some lights dim and outlets do not work, others work fine

camron_2009March 18, 2009

This morning my wife was getting ready for work and all of the sudden some of the lights in the house went out, others stayed on. The range went out also. Other parts of the house worked fine, plugs and lights. After about 15 minutes the lights came back on but were very dim. When turning on the bathroom fan, the lights would dim. Over time the lights seemed to get a bit brighter but if you turned on others they would dim, the lights that were working never seem to have any dimming or interupt in power during this time. I believe the lights and outlets that do not work are on both sides of the panel. I suspect there is a loose neutral wire but am not sure how to track down where it would be. One post I read on some forum said a loose neutral would cause dimming on every other circuit so I figured I would check the panel first, just wanted to get more advice.

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Sounds more like a loose hot wire. Could be at the main panel, the meter, or the incoming line. Usually occurs due to Al wire not properly torqued and treated.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 11:01AM
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Ron Natalie

I'd agree with the loose neutral. It's almost a dead giveaway if things work better if you turn on a 240V appliance (like the oven or drier). Most panels don't split the legs left and right but rather every other position vertically (this is to make 2-pole breakers mounting simpler).

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 1:38PM
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I'd agree with normel-
Could be a nick in one of the hot feeds (underground) that finally succommed to moisture and corroded.
It happened to me-12 years after the undergrounds were put in!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 8:32PM
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Loose neutral won't make stove not work. Loose hot is likely the problem. Loose neutral would have symptom of some lights getting brighter than normal.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 9:19AM
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Most importantly, a loose neutral will cause ALL 120V circuits to have problems - All those on one side will have low voltage while the other side has high.

If some circuits remained a solid 120, the neutral is not the problem.

I'm going with the loose hot diagnosis.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 3:17PM
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If above ground, likely corrosion to main (in/under your meter outside?) which will cause partial outages and dimming. Likely a loose neutral if lights are actually flickering (bright, dim, bright or rapid on off); this can cause both low and high voltage surges. This may be caused by corrosion and should be checked very soon at least by PGE or whoever your local electric company is, to confirm the problem as the surges can cause anything from PC failure to appliance overheating/fire. Installations performed with high-dielectric silicone or other "goop" will not have this corrosion issue. If it is an underground system, I think you definately have to consider the hot. However, partial outages are usually due simply to corrosion. The fix? Call the electric company, ask them to investigate the partial outage or flickering and then call an electrician or general contractor if necessary. I would NOT suggest opening up your meter, brushing and caulking. This is not a old battery.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 5:23AM
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