What does it mean when your lights dim every time you turn on the garbage disposal?

The lights dim for just a second or two and then come back, and only in the kitchen where the disposal is. Before we moved in we had some electrical work done because some things weren’t up to code, but we missed this. Also, when I use my hair dryer in the bedroom the lights dim. The electrician is coming next week for something else and I’ll have him look at this, but I’m wondering what causes it?

10 Answers

  • robbedineastclairden
    1 month ago

    First of all Scott M , You are out of your mind, there is no such thing as running higher voltage to something in a home!!!

    And also for the other one, within a certian distance from the sink being on a gfci, is only for human interaction outlets, not specific applied small appliance outlets. You do not want your fridge, mico, dishwash, disp., instaheat, or any other small appliance with a dedicated circuit on a gfci, no matter how close to the sink it is, because code says you need an outlet within 2 feet both ways of the sink of counterspace for human interaction which will be gfci protected. All dedicated outlets for applied appliances are on their own circuit, no matter the distance from the sink, without gfci protection.

    Next, from what I can see is most of those are right by saying the current is a high load on the circuit. Therefore, first of all, the disposal/dishwasher should have a circuit by itself. The kitchen lighting, which is dimming, is not permitted to be on the same circuit as any other thing in the kitchen, period! The kitchen lighting should be on its own circuit if there are many lights, or on some other lighting circuit. When lights go dim from an appliance coming on, it is usually from a high draw of current that is not readily available. So therefore, you start at the source, and sometime common is a bad, or not enough ground. After that would be a bad, or loose neutral wire. Then check on down the line to the actual appliance. But if you call the electric co., they should be able to put a neutral meter on your service and monitor it for a few days to tell you if your neutral is bad for free before you go spending all kinds of money with having someone trace out the problem.

    One way to test, is to have your electrician run a temp 12/2 wire straight from your panel, and plug your device into it, and see if your lights still dimm. If they do, then it is a bad ground or neutral, or something is wrong with your service panel or line coming to your house. The line may possibly be too small, especially if you have a high constant load.(all electric appliances) If they don’t, then you simply need a new circuit ran for your device, because the wiring may be #14 which is too small for most appliances, and not permitted to use in most locations except where the building commissions don’t really care, and just want as many people to move in or reside as they can get no matter the stakes. If you have less than #12 wiring, or have knob and tube wiring, that is most likely your cause.

    Hope this helps.

    Ted Taff


  • btlcrzr
    1 month ago

    The reason is that the disposal draws heavy amps (Load) at startup. Plus on this unit it is possibly wired into your lighting circuits. This should not be the case but people don’t know the code and wire things wrong. Power / Recepticles and lighting should be on separate circuits. Your hair drier is doing the same thing. The little fan and the heating elements draw a bit of a load. Have your Electrician check to ensure the circuitry is properly separated. IE refrigerators, an microwaves need to be on their own circuit separated form anything else. Ensure you have GFCI on the recepts. that are within 6 ft of a sink or water source or outside.

  • rockpolisherc
    1 month ago

    For one thing, it looks like you have to many things on one circuit. Second thing, is that you may be using an older garbage disposal and it uses more power then needed. It may very well need to be replaced. But sounds like your wiring may be too small to carry the loads you are asking it to preform. You would really want to ask your electrician these questions when he comes. Write down a list of your questions so as not to forget when he comes. All to often, in your excitement about fixing one problem the questions you need answered are forgotten at the moment

  • Jim W
    1 month ago

    Another possible source of your problem is a loose connection or one or more that are slightly oxidized in the main panel. Having each screw tightened a little bit will help. The loose connection could also be on one of the receptacle connections in the circuits. It is likely that this is an older home and moisture does damage over time to electrical connections. I’ve found loose connections hidden in panels, the meter base, and in device connections. It is also possible the dishwasher is faulty, but I suspect it is in a loose connection. Call a qualified professional electrician to do the work. It will take time to locate and make the needed repairs.

  • george b
    1 month ago

    You probably have too many lines on these circuits. It shouldn’t be a major concern as long as you don’t trip the breakers. You may want to have your electrician see if the lines can be separated at a reasonable exepense. Hair dryers and disposals will typically draw more amperage when they start causing a slight loss of power to the lights.

    1 month ago

    You’re not getting enough power into your kitchen and bedroom (or wherever you use your hair dryer).

    I had the same problem with my printer in my home office. When I tried to print, the power would go out momentarily, which was enough to shut down the computer and the printer. I had to have my electrician run a higher voltage line to this part of the house. It cost about $500.00.

    Depending upon when you moved into the house, you may be able to go against the former owner for failure to disclose a problem with the wiring.

    Ask your electrician to examine your problems and describe, in writing, what is causing your problems. If there is a shortage of power running into your kitchen and wherever you use your hairdryer, your seller may be liable for a failure to disclose known defects (they had to know).

    You should call your realtor first to see if he/she can help you with this matter.

  • Yak Rider
    1 month ago

    Besides the answer that the circuit is overloaded, it’s also possible you’ve got a bad ground. In any case, have a qualified electrician take a look at it.

  • Kenneth J
    1 month ago

    To much load on the circuit breaker.

    Old wiring not up to code for the load being put on it

    Bathroom could be the GFI safety breaker getting weak or the old wiring.

    In any case better to get it checked out asap.

    Safety first.

  • ?
    1 month ago

    To many things on one circuit also sounds like some things should be on one by themself like the disposal

  • happywjc
    1 month ago

    Have it on its own breaker.

    It is an easy task, that most “novices

    can complete!

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