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Old 07-18-2013, 08:08 AM   #1
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Lights dim and then go bright - ONLY ON ONE CIRCUIT


I have a problem with lights dimming and then going back to normal. This happens every 3-5 minutes and they will dim for about 2 seconds and then return to normal. It only happens on one of the circuits in my house. The circuit in question is the main bathroom which also has an outside receptacle on that breaker as well as one receptacle in a room across the hall. The outside receptacle is on the same GFI as the one in the bathroom. I have unplugged from the wall everything that was in the other room across the hall (computer, printer, tv, ethernet booster from cable company) to rule out a load issue. I have checked the breaker itself and tested fine. I have also checked and tightened all wires on the neutral bar in the panel. At this time I am at a complete loss.

Okay. I work on computers by day and DJ at night so I am not by any means qualified to do electrical work.

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Old 07-18-2013, 08:19 AM   #2
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Lights dim and then go bright - ONLY ON ONE CIRCUIT


Do they back to normal brightness or get brighter than back to normal?

You have the classic signs of a loose neutral.
Pull all receptacles and switches to check all connections.

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Old 07-18-2013, 08:24 AM   #3
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Lights dim and then go bright - ONLY ON ONE CIRCUIT


The problem sounds like a loose connection. It could be in any of the junction boxes on the circuit. It could even be the breaker itself where it mounts into the panel.

If any of your receptacle use the push in back stab connections the wires should be moved to the screw terminals. Back stabs are a very common source of this problem.
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Old 07-18-2013, 08:59 AM   #4
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Lights dim and then go bright - ONLY ON ONE CIRCUIT


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Do they back to normal brightness or get brighter than back to normal?

You have the classic signs of a loose neutral.
Pull all receptacles and switches to check all connections.
They just go dim and then back to normal. They do not get any brighter.
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Old 07-18-2013, 09:02 AM   #5
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Lights dim and then go bright - ONLY ON ONE CIRCUIT


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The problem sounds like a loose connection. It could be in any of the junction boxes on the circuit. It could even be the breaker itself where it mounts into the panel.

If any of your receptacle use the push in back stab connections the wires should be moved to the screw terminals. Back stabs are a very common source of this problem.
Well it sounds as if I have my work cut out for me. So the problem would normally NOT be in any of the lighting junction boxes correct? Just the receptacles? If that is the case I only have 4 to check!
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Old 07-18-2013, 10:01 AM   #6
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Lights dim and then go bright - ONLY ON ONE CIRCUIT


The problem could be in ANY junction box including switches. I would start with ones that are easy to get to.
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Old 07-18-2013, 10:40 AM   #7
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Lights dim and then go bright - ONLY ON ONE CIRCUIT


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The problem could be in ANY junction box including switches. I would start with ones that are easy to get to.
But it was stated to really check the receptacles that had the push in wires in the back; that they tend to come lose. What should I check in the junction box for the wall lights and sconces I have?
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Old 07-18-2013, 10:45 AM   #8
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Lights dim and then go bright - ONLY ON ONE CIRCUIT


When did the problem start?
Any recent work that may have contributed to the problem?
Are you sure you have removed all loads except the lights?
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Old 07-18-2013, 10:48 AM   #9
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Lights dim and then go bright - ONLY ON ONE CIRCUIT


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When did the problem start?
Any recent work that may have contributed to the problem?
Are you sure you have removed all loads except the lights?
Yes positive I have removed all the load except lights. The problem started when Comcast came out and used a ethernet booster that actually plugs into a wall receptacle down where my modem is. Then another one is plugged in upstairs so my computer is hardwired into ethernet instead of being wireless. These "boosters" plug into a standard receptacle. BUT . . . I have taken them OUT of the receptacle and the lights, etc still dim. I even took the one out downstairs even though it is on a different circuit.
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Old 07-18-2013, 12:59 PM   #10
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Lights dim and then go bright - ONLY ON ONE CIRCUIT


Your choice where to start. Since it is more than one light I think I would be checking other areas first. Receptacles are easiest to get at. You don't need a ladder. I would probably start with the outside receptacle. Possibility water or insects has gotten inside and corroded things.
But then if the lights stay on when the GFCI is tripped then the power for the lights doesn't go though the GFCI so probably not the problem area.
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Old 07-18-2013, 01:12 PM   #11
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Lights dim and then go bright - ONLY ON ONE CIRCUIT


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Your choice where to start. Since it is more than one light I think I would be checking other areas first. Receptacles are easiest to get at. You don't need a ladder. I would probably start with the outside receptacle. Possibility water or insects has gotten inside and corroded things.
But then if the lights stay on when the GFCI is tripped then the power for the lights doesn't go though the GFCI so probably not the problem area.
Yes the GFI DOES include the outside receptacle. I was going to check the two receptacles above our bathroom sink first (one is the GFI) and then check the outside receptacle. After that, I'll keep trying I guess.
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Old 07-18-2013, 06:04 PM   #12
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Lights dim and then go bright - ONLY ON ONE CIRCUIT


If the lights on that circuit just go dim, but not brighter,
then this is the classic signs of a loose/bad connecttion.
You will have to start at the beginning and check all connecttions
make sure all are clean and tight.
You could also have a faulty lenght of cable.
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Old 07-18-2013, 06:41 PM   #13
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Lights dim and then go bright - ONLY ON ONE CIRCUIT


Bathroom gfci 20 amp is to be on its own circuit with nothing else except bath light/other bath .NEC

Last edited by hidden 1; 07-18-2013 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 07-18-2013, 07:00 PM   #14
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Lights dim and then go bright - ONLY ON ONE CIRCUIT


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Bathroom gfci 20 amp is to be on its own circuit with nothing else except bath light/other bath .NEC
That wasn't required until the '99 code, if memory serves me correct.

It was very common to put outside receptacles off the bath GFI in those days.
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Old 07-18-2013, 08:02 PM   #15
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Lights dim and then go bright - ONLY ON ONE CIRCUIT


Got a laser printer (or copy machine) connected to that circuit?

Those can cause similar symptoms .....

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