Lights dimming in second floor apartment


Old 06-15-17, 12:03 PM
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Lights dimming in second floor apartment

Lights dimming in whole upstairs apartment.
We have a 2 family house with family in the upstairs apartment. We have been having a strange electrical issue we cant figuye out. The upstairs apartment lights have been dimming on a regular basis. Seems to be hapening about every hour and lasts from 1 to 3 minuits with the dimming about everey 5 to 10 seconds. When the dimming happens there is a hum in the meters.. Hum feels stronger in our meter for downstairs. But the drain is happening upstairs. We have replaced the breakers for the ac for both apartments...didnt help. Electrician sugested it could be a loose or coroded neutral or meter socket.. We have had the utility company come & re-do the netural at the house & the pole as well as the next dor neighbors neutral just to be safe. He said they where pretty bad. ?Sadly...Didnt fix the was the meters. He said we have a good 240 coming in..but alas the issue was not happening when he was there making troubleshooting nearly imposible.. They replaced the meters..and Its still happening. We are at a complete loss.. What do we do next! There is a bridal outside connecting my house & the neighbors to the poll. (so the one poll is supplying both houses - a total of 5 units between the 2 houses) the tech doing the meters asked if they where running excessive appliances.. But we have no idea of that.. The upstairs just had a new pannel installed & new pot lights installed about 6 months ago. Our apartment downstairs had all new wiring & a new panel installed 2 years ago. This issue has been happening for about 2 months now..they said upstairs that it was very mild when it started but has gotten worse the last 2 weeks. They just told me about it 5 days yea..5 days now dealing with trying to ferret this issue out. utility company has been here twice now.. & still no luck resolving this. I want this fixed asap.. We have had one housefire already (4 years ago).. Now, with this electrical issue.. Im terified of it causing a fire.. Granted I may just be parinoid & assuming the worst because of my past.. But this is really starting to freak me out. Any advice would be gratefully appreciated.

Last edited by Tolyn Ironhand; 06-17-17 at 07:32 AM. Reason: cleaned up post
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Old 06-15-17, 12:42 PM
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Do you have any appliances such as water/sewage/sump pumps, fridge or freezer, air conditioner, dehumidifier or similar devices that might be running on an intermittent schedule that matches with the dimming?

This might be something like a bad capacitor in a motor which is causing the appliance to draw excessive current during its startup.
Old 06-15-17, 01:43 PM
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strangely, it doesn't seem to be correlating with any of the appliances 100%
the AC was the first thought we had. It seems to happen despite having either AC on or off. We did change the AC breakers both inside & outside. At one point it seemed to stop when I turned off my AC unit the one time, But then they said it was happening again & my AC was still switched off. HMMMMM Similar situation with the upstairs AC... At one point, they switched on their AC & within 5 min, the dimming started. they then turned off the breakers to the AC & while the barkers where off... it happens again.. It does not affect our apartment electrical at all. we have no dimming or anything. Also, its happening so randomly that we just cant seem to figure it out. when it does happen, it comes in bunches over the corse of a couple hours, a couple times every hour and lasts from 1 to 3 min. with the dimming about every 5 to 10 seconds. When the dimming happens there is a hum in the meters.

could a bad compositor happen randomly on & off while its working, say if it was on its way to dying? .. or would it just happen every time the unit kicks on & off We have tried to listen for anything kicking on or off when it happens, but there is nothing specific we can track down.

AS i also stated, a few months ago a new breaker panel box was installed upstairs as well as new pot lights in each room. could any of that possibly be the culprit? should I have that checked?
Old 06-15-17, 08:54 PM
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With a loose neutral.... some lights will get brighter and others will get dimmer. This type of problem is greatly enhanced with a heavy 240v appliance in use.
I doubt that's the problem.

If it causes a hum in the meter it is a device using power.

I have run across that problem before. It was caused by an older laser printer and the dimming coincided with the drum heater activating.

If you have a laser printer..... try unplugging it.
Old 06-16-17, 10:17 AM
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You also need to check connections in the panel. Some of these may be hot all the time so you may need to call someone in to check these.
Old 06-17-17, 03:15 AM
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I just had the same issue with the upstairs of my house (although not a separate apartment). Lights would dim like that in three bedrooms, the hall, and a bathroom. Totally random times. Had the meter hum. No big appliances timed with it. Got so crazy trying to figure out what it was I almost had myself convinced it was coinciding with flushing the toilet (lol)... Did the neutral check deal, the meter socket replacement, yada yada. The whole process.

Started to redo all the electrical and found that the entire upstairs was ran on one circuit, starting in the bathroom light fixture and splitting off to all the other rooms. Apparently when they (previous owner) ran the circuit from the bathroom to the master bedroom (lol), the wire wasn't long enough, so they spliced in some smaller scrap piece of wire, wrapped it in electrical tape, and covered it with blown in insulation (in my attic). When i found it the tape was damn near melted and it looked anything but ideal. Anyway, I replaced that run of wire and the problem instantly disappeared. Strange thing was the whole upstairs had been having the issue, even rooms that weren't on the same chain as the bad wire. Maybe it was touching and overloading the neutral or something? I'm not a real electrician so your guess is as good as mine.

Long story short: It could just be a bad connection somewhere in the circuit. Did it only start after you had the new panel put in? (you said panel was a few months ago, but never mentioned how long you've had the issue). If so I'd call up whoever did the work. If not, start checking wires if you can access them. I got an endoscope I'm able to hookup to my phone for 20$ online to help see in the walls. Little thing comes in really handy. Good luck!

Old 06-17-17, 06:42 PM
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You also need to check connections in the panel.
I agree. The panel was installed 6 months ago and the problem started 2 months ago and is progressively getting worse. Look in that panel.

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