Lights Dimming - Entire House

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  #1  
Old 06-16-14, 07:46 AM
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Lights Dimming - Entire House

For as long as I can remember, the lights in my house have dimmed momentarily (1 or 2 seconds). I initially thought it was only happening when the air conditioner turned on, but it seems to happen when other loads kick on as well (refrigerator, washing machine). Does this indicate my main breaker is about to fail? Should I go ahead and replace the entire panel before something catastrophic happens? Current panel is 31 years old.
 
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  #2  
Old 06-16-14, 08:20 AM
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This could indicate a loose connection or that the supply to the house is too small including the transformer.
 
  #3  
Old 06-16-14, 08:50 AM
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Okay. I'll double check the main connections at the panel then contact the power company so they can check the outside connections. My main concern is that it is safe.
 
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Old 06-16-14, 08:55 AM
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The incoming lugs will be hot even with the main breaker turned off. You may need to hire this one out. Do your neighbors have a similar issue?
 
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Old 06-16-14, 10:01 AM
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AC, fridge, washing machine..... normal result of voltage drop perhaps? In rush current, compressors, motors etc.....

Is this occurring on both legs of the service? Or on lights on the same phase as the appliances? Do you see brightening of lights? To what extent/duration are you seeing dimming? Are these lights on the same circuit as your washer or fridge?

Lots of information needs to be provided before suggesting someone go tighten the feeders in their panel. Which would probably be irresponsible to suggest on a do it yerselfer forum anyhow.
 
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Old 06-16-14, 03:40 PM
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AC, fridge, washing machine..... normal result of voltage drop perhaps? In rush current, compressors, motors etc.....
Perhaps.

Is this occurring on both legs of the service? Or on lights on the same phase as the appliances?
Whether or not it is one phase or both is yet to be determined, but it is occurring on multiple circuits simultaneously.

Do you see brightening of lights?
No.

To what extent/duration are you seeing dimming?
Every 15 to 20 minutes, for about 1 or 2 seconds each occurrence.

Are these lights on the same circuit as your washer or fridge?
Same circuit, no (washer is on dedicated circuit and fridge is on kitchen plug circuit)

Come to think of it, it may be the portable AC unit in my daughter's room. At night we have a lot of lights on (10 to 15 recess fixtures, 7 or 8 lamps) and her AC unit cycles about every 10 to 15 minutes. That's gotta be it. Probably why my electric bill is $200/month too.
 
  #7  
Old 09-03-14, 06:56 PM
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Was laying in my daughter's bed reading stories just a few moments ago and the lights were flickering very rapidly in unison with the washing machine. I talked with my neighbor and he doesn't have any issues, so it must be something with my main panel. I plan on replacing it soon anyhow.
 
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Old 09-03-14, 07:33 PM
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In post #3 you were going to contact your power company, did youo do that and did they come out and check the connections at the meter socket, the weatherhead, at the service drop and at the transformer? I wouldn't condemn your electric panel too quickly, but at 30 years of age it wouldn't be a bad thing to replace. Just don't be surprised if replacing it doesn't solve the problem.
 
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Old 09-03-14, 07:44 PM
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Had a customer replace her service because the Poco said nothing wrong on their end. She came home from work a few months later to find a contract hazmat crew assisting the linemen replacing the transformer. A lineman off the record admitted that the Poco had known the transformer was bad for a long time but because of PCBs had avoided the extra cost of removing it and the contaminated dirt around it. Not only is her electric now fine but for the first time in years she has grass growing under the transformer.
 
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Old 09-03-14, 07:55 PM
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I would still tighten your service connections at the main breaker and in the meter. This is likely not a DIY job unless you are experienced with working around energized equipment. For sure I would still call the PoCo to have them check your lines from the pole to your service drop. If you are nice, they may even check your inside connections as well even though it is not their responsibility.
 
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Old 09-03-14, 09:15 PM
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For as long as I can remember, the lights in my house have dimmed momentarily (1 or 2 seconds). I initially thought it was only happening when the air conditioner turned on, but it seems to happen when other loads kick on as well (refrigerator, washing machine).
If you only see “dimming of lights” and no “brightening of any lights”

call the power company and tell them you have low voltage and ask them to check your service and

ask if they can install a recording volt meter on your service for a short time.





Does this indicate my main breaker is about to fail?
no.

Should I go ahead and replace the entire panel before something catastrophic happens?
no.

Current panel is 31 years old.
31 is not old if it is a good brand. What brand is your panel.

You could remove the cover of your panel and look at the wiring connections.

Does any of the wiring look burned or over heated.

Take a picture of the panel for us with the cover off.




Tolyn Ironhand


I would still tighten your service connections at the main breaker and in the meter. This is likely not a DIY job unless you are experienced with working around energized equipment. For sure I would still call the PoCo to have them check your lines from the pole to your service drop. If you are nice, they may even check your inside connections as well even though it is not their responsibility.
Yes,call them.
 
  #12  
Old 09-04-14, 05:33 AM
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JOHNC wrote: If you only see “dimming of lights” and no “brightening of any lights”

call the power company and tell them you have low voltage and ask them to check your service and

ask if they can install a recording volt meter on your service for a short time.
If you see brightening of lights you better call the POCO even quicker and tell them you think you have a loose neutral.


TOLYN WROTE: I would still tighten your service connections at the main breaker and in the meter. This is likely not a DIY job unless you are experienced with working around energized equipment.
I would rephrase this to say "I would still HAVE A ELECTRICIAN or A LINESMAN FROM THE UTILITY COMPANY IF THEY ARE WILLING tighten your service connections at the main breaker and in the meter. This is NOT A DIY JOB. period."
 
  #13  
Old 09-09-14, 09:20 AM
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I understand it's not a DIY job because of the live voltage, but if I can pull the meter, I will be fine. Not sure I will be able to pull the meter though. I'll surely give them a call.
 
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Old 09-09-14, 09:26 AM
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You pulling the meter can be a can of worms even assuming it is not locked there is a seal that you would have to break. The electric company may fine you for that or even cut your power. However the the most compelling reason is arc over. That can cause serious injuries. Give them a call but I can tell you the answer. Unless you get a truly clueless CR it will be they have to pull it.
 
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