Buzzing at breaker panel?

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by EricWT, Nov 24, 2003.

  1. EricWT

    EricWT Extra

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    Hello,

    I just connected my circuits to my breaker panel, and everything seems to work fine. There is a buzz from my dimmed lights, but I have cheap bulbs in there now and I understand that this is normal; I will replace them soon.

    However, I noticed that there is also a buzz from the circuit panel-- I can hear it when I stand near the panel, but when I put my wooden cover over it, it goes away. The buzz is there whether the lights are dimmed or at full brightness, and gone when they are off. Is it possible that the buzz at the lights is causing some noise at the panel, or is it more likely that I have a breaker problem? None of my other circuits seem to buzz; then again, none of them has a dimmer on it. I am worried that I did something wrong, although I can't imagine what it would be.

    My components in this circuit are:

    5 sconces with cheap 60 w bulbs (will replace)
    4 wall plugs
    1 Lutron Spacer remote controlled dimmer
    Sqaure D panel with a 15A breaker
    (I wired a separate, dedicated 20A circuit for my components)

    I wired it with 14/2 NMD 90 to the panel, and 14/3 throughout the circuit.

    Thanks,

    Eric
     
  2. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    Neil Joseph
    Does the dimmer switch have a ground wire on it?
     
  3. Frank Zimkas

    Frank Zimkas Supporting Actor

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    First things first.
    You really should replace the 20a breaker with a 15a breaker. The National Electric Code states that a 20 amp circuit be wired with 12ga, not 14. If you really need a 20 amp circuit then you need to replace the 14ga with 12ga. It's a fire hazard. Call your local building department to confirm.

    Regarding the buzz at the panel, Have you felt the breaker to see if it is warm/hot to the touch? This could indicate a high amp draw or high resistence across the contacts in the breaker. If the breaker is warm/hot to the touch, you should have the amp draw on that circuit checked. It's very easy to do if you have access to a clamp-on amp meter. If you don't have one, your utility department or a licensed contractor should be able to check it for you without charging you an arm and a leg.

    It is possible for breakers to to be bad right out of the box, so replacing the breaker may fix the buzz.
     
  4. Sam C

    Sam C Stunt Coordinator

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    There are a number of explanations for this but the easiest way to find the underlying issue is to follow some basic troubleshooting procedures. Take a flashlight and go to your service panel. Shut all breakers off and see if you continue to hear the hum. Continue to turn breakers on until you find the culprit. You will be able to narrow it down this way, if in fact the breaker is the cause of the hum.

    Also, you need to replace the 20A breaker with a 15A breaker immediately. By using 14 Gauge wire with a 20A breaker, what you have effectively done is, eliminate the breaker from the scenario. Under these circumstances a load could actually exceed the capacity of the wire without exceeding the capacity of the breaker. This could result in fire.
     
  5. EricWT

    EricWT Extra

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    Thanks for all the replies!

    Neil: Yes, the dimmer switch has a ground. Is that good or bad for buzzing? :)

    Frank and Sam, sorry, I should have been more clear: the circuit in question is a 15A breaker and 14 gauge wire. It is for my regular room plugs and sconce lighting, and it is the one buzzing at the breaker. The 20A circuit is on a separate, dedicated 12 gauge wire, with only one outlet; I only mentioned this circuit as a point of interest, but I think I just created confusion.

    I have not felt the breaker temperature, but I will do that. Also, I notice that in the "off" position the breaker switch is a little wiggley, so I will try swapping it out anyway.

    As for troubleshooting, the buzz occurs only when the lights are on (dimmed or not.) If I kill the breaker, the buzz is gone, and if I kill the lights, buzz is gone. So it is definitely the 15A circuit.

    Thanks again for the comments!

    Eric
     

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