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Old 04-02-2013, 12:45 PM   #1
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Lights on one circuit flicker now after tripping breaker


Recently I remodeled a den and installed recessed lights on a new dedicated circuit. The receptacles in the den are also on their own circuit now, a few of them switch controlled. Everything was great and I hung new sheetrock. As I was vacuuming out drywall dust from the switch boxes I knocked a receptacle switch so that the hot screw contacted the strap from a neighboring light dimmer (3 gang box). I don't know what' that's called (arc?) but...Not Good. Big spark and tripped breaker. I think "no biggie" and flip the breaker back.

But then I did it again in another 3 gang box. Stupid. Just stupid. So I flip the breaker again and consider my lesson learned. But then I noticed that using the microwave caused the recessed den lights to flicker. Even using a 5amp power drill in the den outlets causes the lights the flicker very subtly, like a quick blink of your eye. Vacuum = bigger flicker.

I am 99% sure the lights were not doing this before I goofed. I would have noticed as I'm very sensitive to light flicker and I've been working in this room with the lights on for quite a while. And especially not just from using a 5A power drill in the room.

I've replaced the circuit breakers for the den outlets and lights. I replaced the 3 switches and 1 dimmer that made contact with one another. The lights still flicker when the drill is plugged into the den outlets, or when a vacuum is used on a completely different circuit like in an adjacent kitchen receptacle. The kitchen has 4 similar recessed lights and they don't dim like this.

It's 14/3 wiring, 8 Sylvania BR30 Halogen 50w lights, on a run from 50-75ft in length. All original wiring is from the 80's, from a 200A service panel.

What could I have done to permanently screw myself? And is there anyway to fix it? Do I start by trying to measure any voltage drops at the panel? Please help.


Last edited by shootmenow; 04-13-2013 at 04:20 PM.
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Old 04-02-2013, 12:48 PM   #2
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Lights on one circuit flicker now after tripping breaker


Sounds like you have a loose neutral somewhere in that circuit. I'd start opening devices boxes and checking all of the junctions.

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Old 04-02-2013, 01:45 PM   #3
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Lights on one circuit flicker now after tripping breaker


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Sounds like you have a loose neutral somewhere in that circuit. I'd start opening devices boxes and checking all of the junctions.
Thanks for the suggestions. Just to be clear you mean the circuit the lights are on correct? I'll go through all the switches and dimmers and make sure the neutrals are tight tonight. The recessed lights use those newer push type connectors, and they haven't been touched in a long while so I assume they are still okay.

Also, I plugged a lamp into a den receptacle and it dimmed when using the drill/vacuum plugged into another den receptacle. Again, these receptacles are on their own circuit, when nothing else plugged in right now. So it seems I can't isolate the issue to the light circuit.

Last edited by shootmenow; 04-02-2013 at 02:09 PM.
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Old 04-02-2013, 03:47 PM   #4
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Lights on one circuit flicker now after tripping breaker


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Thanks for the suggestions. Just to be clear you mean the circuit the lights are on correct? I'll go through all the switches and dimmers and make sure the neutrals are tight tonight. The recessed lights use those newer push type connectors, and they haven't been touched in a long while so I assume they are still okay.

Also, I plugged a lamp into a den receptacle and it dimmed when using the drill/vacuum plugged into another den receptacle. Again, these receptacles are on their own circuit, when nothing else plugged in right now. So it seems I can't isolate the issue to the light circuit.
Did you use the screws or backstabbing the new switches and recpts?
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Old 04-02-2013, 04:03 PM   #5
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Lights on one circuit flicker now after tripping breaker


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Did you use the screws or backstabbing the new switches and recpts?
I used the kind that the screw clamps down the small plate on the wire. So not the old backstabbing kind, and not just the screws. Is this type not adequate?
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Old 04-02-2013, 04:06 PM   #6
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Lights on one circuit flicker now after tripping breaker


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I used the kind that the screw clamps down the small plate on the wire. So not the old backstabbing kind, and not just the screws. Is this type not adequate?
Those are fine. I'd go over all your connections from the cb to th last outlet. Loose neutral I bet. Check all wire nuts especially.
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Old 04-13-2013, 04:18 PM   #7
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Lights on one circuit flicker now after tripping breaker


Well after a couple more weeks I've found that the entire house is now flickering more than I remember. For example, every time the A/C comes on. If I turned on my plasma TV it caused a very subtle flicker in a bedroom. Using the vacuum causes the lights to flicker.

The microwave even causes the kitchen lights to flicker. All this flickering is driving me crazy!! I mean, I really don't think things used to be this bad.

Are there any tests I can perform to try to make sure there's nothing I can do? I called an electrician and he said there's nothing I could do. I find it difficult to believe that most other homes have this level of electrical sensitivity.

If I just need to move on with life I can, I just want to make sure there's nothing more I can do about this (aside from rewiring the entire house).
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Old 04-13-2013, 08:15 PM   #8
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Lights on one circuit flicker now after tripping breaker


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Originally Posted by shootmenow View Post
Well after a couple more weeks I've found that the entire house is now flickering more than I remember. For example, every time the A/C comes on. If I turned on my plasma TV it caused a very subtle flicker in a bedroom. Using the vacuum causes the lights to flicker.

The microwave even causes the kitchen lights to flicker. All this flickering is driving me crazy!! I mean, I really don't think things used to be this bad.

Are there any tests I can perform to try to make sure there's nothing I can do? I called an electrician and he said there's nothing I could do. I find it difficult to believe that most other homes have this level of electrical sensitivity.

If I just need to move on with life I can, I just want to make sure there's nothing more I can do about this (aside from rewiring the entire house).
If you say entire house lights do flicker you may have a classic sign of bad netural connection so I think it will be wise to call in electrician on this one even thru you may know what to find but really it quicker and safer to let electrician do this due they know excatally to find where the bad spot will be.

I have see this often on both USA and France side.

Merci,
Marc
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Old 04-13-2013, 10:44 PM   #9
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Lights on one circuit flicker now after tripping breaker


If you're noticing flickering throughout the house on multiple circuits, you may have a problem with the connection of your neutral on your service. If its overhead it would most likely be a neutral supported cable. You can check with a meter what kind of voltage you're getting in your panel from hot to neutral if you're comfortable with that. If you're getting anything other than 117-125v from hot to neutral than it might be your service in which case you should contact your supply company

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