The circuit breaker for those bedrooms. Check tightness of connections to
breaker AND to neutral and ground bars. Also check carefully any wire-nut
connections in the circuit. You got a loose connection somewhere.
I checked all of the connections inside the fuse box. They are tight. The
problem is in two seperate bedrooms, which I believe is on two seperate
breakers. Either way, there are no loose connections inside the breaker box.
The computer does not flicker. Only the lights and tv screen. The lights
never go out, just dim at random times, for a second or two. The tv screen
narrows like it's going off, but then goes back to normal.
Any other suggestions? The breakers are 20 amp and look in good condition.
Do breakers go BAD? should I replace the breaker and try that?
"Curmudgeon" < firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in message
Breakers do go bad, but that would normally mean they trip too easily, or
not at all. It would be most odd that they cause fluctuations. The
breakers are sometimes not set in the box properly, so you might pull them
out and reinstall them.
It pretty much has to be a bad connection somewhere. If it is two circuits
than you have to figure out precisely what is on those two circuits, and
trace them. Then you have to test the circuit everywhere. Somewhere it
will be okay on one side, but bad on the other. There is no shortcut for
this. It could be a bad splice, a defective outlet, or lots of things.
If the entire circuit is bad, then it has to be the connection at the box,
whether it looked okay or not.
I concur with Toller. As my uncle Webfoot used to say, "You've got a
loose disconnection somewhere." The "push in" connectors on the backs of
some outlets are prime suspects for this kind of stuff.
The noise you reported "coming from a breaker" might just be a magnetic
breaker responding to fluctuating current caused by an arc at the loose
I didn't notice your mentioning whether you flipped those breakers off
one at a time to see whether the flickering lights and TV are all on one
breaker. It would be rather unusual if they weren't. Proving that will
point you a little closer to the answer. If its localized to one
breaker, you could swap that breaker with one of the other (same sized)
ones and see what happens. I trust you know what you're about with line
voltage power and know how to KEEP SAFE.
Now, the TV could be flickering because the power from the outlet it's
plugged into is jumping around, OR it could just be radio frequency
noise created by an arcing loose connection bugging the TV reception.
Try plugging in a table lamp in place of the TV, that'll tell you.
Before you go nuts opening up stuff all over the place, try thumping
hard with the side of your fist on the walls adjacent to light switches
and outlets (while the lights and TV are on) and see if you can affect
things that way. You may get lucky and zoom in on the area where there
is a loose connection.
Good luck and let us know what it turns out to be.
Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
"My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying."
Are you sure the bedrooms are on seperate circuits?
From the symptoms you describe, you may very well have an intermittent short
circuit somewhere with some arcing going on. If this is the case and the
location of the intermittent short isn't obvious, I suggest you call a
professional electrician to diagnose and correct the situation ASAP.
While I was checking the inside of the breaker box, I heard a sizzling or
crackling sound coming from one of the breakers (the bedrooms in question
area). Again could this be a bad breaker? or do they go bad?
Yes, breakers do go bad. Is the breaker warm to the touch?
If the arcing is taking place within the breaker, you will have to replace
it. If the arcing is between the breaker and it's connection to the buss
bar, you should still replace the breaker. If the problem does turn out to
be between the breaker and the buss bar in the panel, then you should put
the new breaker in another location in the panel (if there's room), as part
of the buss bar may have been scorched and burned away by the arcing,
Circuit breakers are not that expensive (unless you have an FPE breaker and
panel...in that case, plan on spending about 6 to 10 times what any other
brand would cost), nor are they that difficult to replace. The tricky part
is if you have no means of cutting power to the buss bars and have to do
this with a live panel.
That being said, I still recommend that you have a professional electrician
do this job for you. It's better to be safe than sorry - especially if this
job has to be done on a live panel. This is a very common and routine job
for a pro and he or she can be in and out of there in about 20 minutes.
The largest reason for recommending an electrician: your
diagnostic skills (and those of too many responders) are
severely lacking. Don't just wildly replace or fix things
Only bad technicians would do that. First learn the
scenario. Apparently you know the troublesome receptacle and
its circuit breaker. Not enough information. First learn the
entire branch circuit from breaker box to offending
receptacle. Only then are we ready to seek a solution.
