Lights flickering

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  #1  
Old 11-04-04, 07:52 PM
bobsox
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Lights flickering

I got a problem with flickering. I have a 2 story house with 200amp service. 100amp panel downstairs and 100amp upstairs with a Disconnect for whole house downstairs. Upstairs in the front bedroom got some flickering going on wth one circuit. Got a 20 amp single pole breaker and only have 6 receptacles in a line spread across 2 walls and a closet in room. No matter which receptacle I plug (more then one) lamp into it fickers off and on every once in awhile. I checked the connection at breaker and it is snug and OK. Pulled all the receptacles out and checked connections. A few had real loose screws (Ground - hot & neutral) so tightened them. They were installed by someone that redid the walls in bedroom several months ago.After doing that tried lamps again and still flickering. Once it went off for about 2 seconds and back on. I tried the other side of room (different breaker) and no flickering. I changed the 20 amp breaker with another one and still getting the flickering..I checked the junction box in attic (nothing else tied into the junction box except these 6 receptacles) and the connection was good. I was gonna unhook the last receptacle in line and plug lamp into the one ahead and see what happens - Then continue the process and hope one of the receptacles is bad. Any other ideas will be appreciated. Thanks much
 
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  #2  
Old 11-04-04, 07:57 PM
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You checked the connections to the breaker, the junction box in the attic, and the connections at each outlet, but did you check the neutral connection for this circuit in the panel?
 
  #3  
Old 11-05-04, 06:55 AM
bobsox
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Lights flickering

Hi John - thanks for the reply - Yes I did and it is snug - secured with one other neutral on same screw - the ground is also snug in panel box. Strange - could I have a bad receptacle in the line causing the problem? Thanks again..
 
  #4  
Old 11-05-04, 07:12 AM
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First, you need to do more investigation. What other event corresponds to the flicker? Does something else (like a refrigerator) kick on? Is a clothes iron cycling? A sump pump? Baseboard heat? Waterbed heater? Space heater? Some electrical event is causing this flicker. You need to find out what. If you have to, unplug/shut off things on this circuit one at a time until the flicker goes away.

By the way, code explicitly prohibits two neutral wires under one screw in the panel. Fix it.
 
  #5  
Old 11-06-04, 11:14 AM
bobsox
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Lights Flickering

Hi John: There are no appliances etc on this circuit - only receptacles. There are only 6 receptacles in the bedroom connected to junction box in attic and then to 20 amp breaker in panel box. When the lamps flicker there is nothing else plugged into any of the other 5 receptacles on the circuit. I haven't plugged the lamp into all of the 6 receptacles yet just the last 3 in the line. When I plug it into a receptacle on the other side of room (Different circuit - same panel box) there is no flickering at all....Thanks....
 
  #6  
Old 11-06-04, 11:21 AM
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So you've checked the connections in all six receptacle boxes, the junction box in the attic, and the panel? Are all the connections to screws and none to backstabs? Are all the wire nuts and screws tight? Sounds like there's nothing else to check.
 
  #7  
Old 11-06-04, 07:25 PM
bobsox
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Lights flickering

Hi John: Ya all the receptacles are hooked up with the screws. I went through each one and I did have to redo a few. The guy that put them in was sloppy on a few. He hadn't stripped enough of the wire back so half of the screw was only making contact with the copper. The other half of the screw was down over the wire cover. And at that some of the screws were loose. The ground screw was loose on a few as well. Needless to say I thought I had discovered the problem and fixed it after redoing the receptacles but the dam flickering continues. I had planned to unhook the last receptacle in line and plug the lamp into the next one and see what happens.If it flickers - unhook that one in line as well and plug into the next one and so on until the first one in line after junction box (Closet one) and then give up. I wonder if another possibility could be the culprit as well. It is an old house and the walls are plaster & lathe walls. So they cut holes in the walls for the outlets and cut a path down the walls to bury the wire along the route for the new receptacles. Then covered the walls with sheetrock and did the finish work including painting. I wonder if they inadvertantly could have hit a part of the buried wire with a sheetrock screw while doing the sheerock and somehow is causing the problem but not enough to short the whole circuit. I Don't Know.- Thanks for your patience and ideas..
 
