Problems with Lights Turning off for extended periods of time?

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Old 02-10-14, 08:11 PM
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Problems with Lights Turning off for extended periods of time?

Hi All,

My wife and I bought a very old house (100 years) and have been living in it for 1 year. We recently, within the last few weeks, began having some odd electrical / lighting issues.

A. Our CFL light bulbs seem to be burning out really fast. Any explanation? I thought these were supposed to last for years. If we have to keep replacing them, the cost benefit doesn't make sense.

B. This is the really weird one. On our top level, the ceiling lights will go out for several days, and then magically start working again for a few days. There is no rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. I find that if I leave it off for a few days and come back, it will work again, at least, for a few days. This all started when the weather began to get VERY cold - although I'm not sure that has anything to do with it.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. We're hoping that this is an easy fix since we just replaced our sewer line and have to raise our sagging ceiling...
 
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Old 02-10-14, 08:20 PM
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An inexpensive volt meter would be a good investment and then you could check your house voltage to make sure it's within specs.

Is that one light that goes out or several in different rooms ?
If it's all on one switch.... the switch could be going bad.
 
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Old 02-10-14, 08:29 PM
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It's multiple lights in a couple different locations. i thought it might be the circuit, but given none of the electrical devices plugged into receptacles, sharing the circuit don't have issues, I think it's something else.
 
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Old 02-10-14, 08:36 PM
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CFL bulbs fail to last as long as advertised for a lot of reasons. This web site gives a good list of reasons: Compact Florescent Light Killers | The Minnesota Energy Challenge Blog. Coupled with your intermittent problem with the lights, I suspect your house wiring, the last one listed in the site's table. What I suspect is that somewhere in the wiring to the lights, either at the lights, or more likely at the switch, there are loose wires. This can happen over time as wires heat (expand) and cool (contract). I would turn off the power to the light switch at the breaker box, then open the switch, pull the wires forward, and re-tighten all connections (even those with a plastic wire nut).
 
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Old 02-11-14, 11:53 AM
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Thanks,

I will definitely look into that.
 
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Old 02-11-14, 12:06 PM
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Are all the lights on switches or do you have dimmers involved too?
 
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Old 02-11-14, 03:38 PM
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It's multiple lights in a couple different locations.
All the problems could be the result of one bad connection. That's what I would expect. I would start with the light switch closest to your circuit breaker (straight line distance). But, it could also be that the power runs to one of the lights before it goes to a switch. So, after checking the switches first, because they're easier to check, I would proceed to checking the wiring at each light. If you still don't find the problem, I would proceed to checking each receptacle's wire connections.
 
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