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Identifying The Cause of Dimming Lights

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

Can a weak breaker make lights dim than brighten? I have a bathroom light that does this but I also found that part of my basement does the same thing…

Electrical Question from Rick about Troubleshooting Dim Lights
Background: Rick, a Homeowner from Enfield, CT.

Question: Can a weak breaker make lights dim then brighten?  I have a bathroom light that does this , but I also found that part of my basement does the same thing and is on the same breaker.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Rick. The cause may be a deteriorating connection or splice in a junction box somewhere in the circuit, most likely in the basement where the lights appear to be normal but are on the same circuit. The junction boxes in this location should be opened and inspected for a loose or possibly burnt connection. If this is the case then the splice or connection will need to be carefully repaired.
There are instances where a circuit breaker connection to the main buss in the panel is beginning to weaken. If this is the case then a new circuit breaker will need to be installed into a different location of the panel. If the panel does not have a space that is available then the panel will need to be turned off and the damaged area will need to be repaired if possible. Another solution may be to replace a full size single pole breaker with a twin style circuit breaker.
If  the circuit breaker is in good working condition then check the connection at the neutral terminations for a loose connection and possibly discolored insulation due to heat from a loose and arcing connection.

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