Flickering lights when water cooler plugged in

Discussion in 'Electrical and Wiring' started by macd0170, Jan 4, 2016.

Help Support House Repair Talk by donating using the link above.
  1. Jan 4, 2016 #1

    macd0170

    macd0170

    macd0170

    Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2016
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    We recently purchased a water cooler but when I plugged it it, we noticed a faint flickering on all lights on the same circuit. They don't flicker when it is unplugged but as soon as I plug it in to any outlet on the circuit they flicker.

    I'm lost as to what could be causing it or how to troubleshoot.

    Anything you can do to help would be appreciated.
     
  2. Jan 4, 2016 #2

    oldognewtrick

    oldognewtrick

    oldognewtrick

    Administrator Staff Member Admin Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2009
    Messages:
    10,833
    Likes Received:
    1,441
    Have you tried using another circuit?

    Oh yeah, :welcome: to House Repair Talk!
     
  3. Jan 4, 2016 #3

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

    Contractor retired

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    23,949
    Likes Received:
    3,135
    Loose conections in one of those outlets or light or at the breaker.
     
  4. Jan 5, 2016 #4

    slownsteady

    slownsteady

    slownsteady

    Administrator Staff Member Admin Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Messages:
    6,567
    Likes Received:
    1,180
    Do the lights continue to flicker when you leave plugged in for a minute? It is possible that there is a surge when the unit powers up, but will settle down when the unit reaches a normal temperature.
     
  5. Jan 5, 2016 #5

    Snoonyb

    Snoonyb

    Snoonyb

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,980
    Likes Received:
    515
    I suspect that the loose connection has always been there and has become visually apparent because of the increased current draw in the circuit.

    Method of troubleshooting;

    Flickering lights, is a symptom of aching within a connection, which can become a fire hazard.

    The prevalent cause of residential fires, attributed to electrical, is loose connections.

    Make sure that all joined conductors, anywhere in the system they occur, are first twisted together prior to applying a wire nut, do not just stuff the conductors into the wire nut and hope.

    Commercial straight blade receptacles are available in 2 basic configurations in the method of attaching the conductors, back and side or side. (I refer to the back wired as, plug-n-play, and do not use them). It was a method availed as a time saver.

    Industrial receptacles are a different product.

    I also will pigtail all recepticle connections, so that should there be a failure, the circuit can be shut off, the recepticle can be safely removed and the circuit turned back on, while those appliances up and downstream of the failure will remain operational.

    If you are not familiar with working behind the dead front panel of you electrical service panel, hire an electrician.
     
    nealtw likes this.
  6. Jan 5, 2016 #6

    macd0170

    macd0170

    macd0170

    Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2016
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks everybody. Do answer your questions, the lights do not flicker on a different circuit when I plug it into it. The lights continue to flicker as long as the cooler is plugged in.

    It does seem more noticeable with certain lights and at certain times, but this doesn't seem to coincide with the heater or pump on the cooler turning on.

    The flickering for the most part is faint, more like they slightly dim again and again.

    I will check the outlets, lights and panel for loose connections. Any suggestions for narrowing it down?
     
  7. Jan 5, 2016 #7

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

    Contractor retired

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    23,949
    Likes Received:
    3,135
    Wire can be poked in the back of outlets instead of using the screws. I would change that. Don't forget about the light switch too.
     
  8. Jan 6, 2016 #8

    Snoonyb

    Snoonyb

    Snoonyb

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,980
    Likes Received:
    515
    Thanks. Indiscriminate flickering is also a symptom of a loose connection.

    Since it's a process of elimination, as a for instance, If you have two banks of lights where flickering occurs, switched from the same switch box, disconnect one of the switches and if the flickering remains, odds are it's where they are powered from.

    If this is too difficult to ascertain, then start at the fixture which is furthest away and work back.

    In both "plug-n-play" switches and recepticle there will be holes on the back for the conductors to be inserted, and a slot. The slot is to insert a screwdriver tip into, to release the conductor so that it can be disconnected.

    Should you find this type of wiring and when the conductor is removed, it appears blackened, there is a possibility this is where you loose connection is.

    Plug-n-play devices wear out.
     
  9. Jan 6, 2016 #9

    slownsteady

    slownsteady

    slownsteady

    Administrator Staff Member Admin Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Messages:
    6,567
    Likes Received:
    1,180
    What kind of lighting do you have? And what kind of flickering are we talking about? The reason I ask, and the basis of my last post, we recently got a Keurig coffee maker and when it is in use - in certain parts of the cycle - you can see a minor but very rapid flickering in my florescent kitchen light. It's almost imperceptible, and it is directly related to the Keurig. I think it is interference with the ballast.
    Of course, if you are having major flicker - like the lights blinking, then you should be concerned, and checking everything. But if it is only related to the water cooler and never happens with anything else, I would suspect the cooler. Have you tried it on a different circuit?

    To be clear: I am not an expert, and if you suspect that this is a symptom of some bigger problem, then don't use the cooler until you have it & your wiring checked.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2016
  10. Jan 6, 2016 #10

    macd0170

    macd0170

    macd0170

    Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2016
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    It seems more like the minor quick flickering then the other. It's definitely not blinking.

    It is most obvious in night light when I plug it into an outlet. My wife says that it also happens on a chandelier that we have (6 compact florescent bulbs) but I can't even see it.

    I will try plugging the cooler into a different circuit with the night light to see.

    If it matters at all, there is quite a lot of devices plugged into this circuit now that I think of it. Water cooler, chandelier, LCD TV, ps3, cable modem and router. Could it be too much load?
     
  11. Jan 6, 2016 #11

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

    Contractor retired

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    23,949
    Likes Received:
    3,135
    We are talking about flickering with the light turn On. If it flickers with the light turn off, it will be the switch.
     
  12. Jan 6, 2016 #12

    Snoonyb

    Snoonyb

    Snoonyb

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,980
    Likes Received:
    515
     
  13. Jan 6, 2016 #13

    DFBonnett

    DFBonnett

    DFBonnett

    Retired decorating contractor

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2012
    Messages:
    208
    Likes Received:
    61
    Try plugging the cooler into a different outlet on the same circuit. If no flickering, the problem is the original outlet. R&R as needed.
     
    bud16415 likes this.
  14. Jan 7, 2016 #14

    macd0170

    macd0170

    macd0170

    Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2016
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    The CFLs are the standard cheapo 13W bulbs. Not dimmable.

    Flickering happens when the lights are on. It seems to happen if the cooler is plugged into any outlet on the circuit
     
  15. Jan 7, 2016 #15

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

    Contractor retired

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    23,949
    Likes Received:
    3,135
    I would start looking for loose connections in every part of that circuit.
     

Share This Page