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Two months ago, the kitchen lights were flickering. I realized the kitchen lights and outlets were connected to a single breaker. I measured the voltage and it spiked from 5v - 120v intermittently. I replaced the breaker (Murray 15A single-pole #MP115) and all was well.

Three days ago, the same kitchen lights started flickering again. The breaker read at 102v - 105v which is well below the expected 120v. I flipped the breaker multiple times and measured voltage and different times of the day, but it was always consistently 102-105v. I replaced the breaker today and all is well once again.

Both breakers that were replaced did not look or smell burnt. Any idea why this happened? Could it just be the breaker I replaced two months ago was also a bad breaker? A friend suggested a current surge through the wires, but my assumption is if there was a current surge, the breaker would have tripped or burnt out instead of having a low voltage reading of 102v-105v.

Any ideas?

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    It doesn't make sense that a new breaker would affect voltage. A breaker is merely a switch. Unless it's getting crudded up with carbon from arcing or something it shouldn't have solved your problem. Have you contacted the power company? – isherwood Sep 13 '17 at 18:47
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    Did you check the neutral connection at the panel when you replaced the breaker? – isherwood Sep 13 '17 at 18:51
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    Have you checked the incoming voltage ? Using your meter from neutral to to each main if you have the same reading on both legs the breaker is fine but the supply to the home is the problem. It could be a loose leg on the main at the panel , the meter or just an overloaded branch from the power company in some cases there transformer can be tapped up to get you to the proper voltage. – Ed Beal Sep 13 '17 at 18:57
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I am going with Ed Beal. Take a reading at the main lugs and see if you are getting a true voltage there. If you are reading between 118 to 126 volts to ground. Then if your meter can give you at least 1/100 of a voltage reading. Check the voltage between the main lug and the load side of your breaker to see how much drop you are getting. It should be something like .25V. If you are dropping 5 - 15 volts then your bus is probably burnt or corroded and your breaker is not making a good connection.

If you are reading 105V at the main then you need to look further up line. Check with neighbors to see if they are having a problem. If not have the utility company check the lugs in you meter base. Look for loose connections or discoloring of the bus or conductors in the panel. Don't forget to check the entire circuit just in case there are multiple problems. Open switches, light fixtures and receptacles on the circuit and check all connections.

Good luck and stay safe.

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    I checked the main and it's between 122-123v. So no issues with main apparently. And the voltage is fine now (as I replaced it with a new one earlier today). I wouldn't expect it to be an issue from the supply by the electrical company since it's only affecting one circuit - the rest of the house is good. If there is an issue from the main line, it should affect all circuits, right? – Sunny Sep 14 '17 at 0:29
  • Did you inspect the bus bar? Is the bus bar oxidized? – noybman Sep 14 '17 at 1:31
  • If you have 122-123v at the main then you either have a problem with the bus connection at the breaker or you have a loose connection of the conductor termination at the breaker. Since you have already changed out the breaker, the best bet is the bus. If you can, try moving the breaker to a different location on the panel and see if that change helps. – Retired Master Electrician Sep 15 '17 at 12:39

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