OLD House wiring issue
So I think I already know the answer to this, but I just want to make sure I am giving the proper advice.
I do a lot of wiring in my own house which is newer, but a friend who just bought an old house (1920's-ish?!) as a foreclosure asked me to help with some electrical issues they have been having.
The room the plan to use as a home office fails a simple recptical plug in test, the error it gives is that the hot and neutral are switched. I opened it up and found two wires, both sold core (not strands, just one piece of wire) and they are wrapped in what looks to be fabric, then inside that is black rubber and a single copper wire. There are two of these. The outlet puts out no electricity. One wire was hooked into the top neutral port, and the other was wired into the bottom neutral port.
When I turned the breaker off, and tried every possible combination of neutral and load configurations half their house did not work after turning the breaker on. As soon as I put it back to neutral & neutral the rest of the house worked, but this outlet did not.
They want this outlet to work so they can use it for their computer, but I feel this is a serious issue and potential fire hazard. Not only because of the obviously old wiring, but also because of the fact that it appears there are missing components to the equation....i.e. a hot wire!
Any advice would be appreciated. They are trying desperately to avoid hiring a pro, but I think this is what they need. I don't want to be responsible if their house burns down.