What would cause light bulbs to blow out (like a flame) and to be dim for a few minutes on certain circuits?

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On Mar 23, 4:08 pm, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

A metal tool shorting two legs (or hot and ground/neutral) together would be a heavy load, no?
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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 out.
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.
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On Mar 22, 8:38 am, "Stormin Mormon"

glegroups.com...
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 alone.
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. -- Tom Horne
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On Tue, 22 Mar 2011 06:54:16 -0400, RBM wrote:

I don't doubt the conclusion but I have one question.
Why would the lights, which at first are 1/4 brightness, 'warm up' to be normal brightness?
Or do I just get used to the dimness?
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On Tue, 22 Mar 2011 15:53:44 +0000 (UTC), Harold Lathom

constructed across the bad neutral evens out as the bulb warms up.
Can't think, off-hand, of any other explanation than a floating or "bad" neutral.
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On 3/22/2011 10:16 AM snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca 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.
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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!

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On 3/22/2011 3:13 PM snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca 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 ...
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I'd really be worrying about it. Bad connections can start fires.
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Jim Yanik
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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.
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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.
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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 batch.
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.
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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 ( snipped-for-privacy@misty.com)

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