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oldsport

Anyone Know About Electrics?

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On my upstairs lighting circuit, when I've not had a light on for a while, it takes a second or maybe even a couple of seconds for a light to come on after I've pressed the switch. And it initially seems to come on a bit weakly. It happens with all the lights (I think). If I then turn the light off and back on again it comes on instantly (like it does normally). The same happens with the bathroom fan which is on the lighting circuit. This just started yesterday.

They're all normal filament bulbs - not flourescent or energy savers.

It seems very weird. I've never had a delay before when turning on any sort of electric switch. And even with my limited knowledge I know that electricity travels so fast that there shouldn't be a delay.

It almost seems like something is being re-charged before it can work.

We have several circuits protected by MCBs - the sort you flick to reset. The upstairs lights are on their own circuit.

Does anyone have any ideas?

EDIT - I've just done some more tests - and it definitely happens with all the upstairs lights. But if at least one light is already on then the others come on instantly.

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It sounds like there is some sort of resistance in the circuit which has to be overcome.

My inclination would be to replace the breaker, as that is about the only piece of hardware in the circuit that would affect every appliance in it. If it was just one light switch delaying, I'd suggest replacing that switch. But if it's everything in that circuit, then logically the cause of the delay has to be something that is common to everything.

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It depends how high your house is. Electricity takes a bit of time to go uphill. Especially noticeable in the USA, where houses are bigger and the volts are less! Should I give my Physics degree back? :lol:

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It sounds like there is some sort of resistance in the circuit which has to be overcome.

My inclination would be to replace the breaker, as that is about the only piece of hardware in the circuit that would affect every appliance in it. If it was just one light switch delaying, I'd suggest replacing that switch. But if it's everything in that circuit, then logically the cause of the delay has to be something that is common to everything.

Or look for a fossilised rat frozen in time mid-bite.

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On my upstairs lighting circuit, when I've not had a light on for a while, it takes a second or maybe even a couple of seconds for a light to come on after I've pressed the switch. And it initially seems to come on a bit weakly. It happens with all the lights (I think). If I then turn the light off and back on again it comes on instantly (like it does normally). The same happens with the bathroom fan which is on the lighting circuit. This just started yesterday.

They're all normal filament bulbs - not flourescent or energy savers.

It seems very weird. I've never had a delay before when turning on any sort of electric switch. And even with my limited knowledge I know that electricity travels so fast that there shouldn't be a delay.

It almost seems like something is being re-charged before it can work.

We have several circuits protected by MCBs - the sort you flick to reset. The upstairs lights are on their own circuit.

Does anyone have any ideas?

EDIT - I've just done some more tests - and it definitely happens with all the upstairs lights. But if at least one light is already on then the others come on instantly.

That sounds like some part of the circuit is having to heat up(!) before making a full connection.

Or just possibly an extractor fan is putting a lot of resistance on the circuit when spinning up. But that would imply it was connected in serial.

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It sounds like a loose connection somewhere. Can you hear any arcing (buzzing noise) anywhere when you switch on the lights?

Edit:- Loose connections are a potential fire hazard. Google "loose connection arcing" for more information.

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Indeed. This is almost certainly a poor connection and is a safety issue. You need to get it checked out and fixed by a spark.

I was about to tell you how to locate and fix it but realised that unless you already know how to do this you are not really competent to be messing with it. Get an electrician in.

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If the bathroom light is linked to an extraction fan then isolate that and re-run your tests.

I may be being dumb here so please bear with me. But it happens with all the lights on the circuit whether or not the fan is running. So would isolating the fan still be a useful thing to try?

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That sounds like some part of the circuit is having to heat up(!) before making a full connection.

Or just possibly an extractor fan is putting a lot of resistance on the circuit when spinning up. But that would imply it was connected in serial.

It happens whether or not the fan is on. Does that help at all?

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Indeed. This is almost certainly a poor connection and is a safety issue. You need to get it checked out and fixed by a spark.

I was about to tell you how to locate and fix it but realised that unless you already know how to do this you are not really competent to be messing with it. Get an electrician in.

Will do. Will turning off the MCB for that circuit make it safe in the meantime?

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It happens whether or not the fan is on. Does that help at all?

I think the other advice - turn it off at the MCB and call an electrician.

