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Old 02-10-2009, 11:26 PM   #1
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Lights flickering between dim and normal


My kitchen, bathroom and study lights all seem to do this, but not all of the time, it seems to be when the fridge kicks in the compressor. Should I just get my electrician to check and make sure there are not too many circuits on one breaker?

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Old 02-11-2009, 01:06 AM   #2
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Lights flickering between dim and normal


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My kitchen, bathroom and study lights all seem to do this, but not all of the time, it seems to be when the fridge kicks in the compressor. Should I just get my electrician to check and make sure there are not too many circuits on one breaker?
Do they just flicker for a second or two when the fridge starts or is it longer? Has it always done this? Does anything get brighter than normal?
Jamie

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Old 02-11-2009, 02:03 AM   #3
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Lights flickering between dim and normal


Its not for long but I think it may have something to do with the new security light I have just fitted. I removed an old external light in the carport, went into attic added a junction box and extended the wire, then connected up the new light, maybe I have a loose connection? Or maybe I now have way too many connections to the one breaker. I noticed that when I turned it off to install the security light it turned off, bathroom fan and light, all kitchen lights(3), all external lights(2), at least 2 internal sockets and the dining room light, is that too many connections for one breaker?
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Old 02-11-2009, 12:53 PM   #4
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Lights flickering between dim and normal


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Its not for long but I think it may have something to do with the new security light I have just fitted. I removed an old external light in the carport, went into attic added a junction box and extended the wire, then connected up the new light, maybe I have a loose connection? Or maybe I now have way too many connections to the one breaker. I noticed that when I turned it off to install the security light it turned off, bathroom fan and light, all kitchen lights(3), all external lights(2), at least 2 internal sockets and the dining room light, is that too many connections for one breaker?
It does sound like you have a lot of stuff running on that circuit. I would try to divide it up some more if at all possible. A loose connection is possible (but I suspect this is mainly due to the load you have on this circuit) as well, and it is always a good idea to double check your connections (especially if you have any connections made via the back of outlets).

In general, You can have as many connections as you want on a circuit, it is a matter of what the fixtures / lights draw. Depending on the wattage of the bulbs and what else gets plugged into this circuit, you may very well be pushing the upper limit.

The security light, depending on the type, could draw 8Amps or more on its own. If this is a 15A circuit, that could be more than half of the capacity right there. Putting that on a new circuit might be a good place to start, sounds like it might be easier for you to rewire that one than some of the other finished rooms in your house.

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Old 02-11-2009, 12:58 PM   #5
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Lights flickering between dim and normal


Thanks for your advice, I will see if I can move the new security light to a different circuit, I dont think having 2 security lights on the circuit has made it too happy, the light I replaced was just one 40watt bulb.
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Old 02-11-2009, 01:07 PM   #6
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Lights flickering between dim and normal


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Thanks for your advice, I will see if I can move the new security light to a different circuit, I dont think having 2 security lights on the circuit has made it too happy, the light I replaced was just one 40watt bulb.
Thats a good first step, and will hopefully be fairly easy.

I would suggest that when you have some help, you make a diagram of all the outlets / lights in your house. Turn off a breaker, go around the house with a plug tester or a lamp and check all the outlets and lights, once you find out what is dead, right it down in detail, and turn the breaker back on and move to the next one and do the same. This will help give you a better idea of what is connected where. You may also find circuits that have very little on them, and are good places to tie into or move circuits to. There are some rules, atleast in the US, that say that you need to keep certain outlets separated, like the kitchen counter top outlets. Just something to consider before you tap into another circuit.

Double checking your connections, old and new would still be a good idea. Wire that are connected to the back of outlets, via push in connections (back stab style) are known failure points. If you buy new outlets, buy Clamp Down style outlets (you put the wire in the side, then you have to turn a screw until it is tight to hold the wire in place, then you have to unscrew it to remove the wire), they are very easy to work with and very reliable, imo.

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Old 02-11-2009, 01:21 PM   #7
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Lights flickering between dim and normal


Thanks for the help I was just talking to my electrician, he added a whole new panel for me last year as the old one was full. He suggested I do the same thing and turn everything off and then go round the house and check every light, and socket and mark it all down accurately. He did run a completely new line for a washing machine up into my attic that he said we could tap into, if the washing machine draws low amps as it has its own dedicated circuit from the panel. This would be a very easy fix with a junction box to split the supply down to my security light which I guess does not need to have a switch for On/Off like it has now, I want it on all the time.
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:33 AM   #8
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Lights flickering between dim and normal


If lights on different branch circuits flicker when the fridge or other major appliance comes on, you need to be aware of possible loose connections in the panel, which can damage the panel and force replacement.

