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Some lights work, some outlets. Lights blinked a few times…

Customer Question
Some lights work, some...

Some lights work, some outlets. Lights blinked a few times over 15 minute period. Checked fuse box, nothing tripped, tripped all fuses individually, did not work, then tripped the master fuse. Nothing fixed.

Contractor's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. How long have you been dealing with this?

1/2 hour

Contractor's Assistant: Do you plan on doing the work yourself?

I am afraid of electricity. not if it involves more than tripping a fuse. If detailed, will call my guy.

Contractor's Assistant: Anything else we should know to help you best?

Looking for diagnosis. No.

Submitted: 3 months ago.Category: Electrical
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Answered in 3 minutes by:
4/3/2018
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 3 months ago
Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 4,419
Experience: 31 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License
Verified

Hello and welcome to Just Answer. My name is ***** ***** I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question.

Please be patient as it takes time to type and provide links. Also note that the website may be sending you a telephone offer, the offer is not originating from me.

1) What type of light bulbs? Incandescent or CFL or LED or other type?

2) Do the lights ever dim or only flicker?

3) Was there any recent electrical work performed on the wall switch or circuit or at the light fixtures?

4) Is the problem limited to only 1 circuit or more than 1 circuit?

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Incandescent. One room, kitchen dims. Multiple rooms have dimmers. No recent work. I do not know about the circuits.
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 3 months ago

Thanks for the replies.

1) Problems such as this are often caused by a loose hot wire termination or a faulty hot wire splice. Most common area is where wires are back-stab inserted into the back of a wall switch or receptacle. Wires should only terminate to the side screws on the devices and never to the back-stab insert holes as these often come loose.

2) I recommend to try the Wiggle Procedure shown below for starters:

3) Do you have a multimeter to confirm voltages at a few of the wall receptacles?

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Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 3 months ago

Wiggle Procedure

You have a circuit with dead outlets and maybe some dead lights on it or you’re experiencing flickering on a circuit. You will need a 2 wire voltage tester to check the outlet. A Multimeter or a Volt/Con are suggested. I prefer the Volt/Con because there are no settings to make, it does continuity and is audible. Success begins with knowing what you’re looking for.

1] No voltage reading between the hot and the neutral or ground indicates an open hot.

2] No reading between the hot and the neutral but 120V between the hot and ground and 120V between the neutral and ground indicates an open neutral.

3] No continuity between the neutral and ground – Check for tripped GFCI device first

4] If all the branch circuit breaker are on you have a bad connection on the hot or neutral wires. The usual cause is a bad connection, either a termination on a device or connection in a wire nut.

Over the years I’ve found the easiest way to locate the opening needing examination and correction is to wiggle the devices.

5] The first step in this exercise is to get a lamp to act as an alert. Make sure the lamp works and in the on position. You may also use something like a vacuum cleaner or blow dryer, for an audible alert. Don’t use anything electronic, like a radio.

6] Plug it into a dead outlet.

7] Now with a cube tester or any plug you will need to go to all the dead outlets and any live outlets in the area, insert the plug and wiggle the device side to side slightly. Watch the test lamp or listen for the other alerts as you wiggle the devices.

If the loose or bad connection is present the wiggle action may make it contact briefly and the lamp or the other things will alert you . Having found the suspected outlet all that is left is to correct the bad connection.

If the device is a push back wired device, this probably is the cause of the circuit failure. All wires must be terminated under the screws. Also you should never put more than one wire under a screw.

This troubleshooting procedure works in most cases and won’t have you open boxes un-necessarily. Keep in mind that the problem is in one of two places in the circuit, either in the first dead outlet or the live outlet just ahead of it.

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Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 3 months ago

1) Flickering lights indicate a hot wire issue. Dimming lights indicate a neutral wire issue. You originally mentioned the lights blinked, so I assume they were flickering or were they dimming? There is a difference and I need to know if flickering or dimming or both?

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Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 3 months ago

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks.................Kevin:)

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Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 3 months ago

Does that help to answer your question?

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