DIY Home Improvement Forum banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
394 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi there,


Various lights in my house started flickering last night. All the lights are on one circuit.


I went down to the electric panel and when multiple lights on this circuit were on I could hear a sporadic "buzzing" sound. Researching causes online lead me to believe that the cause is either a bad breaker or a loose connection at the breaker that simply has to be tightened.


The question is, how can I tell which it is?


I'm not a fan of doing any electrical work at the panel but if I simply need to tighten a screw I don't want to pay an electrician $150 to ring my doorbell and tighten a screw. If I do it myself, is it simply a matter of turning off the main breaker, removing the panel cover, and tightening the screw on the breaker? Do I need to use a voltage detector or am I fine once I turn off the main breaker?


Any help would be appreciated.


Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
37,178 Posts
Really flickering, or getting brighter then dimmer?
Shut off the breaker all the way and see if the buzzing stops.
Reset the breaker and see if it's still buzzing.
Shutting off the main will kill the power to the breakers, but the main incoming lines will still be hot.
To just work on the breaker there should be no reason to be touching the main lines.
I would remove the wire and pop out the breaker to check for burn marks on the buss.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
394 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Really flickering, or getting brighter then dimmer?
Shut off the breaker all the way and see if the buzzing stops.
Reset the breaker and see if it's still buzzing.
Shutting off the main will kill the power to the breakers, but the main incoming lines will still be hot.
To just work on the breaker there should be no reason to be touching the main lines.
I would remove the wire and pop out the breaker to check for burn marks on the buss.

It's more of getting brighter then dimmer. I've seen some youtube videos of "real" flickering on chandeliers and that almost looks like a fireworks show. That is NOT what I am experiencing. Mine is just dimming, almost like what you get when you turn a blow dryer on, except that it doesn't happen just once (and it's not correlated to any big appliances turning on).


Do I need to turn off the main breaker or can I just turn of the individual breaker I'm working on?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
37,178 Posts
If this is the case then I'd be calling the power company's emergency # ASAP and have them come out and check out there side of the lines.
Hope it's not but it can be a sign of a loose or dropped neutral wire which can destroy any thing that's plugged in at the time.
The call and service is free.
If it was my house I'd shut off the main until they check it.
If it is a loose or dropped neutral this is not a I'll wait and see what happens situation!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
394 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
If this is the case then I'd be calling the power company's emergency # ASAP and have them come out and check out there side of the lines.
Hope it's not but it can be a sign of a loose or dropped neutral wire which can destroy any thing that's plugged in at the time.
The call and service is free.
If it was my house I'd shut off the main until they check it.
If it is a loose or dropped neutral this is not a I'll wait and see what happens situation!

Thanks, Joe. I already called the power co and they didn't seem too concerned about it. They put an order in but it may be a couple of days as there are power outages that they are prioritizing.


I'm trying to figure out the best way ahead assuming it's on my end. Could it be as simple as tightening a screw?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
20,923 Posts
If all the lights are on one circuit turn of the breaker to that circuit. Easy enough to find. The light will go off when you get the right one.
Then you can pull the breaker and inspect it and the connections for the wire. If your not comfortable working in the panel, call an electrician.
Some brands of panels are more prone to this problem and you may get a recommendation to replace the whole panel.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
394 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
then it is not the lines coming into the house....look at the one breaker and change it out would be the cheapest start...also check the neutral on that line, make sure all connections for that circuit are tight..


Should I just tighten the connection first and see if that does the trick? If so, should I turn off the main breaker before tightening the screw, or just turn off that one breaker?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,104 Posts
you can turn off that breaker, just be careful not to hit any live wires, wear some rubber gloves just as an extra.....trace the white wire that comes in with the black wire that goes to the breaker and make sure that wire is secured in the screw..I usually have a dedicated screwdriver with an insulated handle and put rubber tubing all the way down to the blade end so only the very last 1/2 inch is metal showing...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
394 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
you can turn off that breaker, just be careful not to hit any live wires, wear some rubber gloves just as an extra.....trace the white wire that comes in with the black wire that goes to the breaker and make sure that wire is secured in the screw..I usually have a dedicated screwdriver with an insulated handle and put rubber tubing all the way down to the blade end so only the very last 1/2 inch is metal showing...

Should I just turn off the main breaker instead of taking all those precautions? I don't have an insulated screwdriver which is why I'm asking.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
317 Posts
If it makes you feel safer, sure. For me, it depends on how crowded the box it, if I think I might slip with the screw driver, if the cat might come up behind me and scare me, etc. Some people resist turning off the whole house since they will have to reboot computers, reset clocks, etc. Personally, that is preferred over getting shocked or worse.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
37,178 Posts
I've never once cut off the main to just check or remove a breaker.
Rubber gloves, tubing on the screw driver, way over kill.
Not going to do any harm if you kill the main, just not really needed to do the simple check your trying to do.
Once the breakers off there is no power to the screw on the breaker.
What's the brand of the panel?
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top