Electrial problem or haunted house??


Old 01-23-03, 06:04 PM
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Question Electrial problem or haunted house??

The darnedest thing is happening in my home. When I turn on the lamp on in my bedroom, the touch lamp on the far side of the room comes on all by itself. Also, when we are watching television, several times the satellite box would go off or on all by itself. Can anyone tell me what is going on in my home?
Thank you.
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Old 01-23-03, 06:17 PM
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These spooky occurrences are actually more common than you'd think. Somebody once said here that the basement lights came on when they turned on the microwave on.

The answer is always some sort of backfeed. There are several ways this can happen. If you turn on a 120-volt fixture and another 120-volt fixture in the same room comes on (as is your case), the answer is likely that you have an open neutral on a multiwire (shared neutral) circuit. Go to the panel and describe the breaker that controls this bedroom. Is it a 2"-wide double-pole breaker with a common trip handle? If so, turn it off and examine that outlet box into which that lamp plugs in. Any red wires in that box?

There are some other backfeed problems if this explanation doesn't work. This can be caused by an open neutral at the panel (where all neutrals are shared).

There are many more possibilities I could mention, but I'll stop for now awaiting more input from you.
Old 01-24-03, 08:27 AM
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I would suggest that even after you turn the breaker off, you check for voltage before checking the receptacle. There is always a possibility that two different circuits have been wired up somewhere.
Old 01-24-03, 10:55 AM
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Touch lamps work by sensing capacitance change. They also respond to spikes in the circuit.

A nice warm, very dry home in the middle of winter = potential for static electricity discharge. If it discharges into the electrical system it can spike the entire house. That might explain why the sat box shuts off -- it's protecting itself against spikes.

Do you get static shocks when you touch the metal screws on the switch plate?

Just a thought ...
Old 01-24-03, 05:45 PM
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RickJ6956, thank you for posting. You suggested a much simpler answer, and more likely, than mine. An interesting experiment would be to temporarily replace that touch lamp with a regular one and see if that also has a problem.

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