Feel around the breakers (with the cover still on) for any warmth. If so your panel definitely needs attention although no warmth does not rule out panel problems.

If the main breaker is loose, you should have a professional tighten it and this may require that the power company come and turn off your power for a few hours.

Things you can do yourself in the panel are, tightening the set screws holding neutral and ground wires in place, and tightening the screws holding the hot branch circuit wires to the breakers (with the respective breaker off). Do not use tremendous strength. Also unsnapping and resnapping each breaker into the panel which cleans off the contact underneath (inspect underneath but do not touch the fin the breaker snaps on to). Should there be blackening or deformation, you may need to move the breaker to a different slot. If the breaker does not snap on tightly you should replace the breaker.
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:50 AM   #9
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Lights flickering between dim and normal


By your description of the branch circuit, I would not say that it is overloaded, unless as mentioned by Jamie, the security lighting is a very heavy load (I've never heard of one that draws 8A, but I don't have much experience there).

I would certainly suspect loose connections in the junction box(s).
What I do to test connections is; with power off, give a strong pull to each wire under the wirenut to make sure none come out of the nut.
Do same for receptacles that have back-wiring. I never use the "stab" connections, but even with clamp/screw back-wired you can get a wire pulling out if the screw wasn't properly tightened, or the wire was not straight when inserted.

You might want to analyze the refrigerator as well. If it is drawing intermittently heavy current, then the compressor may be going bad.

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Old 02-16-2009, 12:53 AM   #10
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Lights flickering between dim and normal


This issue seems to have gotten worse as now when I turn on my dryer the lights dim and if the TV is on it buzes for a few seconds when the dryer starts up. The dryer is on its own seperate circuit so the circuits cannot be the problem. Could the issue be with the mains connection to my panel itself?
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Old 02-16-2009, 02:11 AM   #11
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Lights flickering between dim and normal


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Originally Posted by wedge22 View Post
This issue seems to have gotten worse as now when I turn on my dryer the lights dim and if the TV is on it buzes for a few seconds when the dryer starts up. The dryer is on its own seperate circuit so the circuits cannot be the problem. Could the issue be with the mains connection to my panel itself?
it is possiable you service neutral is going bad. Usally the problems are very substansial when this happens. But a pro should check out your panel. Or Atleast call the power co to check things over. Jamie
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Old 02-16-2009, 10:23 AM   #12
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Lights flickering between dim and normal


>>> gotten worse

Stop using the dryer and any other heavy current appliance. Should there be a problem in your panel or meter box, the more and longer heavy current is drawn, the more likely rapid self destruction of components could take place.

Loose connections carrying a lot of current tend to heat up, oxidize, melt or deform, allow arcing (current jumping through air as sparks) and get worse rapidly.

If you keep power usage to less than modest levels, then many problems including under the main breaker in your panel might stay fixable.

If you use a voltmeter and measure from the breaker screw to neutral for several breakers and get the same kind of voltage dip when an appliance is turned on, chances are you have a problem in the main breaker or beyond.

The average handyman or homeowner should not disassemble the main breaker or any electrical parts beyond, on out to the street.
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Old 02-16-2009, 01:46 PM   #13
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Lights flickering between dim and normal


Called the power company today, they are sending out an engineer to check the service going into the panel, if thats all ok then I guess I need an electrician to check the panel.
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Old 02-16-2009, 02:57 PM   #14
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Lights flickering between dim and normal


If you turn off a dryer drawing 30A, the 240v at the panel should increase no more than 30(24) = ~700 mV, and typically 10x less than this.
Removing a 10A load at outlets should increase the voltage at the outlet by less than 3v or so, out of 120v.
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Old 02-16-2009, 10:50 PM   #15
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Lights flickering between dim and normal


Still no visit from the BC Hydro guy, hopefully he will come by tomorrow and check things out. Its all starting to stress me out now, lights dimming, appliances not running at full power. Tonight whilst my wife was showering she said the water was going from hot to cold, I have no idea why as our water heater is a tank and its gas.

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