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Residential electrical help

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by vivaknoxvegas, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. vivaknoxvegas

    vivaknoxvegas El Duderino Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2002
    Knoxville, TN
    Bought a house recently, wall switches pop when turning on and plugs do too some when plugging in... sometimes light just turn off randomly. I'm pretty sure it's not ghosts or as I believe them to be, demonic activity... Some of the switches seem loose, kind of wobbly to touch. House was built in early 2000s.

    So what is it? What can be done about it?
  2. PSPookie


    Aug 13, 2006
    Lubbock, TX
    If the problems are intermittent then you probably have bad connections somewhere. You could start by inspecting all accessible electrical junction points for proper bonding.

    Also check your grounding scheme.
  3. TBird1958

    TBird1958 As a matter of fact....I am your Queen! Staff Member

    Mar 13, 2008
    Seattle Washington
    Endorsing Artist Mike Lull T Bass pickups

    I work in the lighting industry and occasionally hear of this sort of thing. Most plugs and hardwired fixtures are on a 15amp circuit, but if you have several lights or small appliances on it may be overloading. Most new construction housing is wired by Electrician's Apprentices, with a quailified Electrician overseeing the job, not actually doing the work, so something could be wrong there too.
    Replacing those wobbly switches and plugs is a good idea, good quality ones such as Cooper or Levition are not expensive and you can replace them a few at a time, as a simple home improvement project - Just remember turn off the electricity at the breaker first :)
  4. etoncrow

    etoncrow (aka Greg Harman, the curmudgeon with a conundrum)

    1. turn the circuit off at the breaker.
    2. removed the one screw holding on the face plate
    3. remove two screws holding the receptacle
    4. check the three wire connections: red (power), white (neutral) and green (ground)
    these connections could be either crimp (wire end inerted into a hole) or looped around a screw
    5. replace receptacle as Tbird said and/or tighten everything back up as you reassemble.
  5. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Yeah, trash them. Noises on plugs when you pull them out is a sign of loose contacts; the brass plate 'tangs inside are too thin and don't spring back tightly against the prongs of the device you are inserting. Same with the switches. Instead of a good, quick contact when you close the circuit, it's sloppy and you get arcing. As they wear even more, you'll begin to have breakers tripping.
  6. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    Contact a licensed, qualified, and experienced residential electrician. Any attempts to save some money and DIY the project could end in a fire or loss of life.

    Sure, that sounds dramatic, but why chance it here? You can save money later doing your own drywall, deck, painting, fence building, or whatever else comes up.

  7. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    You're right Mike. You know i always just think men should know how to do this stuff, then realize I'm stereotyping! I know guys that can't change a tire. If you are not familiar and confident in doing this, don't risk it.
  8. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    When I first moved into my place one of our roommates complained that some of the upstairs outlets werent working. After she moved out, the next guy who moved in said the same thing, only he used an extension cord to draw power from a working outlet. After he moved out I looked into it. One outlet in the guest bedroom was loose. I shut off the breaker, removed the outlet and found a loose wire. I stuck it in there better, secured the outlet, turned the breaker on, and ALL the problematic outlets worked just fine after that.
  9. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    I'm right with you on this. One of the classic "if you have to ask..." situations. Like the Grand Banks in October, electricity ain't no joke.

  10. PSPookie


    Aug 13, 2006
    Lubbock, TX
    Yeah, my day job involves designing power lines that operate at 46,000 - 500,000V. As a result I tend to think of 120V house voltage as 'cute'.

    That's not to say you can't kill yourself and/or burn your house down with it.
  11. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    Here's the first things that went through my mind:

    Hmm...about 10 years old...that's about the time to expect trouble out of stab locked devices...that's a lot of trouble spots...I wonder if the electrical supplier got a batch shipment of devices with bad stab lock clips...

    It happens. You can redevice the house or you can go through and move all the wires from the stab locks to the screws.

    If you have the ability without killing yourself remove a device and look at the wires going into it Can you see them wrapped around screws on the side? That's good. Do they just sort of dissapear into a hole on the back? That's the stab lock hole. That's bad, bad, bad.
  12. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Yes, I worked as an electrician's helper years ago and when I asked him if I could stab wire in, he lost his carrot on me. LOL. After a month working with him, he had me rewiring switches on a live circuit in a 24 hr. restaurant where we couldn't cut the power. Part of the contract. LOL not so much.
  13. PSPookie


    Aug 13, 2006
    Lubbock, TX
    Hotline work on those voltage levels isn't too scary. Some basic insulation levels and precautions and you're set.

    Watching guys do hotline work on 230kV and 500kV lines makes me pucker though. A 230kV source can arc about 6-7' to find a path to ground.

    I oversaw construction of a new substation and retermination of the associated line just about a month ago. This particular substation was the only source of electricity on an island populated by quite a few of the well-to-do so all of the work was safely performed with the line and substation energized for the duration.

    Hotline work can be safely performed at a variety of potentials as long as you know what you're doing.
  14. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    It's daunting when you have one week of experience! LOL.
  15. PSPookie


    Aug 13, 2006
    Lubbock, TX
    I hear that. I understand what is safe on an intellectual level, but when the rubber meets the road I think I'll stand back and watch the work from a safe distance.

    I'm just grateful there are folks out there who will do the jobs I am unable/unwilling to do :D

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