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Old 11-18-2019, 09:44 AM   #81
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
...

First, everybody was right. The culprit was a GFI outlet in the laundry room. I had pressed the buttons on that outlet (as on all the others) several times, but seemingly not hard enough.
Ta-Da! The forum wins again.

Those buttons are a pain. You should buy one of the Klein three-bulb testers mentioned earlier in the thread. Klein is a good brand; do not buy cheap junk. Then use it to check whenever you reset a GFCI or have a question about a circuit.

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... Now, this was a homeowner's warranty visit (cost to us: $75.00), so the electrician wasn't allowed to work on any other items; but since he'd only been there about 3 seconds, he took some time to go over light switches and outlets with us. He advised us to replace every GFI outlet in the house with ones that light up when tripped. He said we could learn to do this from Youtube, or buy the switches and pay a handyman to install them.
You got good value for your $75. I would not go nuts replacing GFCIs though. It's a pain, it costs $$, and if it ain't broke don't fix it. That said, if there is a GFCI that frequently trips without any reason, replace it. They do seem to get grumpy in old age.

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... Also, he noticed all our ceiling lights are on dimmers. I dislike them because husband never switches them off completely. Electrician dislikes them because they cause problems. In fact, the home warranty doesn't even cover dimmers, because they cause so many issues. So he advised us to swap out all dimmer switches for regular on/off switches. He said to buy 3-way switches, since dimmers have 3 wires.
3 wires ?!?!? Not the few that I have seen, though I do not use them regularly. But, regardless, if it ain't broke ... Maybe replace the one or two that DH doesn't get completely off, although super-dim doesn't cost much electricity. Pennies a year, maybe.

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...
*swap out all the incandescent ceiling lights for LED bulbs to save electricity - from the lights themselves, and from the A/C running more due to incandescents' heat output.
Yes. Not just ceiling. All incandescent. Where feasiible also swap out flourescent lights when they die or, more commonly, get dim.
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... *buy only better-quality LEDs, because the ones from Walmart or the dollar store are cr@p.
Well, first: No one knows how long these will last. Claims of 50,000 hours can only be tested by leaving the bulb on 24x7 for six years (!). I buy bulbs at Home Depot, either one of their house brands or Cree. I have had a few fail and the returns desk at HD and the customer service people at Cree have been cheerful and quick to replace them. My failure rate is probably a few percent and I suppose after a year or three they will be less willing to replace. But for now it's good.

I have started writing the installation date and the lifetime claim on each bulb (Sharpie marker) when I put them into service. This will help me with replacement claims in the future.

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... there is a difference in the shape of the end of an LED ceiling bulb and an incandescent bulb, which can cause the LED bulb not to make sufficient contact. He had a suggestion for this, but I didn't quite understand it. ...
Well, the bases are standardized. It's called an "Edison" base. (Yes, that Edison. In 1909.) What the electrician was referring to is that some, especially older, LED bulbs got "fat" just above the base to make a housing for the electronics. This "fat" section would interfere with some fixtures. I haven't seen those fat guys lately, but keep an eye out if you have a fixture where there could be a problem.
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Old 11-18-2019, 09:52 AM   #82
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
The culprit was a GFI outlet in the laundry room. I had pressed the buttons on that outlet (as on all the others) several times, but seemingly not hard enough.
I'm glad you found out what the problem was.

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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
He advised us to replace every GFI outlet in the house with ones that light up when tripped.
I think that's a smart idea. Outlets wear out over time if you plug stuff into them, and just for safety reasons I would replace a GFCI that has tripped. GFCI outlets are usually only in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry, and outdoor locations (anywhere there is water), so I doubt you have that many to replace. You can buy a pack of four for $57 at Home Depot.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Leviton-...-04W/305340161

I routinely replace any electrical outlet that is not holding plugs tightly.

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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
he noticed all our ceiling lights are on dimmers. I dislike them because husband never switches them off completely. Electrician dislikes them because they cause problems. In fact, the home warranty doesn't even cover dimmers, because they cause so many issues. So he advised us to swap out all dimmer switches for regular on/off switches. He said to buy 3-way switches, since dimmers have 3 wires.
I'm not aware of any issues with dimmers, we have a few in our house that work fine. Some older dimmers could cause noise in radios, but that shouldn't be a problem these days.

