Surging Lights


Old 12-13-04, 09:31 AM
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Surging Lights

Problem: The lights in my 1972 house are surging when little things kick on (refrigerator, washing machine, water heaters, etc.). The only one that's noticeable (and irritating) is the washing machine. The lights get wavy in conjunction with the washing machine's cycles. Is there something I can do to figure out what the problem is. Also, is this creating a hazard? Thanks so much for any advice.

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Old 12-13-04, 10:28 PM
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If your house was wired to code in '72, it shouldn't do this. Is this a new problem or was it always this way?

It's usually burned/loose connections at the panel main, meter socket, connection to the service and perhaps the connection at the pole or underground source. A failing main circuit breaker can also cause this symptom.

Most of the time, this is a power company problem, or at least one that the power company will find when they come out to check. They generally come out for free - give them a call.
Old 12-14-04, 08:47 AM
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It's possible that nothing is wrong. We've had lots of reports here of lights that pulse to the washing machine.

If this is a high-end house, there might be something wrong. But if this is just an average house constructed on a budget, the electrical system may have been designed to the minimum allowed.

If it makes you nervous, have an electrician come check it out. You might also ask your power company to come check out their connections (usually a free service of your power company).
Old 12-17-04, 03:04 PM
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Just my 2 cents

Because I bought a house built in 1968, I found out that many houses built from about '65-'72 have aluminum wiring. If your house has it, there is a greater chance you will have loose connections. Not sure if loose connections could cause the dimming, maybe a more experienced person could say.
Old 12-18-04, 08:07 AM
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Dimmig Lights

An electrician once told me, he always installs any cycling motor circuits (refrigs, air conditioners, washing machines, furnaces, etc.) at the top of a breaker panel. Since this is closest to mains, it apparently does not affect the circuits installed lower in the panel and father away from the main feed. By re-arranging breakers with lamp circuits down the panel, the lamp dimming problem when these units come on is resolved.
This sounds logical.
Old 12-18-04, 04:01 PM
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That last suggestion makes no sense to me since the voltage is the same everywhere on the bus bar the breakers attach.
Old 12-18-04, 06:13 PM
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The theory is...

The theory is...
When the heavier load breakers are down toward the bottom of the panel they draw current thru the entire bus. The lamp circuits physically above in the panel are subject to seeing the current surges.
When the heavier loads are installed closer to the mains, the other circuits below aren't affected by the surges.
Seems this is a current issue and not a voltage issue.
This guy (licensed electrician) says he is able to solve the light dimming problem caused by by rearranging the motor loads to the top of the panel.
Hey, you learn something new everyday...and then again our weather hasn't been the same since we landed on the moon.
It's worth a try...or more comments.
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