Strange and Unique Issue

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Old 08-12-09, 11:18 AM
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Strange and Unique Issue

This is kind of a doozy so I appreciate your patience in advance.

Here goes. Every time we go on vacation something weird happens to our house when we return, Iím sure many of you have seen the same thing. Anyway, this time the front porch light was dead so I changed the bulb and when I turned it on the front portion of the house lost electricity, just the front portion, i.e. the front porch, the foyer, the foremost bathroom, the foremost bedroom. This is where it gets weird. I threw the breakers for the whole house thinking that would fix it but it didnít work so I figured I would leave those four lights off and call an electrician. The next day all of the lights worked again without me having to do anything, I accidentally left one of the light switches on so when we woke in the morning the foremost bathroom light was on, like it fixed itself. All of the foremost lights worked fine expect the porch light which didnít have a bulb. So I go to put another bulb in the porch light socket andÖyou guessed it, the exact same thing happens but this time when I threw the breakers it fixed it EXCEPT now the lights in the foyer are flickering on and off at about five second intervals like in a haunted house movie and my wife is starting to freak out, lol, so I turn all the foremost lights off and the next morning theyíre all working fine AGAIN, except the porch light which still has no bulb in it at all. So I thought to myself, the original bulb I replaced was one of those 60 watt squiggly energy saver bulbs (which the bottom part actually crumbled in my hand when I tried to replace it, donít know if thatís normal) and the first new one I tried to put in was a 100 watt conventional/normal bulb and it blew out so I thought maybe it had something to do with wattage and by bizarre coincidence my wife just purchased a whole new pack of those 60 watt squiggly energy saver bulbs, so I wondered what would happen if I put one of those bulbs in and when I put it in the porch light all of the lights worked fine like there was never a problem. Pretty strange.

Has anyone ever heard of this before?
Is there a short? Is my house going to burn to the ground?
Is this behavior to be concerned about?
Is there a reason why it worked with the energy saver bulbs? Is it coincidence? Could the porch socket have gotten used to the energy saver bulbs?
If itís working now should we just go with it and monitor it?
Is it a ghost in the machine, as it were?

BTW, the house was built in 1964 and to my knowledge has never been rewired.

I know some of these are strange question but those energy saver bulbs are relatively new technology and maybe itís exhibiting some characteristics that no one expected? Itís just weird. Am I looking into this too much?

Thanks in advance.
 
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Old 08-12-09, 12:20 PM
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It sounds to me like the most likely culprit is a loose connection in one of the junction boxes on this circuit. The flickering and intermittent operation pretty strongly suggests this.

It is a problem that you should fix / have fixed. Loose connections produce more heat than solid connections and can eventually produce sparks.

The fix is tedious, but effective. You can open up each junction box in the circuit (switches, lights and receptacles) and check for loose wirenuts, replace old switches, and move any backstabbed wires to screw terminals.
 
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Old 08-12-09, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by ibpooks View Post
It sounds to me like the most likely culprit is a loose connection in one of the junction boxes on this circuit. The flickering and intermittent operation pretty strongly suggests this.

It is a problem that you should fix / have fixed. Loose connections produce more heat than solid connections and can eventually produce sparks.

The fix is tedious, but effective. You can open up each junction box in the circuit (switches, lights and receptacles) and check for loose wirenuts, replace old switches, and move any backstabbed wires to screw terminals.
Thanks for your quick and detailed response. I'll take your advice and have some one look at it. Do you think we should not use the porch light until it's fixed or will it produce this kind of heat even when the switch is off?

Thanks again!
 
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Old 08-12-09, 02:29 PM
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Loose connections do not get tighter by themselves. If this problem is affecting more than just the porch light none of the affected circuit should be used until the problem is found and repaired. Ideally you should turn off the circuit breaker on this circuit until it is properly repaired.
 
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