Weird lights blinking, AC compressors making weird noise when it does it.

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by SteamCows, Sep 8, 2013.

  1. SteamCows

    SteamCows New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Texas
    Hello, we had this issue last month and solved it by shutting off the ACs and leaving them idle for a few hours. Today that doesn't seem to be the case.

    Anyway here is what is happening: the lights in the whole house, or sometimes limited to one room, will nearly shut off for a split second and then come back. The computer hasn't gone off and on but the AC's compressor doesn't like it much and will make a big THUD sound.

    Should we call the electric company to ask if they think it's on their end? Or is it time to sell our blood and souls and call an electrician (we were quoted 600-800 to replace the breaker box with better breakers) ?
  2. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,213
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Sounds like you need a electrician to check the problem.

    If one gave you a quote for a new box, then that could be your problem.

    The electric company can test power to your box from your transformer. Could be a loose connection on your feed.


    Good Luck.
  3. SteamCows

    SteamCows New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Texas
    So I might should call the electric company just to see if it's them ?
  4. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,213
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    It would not hurt.

    What ever is causing it, You need to cure it ASAP.

    It is not safe and can cost a lot replacing appliances that get burnt up.
  5. SteamCows

    SteamCows New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Texas
    Any point in trying to ask the neighbors ? They are on the same transformer that the electric company put up last year when they moved in behind us (electric company said the old small one wasn't big enough for us and them) .
  6. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,213
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    That could tell you if it is a power line problem. If they have problems also.

    But it could be after the transformer at your meter.
  7. SteamCows

    SteamCows New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Texas
    I suppose I should give them a ring, although I am betting it is on our end. We had a breaker melt on us (hot water heater 220 breaker) with plastic still stuck in there last year. We moved it to another 220. When we had that problem though , we could smell plastic and the breaker was sizzling. We don't hear any sizzling anymore.
  8. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,534
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Better call another electrician as this one must not know what he is doing.

    This price should be between $1500 and $3500
  9. SteamCows

    SteamCows New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Texas
    This was a guy my brother knows. Anyway, if it's that much we might as well be looking at selling the house..
  10. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,213
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    Chances are you will have to fix it to sell it, Unless they have the cash.


    Good Luck.
  11. dj2

    dj2 Member

    Messages:
    418
    Location:
    California
    1. Don't let your brother's friend touch your panel, if he's not a licensed electrician, no matter what he says.

    2. Are you saying that you rather sell the house than replace the panel? that's insane.

    3. With the kind of heat waves we're having, melting wires and breakers are not that uncommon anymore. They must be repaired at once because they make conditions dangerous.
  12. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,213
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    I think that option is better than doing nothing at all.


    Electricity is nothing to play with.


    You do not have to be a Rocket Scientist to respect or work on it.
  13. BobL43

    BobL43 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,793
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    What about a rocket "surgeon" Don? TV commercial has a guy posing as a rocket surgeon to the chicks
  14. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,056
    Location:
    New England
    If you're lucky, it's a loose connection. IF the panel is shot (bus bars burnt), then you need a new panel. Some designs aren't all that good. Long-term overload can affect the spring tension on the breaker contacts. Most circuits are not designed for continuous max loading, and throw in a loose connection, and things can get messy quickly.
  15. ActionDave

    ActionDave Electrician

    Messages:
    346
    Location:
    Colorado
    ... or wait for it to burn down and collect the insurance money.
  16. Murphy625

    Murphy625 Member

    Messages:
    149
    Location:
    Michigan
    Replacing a breaker box is more about physical labor than technical knowledge if you ask me...

    Here is my advice:
    1. Have someone come out and inspect and/or clean all the contacts on your breaker box. You'll have to turn the main off to do this.. If the main(s) look corroded, you'll need to turn off power to the box from outside.. (pull meter??).. In short, my first advice is to look for some corroded connections.. clean it all until shiny and bright. This is not difficult for anyone even remotely familiar with the insides of a breaker box. Don't forget to check those neutrals! They are just as important as the hot wires.

    2. Wait until a hot day during peak usage hours and measure the voltage coming into your home. I've seen issues where multiple voltage regulators burn out at a power company substation and cause the line voltage to be normal at low demand, but drop below 100 volts during 90+ deg days when everyone is drawing lots of power.

    3. Find someone with a clamp meter and check the current draw on the AC unit.

    I'd bet money its one of the above three...
  17. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,213
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    A temperature test is a good way to check for loose connections. And a Total Darkness Spark and Arc Test.

    If a breaker is Hot then it is loose or not closed properly.

    Sometimes just cycling the breaker helps, Sometimes the breaker should just be replaced if it has been running Hot.

    If you have aluminum wire then that is another can of worms.


    Good Luck.
  18. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,534
    Location:
    North Carolina
    To summarize, hire an electrician before you have to call the fire department
  19. SteamCows

    SteamCows New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Texas
    Well magically it started back up doing the same thing again. I called an electrician and he wants $100 just to show up , so I called the light company. The light company said they could come out tomorrow to check the voltage to the meter and that the transformer is doing it's job and we can go from there.

    When I explained the electrician that $100 was a strain on us to begin with being on SSI, he said "I can understand that, but you should have to pay licensing and insurance I pay" . So I ended with "I understand, and I'll call you back if we can get a loan." .
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013
  20. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,213
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    It will not fix itself. Would be nice but I have never experienced it.

    Not sure where you live in Texas, but there are some companies around here that will do free estimates, and free trip charge.

    Some even have payment plans.

    Maybe the Power Company can give you a clue what is causing your problem.


    Good Luck.
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