If you don't want dimmers, just replace them with a normal switch. Easy job and inexpensive. You certainly don't need 3-way switches unless you have 3-way dimmers (controllable from two locations)

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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
swap out all the incandescent ceiling lights for LED bulbs to save electricity - from the lights themselves, and from the A/C running more due to incandescents' heat output.
*buy only better-quality LEDs, because the ones from Walmart or the dollar store are cr@p.
*even for a non-dimmable switch, you should always buy dimmable LEDs, b/c a power surge can cause non-dimmable LEDs to strobe.
*there is a difference in the shape of the end of an LED ceiling bulb and an incandescent bulb, which can cause the LED bulb not to make sufficient contact. He had a suggestion for this, but I didn't quite understand it.
Yes, swapping out incandescents for LED's is a smart move. You'll save a bit of electricity (not huge, but makes a difference) and they last longer. You can also install bulbs with brighter light (i.e. 75W equivalent) since the electrical usage and heat output is lower.

I agree you should avoid the cheap LED's. They fail often and usually have poor light quality (which is why 'old timers' often say LED's look bad after they buy the cheap bulbs). As for the base difference, I've only seen that with cheap LED bulbs.

You do NOT need dimmable bulbs unless you have dimmer switches. My favorite bulbs are the Philips bulbs:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Philips-...2969/206923045

I do use EcoSmart A15 bulbs in our fixtures that need smaller bulbs:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/EcoSmart...3135/303742232

For dimmable circuits I really like the Phillips "Warm Glow" bulbs. The light from these change colors to more of an amber color as they dim, better simulating a dimmed incandescent bulb or candle light. We have three of them in our living room:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Philips-...9519/303986890

Of course, to get the best results with dimmable LED bulbs you will need dimmers that are made for LED's. The old traditional dimmer switches don't dim LED's very nicely (poor range, or no dimming at all). I have the Lutron Caseta dimmer in our living room as it allows me to dim the lights remotely when I'm watching a movie:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Lutron-C...WH-R/206754146

There are certainly cheaper options if you don't need the wireless remote control.

Be aware LED bulbs may not last as long in enclosed fixtures. Even though they put off very little heat, it does build up inside closed lamp fixtures and can kill the electronics in the bulbs over time. They still work, you just may need to replace the bulbs more often (some bulbs are rated for enclosed fixtures). After battling with this for a few years, I replaced our ceiling lights with fixtures that have the LED bulb and driver built-in to the fixture itself (no bulbs to replace). So far they have lasted longer than the LED bulbs, but it does mean you have to replace the entire fixture if the LED fails.
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Old 11-18-2019, 10:38 AM   #83
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I'm glad you found out what the problem was.
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I think that's a smart idea. Outlets wear out over time if you plug stuff into them, and just for safety reasons I would replace a GFCI that has tripped. GFCI outlets are usually only in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry, and outdoor locations (anywhere there is water), so I doubt you have that many to replace.
I do not agree that there is a safety issue with a tripped GFCI. If there was, they would have a non replaceable fuse, not a reset button. If the GFCI trips by itself or will not hold on, then it is time to replace. In this case, the OP had someone working outside with electrical tools. It sounds like the GFCI did what it was supposed to do.


I routinely replace any electrical outlet that is not holding plugs tightly.

Agreed. Any loose fitting outlet should be replaced.

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If you don't want dimmers, just replace them with a normal switch. Easy job and inexpensive. You certainly don't need 3-way switches unless you have 3-way dimmers (controllable from two locations)

Yes, swapping out incandescents for LED's is a smart move. You'll save a bit of electricity (not huge, but makes a difference) and they last longer. You can also install bulbs with brighter light (i.e. 75W equivalent) since the electrical usage and heat output is lower.

I'm not sure exactly how to verify this. I'd say that 75% of our lights are LED and maybe 20% are florescent. We routinely use less than our most efficient neighbors, according to our electric company. That is until the Xmas lights go up (this year, all LEDs) or if I heat the garage with the electric heater. LED's must have some noticeable effect. One of the biggest benefits I've seen is the elimination of replacing burned out incandescent bulbs.

