Lights dim during electrical buzzing

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Old 01-21-13, 03:17 PM
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Lights dim during electrical buzzing

Hi all -

I recently bought a house and every now and again... maybe once or twice a day, there's a noise that happens and the best I can describe it is a 'buzzing.' It buzzes to a rhythm for about half a second every half second and then vanishes just as quickly as it came. During this time, one of my LED bulbs dims to the same rhythm and I've had a few other electronics pick up the noise as well.

I talked to my dad who was an electrician but it much too old to be climbing around anymore and he had me tighten the wires on the breaker side and then recommended that I do the same in the outlets. I've finally done that and gone through each outlet, taken the cover off, verified that the receptacle feeds were tight, and it still happens.

I think, but I'm not positive, that I can hear it very faintly in the breaker box. Everything that I've heard and read is that it's usually related to a bad ground, but unless it's something (surge?) coming from the power company, we're running out of ideas. Any thoughts?
 
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Old 01-21-13, 03:34 PM
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Is there a dimmer on the lights?
 
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Old 01-21-13, 03:50 PM
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No, all switches are standard on/off switches. The only place where there is a control is the attic fan.

I should also mention that I don't have a doorbell and there are no trees around my house, so don't think they're rubbing the feeds or anything like that.
 
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Old 01-21-13, 06:05 PM
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What is the brand of your breaker box? Could it be a Sylvania or a Zinsco? Can you post a picture of the breaker box with the cover off?
 
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Old 01-21-13, 09:50 PM
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Any heavy drain devices it can be associated with.....like electric heat, well pump, sewage ejection pump, electric range ?
 
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Old 01-22-13, 05:36 PM
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I saw a similar situation just today with an old Murray panel. A single pole breaker in space 2 was sizzling and totally burned up. Spaces 5 and 6 were doing the same thing, but not as advanced. I'd bet there are at least a dozen breakers in various stages of burning up in that aluminum bus panel.
 
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Old 01-22-13, 05:50 PM
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Thanks for all of the suggestions. Answers to the questions so far:

- Looks to be a Square D breaker box
- Nothing that I've been able to associate to an appliance, etc. It has happened when I've had nothing except the A/C and my computer on in the house. Right now, I have the fuse taken out of the AC unit outside and it still does it, so that's not it. Maybe furnace or water heater? I only seem to notice it at night.
- It's a possibility that the breakers are burning out. I'll admit that I don't have any real experience with electricity, but I had both an electrician look at the box during the home inspection with nothing noticed. I'll have to pay attention to that more when I take the panel off. What's the best way to tell? I assume I'll see burn/scorch marks?

As for the picture, I'll see if I can get that within the next day or two. It's not in an easily accessible area and to get to the panel to take it off, I need to move my dryer, disassemble a shelf, and climb around the water heater to get there (I know, this is bad and I'm planning on moving the water heater once it dies... which should be relatively soon.)
 
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Old 01-22-13, 05:53 PM
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to get to the panel to take it off, I need to move my dryer, disassemble a shelf, and climb around the water heater to get there (I know, this is bad and I'm planning on moving the water heater once it dies... which should be relatively soon.)
And a serious code violation.
 
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Old 01-22-13, 06:19 PM
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Based on the city inspector, it passed getting a CO because it was grandfathered into older regulations. I'm expecting that replacing the water heater will pull it into newer regulations and has to be moved, even though I'd do it anyway because it's a serious PITA
 
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