Flickering lights


  #1  
Old 11-29-04, 10:15 AM
Thomas Courtney
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Flickering lights

Over the last couple of days I've noticed that some of the lights in our house are flickering, or dimming briefly, as if something is shorting out somewhere. How is something like this isolated or identified? Could this be coming in from the main service lines, since I've witnessed this on different circuits? I don't want to burn down the house if something is shorting out somewhere.
Any information greatly appreciated.
 
  #2  
Old 11-29-04, 10:20 AM
HVACELECT
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ok probly going to need more info. if the light flicker when a high demand appliance comes than this is pretty normal but lets say u have real load on the main panel than the lights flicker than there might be a reason to worry. the info that could help for a response is


size of main panel

breakers or fusesdo u have any high demand appliance Ie...microwave range spa extra large frezzer or freige. etc
 
  #3  
Old 11-29-04, 10:59 AM
J
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You might want to start by mapping out exactly what in your house is on what circuit. This is handy information to have anyway. It takes a couple of hours with a helper on a Saturday afternoon. Write it down and post it next to the panel.

The next thing to do is to figure out exactly what causes the flickering. It is usually an appliance, but could be the wind (if you have overhead wires). Likely appliances are large things which automatically cycle on their own: air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, electric heaters (baseboard or space), clothes irons, sump pumps, etc. Or other appliances which are rarely used but are easier to associate with the flicker: vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, etc. It could even be your neighbor next door firing up his large table saw. Try to correlate the flicker with the use or cycling of one of these appliances.

Then figure out exactly which lights flicker. Do they all flicker, or just some of them? If just some of them, which circuit or circuits are they on and what else is on the same circuit?

If all the lights flicker, it's usually best to start with a call to your power company. They could have a loose connection or undersized transformer or service wires. This is sometimes because the electrical demand in your house or the neighborhood has gone up and the power company has been slow on the necessary upgrades. A surprising number of times the fix is made in ten minutes by a power company employee tightening something.

If the lights flicker on only one circuit, and the flicker correlates to the use of an appliance on the same circuit, then you, or your electrician, should check for a loose connection. The loose connection might be in one of the boxes on the circuit, or in the electrical panel. A common cause is a failing backstabbed connection (a wire poked into the hole in the back of a receptacle or switch). The little piece of spring steel which makes this connection often suffers from metal fatigue after a number of heating and cooling cycles.

If the flicker is slight and the house is old, it's possible that there is no cure, short of a major upgrade. The house may have been built in a time when power usage was much lower than it is today.
 
  #4  
Old 11-29-04, 12:19 PM
Thomas Courtney
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Thanks for quick response...

Thanks for your responses,
Here's some more info. My house is a 105 year old pier & beam. I renovated from top to bottom in 1997 & 98. I mapped and ran all of the wire on the circuits, but left the panel installation and connections at the main & sub-panels to a licensed electrician. The oven, fridge and dryer are all out at the main panel on seperate 20A breakers.
I made hard connections to all plugs, meaning I screwed them onto the terminals, since I don't like the "backstabbed" type connections and the problems that occur with them over time.
I tried to isolate the flicker, and first thought that it might be our central air unit with the heater kicked on, but I shut it off and still had a flicker, and it did happen on two separate circuits. Nothing else was on except the refridgerater. This was 7:00 am, and not a creature was stirring except me.
I was going to ask my neighbor if they're experiencing the same thing, but they've been out of town for TGiving, so they wouldn't have had much on. Environmental considerations are that, yes, it has been very windy, and wet!!
We've had so much rain that the entire area under the house is saturated (It's tall enough to walk under the house). One other variable that I just recalled, is that our GFI circuit was tripping repeatadly the other morning, driving my wife crazy in the bathroom, as the light and plug are one that circuit. I told her it was probably due to the amount of moisture. The reset outlet was on our back deck wall which took a pounding from rain the night before. It's working fine now that it's dried up some. I'll ask my neighbor tonight if he's seen any flickering since their return.

Thanks again for your information
 
  #5  
Old 11-29-04, 12:26 PM
J
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Call the power company. They'll be happy to come out and check the connections. There's a pretty good chance that this will fix it.
 
 

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