Bad Electrical Circuit

Hi,
This is my first post to this message board but I have been lurking for a while. There appear to be a number of knowlegeable individuals here and hopefully someone can give me some advice.
Here is my problem. For the last couple of nights, I noticed the light in the master bathroom getting brighter and darker but not actually going off. Then this morning the television on the same circuit did something similar with the picture getting normal sized and smaller. Apparently there has been an energy fluctuation in the circuit. Eventually the tv started turning itself off every few seconds after you turned it on. I unplugged the tv and plugged it back in and it would not turn on again. Nothing on the outlets downline from a GFCI in another bathroom appeared to be working. I tried to reset the GFCI outlet and could occasionally get electricity for a second or two down the line from the GFCI plugin by holding down the reset button on the GFCI outlet. Now nothing on the circuit works at all. No breakers in the main panel have been tripped. I reset the breakers in the main panel to be sure that they were not partially tripped. I tried replacing the GFCI plugin with another new GFCI outlet. I did that twice with new GFCI outlets. I then tried replacing the plug with a non-GFCI plugin. While replacing the GFCI outlets, I did verify that the black wires were indeed hot by getting a couple of "tingles" when I accidentally touched the live wire on the outlet. Then I got frustrated and just wired the wires together at the outlet box and removed the outlet. I still do not have power on that circuit anywhere. My next step is to replace the breaker in the main panel. I originally thought the light in the bathroom had a problem because it is a recent replacement and I guessed that maybe I didn't have a secure connection when I wired it up. If replacing the breaker doesn't work, I guess I will leave the problem to an electrician unless someone here has a good idea of what might be happening in the circuit.
Thanks for any help
Steveb
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This could be a loose neutral problem if the lights are actually getting brighter and not just recovering from a loose connection. It could be confined to a multiwire branch circuit (two 120V circuits that share a common neutral) or the main service neutral. Is the circuit in question a multiwire branch circuit? Do any other circuits in the house exhibit this problem?
You can verify a loose neutral by monitoring the voltage with a meter on the flakey circuit. Start loading up your panel with 120V loads on different circuits one by one. Monitor the voltage on the circuit, and see if you're getting large swings. Typically, you should see about 120V and it should slowly decrease to about 117V as you start adding substantial load (add toasters, blow dryers, irons, washing machine, etc). If you're seeing swings to 110V or less and 130V or over, you've got a loose neutral that needs to be fixed ASAP. If you're just seeing voltage drops but no gains, then the hot wire could be loose somewhere in the circuit. If it is a normal 2 wire circuit, then a loose neutral in that circuit only would also cause voltage drops and not gains.
-- Mark Kent, WA
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If your GFCI is wired backwards, that could explain what is going on with it, but that seems screwy. Verify that the cable with 120V on it is connected to LINE and that the outgoing cable is connected to LOAD. Jumpering the neutral and ground in front of the GFCI shouldn't cause it to trip. If it is downstream, then it will, and should disable the downstream outlet and the GFCI outlet.
If your light fixtures were wired such that power enters the ceiling box and continues on to another circuit, then that could explain what is wrong. This configuration uses a "switch leg" that goes to the switch -- two hots and no neutral in the switch box. So the neutrals in the ceiling box are all interconnected and if done poorly the down stream circuit could be intermittent.
Ceiling fixtures are a pain to do correctly because of the small stranded wire. Use wire nuts that don't forbid pre-twisting the wires together. Then firmly twist the incoming and outgoing white wires together with linesmans pliers. Then wrap the ceiling light neutral around the twisted neutrals, but have the stranded wire go a little past the end of the twisted wires (so it contacts the nut first). Then secure them all with a wire nut. Be sure to do all twisting clockwise...
-- Mark Kent, WA
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In alt.home.repair on Tue, 29 Jul 2003 16:00:00 -0500 snipped-for-privacy@domain.invalid posted:

You've already gotten good advice. I just wanted to say that there is no such thing as a bad electrical circuit. There are only electrical circuits that do bad things.
;) Just ask Father Flannigan. :)

Meirman
If emailing, please let me know whether or not you are posting the same letter.
Change domain to erols.com, if necessary.
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Hi Steve!
U > This is my first post to this message board but I have been lurking for U > a while. There appear to be a number of knowlegeable individuals here U > and hopefully someone can give me some advice.
Welcome! :)
U > Here is my problem. For the last couple of nights, I noticed the light U > in the master bathroom getting brighter and darker but not actually U > going off. Then this morning the television on the same circuit did U > something similar with the picture getting normal sized and smaller. U > Apparently there has been an energy fluctuation in the circuit.
My guess would be due to a bad/failing connection. If the light and TV are on the same circuit the problem could be an open connection somewhere along that line, could even be at the service panel. If your house is older could be a loosened screw in the service panel. Personally I don't like fiddling around in there and would call an electrician after ruling out a faulty connection in a junction box, etc.
U > Eventually the tv started turning itself off every few seconds after you U > turned it on. I unplugged the tv and plugged it back in and it would not U > turn on again. Nothing on the outlets downline from a GFCI in another U > bathroom appeared to be working. I tried to reset the GFCI outlet and U > could occasionally get electricity for a second or two down the line U > from the GFCI plugin by holding down the reset button on the GFCI U > outlet. Now nothing on the circuit works at all. No breakers in the
Failing GFCI? Is the bathroom light and TV on the same GFCI circuit? (read on -- GFCI not failing but is detecting a difference between the leads -- it is doing it's job and seems to verify an open in the circuit.)
U > main panel have been tripped. I reset the breakers in the main panel to U > be sure that they were not partially tripped. I tried replacing the GFCI U > plugin with another new GFCI outlet. I did that twice with new GFCI U > outlets. I then tried replacing the plug with a non-GFCI plugin. While U > replacing the GFCI outlets, I did verify that the black wires were U > indeed hot by getting a couple of "tingles" when I accidentally touched
Umm, shut off the power at the breaker before replacing switches and outlets!
U > the live wire on the outlet. Then I got frustrated and just wired the U > wires together at the outlet box and removed the outlet. I still do not U > have power on that circuit anywhere. My next step is to replace the U > breaker in the main panel. I originally thought the light in the U > bathroom had a problem because it is a recent replacement and I guessed U > that maybe I didn't have a secure connection when I wired it up. If U > replacing the breaker doesn't work, I guess I will leave the problem to U > an electrician unless someone here has a good idea of what might be U > happening in the circuit.
Recheck your wiring in the bathroom fixture. One set of wires connected to the fixture or a lead in and a lead out plus the fixture's wiring?
- barry.martinATthesafebbs.zeppole.com
* 1971: Passing the drivers test 2001: Passing the vision test
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The Safe BBS Bettendorf, IA 563-359-1971
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