fluorescent light flickers in off position

Old 11-16-08, 06:17 AM
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fluorescent light flickers in off position

I screwed a fluorescent bulb into a ceiling light fixture in my hallway, and the light faintly flickers when the switch is in the off position. I never had any problems in this fixture before when I used standard bulbs.

I've mapped all the circuits in my house, and that same circuit includes 3 bathrooms that have some issues that may be related. 2 of these bathrooms have the 1" x 2" big button switches with the lights in them, and the switch lights always flicker in the off position. No problems with the lights in these 2 bathrooms except the flickering switch lights.

The 3rd bath has a non-lighted switch. Its light sometimes goes out until you tap the switch or turn it off and on.

I've also always suspected that these fixtures burn bulbs faster than they should.

I'm the homeowner. I've done some advanced electrical work before (like running complete new circuits from panel), but I've never done any work on this circuit.
Old 11-16-08, 07:21 AM
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Well the first thing I would do is change that switch in the 3rd bath as you know there is a problem and it is a potentially dangerous one, that switch could overheat if it isn't working properly.
If changing the switch doesn't cure the problem of having to “tap” the switch to get it to work you will have to look into this a little further.

Now as far as your “flickering” fluorescent goes I suspect this is being caused by your lighted switches.
You can replace the lighted switches with non-lighted switches or if you would like to make sure this will work you can start by turning off the power (Make sure it is off) disconnect the lighted switches and cap the wires, (make sure no bare wire is exposed). Turn the power back on and check the fluorescent, if it is working properly now then the lighted switches are the problem. Don't forget to turn the power off again to re-connect or replace the switches.

Good luck!
Old 11-16-08, 07:45 AM
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Hi David, Not good! The incondescent would not heat up enough to let you know there was a faint voltage there, but a CFL will respond, as you can see. So chances are, this issue has been there all along.

First, you sound like you are comfortable with checking some wiring, but be careful and kill power when necessary. Be aware that there is power coming from somewhere to be determined, so a volt meter would be helpful to make certain all power is off before you dig into these circuits.

The switch that you have to tap, obviously has a problem, which may or may not be related. A good place to start. Open that box up and check for poor connections.

The flickering switch lights in the one bathroom my indicate something. I'm not an electrician, just slept in a Holiday Inn Express last night, (joking), but have many years experience with electronics, but don't have direct experience with devices like Big Button switches. Lights in switches in my experience are off when the light is on and on when the light is off, so you can find it in the dark. Others please correct me if I'm wrong.

You say you have diagrammed everything out, so post where the power from the panel for this circuit goes first, and second and third if you can follow it. With a little more information, we can suggest a point where you can break the circuit and see in the flicker goes away.

If you have or pick up a volt meter or at a minimum one of those circuit testers with lights, let us know.

Sounds fixable and important to fix.
Old 11-16-08, 03:37 PM
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Did you say lighted toggle or rocker switch ?

Here a catch here if you used Electronic Compact Flourscent screw in bulb it will flicker due the electronic try to bridge the votlage thru the neon bulb at the switch so try the magatic ballast verison of that bulb if you can it will go away with that.

I did see that happend pretty often with lighted toggle/rocker switch when the switch is in off postion.

A tip if you have multi socket type luminaire why not screw in a nitelight bulb { yeah they do have in med base size as well } and screw that in that useally take care the issue with that.

Old 11-16-08, 04:37 PM
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Flickering fluorescent: sounds like a faulty switch.

Flickering night light in switch: sounds like faulty switch or loose connection somewhere in the circuit. I would start at the switch and work my way back to the breaker.
Old 11-16-08, 05:15 PM
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It is a known fact that Cf's do not work well with lighted switches. The “bulb” in the switch is connected across the switch so when the switch is open it uses the potential across the switch to light, when the switch is closed there is little or no potential across the switch so the light in the switch goes out. If there is a incandescent bulb everything works fine as the current is so insignificant the incandescent bulb will not be affected.
If using a compact florescent with a electronic ballast this small current can cause the compact florescent to “flicker” causing the problem that the original poster has.
Changing out the lighted switches with the Non-lighted type is the most likely cure.
Might as well start simple.
Old 11-22-08, 11:47 AM
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Just had the same problem here which is how I ended up on this forum in the first place.

Replaced the socket since it was about 80 years old, as is my house, and that didn't stop the flickering screw in CF light while the switch was off. Turns out it was a lighted switch that was causing the flicker problem. Replaced it with a regular non-lit switch and problem solved. No more flicker.

By the way, hello DIY'ers! Long time lurker, finally a registered member. I look forward to running around the forum looking for other great nuggets and adding if my input may be of some suggestion.

Beer 4U2

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