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Old 03-09-2010, 12:48 PM   #1
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"Slow" electricity?


Forgive me if I'm using horribly simplified and/or incorrect terminology.

It seems that a certain number of outlets, all along the same branch to our bathrooms aren't providing enough power to electrical appliances, or at least that's my simpleton diagnosis.

From original construction (circa 1980), there is a very small (read.. not heavy duty) bathroom circulation fan in the ceiling that always seems to take about 5-7 minutes to "warm up" - that's the only way to describe it... I flip the switch on, and its very very slow for a few minutes until it gets to full speed, some days longer other days fairly quick. I chalked this up to a 25+ year old unit that we'd be replacing soon enough.

Separately, my wife complains about needing a new hair dryer because her's was "dying" - not working at full capacity. Recently, we were travelling and she plugged that same hair dryer into the hotel's outlets and it was at full capacity.

Do we have a wiring problem? If you need more specifics on my setup, let me know what you need to know and I'll follow up with those... setup wise, pictures, testing stuff out, etc..

Right off the bat, there are 2 bathrooms on a dedicated circuit from the breaker (I'm in a condo). The first bathroom in the line has a GFCI outlet installed, protecting the second bathroom down the line as well.

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Old 03-09-2010, 01:00 PM   #2
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"Slow" electricity?


I'd look for a loose connection somewhere. Could also be the breaker is not completely seated on the buss.

Assuming the fan is not on the same circuit, it is probably worn out.


Last edited by brric; 03-09-2010 at 01:01 PM. Reason: additional
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Old 03-09-2010, 01:13 PM   #3
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"Slow" electricity?


first, the condo issue.

is this owned or rental? If rental, you need to call management and have them fix it. If owned, you still need to check your CC&R's and state rules to determine if you can do any work on the electrical. Often times, in a common building situation such as a condo, you cannot do any work that might endanger other occupants of the same building.



so, once you have determined you can work on the system, you need to check the circuit with a voltmeter while nothing on the circuit is "on". If your voltage is low (as compared to the main service voltage), you need to see it the low voltage is present at the breaker or only in the field.

If it is low at the breaker, reseating or replacing the breaker should take care of the problem.

If only in the field, it is most likely due to a poor connection somewhere in the circuit.

So, if the voltage is normal, plug the hairdryer in (and turn it on "high" and "high heat") and check the voltage on the circuit by checking at some recep or any place you can that is near the point of use.

then, again, determine if the low voltage is also present at the panel or only in the field.

same reasons apply as if there was no load.

so, to check connections in th e circuit, you will simply need to track the circuit through the home and check all the connections. If you have back stab receptacles, they are notorious for causing problems and you should consider simply replacing them as you come across them in an effort to fix this problem and avoiding problems in the future.
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Old 03-09-2010, 04:26 PM   #4
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"Slow" electricity?


Quick test. If you don't have a voltmeter but do have an incandescent light, plug that into that circuit. Then turn on your hair dryer. If the light dims severely, then you have a loose connection problem.
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Old 03-10-2010, 02:11 PM   #5
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"Slow" electricity?


Thanks for the quick and helpful replies so far...

briic - fan is on same circuit as outlets (determined by flipping the breaker off)

nap - condo is owned by me. We are allowed to do electrical work inside the unit without their permission, unless its a major demolition/tear out then they just want licenses filed in the main office.

nap and briic - you both mentiond the breaker potentially not seated well on the panel.. is this something I can just "jiggle" in without potentially causing too much damage? I've worked with wiring down stream when the circuit has been turned off, but never really inside the panel.

nap and allanj - I don't have a voltmeter yet, I've been meaning to get one in any case and really learn to use it, so this is as good a reason as any... I will pick up today and report back as soon as I try out the voltmeter and the light method.
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Old 03-10-2010, 02:58 PM   #6
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"Slow" electricity?


Quote:
Originally Posted by LeviDIY View Post
Thanks for the quick and helpful replies so far...

briic - fan is on same circuit as outlets (determined by flipping the breaker off)

nap - condo is owned by me. We are allowed to do electrical work inside the unit without their permission, unless its a major demolition/tear out then they just want licenses filed in the main office.

nap and briic - you both mentiond the breaker potentially not seated well on the panel.. is this something I can just "jiggle" in without potentially causing too much damage? I've worked with wiring down stream when the circuit has been turned off, but never really inside the panel.

nap and allanj - I don't have a voltmeter yet, I've been meaning to get one in any case and really learn to use it, so this is as good a reason as any... I will pick up today and report back as soon as I try out the voltmeter and the light method.
If it's loose you may be able to just push it in without removing the panel cover.
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Old 03-10-2010, 03:03 PM   #7
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"Slow" electricity?


most residential electrical panel breakers either clip onto a bus or fit into a hole in the bus (bad now defunct brands). you should be able to simply push on the face of the breaker and possibly wiggle it a bit.


what kind of panel do you have and does it have single main breaker?

If s single main breaker, you can turn off the main breaker and with MOST panels, the bus is no longer energized but do not count on that since we do not know what kind of panel you do have.

I suspect it is not the breaker but impossible to tell without actually looking and checking. More common is a bad connection in the field.

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