On Thu, 24 Mar 2011 09:28:42 -0700 (PDT), Larry Fishel
Yes it would (for less than a second). I know that from first hand
experience. I had a pair of needle nose pliers go phase to phase in a
240V panel. A sprinkler guy said he saw a flash from both doors of
the electrical closet and then the lights on the entire floor went
Lesson learned.......When changing a breaker in a hot panel, if you
don't have the correct sized nut driver in your tool pouch, go get it.
Do not use needle nose pliers.
Please don't get your electrical advice from any sales staff no matter
who they work for! The suggestion that the "mains have to be cranked
down extremely tight" is classic bad information. There is a reason
that the labeling in panels includes torque specifications.
"Extremely tight" could do as much harm as loose. The terminals are
designed for a specific torque so use the correct tool or leave them
As for tightening while energized that is a simple minded thing to
attempt. Lugs can fail completely during tightening, especially if
they are radically over torqued. That could lead to arc flash burns
unless you are wearing an arc flash protective ensemble that is too
expensive for a homeowner to own for just their own work and requires
extensive training to use effectively.
The bottom line here is that electrical work is not just color to
color! Ten percent of all structure fires are electrical in origin.
That is one in every ten structure fires people! Although many tasks
are within the reach of a talented amateur who is willing to invest
the time to learn good technique some are not. The most important
thing that a homeowner needs to develop to do electrical work safely
is good judgment as to when to call in an electrician. Good judgment
may come with experience but experience needn't come from bad
judgment. Until you develop a feel for how tight the connections
should be by having done hundreds of them you should use a torque
wrench or torque screwdriver to do all of your panel terminations.
On 3/22/2011 10:16 AM email@example.com spake thus:
What the hell are you talking about? That sounds like nonsense, or at
least hand-waving. How would a "voltage divider" result in the behavior
the OP described?
I have no doubt that at least one of the problems he has *could* be an
open neutral (which would be exceedingly easy to determine with a little
probing with a meter), but so far none of the explanations I've read
here would explain why the lights gradually come up to full brightness.
That *is* just plain weird.
The current state of literacy in our advanced civilization:
On Tue, 22 Mar 2011 13:04:50 -0800, David Nebenzahl
Do you understand voltage deviders and center tapped transformers?
If the neutral (the center tap) is "raised" it becomes the center of a
voltage devider, with differing resistances on either side causing a
change in voltage side to side. A lower resistance on side A will
cause a lower voltage drop, causing the voltage on side B to go up,
and vise versa..
Also, as the load increases a "bad" connection on the neutral will
heat up, and the connection CAN improve as the connectors expand -
that's assuming the bulb lasts long enough!
On 3/22/2011 3:13 PM firstname.lastname@example.org spake thus:
Now *that* could definitely be the cause of the OP's problem. But a bad
or open neutral by itself could not explain that gradually increasing
brightness that he described.
I'm beginning to think that Don Klipstein's question--"Are you sure the
bulbs aren't CFLs?"--is a pretty good one, even though the OP said they
were incandescent ...
The current state of literacy in our advanced civilization:
On Tue, 22 Mar 2011 15:53:44 +0000 (UTC), Harold Lathom
Because if there is a loose connection, there is arcing (tiny sparks).
Picture a welder welding steel. The more it sparks, the more it fuses
together and makes a better connection. Also, heat will build up, and
heat expands metals, which makes them fit tighter. But this heat can
also start a fire.
You did check the light switch too, right? An arcing light switch can
cause this. Why not just jump across that switch with a wire, or
simply replace the switch, they're cheap. It sounds more like a
neutral connection, but start with the easiest things first. Changing
a switch is pretty simple. If it's not the switch, save the old one
and you're only out a buck or two.
If you call the electric co you might get it all fixed for free. When
I had power cutting out they found a loose connection outside and
checked and tightened the circuit panel screws and found a few loose,
all free. Its possible that bulb is getting 220-240, it can ruin most
everything you have if thats the case. Unplug things till its fixed.
No. You can NOT cause a "voltage spike" by turning on a switch.
The voltage absolutely, positively can NOT and will NOT go any higher
than the voltage being supplied to your panel by the electric company.
That's generally between 108 and 122 Volts AC per leg.
If it's "A" light, as in any one of a number of different lights in
your house, then it's normal. Bulbs wear out and blow.
If it's always the same light, at the same interval, and you keep
replacing it from the same box of bulbs, then you probably have a bad
That bulb that's been burning for 110 years in Chicago
notwithstanding, bulbs have a finite life span, and it isn't very log.
That is a fire hazard. You've got a loose wire or a bad circuit
breaker or a bad fixture somewhere. That kind of stuff burns down
houses. Call an electrician ASAP.
Does it glow either normally or with excessive brightness, first? Or do
you get nothing but the Big Blue Flash?
Are you sure these are not CFLs? There are some CFLs with regular shape
bulbs over them. Look for a plastic ballast housing at the base
(indicates CFL) or some low rated wattage typical of CFLs.
You may have an open neutral or an intermittently open neutral. This is
a very serious problem, because some loads would get excessive voltage,
leading to a possible fire hazard.
You may have a poor connection in the wiring - which is a fire hazard
because the poor connection can seriously overheat. This poor connection
may be intermittent, clearing itself up temporarily when it heats up. If
this is the case, it is still a fire hazard.
Electricians can normally figure these things out and fix them.
- Don Klipstein ( email@example.com)
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