Lights dimming/flickering with any electrical activity

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  #1  
Old 09-27-14, 09:07 PM
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Lights dimming/flickering with any electrical activity

I live in an old house, have lived here for 20 years, and recently (within the past couple years), I've been noticing a lot of flickering in the lights when electrical activity occurs throughout the house.

Originally, I thought it was a circuit problem, as the house was built in 1946 and had an inadequate amount of circuits: one circuit for three appliances (toaster oven and dishwasher on at the same time for example, would trip the breaker). This was recently remedied, with the washer/dryer put on one circuit, dishwasher on another, microwave on another, etc. But the flickering problem still occurs with all the lights in the house and now, it seems to be worse than ever.

I used to only notice it when the washer was running: incandescent lights especially would react to it, pulsing and flickering with the action of the washer's agitator. But now, for example, if I have my desk light on and someone else turns the light on in the bathroom, my desk lamp will noticeably dim. It gets to the point where the flickering and dimming of my desk lamps alerts me to what other people are doing in the house. I can tell when the toaster's done for example, because my light will brighten right up!

Surely this can't be normal. The wiring has passed inspections in the past, but the last one was probably over a decade ago. What could be the problem?
 
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  #2  
Old 09-27-14, 09:20 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

No... it certainly isn't normal.

Has the service been upgraded ?
How old is it ?
Circuit breakers or fuses ?

Since the entire house is affected you'll need to start at the main panel.
You could post a picture of the front of the panel with the door open or post a make and model of it for us.
http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...rt-images.html
 
  #3  
Old 09-27-14, 09:31 PM
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When we first moved into the house in 1994, the house had its original fusebox. That was removed and a new circuit breaker was installed (in 94). A few years ago, the meter was changed for a "Smart Meter" and in 2013-this year, an electrician added a few new circuits for appliances.

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Here's a picture of the box (sorry, photo was taken upright, but uploaded sideways for some reason):

Mod Note: Rotated image..
 

Last edited by ray2047; 09-28-14 at 07:11 AM. Reason: Rotate the image
  #4  
Old 09-27-14, 10:34 PM
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What I would do first is call the utility company and tell them you think you have a loose connection, they should come look at their side of it and fix it if needed for free.
 
  #5  
Old 09-28-14, 07:03 AM
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When you call the electric company do not call the customer service number. Call the emergency service number.
 
  #6  
Old 09-28-14, 09:03 AM
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Thank you guys; we will be calling the utility company. I know something should've been done about this sooner; I think we always figured it was a circuit issue and we got that fixed, it would stop, but that hasn't been the case.

I've heard about the loose connection issue before. What is that, exactly? I don't know much about electrical wiring. Is that a loose connection in the box itself or elsewhere?
 
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Old 09-28-14, 09:22 AM
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In order for electricity to flow properly, wire connections need to be in tight contact with each other. If they are not, the connection creates resistance, or completely looses the connection (Open). Poor connections create heat and heat creates fires!. Have them come out now! Call the 24hr line as mentioned. They will come out 24/7 for free to check your lines.
 
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Old 09-28-14, 05:18 PM
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Do all the lights that do flicker flicker in the same way at the same time? (While some other lights stay steady.)
 
  #9  
Old 09-28-14, 08:23 PM
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Thanks for all the help, guys.

We called PG&E and had them come out this evening. Turns out one of the main wires connecting our house had major squirrel bite damage, all along the wire. It was replaced with a new one and the flickering problem is completely gone!

My desk lamp gave a perfect steady light despite the microwave and other devices being turned on; before it would've created a strobe light show in my room.

Glad this was fixed; clearly we should've done something about it long ago, but it's good to have it fixed now.
 
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Old 09-28-14, 08:30 PM
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Thanks for letting us know the outcome. Glad we could help.
 
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