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Old 12-17-2008, 02:11 PM   #16
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First identify each and every outlet and light on the circuit! make a list!
Then trace the breaker wire back to its cable, then from this cable, trace the neutral wire back to the the neutral bus. Then tighten the neutral screw.
Swap the power wire onto another breaker of the same size!
Wait and see if the trouble has stopped or shifted to another circuit.
If the fault persists, see if it happens on each and every item on your list. If some items are steady and others flicker, redo all the connections on the first flickering item, paying close attention to wire nut connections as well as those on recepts.
If this fails to resolve it, go back to the last item that is working OK, and redo all these connections.
The problem has to be at one of these two locations.


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Old 12-17-2008, 04:59 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by morden5b View Post
Yoyzit, I now understand what you are saying, thanks, I'll have to buy a voltmeter/ampmeter to proceed that way which I might do. Everyone else too. For the record, I've replaced most of the outlets in the house already with ones you screw, though this circuit is the one that has a few I haven't yet. Of course, I could have made a mistake too. I also forgot to mention wired off of one outlet is a cable (preexisting) to the garden where my garden lights and fountains plug in, a huge question mark there! Now that I think about it, I'll start there, because this plug that is tapped into I'd wager is "first" as it's a few feet away from the breaker box on the other side of the garage wall. I'll keep you updated. The part that sucks is that because the flickering is pretty infrequent, I can make a change and not know whether it worked or not for a while.
Keeping it simple...

Replace the rest of the outlets, if there are not many left it will be quick and easy.

Buy a outlet tester for like $5 that has 3 lights on it. It will identify many common mistakes in wiring.

Check the connections at the outside outlet / where the outdoor equipment connects, temporaly disconnect for trouble shooting if necessary.

Tracing the wires and knowing where stuff goes is nice, but I don't think it is necessary, lets go there only if there is still a problem after you change the outlets, verify the outdoor connections, and use a plug tester.

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Old 12-17-2008, 06:10 PM   #18
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I'll throw in a little something.

A typical 120 volt residential circuit is run with a two conductor cable (forget the bare ground for this instance).

The power comes out of the circuit breaker, runs thru the black wire, through the load (ie: lightbulb) and travels back to the panel on the white where it is terminated in the neutral bus.

The cable/wires run through many different junction boxes. There is one behind every receptacle, switch and light.

A majority of problems occur in the receptacle connections. There are two sets of terminals on each recep which means, in some cases, you are using the recep as a means to connect the incoming and outgoing wires. These connections have a tendency to fail more often if the backstab method is used rather than using the mechanical screw terminals. This is where I would start to look. The bad connection could be on the black or the white wires.

Troubleshooting 101 says start at the source. It could be a problem in the breaker but it rarely is. It could be at the neutral bus connection on the returning white wire...but it rarely is.

If the whloe circuit is affected, the problem is at the beginning. Use logic to determine what route they may have taken when running the cable. Sometimes they run the power through the light fixture boxes. If you have and switches with only 2 wires in them (black and white) you have power/connections in your ceilng light boxes and you may have to pull the fixture(s) down.


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