I agree you should avoid the cheap LED's. They fail often and usually have poor light quality (which is why 'old timers' often say LED's look bad after they buy the cheap bulbs). As for the base difference, I've only seen that with cheap LED bulbs.
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Of course, to get the best results with dimmable LED bulbs you will need dimmers that are made for LED's. The old traditional dimmer switches don't dim LED's very nicely (poor range, or no dimming at all). I have the Lutron Caseta dimmer in our living room as it allows me to dim the lights remotely when I'm watching a movie:

I just installed a dimmer and some LED can lights. The dimmer works great. It was 20 something dollars though. a bit more expensive than older dimmers

Be aware LED bulbs may not last as long in enclosed fixtures. Even though they put off very little heat, it does build up inside closed lamp fixtures and can kill the electronics in the bulbs over time.

Rule of thumb in electronics is that every 10 deg C above room temp will 1/2 the life.
See above in red
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Old 11-18-2019, 10:47 AM   #84
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A couple of things I have learned, sort of buried in the above posts:

LED bulbs are rated in "lumens" and then the manufacturer provides an "equivalent" incandescent bulb wattage. Brighter is not necessarily better and all manufacturers do not use the same equivalence calculation. Learn to think in terms of lumens and your lighting will be more consistent and at the levels you want.

More and more I am seeing LED-only ceiling fixtures. Kind of nice in some ways, but unlike bulb fixtures you are stuck with the color and brightness that the manufacturer selected for you. I am not sure these are always a good idea, but definitely YMMV.

The biggest new thing is we now have to pay attention to color of light. The two basic colors, to me, are "brutal" and "warm." Mixing them guarantees ugliness. Not paying attention when buying gets you mixed color. Be sure to know what you want and to buy the correct color.
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Old 11-18-2019, 12:00 PM   #85
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Why did the workman complain about what appeared to be low voltage?
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Old 11-18-2019, 01:13 PM   #86
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I never did find out.

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Originally Posted by travelover View Post
Why did the workman complain about what appeared to be low voltage?
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Old 11-18-2019, 01:20 PM   #87
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Considering the simple problem the OP had, it could have been found with a simple tester as many suggested. The following is $8.52 at Home Depot. There's a cheaper one at $4.99, but that lacks the GFCI test function (the red button on the unit shown exercises the GFCI).

PS. This Pro's Kit unit is a couple of bucks cheaper than the one Jerry recommended on post #31, also at HD (Klein Tools for $10.50).

I do have one similar tester, but keep it in my RV. I have read of RV campground outlets being mis-wired, so use it as a precaution. At home, I use my DVM.



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Old 11-18-2019, 01:34 PM   #88
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I dislike dimmers too, sometimes they buzz, sometime they flicker and sometimes they don't go full bright.

I've had no problems with the 30 yr old GFCIs in the house.

I'm down to 2 incandescent bulbs in the entire house, the one in the oven and the one in the dryer. Can't change because of the temperatures. All the rest are LED.
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Old 11-18-2019, 01:53 PM   #89
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We once called the appliance repair people because the range hood would not work. It was a tripped GFI on the other side of the kitchen. I would have thought the GFI right next to the range (which I tripped and reset) would have been the proper one, but it wasn't.
We had a similar event here. The outlet in the garage stopped working. Who would have thought that it was (electrically) downstream from the CFI outlet in the basement underneath the entrance circuit panel, as physically far away as you could get and still be under the same roof? That was the first outlet installed in the house, the one all the trades used to power tools while the house was being built.

I didn't figure it out until I'd reset every other GFI outlet in the house.
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Old 11-18-2019, 02:46 PM   #90
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The first house gal and I did together got a GFCI in the upstairs bathroom. This was in maybe 1980? and was pretty cutting edge stuff and the $28 or so was a really big expense. I had the load side also cover the bathroom immediately downstairs and then - what the heck - ran it out to the large covered back porch. Three areas got cutting edge safety tech. I felt like a champ. Some years later the outlets in the downstairs bath died. Mr. cutting edge wiring guy had forgotten how I'd run the circuit. Fun times. House hasn't burned down yet, so it's a win anyway.
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Old 11-19-2019, 04:45 PM   #91
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If there is a GFCI outlet in the garage that would be my first candidate for supporting the outside outlets. Check it with a light bulb, drill motor, or whatever to make sure it is supplying power.
Same thing happened to me and yes it was the GFCI outlet in the garage that the extra freezer was hooked into.
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Must have electrical tool
Old 11-19-2019, 05:43 PM   #92
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Must have electrical tool

