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Old 04-18-2009, 10:36 PM   #1
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Possible Breaker Problem


I have strange things going on with my wiring. I have a 3 way switch for my hall lights upstairs. When I turn the hall lights off at either switch, a bunch of other plugs and switches go dark. This has never happened before. I am assuming that if there was an overload situation, the other switches would be affected when I turn these lights on but that isn't the case. Also, when I turn on a ceiling fan light in one of the bedrooms upstairs, these hall lights get much brighter but the bathroom flourescent lights go out. I tried to isolate the breakers for everything upstairs. The bottom 2 breakers on the panel cover everything upstairs. However when you turn those breakers off, the hall lights stay on but they are very dim. There seems to be some kind of bleed over. I don't know if I should start replacing breakers or switches or both.

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Old 04-18-2009, 11:20 PM   #2
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Possible Breaker Problem


When you say the lights go dark or go off do you mean the breaker trips? If so, it sounds more like a short in your wiring and replacing the breaker or switch is not going to help. When you turn a circuit's breaker off nothing should be on not even dim. If it is a short you need to trace that down. I am not an electrician some of the other guys in here will be able to help you out better.

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Old 04-18-2009, 11:26 PM   #3
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Possible Breaker Problem


This sounds like a very bad multi wire branch circuit wiring.

This just started to happen?
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Old 04-18-2009, 11:38 PM   #4
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Possible Breaker Problem


If you have a meter test the voltage coming into your house. Your bulbs going bright sounds like the voltage has spiked.
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Old 04-19-2009, 02:29 AM   #5
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Possible Breaker Problem


Quote:
Originally Posted by mmcgrath View Post
I have strange things going on with my wiring. I have a 3 way switch for my hall lights upstairs. When I turn the hall lights off at either switch, a bunch of other plugs and switches go dark. This has never happened before. I am assuming that if there was an overload situation, the other switches would be affected when I turn these lights on but that isn't the case. Also, when I turn on a ceiling fan light in one of the bedrooms upstairs, these hall lights get much brighter but the bathroom flourescent lights go out. I tried to isolate the breakers for everything upstairs. The bottom 2 breakers on the panel cover everything upstairs. However when you turn those breakers off, the hall lights stay on but they are very dim. There seems to be some kind of bleed over. I don't know if I should start replacing breakers or switches or both.
Look carefully for a bad / loose neutral connection. Turn off all invloved breakers first, test to see it is off.
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Old 04-19-2009, 02:52 AM   #6
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Possible Breaker Problem


Bullet proof neutrals are key in mwbcs.

You need to check for loose neutrals. Unplug all sensitive, expensive equipment on those circuits affected. They will let the magic smoke out if left plugged in.
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Old 04-19-2009, 08:30 AM   #7
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Possible Breaker Problem


Inform your utility company that you may have a loose neutral connection. Their check is usually free, and 90% of the time, the problem is on their side. Also, call an electrician, explain what is happening, and put him (her) on notice that if the POCO doesn't find a problem, you will need a service call ASAP.
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Old 04-19-2009, 10:01 AM   #8
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Are you the same McGrath as on WTOP?
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Old 04-19-2009, 05:30 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by rgsgww View Post
This sounds like a very bad multi wire branch circuit wiring.

This just started to happen?
The situation where a bunch of lights go out when I turn off the hall lights just started yesterday. The issue of these lights getting brighter when another light gets turned on or off has been going on for a while.
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Old 04-19-2009, 05:39 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by mmcgrath View Post
The issue of these lights getting brighter when another light gets turned on or off has been going on for a while.
116v on one side and 124v on the other side means 4v across your bad neutral connection. If it is always the same lights that get brighter their life has been shortened. There might be 20w dissipated in this bad neutral connection so it might be warm.
If you want to torque down the connections watch out for a level 2 arc flash.
http://www.prlog.org/10074699-arc-fl...times-year.jpg
On second thought, make that "be careful of arc flash." You don't want to watch the flash.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 04-19-2009 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 04-19-2009, 09:57 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoyizit View Post
116v on one side and 124v on the other side means 4v across your bad neutral connection. If it is always the same lights that get brighter their life has been shortened. There might be 20w dissipated in this bad neutral connection so it might be warm.
If you want to torque down the connections watch out for a level 2 arc flash.
http://www.prlog.org/10074699-arc-fl...times-year.jpg
On second thought, make that "be careful of arc flash." You don't want to watch the flash.
Mystery Solved! A neutral was fried at the bottom of my breaker panel. This was apparently caused by a rusted cheap light fixture in my kids' bathroom upstairs. I took out the fixture and capped the wires. Will get a new one tomorrow. I cleaned up the white neutral wire and reseated it in the bar on the panel. Thank you all for your help!
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Old 04-19-2009, 10:16 PM   #12
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Possible Breaker Problem


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Originally Posted by mmcgrath View Post
Mystery Solved! A neutral was fried at the bottom of my breaker panel. This was apparently caused by a rusted cheap light fixture in my kids' bathroom upstairs. I took out the fixture and capped the wires. Will get a new one tomorrow. I cleaned up the white neutral wire and reseated it in the bar on the panel. Thank you all for your help!
Glad you found the problem, but the light fixture did not cause it.
It must have been a loose connection :winkbetween the netural and the neutral bar.
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Old 04-19-2009, 10:41 PM   #13
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Glad you found the problem, but the light fixture did not cause it.
It must have been a loose connection :winkbetween the netural and the neutral bar.
The reason I thought the light fixture caused it is because after I restored the negatives in the panel. I went upstairs and started turning on lights to make sure everything was working right. When I turned on the bathroom light fixture, it started burning. It got black and some of the metal looked like it was melting. When I took down the fixture, the wiring underneath was totally rusted and smelled like fire. That is why I figured that this was the original cause of everything. I guess maybe it was just a coincidence.

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