View Full Version : House electric question: Flickering lights.

Clarence Martin
12-27-2015, 10:19 AM
Had the kitchen lights flickering yesterday and this Morning. Well, I thought is was a short in the lamp somewhere. Went into the bathroom and the lights flickered a couple of times in there and also in the Living room.


Is this a problem in the Circuit Breaker box or on the power line, that would be the responsibility of the Electric Company to fix? The Electric substation for the houses on this line, have 1,087 customers that get power from that substation. From what I have been told years ago, that Substation is maxed out, 2 or 3 times a year, the power goes out, affecting all those customers. The last time it went out, The power company installed a new transformer right after the power outage .

How do I check to see if it is the house or the main line to the house that is the problem?

Barry McFadden
12-27-2015, 10:25 AM
I would check with some neighbors and see if any of them is having the same problem....

Bruce Volden
12-27-2015, 10:36 AM

I had the same exact problem a couple years back. I am in a rural area so I could not check to see if the neighbors were experiencing the same fluctuations as me. I called the power folks and they came out. Turned out it was a "loose" neutral connection coming into the house. It "wasn't on their side" and said I should have called an electrician-----BUT----since they were out they would fix it (FREE!!!)
That took care of the problem.


Myk Rian
12-27-2015, 11:51 AM
Our next door neighbor had the same problem this summer. I went over to read the voltages in the main box, and found one leg was going all over the chart.
They called the power company in, and that guy found a bad connection from the pole wire and the house.
Call the power company!!!

Lee Schierer
12-27-2015, 5:31 PM
I agree, check with the neighbors and call the electric company. Flickering caused by loose wiring or debris on the wires leading to the house can cause a power outage of a fire.

Kevin Russell
12-27-2015, 7:02 PM
It's probably a loose wire coming into the meter or power box. My beach house lights were flickering a couple years ago. I checked the power panel and everything was good and tight there but one of the service wires coming from the meter was fluctuating between 100 and 120. The constant arcing caused one of the wires feeding the meter to corrode to where there was only about 25% left. The sheathing was burned up about 6" also. Luckily, there was enough slack that they just cut off the 6 inches of bad wire and hooked it back up. Everything is good now.

Patrick Walsh
12-28-2015, 12:24 AM
The same thing was happening to me just last week. Ended up being a loose neutral from the pole but at my house. They took care of it in a half hour and that was that no more flickering lights.

It was kimda scary for a minute as i have had a bunch of electrical work done over the last few months getting my shop wired up.

Art Mann
12-28-2015, 12:35 AM
A short arises when the "hot" conductor comes in close contact with a path to ground or possibly the hot wire on the other side of a 240VAC service.The result of that is typically a blown fuse or open breaker. What you are describing doesn't sound like a short.

Kev Williams
12-28-2015, 2:27 PM
Try turning all your breakers off and back on, especially the main(s), see if that helps.

No offense to any pro electricians, but some of them are anything but. If there IS a loose neutral or hot, simply put: it shouldn't be, and the last person to tighten the screws is to blame- and that's usually an electrician.

About 3 hours after we arrived at our RV camp spot last August, we lost most of the power to our motorhome. I determined shortly thereafter with a voltmeter that one leg was dead. After a few tests at other sites and chatting with other campers, I found the whole camp loop had the same problem. 10pm that night a 2-man crew came out to fix the problem. Turns out "Bob" who did all the wiring at the power pole didn't bother crimping any of the crimps. He thought they were tight enough and just wrapped the connections with electrical tape and called it a day. Bob also didn't tighten the screws at the transformer. The excess heat caused by all the loose connections screwed up pretty much everything on the pole, and they had to undo and re-do everything Bob did. Why Bob has an electricians license is a mystery.And I'm just repeating what the 2 guys said while fixing Bob's mess...

Rant over-- good luck finding the problem!

Myk Rian
12-28-2015, 3:33 PM
and the last person to tighten the screws is to blame- and that's usually an electrician.
Not always a loose screw. In the case with our neighbors, the butt splice between the house wire and the pole wire was corroded.

Call the power company!!

Jim Koepke
12-28-2015, 3:38 PM
No offense to any pro electricians, but some of them are anything but. If there IS a loose neutral or hot, simply put: it shouldn't be, and the last person to tighten the screws is to blame- and that's usually an electrician.

In many cases I would agree. There are also many cases were the materials in the electrical service may be to blame. I used to work at a company that made controls for switches used by power companies. One of the engineers specified an aluminum terminal for a ground connection. I raised my concerns and was told that my level of education wasn't sufficient to know anything about the materials used. I did know that aluminum can 'passivate' to a point of becoming more of an insulator than a conductor. He refused to believe it was possible.

Just because someone is an engineer doesn't mean they know what they are doing.

In the case of electrical panels I have seen some older ones where the tip of the screw presses into the conductor. This is fine for solid wire but not so good for multi-strand wiring. Some have a plate between the screw and conductor that work better with multi-strand wire.

There are so many different aspects involved in electrical wiring, especially when compounded with the age of the circuitry and years of cold and hot cycles through the seasons that trying to diagnose a problem online is mostly a collection of interesting stories about what folks found with similar situations. These are good places to start, but may not lead to a loose connection in the wall behind an outlet on the same circuit.


william watts
12-28-2015, 8:45 PM
There's a lot of loose screw stories here. The bedrooms in my house had intermittent power and flickering lights. I pulled the master switch to kill power, then took the cover off the breaker box. A quick look found a blackened area around a loose screw. It only needed to be cleaned and tightened.

Clarence Martin
12-29-2015, 1:04 PM
Electrician and his Grandson came over this Morning to check the electric out. They checked the connection next to the house on the outside, then checked the circuit breaker box, then the light itself.

Found NOTHING wrong with the wiring on the inside. Said it has to be on the utility side of things, Either at the pole or possibly a branch is rubbing up against the power line when the wind blows.