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Confusing home electrical problem

  1. Apr 10, 2008 #1
    I have 2 indoor lights (hallway and garage), 3 vanity lights(small bathroom), 1 outdoor light, an outlet, and a bathroom ventilation fan connected to the same circuit breaker in my house. A few weeks ago, the lights began flickering slightly and progressively worsened until they stopped working all together. The outlet will not power on anything as well. At first I thought it might be a bad circuit breaker so I replaced it, which did not fix the problem. I used a Non-Contact Voltage Detector, which lights up anytime I get near any of the above mentioned end points.

    Before I have to give away my first-born child to an electrician, does anyone have any idea of what could be the problem? Everything else in my home works fine.

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 10, 2008 #2


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    Sounds like a loose connection or faulty wire behind your wall.
  4. Apr 10, 2008 #3


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    Flickering lights are bad.
    That's how electrical fires get started.
    Fortunately nothing happened, but you really want to get anything out of the ordinary fixed immediately.

    The problem is most likely a bad connection in one of the outlet boxes behind one of the various fixtures on this circuit.
    Unfortunately, the wiring itself may now be damaged because you let this go until it stopped working.
    I would recommend that you bite the bullet and hire an electrician to fix it at this point.
  5. Apr 10, 2008 #4
    That's what I was afraid of...Thanks for the info though.
  6. Apr 10, 2008 #5


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    How old is the house, and do you have aluminum wiring? If so, replace it with copper?

    It sounds like a bad connection or wire burned out. If the wire got progressive hotter it would increase resistance that would dim lights or cause them to flicker, until the connection or wire simply burned through.

    Someone will have to trace all the fixtures and junction on that circuit and one probably needs to inspect the rest of the circuits too - which is problematic since most of it is in the wall.
  7. Apr 10, 2008 #6


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    Is the outlet in the bathroom? If so, it should be a GFCI type. Check to see if it has tripped.

    Flickering lights are indicative of a poor connection as previously mentioned. Hence, I would assume that you have lost the feed from the breaker box to that lighting circuit. I would recommend a qualified electrician correct the probelm for you.

  8. Apr 15, 2008 #7


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    If your voltage stick lights up at the accessories but they don't actually work then you have a disconnected neutral. From what you say, it sounds like the neutral was loose and then has eventually burnt off from its connection. Also, if none of your accessories are working then it sounds like the broken neutral is at the first accessory in the circuit, ie. the closest one to the consumer unit. Check the connections there. :-)
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