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Old 09-24-2010, 08:17 PM   #1
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Lights flicker irregularly since storm


We had a pretty major thunderstorm recently. Plenty of lightning and intense rain/wind, poles were knocked down, and we lost power for about 3 hours. When the power came back on, I noticed that my kitchen ceiling fan light would intermittently flicker. By flicker I mean go dim like the A/C or a major load was being turned on and then come back (but no major load was turning on). I thought this was an aftereffect of the storm and just forgot about it. I don't remember seeing it yesterday, but today I definitely noticed it. I then looked another ceiling fan light on the circuit and it was doing the same thing. I was about ready to check the switches (which were the only things I had even touched prior to the storm) when I turned on another light on a different circuit and noticed it there. All would flicker simultaneously. At the time I had a floor fan and dishwasher going, but I stopped the dishwasher and it flickered and I stopped the floor fan (d/w still on) and it flickered.

There appears to be no regularity or direct cause of it. The frequency has reduced tremendously since that first 45 minutes (I know have most lights in the house on to try and catch the flicker), but it was happening twice in a span of a minute before. As I've sat here with the light on, it hasn't happened once. I did manage to catch the twice in a minute on video though.

I will check the work that I was doing earlier that day to ensure all the connections are secure. However, both the circuit I was working on that day and the circuits where the lights are flickering are on AFCIs. Because of the virtually complete confidence I have that this did not happen before the storm, I am wondering if this is something I should contact my power company to check? and either way, what could be causing this?


Last edited by DIYnewbie9; 09-24-2010 at 08:25 PM.
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Old 09-24-2010, 08:54 PM   #2
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Lights flicker irregularly since storm


The problem is likely between your electrical panel and the utility pole transformer inclusive.

Do incandescent lights flicker on all circuits connected to one side or (misnomer) "phase" of your 12-0/240 volt line and there is no flicker on all circuits connected to the other side of the line?

Do any incandescent lights get brighter than they should be?

Where the problem is requires troubleshooting with a voltmeter. It's your choice whether to call the power company first and let them check their side ("outside" from the meter to the pole transformer or whether you want to call an electrician and check your side "inside" first.

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Last edited by AllanJ; 09-25-2010 at 07:57 AM.
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Old 09-24-2010, 09:50 PM   #3
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Lights flicker irregularly since storm


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Do incandescent lights flicker on all circuits connected to one side of your 12-0/240 volt line and there is no flicker on all circuits connected to the other side of the line?
By one side or the other, I assume you mean the left and right side of my breaker box? Assuming that is correct, then no. The lights I observed simultaneously flickering were on different circuits on different sides of the box.

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Do any incandescent lights get brighter than they should be?
I haven't noticed this.
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Old 09-24-2010, 10:18 PM   #4
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Lights flicker irregularly since storm


what he is talking about is the possibility of a loose neutral on power co.side.in other words from power pole to house.just call power co and have them check it out...
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Old 09-25-2010, 07:25 AM   #5
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Lights flicker irregularly since storm


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Do incandescent lights flicker on all circuits connected to one side of your 12-0/240 volt line and there is no flicker on all circuits connected to the other side of the line?
I believe AllanJ is referring to the actual 'legs' or buss-bars in your breaker panel, not left or right side. If you look at a panelboard without the breakers installed, you'll see that breaker position 1 (upper-left) and breaker position 2 (upper-right) share the same buss. The next slot(s) down, breaker positions 3 & 4, share the other buss.
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Old 09-25-2010, 07:41 AM   #6
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Lights flicker irregularly since storm


I had the exact same problem when I first moved into my new (to me) house. I discovered that the neutral was corroded at my panel. This was caused by the protective jacket on the service entrance being old and leaking, which allowed moisture to get all the way down into the panel, and corroding the neutral connection. I ended up having to replacing everything from the service entrance down to the panel (Ouch$$)
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Old 09-25-2010, 09:28 AM   #7
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Lights flicker irregularly since storm


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Originally Posted by SD515 View Post
I believe AllanJ is referring to the actual 'legs' or buss-bars in your breaker panel, not left or right side. If you look at a panelboard without the breakers installed, you'll see that breaker position 1 (upper-left) and breaker position 2 (upper-right) share the same buss. The next slot(s) down, breaker positions 3 & 4, share the other buss.
I think I understand. Assuming every other row of breakers is on the same buss, then the two sets of lights I've noticed the flickering on are on the same buss. I did not start looking at other circuits until the frequency of the actual flickering died down. Breaker 19 and Breaker 24 were where I noticed the flickering.

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I had the exact same problem when I first moved into my new (to me) house. I discovered that the neutral was corroded at my panel. This was caused by the protective jacket on the service entrance being old and leaking, which allowed moisture to get all the way down into the panel, and corroding the neutral connection. I ended up having to replacing everything from the service entrance down to the panel (Ouch$$)
The whole service and panel was just upgraded to 200 Amps a few months ago so hopefully this is not the case...
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Old 09-26-2010, 12:30 AM   #8
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Lights flicker irregularly since storm


I will advise ya to call the POCO to check out their side somecase it can get loosen up and cause the lights to fliker like you descibing so they can come out any time 24/7 useally without any charge to come out.

Once that sorted out then we will go from there.

Merci.
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Old 09-26-2010, 10:31 PM   #9
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Lights flicker irregularly since storm


Power company came out and redid the connections at the pole. Haven't noticed any flickering, but I'll keep an eye out for it. Yesterday we didn't see any flickering, but we lost power for about 5 seconds for no apparent reason (calm weather) which has never happened before.
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Old 09-27-2010, 07:40 AM   #10
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Lights flicker irregularly since storm


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, but we lost power for about 5 seconds for no apparent reason (calm weather) which has never happened before.
If a not so dry branch or a squirrel or other object should short circuit some high tension or medium tension lines, this may drop the voltage almost to zero causing a momentary outage on those lines until the object burns completely through. Also there are arc fault circuit interrupters at substations that will kill the power, wait a few seconds for any suspected arc short circuits to die down, then reconnect the power. Sometimes what was the short circuit will not strike another arc. If the arc resumes then the AFCI trips again, and after so many tries the AFCI will not reset and the power company must send someone out to survey the lines, find the fault, manually remove it, and manually reset the AFCI.
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Old 09-27-2010, 10:33 PM   #11
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Lights flicker irregularly since storm


Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
If a not so dry branch or a squirrel or other object should short circuit some high tension or medium tension lines, this may drop the voltage almost to zero causing a momentary outage on those lines until the object burns completely through. Also there are arc fault circuit interrupters at substations that will kill the power, wait a few seconds for any suspected arc short circuits to die down, then reconnect the power. Sometimes what was the short circuit will not strike another arc. If the arc resumes then the AFCI trips again, and after so many tries the AFCI will not reset and the power company must send someone out to survey the lines, find the fault, manually remove it, and manually reset the AFCI.
The POCO verison of AFCI is what they called Recloser it function simauir to AFCI but it have timer build in and when it trip at first they will stay off for few seconds and reclose it and if still keep tripping the recloser it will kick open one more time but much longer delay and reclose and if still tripping it then it will stay open until the POCO clear up the fault then manually reset the recloser.

The recloser is basically modifed medum / high voltage oil circuit breaker with current transfomer inside and POCO can set the trip level as need to and they will come in few differnt size to suit it needs.

I have work on that system before so I am famuair with it.

Merci.
Marc

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