I read most of the posts, and there were some simple electrical tools recommended, and I especially like the simple plug in tool that tells you 1) the circuit is live/dead, 2) the outlet is wired properly. The other simple tool that I love (have one at home, son’s and all sisters and in laws) is one that plugs into outlet and allows you to find the breaker that powers that outlet. Here’s one Klein Tools ET310
Digital Circuit Breaker Finder with GFCI Outlet Tester. A good rainy day project is to use this to find the breaker for each outlet, and write the breaker number on the outlet, someplace covered by the cover, so in the future you can easily de-energize or re-energize an outlet.
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Old 11-19-2019, 07:00 PM   #93
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Had GIFIs in the garage. "per code" My freezer took a hit in a storm and the GIFI tripped. I was on vacation.. Bad Smell when I came home .. Had to throw it all out.. I RR the GIFI breaker with a standard 20A..
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Old 11-19-2019, 07:20 PM   #94
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Had GIFIs in the garage. "per code" My freezer took a hit in a storm and the GIFI tripped. I was on vacation.. Bad Smell when I came home .. Had to throw it all out.. I RR the GIFI breaker with a standard 20A..
We had that happen on vacation one summer. It took gallons of bleach to remove the smell from the freezer.
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Old 11-19-2019, 08:01 PM   #95
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Now you scare me. I never thought about the above peril, up in my high-country boondocks home.

In my next visit, I will try to remember to check to see if the outlet to which the fridge is plugged into is wired to the kitchen GFCI.
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Old 11-19-2019, 08:30 PM   #96
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I think things worked out well here, for only a small cost.

We once called the appliance repair people because the range hood would not work. It was a tripped GFI on the other side of the kitchen. I would have thought the GFI right next to the range (which I tripped and reset) would have been the proper one, but it wasn't. Ours don't light up, so the only way to have known was to have cycled every GFI in the house. Who would think to do that?

FWIW, I agree with the guy about the LED lights. We replaced all ours and the electric bill went down quite a bit. And the cheap ones do burn out faster. We use GE Daylight ones, because we like that spectrum of light best.
Sometime kitchen circuits are wired using 12/3 wg romex on two 15 or 20 amp breakers. The normal hot or black wire is wired to alternate two or three outlets, one being a GFIC outlet. The red wire, also hot, is then wired to the other alternate outlets one being a GFIC , all using the same white or neutral wire. So you have 6 outlets all GFIC or not, wired using one piece of romex, 3 outlets (1,3,5 black) and (2,4,6 red) protected by 2 breakers. Usually 20 amp breakers are used on 12 gauge romex, and 14 gauge use 15 amp breakers. You can undersize the breaker on 12 gauge wire to a 15 amp, because the breaker is there to protect the wire. But don't use a 15 amp breaker on 14 guage wire.
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Old 11-20-2019, 12:22 AM   #97
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Now you scare me. I never thought about the above peril, up in my high-country boondocks home.

In my next visit, I will try to remember to check to see if the outlet to which the fridge is plugged into is wired to the kitchen GFCI.
The same thing would happen with a 6 day power outage.
Worse might be a 4 day power outage, where the food goes bad and refreezes so you might not notice.
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Old 11-20-2019, 06:13 AM   #98
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You can undersize the breaker on 12 gauge wire to a 15 amp, because the breaker is there to protect the wire. But don't use a 15 amp breaker on 14 guage wire.
So what do you use, a 10 amp? (LOL, doesn't exist.)

Did you mean don't use a 20 amp breaker on 14 gauge wire?
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Old 11-20-2019, 06:25 AM   #99
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So what do you use, a 10 amp? (LOL, doesn't exist.)

Did you mean don't use a 20 amp breaker on 14 gauge wire?
I'm sure that 20A is what he meant to say.
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Old 11-20-2019, 06:37 AM   #100
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We had that happen on vacation one summer. It took gallons of bleach to remove the smell from the freezer.
Baking soda. Lots of it. During the Recession we branched out to do foreclosure clean up. One was a property out in the country. Freeze had a deer in it. Not dressed. Just a deer. LOL It was rank. We buried the deer carcass. But the freezer was so bad nobody would recycle it. I went to the store and bought about a dozen baking soda boxes. Opened them all up, put them in and closed it up. A week later it was fresh as a daisy
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