Split 15A Plug Question


We've had some problems recently with seemingly random flickering of lights. It doesn't affect all circuits but consistenly affects the same circuit breakers, usually the A side but sometimes the B. By moving the hot wire to a different breaker the flickering on a particular circuit, say the family room would stop. Had an electrician in who checked the fuse panel connections and found nothing there. The utility co. came twice to check their connection up to the meter and it all looks good. It seemed to get worse recently with the wall oven and furnace shutting down if they were both on at the same time. Furnace would run fine if the wall oven circuit breaker was off while the wall oven was OK if the furnace breaker was off. While investigating which circuits were affected and checking the wiring of plugs on the "bad" circuits I discovered that one of the kitchen split plug circuits was not wired in the same manner. The first plug had the red wire connected to the top receptacle and black to the bottom. Neutral pigtailed to the other side with the tab still present. The 2nd plug on that circuit had the red wire connected to the bottom receptacle and the black to the top. I reversed the wires on the 2nd plug to make it consistent with the first. Didn't really expect it to solve my problem but since then there has been no flickering on any circuits. Now the furnace and wall oven can both run at the same time. I just switched those wires today so I don't know if the problems will start up again. The first plug has nothing on it and the 2nd has a microwave plugged into the top receptacle and an extension cord with toaster and coffemaker plugged into the bottom receptacle. Most of the time all 3 appliances are off. Their use didn't seem to coincide with the flickering. I don't understand how just switching the wires could have solved anything. Unless there was an open or poor connection on the neutral side which got fixed when I reattached the wires. Anybody have some ideas? Thanks for your help.
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snipped-for-privacy@rogers.com wrote:

Your are almost certainly having problems with a bad neutral connections somewhere.
This is serious and dangerous. My first boss burned down his first photo studio because it. Do take this problem as something more important that an inconvenience.
Do you have aluminum wiring? That stuff has known problems.
In any case it means the neutral wires (the white one) is not properly connected all the way back to the breaker box. Hunting down the problem is not always easy and the procedure is not easy to explain. You can have a pro come in or if you feel confident in your abilities (I have no way of knowing them) you can try opening up each outlet along the way and making sure all the white wires re tightly connected including those in the breaker box.
It is possible that it may be outside your home all the way to the transformer. You don't mess with that stuff if it can't be found in your home (it sounds like it is in your home) then contact the electric company.
Good Luck
--
Joseph Meehan

Dia \'s Muire duit
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Thanks, Joseph. It does seem to be the neutral side. Plan to get some prfessional help.
Tom
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On Feb 11, 1:25 am, snipped-for-privacy@rogers.com wrote:

...
OK, you've isolated it to a few specific circuits and pretty conclusively shown it to be neutral-side related as the symptoms were alleviated by moving the "hot".
It is also pretty conclusive that it isn't the feed to the main panel as the symptoms are isolated to individual circuits as well -- a feed neutral problem would affect the whole house, not individual circuits and I'd put pretty high confidence in the utility company finding something in two visits if it were theirs.
...

This makes no sense to me as described -- that would seem to have put two "hots" of different circuits on the same receptacle which would have either put 240V on the outlet if fed from opposite buss or made a dead short if the same side when breakers on. Unless one or the other of the red or black isn't a feed but just a traveler cable and changed wire colors -- possible, but would wonder why on an outlet? These switched and split outlets, I presume? Maybe I'm reading your description wrong, but something seems peculiar.
As for the flickering apparently being resolved by the above action, I'm guessing if it is, the supposition you made of fixing a poor neutral connection was the problem.
I'd continue on these circuits checking connections at all locations for good connections, particularly if any of them were wired initially w/ the "backstab" terminations or if any of this is aluminum wiring. If the latter, I'd get the electrician back and ask for inspection by a pro of the quality/condition of connections.
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