Always and first collect facts before trying to fix
something. It is how things are fixed the first time.
Now for the problem. Others have suggested a loose wire.
Yes. A potentially dangerous condition (made into an
emergency service call if house has aluminum wire). Each wire
should join other wires only inside boxes. If wires are
joined together, they must be fully joined without a wire nut
- then the wire nut makes a second joint to the same wire
joint. You know which boxes are in that circuit. Take off
the cover and visually inspect each receptacle from back room
to breaker box.
If wires are joined by connecting to receptacle, then wire
must be connected to screw on receptacle side - and not using
stab lock holes on back of receptacle. If you don't know
those holes, then buy a single receptacle at any hardware
store. However you need not even remove that receptacle to
confirm proper connection. Wire should be visually obvious -
be 'fully wrapped' around screws on side of receptacle.
If that visual inspection provides no obvious reason for
intermittent failure, then move on to a next experiment -
collect more information. You know the entire branch circuit
- the order of each receptacle on that branch circuit. Now
connect devices to receptacles closer to breaker box. Ideal
device would be electric clock that looses time if power is
lost (buy a cheap clock if you don't have one). Report loss
of power and how long ago the intermittent occurred. As
problem occurs on TV, etc, then does it also happen to
receptacles closer to breaker box?
If intermittent occurs to receptacle closest to breaker box,
then suspect a circuit breaker or wire from breaker to that
first receptacle. Rare for circuit breakers to be
intermittent; unless not fully seated in slot because panel
cover is removed. But first locate where that intermittent is
before fixing something.
One more point. If previous homeowner did wiring, then
locate a wire splice somewhere inside wall - often not inside
a junction box. Too many homeowners (and even some
electrician) will wrap a junction only in electrical tape and
throw it back inside the wall. Major problem.
This could be a serious human safety problem. Don't fix the
symptoms. First collect information and test - so that you
definitely know where the problem must exist. Otherwise get
an electrician who should have fancy tools to solve this
quickly by first identifying the problem - and only then
BTW, this assumes the power fluctuations do not correspond
to something else such as a washing machine or refrigerator
starting up simultaneously. That is another symptom that
suggests problems elsewhere.
Thanks for all the replies! I am not an electrician, but I am smart enough
to know my limitations, I disarm bombs for a living. I will do more
diagnostics tomorrow and decide if I need to call a pro.
I think you found your problem when you heard the sizzling in the breaker.
This is indicative of a loose connection, and inside the breaker the switch
contacts could be worn, or loose. You will probably wind up replacing the
If a sizzling breaker is detected, it is a serious matter, even if
intermittent De-energize the panel, remove the breaker and inspect the
busbar. The breaker is probably damaged from heat, replace it. Depending
on the severity of the heat damage, adjacent breakers/busbar may be damaged
also. Inspect/replace accordingly. Breakers have been known to explode
under these conditions, be careful and/or put your PPE to use.
I removed the suspect breaker and noticed blackening on and around the
contacts. The bus bar looked good. While working on the panel, I noticed a
breaker that was loose. I pulled it and the plastic was broken around the
contacts and the contacts were loose. Replaced both breakers and so far it's
looking like it's fixed.
"volts500" < email@example.com> wrote in message
Turn off the breaker, and then pull the sockets and switches
out. See if they are wired with "stab in" connections, or if
the wire is wrapped around the screw on the side of the
outlet (or socket). Wrapped around the screw is far better
There are some back-wired outlets that are better than side-wireds.
They have clamps like a circuit breaker, but they *look* like the
stab-ins unless you look close and see that the holes are big enough for
#12 (or even #10) wires. A builder would never use them though, cuz
they cost $1 more than those really cheap outlets.
I replaced every outlet and light switch in the house a year ago. I used the
screws not the stab ins. I fixed the problem by replacing two breakers. One
was broken and the other was charred. No idea how this happened, but the
house is 34 years old and the breakers were probably close to that.
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