire.

    The AFCI's protect against fire causing arcs due; to a broken wire or a poor connection; arcs due to a short to ground and; some ground fault protection if someone touches a "hot" and a waterpipe.

    Sometimes electricians have to work on live circuits and sometimes wires touch and short out. On an electronic AFCI protected circuit a very small arc is produced, but it's nothing compared to a standard breaker, which can eat holes in hardened steel and blind you.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Push button light switch

    Hey I do agree that the old knob and tube wiring needs to be replaced. As I go in the basement to look around I found I do believe around 20 junction boxes and a big headache of wires. I did get an estimate for the total rewire job from two electricians and one stated $15,000 and the other $22,000. That was just for the wiring and not the repair where they would have to cut into the wall, etc.

    Information on the push button light switch.

    Did find out that the switch works well and does have power going to switch and out of switch. Managed to track down the other end and it only goes to one light. Which is a good thing. The next problem that I have is there are two wires next to the knob and tube. One white and one orange or red. There is no power to them, but they were connected to the knob and tube wires. The knob and tube wires still work when the colored wires are disconnected.

    I guess my question is if there is a tool anywhere that can be bought to hook to those colored wires and trace them to where they end at?

    Thanks,

    Kent

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    1,381

    Default Re: Push button light switch

    An electrician should be able to pull new wire with little to no damage to the walls in most older houses. It will mean using more copper wire because each run will have to go directly up/down from the switches and receptacles to the attic or basement/crawl-space. In some cases, they maybe able to connect one end of the new wire to the old wire and then pull the old out, the new following the old into the wall.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Columbiana, Alabama
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Push button light switch

    Quote Originally Posted by Webbyduck2 View Post
    Hey I do agree that the old knob and tube wiring needs to be replaced. As I go in the basement to look around I found I do believe around 20 junction boxes and a big headache of wires. I did get an estimate for the total rewire job from two electricians and one stated $15,000 and the other $22,000. That was just for the wiring and not the repair where they would have to cut into the wall, etc.

    Information on the push button light switch.

    Did find out that the switch works well and does have power going to switch and out of switch. Managed to track down the other end and it only goes to one light. Which is a good thing. The next problem that I have is there are two wires next to the knob and tube. One white and one orange or red. There is no power to them, but they were connected to the knob and tube wires. The knob and tube wires still work when the colored wires are disconnected.

    I guess my question is if there is a tool anywhere that can be bought to hook to those colored wires and trace them to where they end at?

    Thanks,

    Kent
    Kent there is a toner kit available for about $40 (Home Depot) which you can attach to a pair of wires and walk around to trace them, even in walls sometimes. The wires must not have voltage on them or they will be dameaged beyond repair.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Push button light switch

    It will be risk for you to test such switch yourself. I request you to call your Electric Manager to solve such problem. If you want test it yourself you should use electric tester. You should avoid any risk that may cause death.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •