JW> We've had a problem for the past year or so where every so often one
JW> circuit in our house starts to brown-out intermittantly. This circuit is
JW> the newest one in the house, and I believe was inserted on it's own
JW> breaker. In addition to the brown-outs, evidenced by light flickering as
JW> well as phone, TV and VCR turning on and off sometimes (one can hear some
JW> relay in the TV clicking repeatedly), a static-like noise can be heard
JW> coming from the breaker.
The static-like noise is probably the arcing across contacts. I would
get it fixed: not good for any of electronics on the
circuit as well as probably putting spikes on the other circuits which
is not good for the electronics on the other circuits.
JW> An electrician told us that the problem was corrosion in the breaker or
JW> in the wireing in the entire electrical box, which showed up first on the
JW> grounding strip. He said that to fix it the entire box would have to be
JW> rewired, but that there *wasn't* any risk of an electrical fire.
Personally I'd question the fire risk comment but then there's not
much to burn inside a service panel box. I'm thinking just moving the
circuit to a new breaker inside the box would probably be OK -- the
circuit breaker needs to match/be compatible with the service panel
(Brands A, C and D work with Panel Z but Brand B does not). OTOH if
the service panel is older or has signs of corrosion/arcing now would
be the time to get it replaced. ...Upgrade the service load while
you're at it?
JW> The odd thing is that it ONLY occurs with this one circuit, and that if
JW> all the lights on the circuit (about 260W load) are turned on, the
JW> brown-outs will go away in about 10 seconds. If they are turned off, the
JW> problem comes back, but if left on for about half and hour, the problem
JW> seem to clear up (at least for anywhere between a day to six weeks).
Arc welds itself for a while, then cools off and breaks the
connection? It's not right so needs to be fixed.
JW> Now for the questions: Why would current flowing through the circuit
JW> seem to stabilize it (reverseing the corrosion to some degree, or causing
JW> changes in the wire metal which temporarily bypasses the resistance
JW> created by the corrosion?) Is there really no risk of electrical fire?
JW> Why would it only occur on one circuit, if the entire box had corrosion
JW> in it?
The one circuit is "bothered" only because that's the faulty one.
Same thing as when a light bulb burns out, you tap it and it relights.
The light bulb is still failing, you just bypassed the problem for a
The entire box may not have corrosion, maybe the breaker is faulty,
but needs to be fixed. As I mentioned above, may be an
incompatibility problem repaired by moving the circuit to a new slot
(plus new breaker). Take a look at the buss bars in the panel - just
don't touch! If they look 'fuzzy' it's replacement time (and
You might want to get the opinion of a second electrician. The
project doesn't sound like it's a safety issue so you have some time
but I would not delay.
¯ barry.martinþATþthesafebbs.zeppole.com ®
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