So, let me preface this by saying I live in a 100 year old apartment building, and I can't tear out all the wiring and start over again. (As much as I'd like to.)
In my living room, there existed a ceiling fan with a light. The fan had become noisy and eventually just stopped working. I removed the fan blades a while ago, and it's been basically just a ceiling light for a long while now. I decided to replace the fan with a new, quiet model. I'm a fairly handy guy and I'd already done the kitchen ceiling light quite easily, so I figured, no big deal. Then I took the old fan off...
There are 8 or 10 wires up there, all twisted together in 2 bundles. I figure one bundle is hot, the other is neutral. But the wiring is the old-style cloth-covered kind, and at this point, it all looks black. It's old.
At this point, I've got all the fuses to my apartment shut off, so there shouldn't be any power flowing through any of them. Just to be sure, I test the bundles with my voltage meter.
And I find that there's still 120V running through the wires...
I can assure you that all of the breakers were flipped off for my apartment. So I went back to the basement and flipped off all the breakers for the common areas, too. Tested again, and there's still 120V.
This is troubling, to say the least...
I recognize this as a fire hazard. Serious, full stop, bad mojo.
I carefully go through the painstaking process of separating the different wires and capping them individually. All circuits are broken, and it should be safe to keep them that way while I figure out what's going on.
Except, when I turn the power back on to test the wires, I find that 3 out of the 4 rooms of my apartment no longer have power. It appears that all of the wiring for each room of my apartment (except the kitchen) went through this ceiling pancake.
I waited a few days while my landlord and I went back and forth via text, basically with no power in most of my unit. I happened to run into my neighbor in the hallway and he mentioned that he was having electrical problems in his bedroom (which shares a wall with my bedroom). His power had been out for a few days.
So, this clues me into the fact that the live wire is probably a circuit on his fuse box. This weekend, we plan to test his breakers as well to see if we can isolate the live wire and get it turned off.
My electrical knowledge doesn't stretch so far as to where to go from there. What I'd like to know is, once I identify the correct pairings of HOT to NEUTRAL wires for each breaker, can I safely twist them together and allow power to flow to the other rooms, independent of each other, and on their own circuits?
Rather than have 4 rooms (and 2 apartments!) worth of electrical wiring twisted into 2 bundles in my ceiling creating one big ol' circuit, can I safely twist together the HOT and NEUTRAL wires in their appropriate pairs and allow the power to flow?
Thanks in advance for your help.
P.S. You may ask why I don't just call an electrician to do it. Well, the landlord refuses to authorize the expenditure. I can live without power for a few days. But I don't want to be on the hook for unauthorized electrical repair work.