"the old light bulb method" ????
Don't know it.
Do you mean, that you just insert a load to to maintain the short? If so, Yes, there would be a current equal to the lamp+/or other loads. And yes, would be a shock hazard. Fire hazard, not so much, but not safe, none the less.
With a short - The best thing is to break out is a digital Multi-meter, or Ohmeter of any kind. With the power off,
check continuity and record an ohm value at the CB. Then split the circuit in half, and follow the lowest ohm value, and repeat this step until you find it..... On the first split, you know which half, the next what quarter, the next which eighth, etc.
Troubleshooting rule #1:"It will always be in the last box you look in!"
Once you have cleared the short, you can turn it back on, not before.... Unless you do not like yourself very much... Arch Flash, Liability, etc. Likewise, using a breaker to check if you have cleared a short, lends you to the opprotunity to fuse the contacts together, and burn the joint down. In front of your very eyes....
Different rules for an open, check the obvious at the CB, and follow circuit back to power from the end use.
Either way, it may be a simple fact that they HAD 5 FANS. Depending on the many factors of derating, and if the load was high enough, that may have been the initiating cause of the short.... A good idea to check amperage after clearing a short....
[This message has been edited by e57 (edited 05-13-2006).]