Power Delay

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Old 05-09-11, 03:17 AM
DRR
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Power Delay

I have a circuit in my home that has three overhead lights, a ceiling fan, and a bathroom exhaust fan. Each of the five items are controlled with a separate wall switch. I have not had any problems (or done any work to) with this circuit in the 5 years that I've lived here...until this morning.

Now, when any one item is turned on (doesn't matter which item), there is a half-second delay before the item gets power. This only happens when everything is off. Once something is on, everything else on the circuit turns on and off normally.

Once everything is turned off again, and left off for more than a few seconds, the problem repeats.

Any ideas where I should start? Thanks very much!
 
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Old 05-09-11, 03:47 AM
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Originally Posted by DRR View Post
...until this morning.
What type work did you do on it this morning?
 
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Old 05-09-11, 04:11 AM
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I didn't do any work on it this morning, sorry if that was confusing. I meant that I haven't had any problems with this circuit until this morning.
 
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Old 05-09-11, 09:02 AM
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Is there anything else on the circuit or just these lights and fans? If there are other loads, upstream or downstream, do they also have odd behavior?
 
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Old 05-09-11, 12:30 PM
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As far as I can tell, the items I described above are the only things on the circuit. There is one light and a ceiling fan in the laundry room, and two lights and the exhaust fan in the bathroom. I tested all of the outlets in each room, and they appear to be on another circuit. If there is anything else on this circuit, it is not apparent to me.

I got home from work a few minutes ago and I tried switching the breaker out with an extra that I had, and that did not correct the problem.

However, with the house quiet (no wife or kids), I noticed a "click" noise when something in the bathroom receives power. It doesn't happen when I flip the switch, but it happens the instant that the light (or the fan) comes on. It's a fairly faint noise. It doesn't seem to be coming from the area of the switches, but somewhere in the middle of the wall (behind sheetrock).

Also, the delay between turning on a switch and power to the item is getting longer - from half a second to several (sometimes more than 5) seconds.

Is there a short or something in the wall? If so, wouldn't that trip a breaker? I've been playing it safe and leaving the breaker off, and I think I will continue to do so until I figure this out.

Thanks again for the help!
 
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Old 05-09-11, 01:06 PM
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Try using a mechanic's stethoscope to isolate the location of the click after someone else flips the switch. Might take a lot of patience and a lot of trys.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 05-09-11 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 05-09-11, 01:19 PM
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Oh, that is a great idea! I wouldn't have thought of that. My Dad used to be an EMT, and I'm pretty sure he still has his medical bag with stethoscope.
 
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Old 05-09-11, 01:45 PM
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A click -- that's weird. I suppose someone might have wired up a mechanical relay in the circuit for some crazy reason. This isn't a old home with low voltage switches is it? There was a home automation fad in the 50s that used low voltage switches and big relay panels all from General Electric I think. I haven't seen one in a long time, but if I remember correctly the switches are horizontal rocker switches instead of the usual vertical toggle switch.
 
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Old 05-09-11, 02:14 PM
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This is an old house (1870), but the owner previous to me rewired the entire thing. Based on the information I received at closing, I would say the wiring is between 6 and 8 years old.

Now...whether he did it himself or hired someone, I don't know. Likewise, I don't know whether or not it was inspected.
 
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Old 05-09-11, 03:09 PM
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Please keep us informed. Hate a mystery without a solution.
 
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Old 05-09-11, 03:28 PM
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Sounds to me like therre could be a break or a bad splice in the line and it is taking awhile before an arc starts and completes the circut enough to weld the circut and then it cools and it cracks apart again.

@Ben, Those relays were positionable in a 1/2'' k/o and were prevalent into the seventies in my area. They are instant on/off and have no delay.
 
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Old 05-09-11, 04:08 PM
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I definitely will post what I find. Unfortunately, due to my work schedule the next few days, I won't be able to dig into this any further until Thursday night at the earliest...and probably not until Saturday.

Thanks again for the help!
 
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Old 05-14-11, 09:01 AM
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There was a junction box behind the sheetrock. The stethoscope worked pretty well to find it.

I'm not exactly sure what the problem was, because there were a couple wires and a wire nut that were pretty charred. Luckily there was a lot of extra wire available, so I was able to fix everything without any problems.

Thanks again and take care!
 
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Old 05-14-11, 10:56 AM
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Was this a copper-to-aluminum joint? If it was, I would go over the rest of the electrical system with a fine toothed comb because if you find one, there's most likely more. Copper to aluminum requires special care and a special type of connector. You can't just twist it and stick a regular wirenut on it otherwise you end up with the charred mess you found.
 
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Old 05-14-11, 11:51 AM
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There was a junction box behind the sheetrock.
A very major code violation. You will need to make the box permenently accessible or run new cable.
 
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