Home>Discussions>ELECTRICAL & LIGHTING>Lights turn themselves off and on again at random!?
4 posts / 0 new
Last post
Lights turn themselves off and on again at random!?

Either I have a ghost in the Victorian house I just purchased, or a major electrical problem, because the lights have started dimming at random, sometimes turning off completely, then getting brighter again. Every light in the house does this - all the ceiling fixtures and wall sconces (there are a lot of wall sconces). An electrician recently grounded some outlets in the house that weren't properly grounded, added more dedicated circuits, and took out some knob and tube wiring that had been spliced into the romex upstairs, but the problem seems to have gotten even worse since then. I thought that taking out the knob & tube would fix it...? So, since this is happening to ALL the lights, and I'm assuming they're all on the same 1 or 2 circuits, since there were only 2 circuits powering the entire house... is the problem most likely to be at or near the circuit panel? Anyone have any experience with this? I haven't noticed any electrical appliances turning off, just the lights.

Re: Lights turn themselves off and on again at random!?

Is it all the lights at the same time or all the lights at different times?

If the former, then start closer to the panel.

I would hope that a complete re-wiring is on your comprehensive multi-year remodeling plan.

Re: Lights turn themselves off and on again at random!?

First, go and check your breakers for any sign of heat damage, loose switches, tripping, etc. And while you check that, can you tell us the size of your panel (60 AMP, or higher)?

My gut feeling: you are looking at not only complete house rewiring, but also at a panel upgrade.

Re: Lights turn themselves off and on again at random!?

Sounds like a loose neutral and the 240V feed is not fixed at 120V to the branch circuits. If both phases are evenly loaded no current returns on the neutral (very un-likely to happen) so, with a bad neutral the heavy loads go dim and the light loads get brighter.

You could even have a burned out neutral and the imbalanced current is being returned by your grounding system, via earth, which is very dangerous.

Good Luck from Columbiana, Alabama
Maurice Turgeon, http://thesemi-retiredelectrician.com

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.