  #8  
Old 11-06-04, 07:35 PM
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It's possible that one of the receptacles is partially broken. After that, unfortunately, the only place left for a problem is inside the walls. Perhaps a cable staple was driven too tightly, or somebody hit the cable with a nail while hanging a picture, residing the house, or mounting a shelf. Sheetrock screws are not long enough to hit a cable properly placed through a hole in the middle of a stud.

Your strategy of disconnecting the receptacles one at a time is a good one.
 
  #9  
Old 11-10-04, 07:15 AM
bobsox
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Lights flickering

Hi John: I still haven't had a chance to go through the receptacles in line to try to find bad one. Had knee surgery last week and can't get on knees quite yet. Anyway got a new problem but still centered in upstairs 100 amp panel box. This morning around 4am the sound machine next to bed (in different bedroom from the other with flickering) - cycled down like losing power then back up again. After about 20 seconds it shut off. Checked lamp plugged into same receptacle and it was off as well. The rest of room (on a different breaker) was still working - lights and clock etc. About 30 seconds later the sound machine and lamp came back on and worked ok rest of night. This morning in the kitchen - the microwave must have tripped off during the night - it was flashing & clock was off (It is plugged into receptacle with light switches and on a different breaker) - but wired to panel box upstairs as well). WE have a couple circuits downstairs that are connected to upstairs panel box due to more space in box upstairs. What might be wrong with the panel box. That is 3 different breakers in same panel box that had some kind of problem recently. The other thing strange is that the only things on the circuit with receptacle next to bed that went out during the night is the overhead fan & light (that was off) & that one receptacle. They are on a 20amp Double Pole (for some reason), I can see it is getting close to calling in an expert to analyze this and try to straighten it out. If you got any ideas or theories give me a shout. Thanks again...
 
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Old 11-10-04, 12:03 PM
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Sounds like a power company problem.
 
  #11  
Old 11-10-04, 12:17 PM
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you might have a loose neutral or line connection in your meter base or at the power pole. You can call the power company to hook up a power monitor and test the connections of your meter. Make sure all connections in your panel are tight first (mains too, not just the branch circuit). If you have a multimeter, you can read the voltage from line to ground and see if it is fluctuating.
 
  #12  
Old 11-10-04, 02:41 PM
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I wonder if there might be a bad bus bar in the upstairs panel or a loose connection on one side. Is it a panel or a sub panel? In other words, does it connect back to the downstairs panel? If not, where are the 2 panels connected to the incoming power? At the downstairs disconnect you mentioned? I might call an electrician (not a do-it-yourself job) to look there for a loose connection. I was going to suggest that there might be a hidden junction box with the original problem, but the additional symptoms are leading me to think bigger.

Doug M.
 
  #13  
Old 11-10-04, 03:30 PM
bobsox
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Flickering Lights

Hi Doug: Thanks for the reply. The panel box with the problems is a regular 100-amp panel box (not a sub pane). I do hane a 100amp panel box as well in the basement along with a sub panel box with about 4 breakers. I even had to put in a few mini breaker2 (20amp) because of lack of space. In the closet 1st floor I have a large 200amp Disconnect box that disconnects the whole house if needed. I remember when a friend wired the house from the old knob & tube about 30 years ago he put the disconnect in. Other people have told me since that it was just an added expense and wasn't needed for some reason. Anyway I checked and made sure all connections in panel box were secure and tightened some even more. Checked the neutral and ground connections as well and all wires are securely tightened. The problem last night was the one receptacle next to bed - hooked up with the overhead fan & light in bedroom and that is all (20amp Double Pole) breaker. nothing was tripped in box just power drop then back up again then shut off 20 seconds later for a couple minutes and came back on for rest of night. Hope it runs all night tonight however. I was wondering whether or not to shut that breaker off for the night till I figure out why the power problem last night. Thanks again...
 
  #14  
Old 11-10-04, 03:41 PM
bobsox
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lights flickering

Hi John: I will call the power co tomorow. My brother (who is more adept at this then me) will bring over a multimeter and check the circuit for any fluctuating etc as Scott Mentioned in his reply.. Hopefully it will be a problem outside the house and the Power co. can correct. Anyway I will keep you posted. Thanks Much for everyones input..
 
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