House Electrical Problem


It started the other night. Several lights that are on the same breaker started blinking on and off. After a while the blinking got more frequent and then they started staying off longer. Then they just would not come back on.
Next day, they came back on but still blink occasionally.
All I've done so far is to switch the breaker off and back on.
The circuit is the overhead kitchen light, the light over the stairs to the upstairs, the ceiling light in the downstairs bedroom and a fluorescent ceiling light in an upstairs room. All lights have their own on/off switches with the light over the stairs having a switch at the bottom and at the top of the stairs.
I'm wondering if it could be the breaker or if I have a short somewhere. Seems like it would have to be somewhere between the first light switch on the circuit and the breaker.
Anybody got any tips before I start taking things apart?
Thanks, David
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wrote:

Poltergeist?
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It is not a short circuit, but an "open circuit". If it affects all the outlets on the circuit, you may want to check the connections on the breaker and the neutral buss. If it only affects some of the outlets on the circuit, you will want to find the junction box of the last properly working outlet, or the first improperly working outlet
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*A bad circuit breaker and/or a loose connection somewhere on the circuit are common causes of your problem. Verify that the breaker is good or just replace it and then open up each receptacle, switch and light fixture on the circuit until you find the problem. Check the receptacles first for a loose connection because of the possibility that the wires were backstabbed in the rear instead of being on the side screw terminals.
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That's kinda what I was thinking. I didn't do the wiring on this circuit but I'm betting on the "Backstabbed" thing but I wanted feedback on the possibility of the breaker being bad and what those symptoms might be.
Thanks, David
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If you want to test the breaker, just swap it out for another one, either with one from the box or with a new one.
In the meantime, I'd turn that circuit off when I went to bed or out of the house. A loose wire could spark or heat up, neither of which is a good thing.
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hibb wrote:

Step 1: check for voltage at the output of the breaker. You may have to remove the cover of your breaker panel to do this. Be very careful as the two large service wires are unfused and unswitched, you don't want to touch them!
nate
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hibb wrote:

Some connection is loose. Think logic and take time avoiding zapping yourself. You need at least a mult meter.
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wrote:

First trip and reset the breaker a few times then; My money is on one of the big "cludge" wire nuts full of white wires in a ceiling box. Backstabbed receptacles are #2 on the list.,
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On Nov 15, 1:06pm, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I have tripped the breaker a number of times. Today I opened up all the switches for the 4 lights on the circuit to check if there is a problem. I didn't find anything there and there were no backstabbed units in any of them. Now I need to double check to see if any outlets are also on that circuit. I haven't noticed any yet.
If I don't find anything there I might as well open up the breaker box and start with the breaker and trace things forward from there. I hate getting into the breaker box but I do have a switch outside that transfers whole house power from the grid to a generator hook-up when power goes out.
David
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wrote:

I still say your top pick should be a loose wirenut in a ceiling box over one of the light fixtures. You might just turn on all the lights and tap on the canopies of each one of them to see if you can get a light to flicker. That will be the one.
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On Nov 16, 12:22am, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Seems to me that if that was the case it would only effect that particular light fixture and the rest of the lights would work fine. Doesn't the power run from one light switch to the next? I have always been able to turn off one light without effecting the others.
Thanks, David
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I have tripped the breaker a number of times. Today I opened up all the switches for the 4 lights on the circuit to check if there is a problem. I didn't find anything there and there were no backstabbed units in any of them. Now I need to double check to see if any outlets are also on that circuit. I haven't noticed any yet.
If I don't find anything there I might as well open up the breaker box and start with the breaker and trace things forward from there. I hate getting into the breaker box but I do have a switch outside that transfers whole house power from the grid to a generator hook-up when power goes out.
*Just because an outlet is working does not mean the problem is not there. The line side can be okay and the load side could have the loose connection.
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I will be turning off the breaker again today to see if any of the outlets are on that circuit. So far I only see that the 4 light switches are getting power on that circuit. Even tho all the lights are powered from the same breaker they operate independent of each other. Yet this problem causes all the lights from that breaker to quit working at the same time. So, it seems to me, that the problem has to be somewhere between the breaker box and the first light switch. Thanks, David
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OK, today I turned on the kitchen light and it went dead after only a few seconds. So I checked the outlets to see if they were all working and they were so I turned off the breaker and checked to see if any of the outlets were dead. All the outlets had power.
So I opened up the breaker box, turned the breaker back on and checked to see if any power was coming from the breaker. It seemed OK so I went back upstairs and turned the kitchen light back on and it came on fine and did not go back off. I wanted the problem to develop again so I could test if power was coming from the breaker again. I turned on the rest of the lights to put more of a load on the circuit and still had no problems and it has been fine all afternoon.
Looks like the problem is solved for now. Maybe is was just turning the breaker off for a longer time before turning it back on. We'll see. Thanks, David
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wrote:

OK, today I turned on the kitchen light and it went dead after only a few seconds. So I checked the outlets to see if they were all working and they were so I turned off the breaker and checked to see if any of the outlets were dead. All the outlets had power.
So I opened up the breaker box, turned the breaker back on and checked to see if any power was coming from the breaker. It seemed OK so I went back upstairs and turned the kitchen light back on and it came on fine and did not go back off. I wanted the problem to develop again so I could test if power was coming from the breaker again. I turned on the rest of the lights to put more of a load on the circuit and still had no problems and it has been fine all afternoon.
Looks like the problem is solved for now. Maybe is was just turning the breaker off for a longer time before turning it back on. We'll see.
Thanks, David
===========breakers can get weak and trip when they heat up. is today colder? you might swap that breaker with another one and see if the problem follows.
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Yeah, I think I will go ahead and just replace that one. But I think if the problem crops up again I will test the breaker first while the problem is going on before I flip the breaker off and back on and see if I can determine if that is actually the problem.
Thanks, David
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hibb wrote:

probably a 'backstabbed' outlet somewhere's along the way feeding that light. BTDT a few dozen times.
s
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hibb wrote:

Highly probable bad breaker. Replace it or have a pro do it for you.
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I would try tightening the connection to the breaker before I replaced it. Are anymore lights in the house tied to this breaker? If so do they have the same problem?
Jimmie
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