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Thread: Power Dips

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    231

    Default Power Dips

    I thought I posted this before but I don't see it in search results. I'm finding that if I use a vacuum cleaner or a corded drill, lights on separate circuits dim. I would expect this for lights on the same circuit but I don't know if this is normal for lights on different circuits to do this. I've also noticed that sometimes a less noticeable dimming can happen when the neighbors central air unit turns on. I'm running off of a 100amp service so I know I'm at the lower end of what's normal nowadays but I know for a fact I never have anywhere near that kind of load with only myself in the house.

    Is this something wrong with my house or service and what can I do about it, if anything?
    My advice and opinions come from hands on knowledge...and This Old House Hidden Content

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Columbiana, Alabama
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    623

    Default Re: Power Dips

    If only lights on the same circuit as the loads you mentioned dim..wiring on that circuit is probably too small or you have a loose connection.

    If all of your lights dim because of some appliance load your service entrance panel or the connection to the power company is probably defective.

    If your lights dim because of a neighbors load the power company probably has a bad transformer or connection at the pole.

    I would ask you neighbors if they have the same concerns. If so, start with the power company, it's free!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
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    5,558

    Default Re: Power Dips

    One other point, just because the lights are on a different breaker doesn't mean it is on a different leg, so in essence it may be on the same circuit.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
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    Default Re: Power Dips

    If your lights dim when the neighbors AC comes on, see if you both share the same transformer. It maybe undersized for two houses. It is not necessarily defective, it just maybe undersized.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Columbiana, Alabama
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    Default Re: Power Dips

    Jack & Keith both good points.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    231

    Default Re: Power Dips

    All of these are suspects as i know i share the same transformer as my neighbor and i saw a bit of what looks to be a little rust around one of the wires connecting to the main breaker. I guess i should just upgrade the service and entire box but i hope i can find something that will reuse the siemens brand breakers i just had installed.

    Jack, im not sure what you mean by on the same leg.
    My advice and opinions come from hands on knowledge...and This Old House Hidden Content

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
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    Default Re: Power Dips

    " and i saw a bit of what looks to be a little rust around one of the wires connecting to the main breaker."

    I don't think you need to upgrade your panel. I'm not real sure what you mean by your statement above, but I suspect that you mean the terminal where the terminal where the incoming wires screw into the breakers has some corrosion on them. If that is the case and you feel this needs to be corrected, then you have to have a licensed electrician do this work. Those wires are hot and can only be made safe by removing your meter base, and your utility company will not allow you to remove the meter base yourself.

    You might be able to get the utility company to come out and remove the base for you, then you replace the main breaker, but then you will get a lot of questions from them before they will put the base back on and they may not put it on until it is inspected by a licensed electrician, it depends on your local utility and sometimes even who is sent out to put the base back on.

    Replacing the breaker is the best option as opposed to just cleaning the connection. The terminals are plated to resist corrosion, but it eventually decays so if you just clean them, you will have to keep cleaning them every couple of years. A conducting grease will help.

    What Jack meant by legs is that you have two main (hot) wires coming into your panel, plus a return wire. The two hot wires are attached to the main breaker, which is actually two breakers ganged together. Each wire is a leg and there are multiple circuit breakers attached to each leg. So you actually only have two 110v circuits in your house, and the two are series connected on some breakers for the 220v circuits that connect to your clothes drier, electric water heater, electric stove and your home heating/AC system.

    I cannot guarantee that replacing your main breaker will have any affect on your problem. It might or might not so it is your decision whether you want to do it or not.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    231

    Default Re: Power Dips

    ya something like that is definitely for a licensed electrician. Is there a way to tell what "leg" each breaker is on? Is it as simple as which side of the panel the breaker is on or is it something like every other row?
    My advice and opinions come from hands on knowledge...and This Old House Hidden Content

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,558

    Default Re: Power Dips

    Most modern panels, it is every other breaker on the same leg.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

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