I've been in my home almost 10 years and all of a sudden, a single
circuit in my home started to flicker and intermittently power on and
off (the breaker never tripped). I've done electrical work in the past
when I finished my basement. The first thing I thought of was to
replace the breaker. It's a Cutler Hammer twin (slimline) 15A breaker.
After replacing it, the problem still occurred (so it was unlikely it
was the breaker). After some diagnosising, I noticed that there was
some arching ocurring in one of the terminals on the neutral buss bar.
I tapped on the panel, and a small spark shot from the terminal. I
turned off the circuit in question, and the arching and spark ceased.
I then knew that the arching neutral belonged to the circuit in
I found it odd that there are one or two ground wires on the neutral
buss bar. However, the neutral buss bar is right on top of the ground
buss bar. Don't they go to the same place anyway? Is this odd or OK? I
know I've seen some panels where the ground buss is totally separated
from the neutral buss.
This neutral wire is sharing the same screw terminal on the buss bar
with a ground wire from another circuit. I shut off the main breaker
and screwed down the terminal firmly which fixed the problem. However,
5 days later, it started happening again. No sparks fly when I tap on
the panel, but there is slight arching in that same termAinal.
Just eyeballing it, it looks like my neutral is a 14 gauge whilst the
ground in the same terminal might be a 12 gauge which would explain
why the neutral is not secured enough by the screw terminal. I am
going to to shut off the main breaker do some housekeeping on the
terminals making sure the same gauge wire is shared by neutrals in the
1. Does it look like I've diagnosed the problem and I'm taking the
correct measures to fix it?
2. Why would this happen all of sudden after 10 years of living in the
home? The terminal screw didn't seem all that loose when I tightened
it the first time. I barely got 1/16 to 1/8 of a turn on it.
3. Is it OK for neutrals and grounds to share the same terminal on the
neutral buss bar? Of different or same circuits?
4. Any other comments to add on what I've described?