When we first saw the house, while the drywall in the basement meant I couldn’t easily see the floor above, or look for any mechanical issues that might be tucked in the joists, I did see an uncovered electrical box. I thought it a bit odd, in that it had obviously been there when the house was built, and being open, a code violation. I also thought it a bit sloppy of the original electrician, as it’d be rare to have to splice something in during the original build. I figured that all I’d have to do with it would be to put a cover on it, and that’d be that.
About four months after moving in, the overhead lights in the kitchen flickered and went out. My first thought was a bad switch, so I looked at the switches and saw the electrician had (as is too common) used the push in connectors on the back of the switches, which can fail. So, I bought three new switches and installed them. No luck.
Then I remembered the odd open box in the basement, and thought it could be the problem. I shut off power to the kitchen again and tested the box for power. Nothing—I’m on to something. I removed one of the wire nuts to inspect the connection, and saw not only that the electrician had merely held the stripped ends of the wires together and screwed a wire nut on to them, but that the unsecurely connected wires had arced repeatedly to the point of charring. I got my lineman’s pliers out, snipped the burnt tips off, stripped and twisted them securely before screwing fresh wire nuts and taping. The kitchen lights were fixed.