Flickering Lights, Then No Power, Then Partial Power


  #1  
Old 10-28-03, 12:12 PM
kroc0005
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Question Flickering Lights, Then No Power, Then Partial Power

First time posting and certainly not the last. This site has already been informative while looking at the possible problem to my house lights slightly blinking for the last month only to have no power this morning. Then, after 10 minutes, there was power, then stopped again, then regained, but not to the kitchen outlets that include the fridge and microwave.

Let me go back a step. My brother and i bought this house this past May, and one thing we did was grounded almost all of the outlets. The casing for each outlet was an older version, where as we could not just screw a pigtail to the side in a predrilled screwhole. Rather we loosened up a screw on the back of the case that may be just into the wall or something and pigtailed it that way. We did this for about 12 outlets, however did not do the one for the fridge or microwave, yet (we did all the others as we painted the rooms, etc, and worked on them.)

Everything has been good since, until about a month ago. Lights would sometimes dim or flicker for little reason. But i have noticed that the flickering lights did occur sometimes when i wa burnign a CD on the computer.

Ok, back to this morning. Woke up with no power in most of the house. Checked the fuse box, which has a circuit breaker board and a Fuse box connected. All the fuses were fine, not broken and had solid contact. Circuit breakers were all good, we even pushed them on and off just to make sure. None of that worked.

After 10 minutes of messing with that thinking it was the problem, partial power came back on in the form of some light switches and some outlets. The kitchen outlets remain out however. I believe these run on teh 20 amp fuse downstairs.

I have done a lot of reading and searches on this site for possible causes. Seems that there is a possibility of loose wiring somewhere or possibility of a bad switch. My brother will be going home today to check the oulet for which the computer is plugged into right now and make sure the wiring is snug, then checking the rest of them. Then i guess we would be looking at some switches, (there happens to be a dimmer switch in the dining room too if that means anything).

I am a little confused how all the outlets seem to be alright except the kitchen ones. is it possible that what my initial thought is true? A bad outlet wiring or switch that piggy backs or whatever the term is to the kitchen? Or is it possible the fuse box has gone bad? Just wondering some thoughts out there. let me know if you need more detail, i will find out what may have initially been turned on in the morning to cause the intial outage.

Kroc0005
 
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Old 10-28-03, 12:18 PM
R
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How did you ground the outlets?
 
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Old 10-28-03, 12:48 PM
kroc0005
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Like i mentioned, the outlets all ended up being grounded in the back of the older metal casing. There is a screw on the back of the casing that might have been attached to the wall behind it or holding the conduit, i am not sure. But I pig tailed the ground wire to the screw by loosening it up and then tightening it back down. The screw was not the green ground screw you can buy in stores. But again, i feel/know i made it as tight and clean as possible. The electric in the house probable dates back 25+ years as the wiring going to the boxes have the cloth-like sheath on them.
 
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Old 10-28-03, 12:49 PM
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If the power is going out to all or most of the house the service is the first place to look however it is NO PLACE for a beginner. If you have experience in the panel check the breakers,bus and main lugs and make sure they are tight. If everything looks good then have power co. check the service and meter socket.

Now to your ground statement, are the branch circuits in this house fed with cable or wires in a pipe. is there a ground in the cable (if there is cable) Sounds to me you may have made a mistake in your method of attaching the ground wire.


Let me stress THE PANEL IS NO PLACE FOR A BEGINNER.
if you have no experience in a panel you have no buisness in one.Get a professional if there is any doubt.

If the power outtages do not affect the majority of the house then individual circuits may be the culprate. Keep track of what is going out let us know your findings and get your hands on some test equipment so you can troubleshoot these problems as they occur.
 
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Old 10-28-03, 12:52 PM
kroc0005
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Sparky and RacCraft, thank you both for your response. Sparky, I am wondering if it has something to do with the panel.

Again, thanks for the response, my bro went home and replaced the fuse that appeared unbroken for the kitchen and that fixed the power to that local area, so that is a good thing, frozen food again.

But, the lights are still flickering every now and then, the computer is unplugged so that outlet can be ruled out? It may be occuring with fridge turning on and off though. The flicker is usually momentaneous and then not repeated for a while. We are contemplating putting a new outlet on the fridge one and checking that out.

one more thing, the fridge appears to be 15-20 years old too, and looks it. Wondering if the older fridge has something to do with drawing power or efficiency and effect on the box.
 
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Old 10-28-03, 12:55 PM
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It is not uncommon for the lights to flicker when a large appliance starts up(fridge ,freezer, furnace or airconditioner) how is this house wired conduit or cable?
 
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Old 10-28-03, 01:00 PM
kroc0005
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I believe when you say conduit you are talking the metal tube that would run through the house carrying the wiring. I believe this is the way it is. Cable, i am not as familiar with. The house was built in 1952 (minneapolis, mn suburb) and like my comments mentioning before the wiring is the older clothed-sheathed wiring, with no grounding wiring being part of it.

I hear you about the flickering, but the strange thing is that it has seemed to start occurring more so and more noticeably or profound within the past month. It was not really noticed for the first 3months we owned the home if at all as we are now experiencing it.
 
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Old 10-28-03, 01:04 PM
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Conduit=solid metal tube not flexable.

BX = metal spiral semi flexable

Cable-Romex= plastic or cloth covered cable with wires inside (kinda like an extension cord.

How do you know the box you are using is grounded?
 
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Old 10-28-03, 01:49 PM
kroc0005
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I am certain the majority is conduit, definitely not romex.

As far as knowing it is grounded, i guess i don't. How can you tell? Am i exposing myself and appliances/electronics to possible problems by creating grounded outlets as i have and them possibly not being grounded? I wanted to be able to put surge protectors on some outlets that had a TV and Receiver. That is why i put polarized plug ins on there.
 
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Old 10-28-03, 02:07 PM
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it sounds like you might have a loose line or neutral connection somewhere. The fact that the whole house is affected leads me to this conclusion. If it is a loose neutral, this is a very dangerous situation where extreemely high voltages can be developed. I would call the power company immediately and have them check their system (it should be free) and if they find nothing, then call an electrician. This should be done ASAP!
 
 

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