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Old 04-23-2008, 07:51 PM   #1
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Lights dim


Just bought a house built in 1928. The breaker board has been upgraded to 200amp. The lights flicker, even when they aren't part of the circuit which is drawing large loads, like frig compressors, washers, dishwasher and disposal...so my question, if dimming occurs when a DIFFERENT circuit is drawing power. What's my problem. Be gentle.

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Old 04-23-2008, 07:54 PM   #2
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Lights dim


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Originally Posted by Psychteach View Post
Just bought a house built in 1928. The breaker board has been upgraded to 200amp. The lights flicker, even when they aren't part of the circuit which is drawing large loads, like frig compressors, washers, dishwasher and disposal...so my question, if dimming occurs when a DIFFERENT circuit is drawing power. What's my problem. Be gentle.

Neutral problem.

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Old 04-23-2008, 08:00 PM   #3
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Lights dim


If you don't mind, Chris, a little more information would be helpful for those of us who like to learn. If not, that's o.k. Thanks. Cyndi
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:01 PM   #4
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Lights dim


What does that mean, a neutral in the box? Is it hard to fix? For an electrican that is
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:08 PM   #5
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Lights dim


Psychteach- If you don't get an answer, be patient, someone will come along that has time to help.
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:14 PM   #6
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Lights dim


Thanks...at first I only noticed it on a circuit that had two fridgs plugged into the same circuit, seemed to stop when I unplugged one the frigs, then I noticed it in several rooms when the garbage disposal was turned on, and I believe it's on a dedicated circuit. Now I see it with the dishwasher...which I believe is on a different circuit. My fear is that, even though it has update box, the house is a history of wiring from 1928, it has cloth covered wire, armored covered, and more plastic type. Some of the wire is copper and some older ones aluminum....the cloth is buried behing plaster walls, so REALLY don't want to replace it.
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:23 PM   #7
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Lights dim


If lights are on the same circuit as motors, often times they will dim a bit with the additional load. When motors start, there is what is referred to as an inrush current. This draw is 6 to 8 times the running amperage. When the motor is connected to the lights, this manifests itself as a brief dimming of the lamp.

From what you have described, you have quite a bevy of motors on sharing the lighting circuit. Given that some of them are going to run at the same time, and some alternating with use, your lights will flicker when they start. Try sitting there when you start your disposal, and your lights will dip. Now compound this effect by having the dishwasher running, you kick on the disposal, and thirty seconds later the fridge compressor starts. you can see how it builds.

In order to mitigate this effect, you may want to consider running dedicated circuits to your refrigerator, and dishwasher.
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:27 PM   #8
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Lights dim


Sorry I just read that you think that some of these appliances already have dedicated circuits. Easy way to find out. Turn off the breaker, and see what else goes out. Many times a new panel does not mean rewiring the whole house.
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:43 PM   #9
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Lights dim


thanks goose, the frig is not on a dedicated circuit , but the disposal is...seems like the issue isn't overloaded cirucit, or motors on light circuits, but something that dims several lights when high powered appliances are surging. So I guess it's at the box somehow? or from the utility to the house? The wiring is definitely old. I have lots of slots on the box, should I just make every appliance I can a dedicated line (I was already going to do that to the second frig)? Will it cause damage or just be annoying? Could there be an issue at the box?
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Old 04-23-2008, 09:13 PM   #10
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Lights dim


Hello teacher

Actually Chris is most likely correct only he didn't go into a lot of explanation did he.....

First let me see if I understand what you are saying and correct me where I am wrong.

Your lights dim if the refrigerator compressor starts.
Your lights dim if the dishwasher starts
Your lights dim if your garbage disposal starts.

Your lights are not on the circuits with these other loads and your positive they aren't.

Questions:

1.) Do the lights dim and stay dim while these appliances are running?
2.) Do the lights dim briefly then go back to normal?
3.) Do the lights ever get brighter than normal?
4.) When you say flicker do you mean dimming then right back to steady normal brightness after one of these motors starts and begins running.
5.) Do you mean flickers as gets dim then bright then gets dim then bright very rapidly?
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Old 04-24-2008, 10:56 PM   #11
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Lights dim


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Neutral problem.
Again with the freaking neutral. What is it with you clowns?

There are no symptoms described that narrow it down to a neutral.

If the lights are getting bright, you can say "neutral" with confidence. There is an equal or greater chance that the problem is with an ungrounded conductor.

Quote:
Will it cause damage or just be annoying?

How annoying is a fire?

Be safe and call an electrician for this one. It may be on the power company side. Call them first.....it's probably free.

Last edited by 220/221; 04-24-2008 at 10:59 PM.
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Old 04-25-2008, 01:03 AM   #12
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Lights dim


A bad neutral doesn't necessarily mean bright lights. It depends on the resistances and voltage drops on each leg
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The lights flickering/dimming is a many legged spider of a problem in a lot of cases.

You also don't say if this service upgrade and new panel is recently done or existed for sometime. IMO the light dimming/flickering under the situation you describe is due to neutral problems. A dimming effect generally is caused by then increased load on the phase conductors. When an appliance with a motor starts... flickering is the result of load imbalance due to increased resistance caused by a loose neutral(s).

Dimming is caused by low voltage that is always pretty much a given. the question you have to answer is....is the low voltage occurring on one leg of the utility service or a branch circuit in the premise wiring, or the whole house.

Imo the first thing to do is measure voltage coming into your home from the transformer secondary. Have someone turn on a large appliance like the disposal or dishwasher.do this with every test I mention. see if the voltage lwoers a bunch. then take your tester and measure neutral to both your hot legs at the main breaker lugs or mains lugs. see if it goes high (130 volts or more) or low on different legs. If you have high voltage on one leg and low on the other you have a service neutral problem. If both legs go down evenly then my bet is you have a probem with the transformer connections or the transformer itself. Look for any signs of something causing a problem like tree limbs or high winds causing excessive movement of an over head service and loosening connections at the transformer or drip loop compression connections. If one leg goes down and stays down a bunch and the other is at good voltage around 120 then you have a problem with a hot wire on the low voltage leg. this is the line side checks or utility side.

Now move to the load side of the mains and get your voltage tester on the two busses load side of the main breaker. Repeat the procedure above. Any problems here then you may have and issue with the connections to the busses or a main breaker issue. Then start measuring the hot lugs of the breakers to the neutral bar. Record the voltages and any that are excessively high or low. This will narrow down the branch circuit the problem is on and will likely mean a connection problem at the panel breaker lug ,breaker or neutral bar connection. If this checks good then you have an issue on a part of a branch circuit and this may be a backstabbed device like a receptacle or a loose connection in a wirenut on either the hot or neutral.

Just my opinion


Last edited by Stubbie; 04-25-2008 at 10:17 AM.
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