We had a weird electrical fault recently - kitchen sockets kept tripping out even with absolutely nothing plugged in. Only found the problem when water started leaking out of a socket. The hose connector for a tap upstairs had sprung a leak which was going down inside the walls and into the kitchen wall..

But if you are sure that there are no appliances on that circuit other than lights, then it sounds like a dodgy connection that only works when warm(!). I've leave it switched off unless testing.

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I think the other advice - turn it off at the MCB and call an electrician.

We had a weird electrical fault recently - kitchen sockets kept tripping out even with absolutely nothing plugged in. Only found the problem when water started leaking out of a socket. The hose connector for a tap upstairs had sprung a leak which was going down inside the walls and into the kitchen wall..

But if you are sure that there are no appliances on that circuit other than lights, then it sounds like a dodgy connection that only works when warm(!). I've leave it switched off unless testing.

Thanks. The MCB for that circuit is switched off now! Presumably the circuits for rest of the house are OK to use?

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...And even with my limited knowledge I know that electricity travels so fast that there shouldn't be a delay.

Not if you're Muhammad Ali - as he explains around 1m 20-ish into the clip...

XYY

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It sounds like there is some sort of resistance in the circuit which has to be overcome.

My inclination would be to replace the breaker, as that is about the only piece of hardware in the circuit that would affect every appliance in it. If it was just one light switch delaying, I'd suggest replacing that switch. But if it's everything in that circuit, then logically the cause of the delay has to be something that is common to everything.

That's what it was. So a biscuit for you. MCB was burnt and the wire had melted into it. It's about 25 years old and we couldn't get a spare so we had a new board fitted. I'd had a feeling that particular MCB was dodgy because a couple of years ago it wouldn't reset initially after a big blow out.

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Coincidentally, I had to deal with a simialr problem over the weekend. It was the first really hot weekend of the year, and thus the first time we'd tried to use the central air conditioning since last October. The compressor in the outside unit wouldn't work. I assumed the problem to be with the compressor motor run capacitor (the fan ran, the contactor tested OK and it was receiving 24v from the controller, and so, not having a capacitance test function on my multimeter, I just assumed that this had to be the problem), but replacing that didn't fix it. Just as I was resigning myself to the likelihood that the compressor itself was knackered ($1,500 ish to replace), I thought I'd check out the local fuse box on the outdoor unit as well as the breakers it's fed from. The fuse box looked pretty rusty on the outside, and so I thought it possible that moisture might have got in during February's rain.

When I took the cover off, I was greeted with the sight in the attached photo: something had got in alright, but not water! There were two wasps' nests in the fuse box, and in one of them, the little yellow gits had eaten through a 60-amp cable! $30 at Home Depot later, we now have a shiny new fuse box and our cold air restored.

fusebox_waspsnest.jpg

post-6450-0-66663200-1395375707_thumb.jpg

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Coincidentally, I had to deal with a simialr problem over the weekend. It was the first really hot weekend of the year, and thus the first time we'd tried to use the central air conditioning since last October. The compressor in the outside unit wouldn't work. I assumed the problem to be with the compressor motor run capacitor (the fan ran, the contactor tested OK and it was receiving 24v from the controller, and so, not having a capacitance test function on my multimeter, I just assumed that this had to be the problem), but replacing that didn't fix it. Just as I was resigning myself to the likelihood that the compressor itself was knackered ($1,500 ish to replace), I thought I'd check out the local fuse box on the outdoor unit as well as the breakers it's fed from. The fuse box looked pretty rusty on the outside, and so I thought it possible that moisture might have got in during February's rain.

When I took the cover off, I was greeted with the sight in the attached photo: something had got in alright, but not water! There were two wasps' nests in the fuse box, and in one of them, the little yellow gits had eaten through a 60-amp cable! $30 at Home Depot later, we now have a shiny new fuse box and our cold air restored.

My lad, when a young'un played in a band, and they had a gig in a local garden party. they left all their gear in the marquee overnight. The next day, the PA was very....odd. Eventually emitted a burning smell and although still working, was distorted, making odd noises and the controls didn't operate properly.

Took it apart later for a post-mortem to see if it was fixable. Dozens of earwigs were carbonised inside, and I was furiously swatting the live ones running across the bench.

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