Power flickers on one circuit, breaker not tripped

Reply

  #1  
Old 05-30-20, 03:00 PM
I
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2020
Location: United States
Posts: 5
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Power flickers on one circuit, breaker not tripped

I'm experiencing what seem like random power flickers on one circuit. The circuit will lose power for a couple of seconds, come back to life for several seconds, then lose power again. This cycle repeats two or three times, then the power becomes stable again. Other circuits seem unaffected, and none of the breakers in my box get tripped.

This house has had electrical issues since I bought the house years ago. Some outlets are completely non-functional, others need to have the plug "jiggled" to get the connected appliance/electronics/lamp to work. Some of the outlets are even installed upside down.

I should note that I have a couple of circuits loaded down heavily with window A/C units and computers, including the one that has started flickering. In my home office, the 15 amp circuit was insufficient for the window unit and several computers that I have set up in the room, not to mention another window unit in another room. So I ran a heavy gauge 3-prong extension cable into the other room which is on a the affected circuit.

Not sure where to begin, but I think wherever I end up will be very expensive. Sigh...
 
  #2  
Old 05-30-20, 04:05 PM
J
Member
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 4,857
Received 83 Votes on 78 Posts
Guessing this is an older house.
So called upside outlets will have no effect.
Lot's of things can cause this, old worn out outlets, back stabbed outlets instead of wrapped around the screws.
A/C's idealy should be ran on there own 20 amp. circuit, never with an ext. cord!
What size is the main panel?
It was very common to see many things that never ever meet modern codes.
 
imrazor voted this post useful.
  #3  
Old 05-30-20, 04:34 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 60,936
Received 1,351 Votes on 1,249 Posts
Welcome to the forums.

If this is something you want to troubleshoot yourself....... get a friend or two and map every receptacle and light switch to a circuit. Once you know what circuit every device is on...... you can get a better idea of how to approach the problem.

This mapping should be done by EVERYONE. Every homeowner should know what is on each circuit.
 
imrazor voted this post useful.
  #4  
Old 05-30-20, 07:08 PM
I
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2020
Location: United States
Posts: 5
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
@joecaption To be clear, none of the A/C units are on an extension cord - just computers and lamps. Though they are heavy duty computers drawing 1KW each. Each circuit has a 15 amp breaker. You are correct, the house is approximately 40 years old.

How would I go about fixing 'backstabbed' outlets? Heck, what is a backstabbed outlet?

@PJmax The breakers in the breaker box are labeled, though 'front lights' and 'back lights' aren't all that clear.
 
  #5  
Old 05-31-20, 07:19 AM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 13,808
Received 253 Votes on 221 Posts
How would I go about fixing 'backstabbed' outlets? Heck, what is a backstabbed outlet?
Turn off the power to the circuit
Remove the outlet
Look at where the wires are connected to the outlet. If they are just pushed into the holes in the back of the device remove/cut them and strip the wires and connect the wires to the side screws of the device.
 
imrazor voted this post useful.
  #6  
Old 06-15-20, 11:49 PM
I
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2020
Location: United States
Posts: 5
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
So I checked the most problematic outlet - one with an AC plugged into it. And as everyone guessed, it was backstabbed. When I pulled the outlet out of the wall, one of the wires actually popped out of the outlet. So I replaced the outlet, this time hooking the wires over the posts. So far (~1.5 hours) the AC has been running fine, as well as supporting a computer, monitor and speakers.

There are plenty of other outlets in the house that will likely have to be fixed. Do you suggest replacing all the outlets or just "de-backstabbing" them?
 
  #7  
Old 06-16-20, 04:11 AM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 15,224
Received 105 Votes on 91 Posts
If the tension on the blades of a plug is still good move the wires to the screws. If loose, replace.
 
  #8  
Old 06-16-20, 05:21 AM
J
Member
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
Posts: 7,734
Received 300 Votes on 257 Posts
IF they have screw terminals then no need to replace them. Move the wires to the screws and all should be fine.
 
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: