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Electric stove and fluorescent light disruption issues

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Mar 15, 2014, 11:51 PM
Electric stove and fluorescent light disruption issues
I was helping my father bake today when suddenly the overhead fluorescent lights went dark. I flipped the switch a few times, one of the lights went on but was very dim. Then both went out and stayed out.

I realized later that the electric oven had begun to lose heat and the temperature was dropping. There are 2 bake settings on that oven (a very old double side by side stove). On a second bake setting the fluorescent lights worked properly , but the oven was not heating as it should, if it heated at all, and the light on the function dial was out. (It was hard to tell if it was actually heating because there was residual heat from before the “event” occurred which blacked out the fluorescents).

Dad pulled the stove out and pulled the plug. The fluorescent lights went back on again.

So: the overhead fluorescent lights will not work when the oven is on one of the two bake settings which initially worked but either stopped working or failed to continue to heat properly. The function dial shows the oven is on.

The fluorescents will work when the oven is set at the second bake setting, which either doesn't heat or fails to even warm up. The function dial shows the oven is off.

An electrician is coming Monday to check things out but I’m curious and worried about what might be going on. Could it be a short in the circuit? Wouldn’t the fuse blow or the breaker trip (I don’t know which this circuit is)? If so, why would it affect only one bake setting and not the other? Could it be that the working bake setting is disrupting the fluorescent lights, but the nonworking setting is not? Is it more likely that the problem is in the stove wiring but if so why would only one stove setting affect the fluorescents?

This stove has rarely been used over the last few years, and likely won't be used that much in the future either, so the issue is really the connection to the lights.

As some of you know, my father is creeping toward the centennial mark, and I’m really anxious about his safety (he lives alone). Other than pulling the plug on the oven and not turning on the kitchen lights, is there anything else he can do until the electrician comes on Monday?

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
Mar 16, 2014, 08:46 AM
Just a guess, the lights are likely on a 15 amp. circuit on there own, The oven is on it's own 220 circuit.
So if there both being effected it goes back to the panel.
If there's a voltage drop because the oven's drawing power the light would be effected.
All it would take is a loose or corroded wire.
Is it aluminum wiring going to supply power to the stove? Is that's where I'd start checking.

Mar 16, 2014, 09:51 AM
I think Joe is right.

While it is possible that the 110v lights get their power from one side of the 220v circuit to the stove, that is a bad set-up that no pro installer would ever do.

More than likely it's some flaw in the lighting circuit that gets triggered by the load of the stove turning on. This could be a poor wiring connection, about to fail ballast on the lights or even as simple as a loose florescent bulb (or one that is about to go bad).

One quick thing to check - Take a look at the florescent bulbs. If the end couple of inches are black then the bulbs are about gone and should be replaced. That could be enough to make the flickering when the stove kicks on.

Mar 16, 2014, 09:53 AM
I'm thinking out loud and mentioning that an undersized service is involved. {And a poorly wired load center}. But having posted that without a visual it becomes a long range guesstimate, no more no less.
Turn off the circuits involved and invite dad over for Sunday dinner and a "Take Home Care Package".
Which I think you would do without any prodding. Wink

This message has been edited. Last edited by: CommonwealthSparky,

Popeye only reached for the Spinach can as a last resort...
Mar 16, 2014, 02:38 PM
I'm wondering if the ground wire from the transformer into the house or poor bonding of the neutral wire might not cause this. A couple of years ago a tree limb knocked the ground wire loose from the house and all kinds of strange things happened.
Mar 16, 2014, 03:41 PM
a bad ground can cause anything that looks more like a ground than thin air to take the current. the electrician appointment is definitely the right call.

sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
Mar 18, 2014, 11:22 AM
Thanks, everyone, for the very helpful and consoling advice.

Joe, the stove is on its own 220 circuit but also has 110 functions (see below). Dad said the wiring to the stove is not aluminum. (That's a relief!)

Jaybee, you were right about the failing lights (see below). I made an erroneous assumption when both the oven and lights failed in what appeared to be a simultaneous event. Apparently this was just a coincidence.

CommonwealthSparky, Dad liked (well, really LOVED) your advice of a home cooked meal but decided he'd rather go to Ruby Tuesday's for some ribs! Big Grin

JDR, you reminded me that with all the snow this season we haven't even seen the back of the house for months! There are some branches down along the side, but they're small ones. I've added your suggestion to my spring project list though, just to check out the yard and the exterior of the house. I do that with my house but not always with Dad's.

Swschrad, you addressed another of my fears. The stove and the house are both old so who knows what could have happened and gone undetected over the years?

I passed along all of your suggestions to my father to discuss with the electrician, as appropriate.

Turns out that the fluorescent lights were failing; new ones are in and that problem is solved. No connection was found to the stove, which has its own problems.

The stove has 3 burners which operate on a 110 and the 4th on 220. This sounded strange to me, but my knowledge of electrical stove wiring is very nominal and I have no other insight into this situation. Initially Dad said the first 3 bake settings operate on 110 and the 4th and 5th on 220, so I'm not really quite sure what the situation is. It may be that the details of this became a bit confused during the diagnosis and repair process, which did take some time. It's not always easy to remember things clearly as one creeps into old age.

The electrician traced the wire out to the meter; no problem with the wire.

The oven can't be used at all; it operates on 110 current. We don't have any explanation for this or why the oven doesn't operate, but we believe the stove was purchased when we bought the house in 1954. So it's an antique, has provided good service otherwise and is ready for retirement. I doubt if parts could be found to fix it anyway.

I can hear the cybergasps that someone has a 60 year old stove for anything other than as a collectible, Eek so let me address that issue as well.

First, there's the Depression Era approach to nearly every aspect of life.

Secondly, one of Dad's neighbors is very generous and supplies him with good home cooked meals, as do I. Between the two of us and Ruby Tuesday's, Dad really doesn't need a stove. And given mobility issues, it's actually better that he doesn't cook anyway. So the loss of use isn't really anything that would change his daily activities.

Your suggestions were all very helpful in putting the issue in perspective and keeping my stress to a minimum while I worried about blown circuits, bad wires, and a disaster waiting to happen.

Thanks again to each of you for taking the time to help us. Smile Smile

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
Mar 18, 2014, 11:41 AM
That would be a new one on me.
I've never once seen an electric stove that used 110 volts for anything but the timers, clock, controls.
With 110 it would draw twice the amp.'s and take at least twice as long to heat up, if it ever got more then just warm.

Mar 18, 2014, 11:56 AM
Joe, we'll be seeing the electrician (who's a personal friend of my father's) perhaps sometime this week and I'll try to get more details, if only to satisfy my curiosity.

The only thing I can think of would be that the burners used 110 but the oven used 220, but I also have the feeling that I don't have all the correct details. Dad did say though that the stove had a dual circuit.

This WAS a stressful day for my father, not only because of the issues but because for decades he normally would have done all this troubleshooting and repair work himself, but those days are now past. It's not easy for an independent person who's done all his own electrical, plumbing and construction for years to rely on someone else.

I'm wondering also if this configuration wasn't something peculiar to stoves manufactured during the several years after WWII?

I'll update you if I get any more explanatory details later this week.
Mar 18, 2014, 08:38 PM
Good to hear the problem has been safely rectified. Not sure about an appliance that old concerning reading the specs on the nameplate if possible. That would supply an interesting read I bet. Big Grin

Popeye only reached for the Spinach can as a last resort...