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Electricians - Need advice

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by DigMe, Sep 15, 2004.


  1. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    I don't know if we have any electricians here but if we do I need your help.

    So after I painted I was changing out all the outlets, switches and plates in our house to white ones from off-white. I decided to install a dimmer switch in our living room in place of the conventional on/off switch. It seemed to work fine and all but then I noticed that when the switch is dimmed, on but not on all the way, it emits a quiet, high-pitched sound. Also, when the light is on the switch itself gets warm and maybe you could even say it gets hot and you can feel it when you put your hand up to the switchplate. This light works on a two-way (or is it called three way) circuit where the light can be turned on or off by two different switches. The other switchplate without the dimmer on it stays cool. Do you think this means I have it hooked up wrong or something? Any knowledgeable help appreciated.

    brad cook
     
  2. The tiny scrrech you hear are the mole people. They seem to have buried themselve into your wall. The heat may have been caused by their firey breath, they are trying to escape.

    The only way to solve this is to move. Perhaps another town, perhaps another continent. Just get away from that house.
     
  3. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    If I ever see you in person I'm going to piledrive you right into a heap of rotting squash. I'll do it to...bet me...bet me I won't. Uh huh..that's what I thought.

    brad cook
     
  4. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Where are the electricians that need advice?
     
  5. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    Memphis
    But seriously folks....

    Sounds like you probably just have a very cheap dimmer. The noise is the transformer inside the dimmer. As to the heat, it could be defective, you could have the ground unattached (2 conductor Romex with ground in your walls?), or it could just be a phenomenally cheap dimmer.

    I installed Lutron dimmers in my house. About $30 each, but no noise and no heat, even with no grounds (old 2 conductor wire without ground in most of the house).
     
  6. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Dimmers normally get a bit warm, but feeling hot is never a good thing. They are notorious for EM noise from the vibration of the components inside. A transformer with excessively loose windings will vibrate quite a bit, and make a high pitched squeal sometimes. You may check into a better dimmer, maybe one with some shielding, and a bit better heat dissipation.
     
  7. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Lacey, WA
    We had the same problem with a dimmer we bought at Home Depot. I returned it thinking it was defective. The new one did the same thing. In my case, it was the light bulbs causing the problem. I bought those new curly bulbs, and the sound went away.

    -Mike
     
  8. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    The sound is coming from the bulbs, not the switch. The dimmer itself seems to be of decent quality. It cost me 20 bucks.

    MJ5150 - What are these curly bulbs you're talking about?

    brad cook
     
  9. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    No idea what that means. Does that have something to do with Star Trek?

    I'm pretty sure the ground is attached but I'm not absolutely sure that the right wires are in the right places as the wires that I had in my wall didn't seem to match the wires that the instructions wanted me to have. Is there any way to tell if it's hooked up right?

    brad cook
     
  10. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Lacey, WA
    Hey Brad.....we got a package of these. You can get three of them for $12.

    BTW......"two conductor Romex with ground" is referring to the type of wiring in your home. Two "live" wires, and a ground. It is pretty much the standard for residential.

    -Mike
     
  11. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Oh yeah, I have that. Except on this switch there's an extra wire, I think because it's a three-way switch.

    brad cook
     
  12. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    I know what you're talking about now.. Flourescent bulbs. I have some in some of my lamps.

    brad cook
     
  13. The reason thinking of you is going to get clobbered is because the mole people have "black laser eyes" not "firey breath." Duh... :rollno:
     
  14. Is the circuit being wired in such a way that the hot lead (white) is the one that's interrupted when the switch is all the way off?

    Because it should be.
     
  15. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    None of the wires are white.

    brad cook
     
  16. Steve

    Steve

    Aug 10, 2001
    The noise is normal and so is the heating.
    Dimmers are rated as to how much power they can handle.
    A standard dimmer is 600 watts. Larger dimmers actually have cooling fins on them.

    and yeah, I hold a florida state master electricians license.
     
  17. Steve

    Steve

    Aug 10, 2001
    if you have a three way switch....you need a three way dimmer if you want it to work from both switch locations.

    and the noise probably is comming from the bulbs. Contrary to popular legend, a dimmer doesn't effect voltage it reduces the Hz. of the line voltage so the element begins to sing around 40hz or so
     
  18. baba

    baba Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2002
    3rd stone from the sun
    I'm having a Beavis moment:


    Electricity kicks ass.

    That is all.
     
  19. Steve

    Steve

    Aug 10, 2001
    This is a good way to get someone hurt or a house burnt down.

    The white wire is (almost) always the neutral.
    The only time it isn't is when you feed a single pole switch with one piece of cable. Then the white used as a constant hot wire.

    For all practical intents and purposes, NEVER NEVER interupt the white wire.

    Unless of course you house dates back to the 40's when they did all kinds of strange things like switching neutrals