4

I have a three bedroom house with a long hallway. If you were to walk down the hallway, the first room is on the left. Next is the bathroom on the right, and finally the last two bedrooms across from each other. On the right hand side is the master bedroom with en-suite bathroom.

Every once in a while, the lights will flicker in both of the back bedrooms. Sometimes they will shut off all by themselves and the only way to get them on again is by going out to the kitchen and turning on the stove. What could be causing this?

2
  • 2
    It sounds like a loose connection in the chain, whereby vibration causes an intermittent open circuit. The stove thing could be a coincidence, or it could cause a momentary spike that reconnects the open circuit through arcing and heat. At any rate, please revise to provide more information. Home age, wiring type, location, etc. are all important for proper answers.
    – isherwood
    Feb 1, 2023 at 13:49
  • 4
    Yup - classic loose connection, which means you have arcs and sparks going on - ignore it long enough and you might have a house fire, rather than just flickering lights. Find it and fix it ASAP. It only happens in certain rooms because the loose connection is where it affects those rooms, and not others.
    – Ecnerwal
    Feb 1, 2023 at 13:52

2 Answers 2

9

Forget the electrician. Call the power company!

What you have is the classic "Lost Hot" from the utility. The service drop wire from the pole has 3 wires in it, they whip in the wind for 30 years and one breaks. The other two provide partial service but things aren't right.

"Half my circuits are bad until I turn the range or dryer on, then they are less bad" is one of the classic symptoms that indicates a lost hot wire. Am I correct that the range takes a long time to boil water?

To verify this is the problem, go to your breaker box/service panel(s) and turn off all 240V breakers. Range, dryer, water heater, built-in A/C, electric heat etc. That should "cause the problem" or at least prevent the 240V loads from "semi-fixing" it. There's no reason to keep it broken since the power company fix is free and takes an hour (for them).

If you wonder why it's only some of the time, it's because the rest of the time, the water heater is cycled on, and that's having the same effect as turning the range on. The water heater is on a lot, because it is heating VERY slowly due to this issue.

So the answer is to call the power company and report an outage. Don't tell them that turning the oven on fixes it! Just tell them half your house is dead. They will be out very quickly and will fix it for free and typically in a few hours. 95% chance that's it.

If you prefer you can call an electrician and they can tell you to call the power company, but that'll cost you $150 or whatever they charge these days.

2
  • 1
    We need canonical "Lost Hot" and "Lost Neutral" answers that we can close these as dupes of...
    – FreeMan
    Feb 1, 2023 at 19:53
  • 1
    Might want to include the verification step of turning off all 240V circuit breakers to confirm that the affected rooms become dead when you do that.
    – Ecnerwal
    Feb 1, 2023 at 22:56
2

Call an electrician ASAP!

I had the same type of issue in a condo and had a fire in the breaker box. Fortunately it extinguished quickly, and no one was hurt and minimal damage. Only had to replace the breaker box and breakers.

1
  • Faster and costs less to start looking yourself, and only resort to an electrician if you can't find it yourself. Only if you are uncomfortable working with electricity at all would "call an electrician" be the first response to this issue. Usually quite obvious when you open up a box and find charring, melted pastic, etc.
    – Ecnerwal
    Feb 1, 2023 at 15:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.