Forums | Home Repair | Home Improvement | Painting | Interior Decorating | Remodeling | Landscaping


Go Back   DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum > Home Improvement > Electrical

CLICK HERE AND JOIN OUR COMMUNITY TODAY...IT'S FREE!

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 08-04-2011, 03:36 PM   #1
Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 50
Share |
Default

lights surge when appliances start.


We have a small house and starting to notice all the quirks.

The latest is the lights in all the house surge brighter when any appliance kicks in (fridge, dishwasher, washer, vacuum, etc.)

Last night I noticed that the lighted switch on the surge protector glowed bright when the compressor in the fridge started.

Is this an issue, or indicative of something possibly wrong?

The electrical system in the house was updated at some point and the home inspector mentioned that the breakers are in excess. 900sqr ft. house plus garage has 3 panels with over 20 breakers. (all the breakers but one are 20Amp). There is one old knob and tube line still hooked up but the rest is all romex cable.

The light surge is definitely noticeable and seeing the surge protecter glow bright made me wonder if the surges might actually damage something.

What do you say?

thanks.


Last edited by fromscratch; 08-04-2011 at 04:53 PM.
fromscratch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-04-2011, 04:02 PM   #2
Mad Scientist
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 749
Default

lights surge when appliances start.


If your lights are getting brighter when appliances are turned on, you have a loose netural somewhere. First thing to do would be to call the power company and have them come and check their connections. Keep any valuable electronics and appliances unplugged until you get this figured out. Under the right circumstances a loose neutral can cause voltages to swing pretty wildly, and it can cause damage to appliances.

McSteve is online now   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to McSteve For This Useful Post:
fromscratch (08-04-2011)
Old 08-04-2011, 04:02 PM   #3
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Manitoba, Canada
Posts: 127
Default

lights surge when appliances start.


Quote:
Originally Posted by fromscratch View Post
We just bought a small house and starting to notice all the quirks.

The latest is the lights in all the house surge brighter when any appliance kicks in (fridge, dishwasher, washer, vacuum, etc.)

Last night I noticed that the lighted switch on the surge protector glowed bright when the compressor in the fridge started.

Is this an issue, or indicative of something possibly wrong?

The electrical system in the house was updated at some point and the home inspector mentioned that the breakers are in excess. 900sqr ft. house plus garage has 3 breaker boxes with over 20 breakers. (all the breakers but one are 20Amp). There is one old knob and tube line still hooked up but the rest is all romex cable.

The light surge is definitely noticeable and seeing the surge protecter glow bright made me wonder if the surges might actually damage something.

What do you say?

thanks.
A light "surge" is a problem. Most will notice a voltage drop when a large appliance kicks in on startup. This will make the lights dim shortly. A surge has me thinking that you may have a neutral problem in one or more circuits.
CheapCharlie is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to CheapCharlie For This Useful Post:
fromscratch (08-04-2011)
Old 08-04-2011, 04:17 PM   #4
Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 50
Default

lights surge when appliances start.


Quote:
Originally Posted by CheapCharlie View Post
A light "surge" is a problem. Most will notice a voltage drop when a large appliance kicks in on startup. This will make the lights dim shortly. A surge has me thinking that you may have a neutral problem in one or more circuits.
Can you give me an example of a "neutral problem"? So I know what I'm looking for.

Extra information:

There is a breaker box in the back of the house that is connected to the front box with #6 Cu run through a 60A breaker. The fridge is run through this back breaker. The surge protector I saw glow was plugged into an outlet that is wired to the breaker on the front of the house. That outlet is on the knob and tube line.
fromscratch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-04-2011, 04:22 PM   #5
Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 50
Default

lights surge when appliances start.


-Mcsteve
Sorry didn't see your post.
So is this most likely an issue with the connection at the box? Is there any way that wiring within the house would cause this?

Could I flip each breaker individually to see if it remedies the "light surge" and thus identify the problem line?

thanks
fromscratch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-04-2011, 04:22 PM   #6
Mad Scientist
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 749
Default

lights surge when appliances start.


If it is a problem with the power company's connections, it's not really something you can look for. It'll be at the pole, at the splices where the power company wires attach to your house, or inside the meter. If they come out and tell you it's not their issue, then we can go from there. A fair majority of the time though, it does end up being the power company's problem.

If you call them and tell them some of your lights are getting brighter when appliances come on, and that you think you have a loose service neutral, they will typically send an emergency crew out ASAP to check it out for you.
McSteve is online now   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to McSteve For This Useful Post:
fromscratch (08-05-2011)
Old 08-04-2011, 04:26 PM   #7
Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 50
Default

lights surge when appliances start.


Quote:
Originally Posted by McSteve View Post
...you have a loose netural somewhere.
I did notice that there is an outlet in the house that doesn't work. If by chance the neutral wire was loose on this outlet could that cause the "light surge?"
fromscratch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-04-2011, 04:30 PM   #8
Mad Scientist
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 749
Default

lights surge when appliances start.


A loose neutral on one circuit will only affect that circuit. Am I understanding correctly that more than one circuit seems to be affected, and that circuits from more than one panel are involved? Is one of the two panels you mentioned the main panel?
McSteve is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-04-2011, 04:38 PM   #9
Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 50
Default

lights surge when appliances start.


Quote:
Originally Posted by McSteve View Post
A loose neutral on one circuit will only affect that circuit. Am I understanding correctly that more than one circuit seems to be affected, and that circuits from more than one panel are involved? Is one of the two panels you mentioned the main panel?
Yes to both questions. (I was calling a circuit a "line"). The mains from the street run into the panel I mentioned at the front of the house. The lines "look" secure there. However, I'll call the power company this afternoon and ask them to look into it.

Thanks again.
fromscratch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-04-2011, 05:29 PM   #10
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cairns Australia
Posts: 2,104
Default

lights surge when appliances start.


Sounds like its affecting the whole house,
So its most likely a problem at the main feed end.
If you can safely get to your main switch,
Put a volt meter on it,
Then get someone to turn on some solid loads.
Observe the response on the meter,
If you think it is significant,
Then talk to poco about it.
Otherwise there could be a problem with your
serrvice lines or main switch/connections.
dmxtothemax is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-05-2011, 01:19 PM   #11
Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 50
Default

lights surge when appliances start.


THANKS! You guys were right on about a faulty neutral.

I called the power company. Told them to put a note in the service request to check for a faulty neutral.

I got an automated phone call saying there would be a power outage in my neighborhood. Then I got a second call 15 mins later saying the power was restored.

Then when I got home there was a service receipt on the door that said "Faulty Neutral, Checked power at main, problem repaired."

Lights are steady now. Thanks again.
fromscratch is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to fromscratch For This Useful Post:
CheapCharlie (08-05-2011), mpoulton (08-05-2011)
Old 08-05-2011, 01:20 PM   #12
Mad Scientist
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 749
Default

lights surge when appliances start.


Great! Thanks for coming back to let us know how it worked out.

McSteve is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Two Lights, Two Switches Headache darveaux Electrical 13 01-21-2011 11:47 AM
lights dim, appliances won't run bugsaroo Electrical 1 12-09-2010 10:21 PM
New lights in basement CooperChloe Electrical 11 01-11-2009 11:22 AM
adding lights mharwell01 Electrical 1 01-03-2009 03:59 PM
Added can lights, tripping GFI tandyt Electrical 3 05-18-2008 09:55 AM




Top of Page | View New Posts

Copyright © 2003-2014 Escalate Media. All Rights Reserved.