A few electrical problems

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  #1  
Old 02-04-03, 02:08 PM
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ignernt
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A few electrical problems

I am having a few electrical problems, maybe interconnected, maybe not...

First off, I just bought the house in the middle of December, and had a home inspection, and the electrical passed to the inspector's satisfaction. It is a 200A service, with some older looking wiring in, as well as some newer wiring. The week before we moved in some drunk hit a pole on the road behind the house. My neighbor across the street said she had some damage to her PC's, and that I should have our electric checked out. I knew we had a whole house power panel protection box, as well as a cylindrical surge protector thing. I have no experience with either.

The first problem is probably the easier of the two. When there are too many things on in the kitchen, i.e. microwave, refrigerator, and foreman grill, the breaker trips. When I went and mapped out what was on each breaker, as far as I could tell the only things on the breaker were an outlet in the living room, the dining room, and 6 outlets in the kitchen, and possibly a dishwasher and disposal, which I had no way of testing, since both are inoperable. I'm guessing there is too much of a load on that circuit. Am I right? And if so, what do I do, split the load in half by running a new line and going to a new breaker?

The second is a bit more complex. Certain lights in the house started to dim, and I couldn't seem to figure out why. At first I thought it was due to wind, but then I started to notice dimming even when the winds were calm. Then the power would go out to those same rooms, for short periods of time, and then come back on a couple minutes later. The breakers never tripped. This also affected the thermostat, with the temp going down to 55-60*F at least twice overnight. I thought maybe the furnace was on the same breaker as the rooms that had problems, but when I mapped out the breakers I noticed that 3 breakers are being affected, one by itself, and two breakers are across from each other on the panel. When I turned off the whole breaker panel once and back on to see if this would reset the power to the furnace, I heard a typical "short" sound coming from the panel. I haven't taken off the panel cover yet.

I hate to keep this post going any longer, so if any more info is needed let me know. Electrical work doesn't intimidate me, and I think I can fix the problem/problems if a licensed electrician isn't necessary.
 
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Old 02-04-03, 03:01 PM
A
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You said:

The first problem is probably the easier of the two. When there are too many things on in the kitchen, i.e. microwave, refrigerator, and foreman grill, the breaker trips. When I went and mapped out what was on each breaker, as far as I could tell the only things on the breaker were an outlet in the living room, the dining room, and 6 outlets in the kitchen, and possibly a dishwasher and disposal, which I had no way of testing, since both are inoperable. I'm guessing there is too much of a load on that circuit. Am I right? And if so, what do I do, split the load in half by running a new line and going to a new breaker?
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Yes. You have to many things on the cicuit. With every thing you have in the kitchen it sounds as if you need more than two circuits. The code calls for at least two to serve the counter top, as well as GFCI for the counter. They can not serve any other locations. Even thou this passed the inspectiion. it was satifactory to the codes at time the house was built. Time to upgrade to keep up with all the kitchen equipment you have, or do without.

You said:

The second is a bit more complex. Certain lights in the house started to dim, and I couldn't seem to figure out why. At first I thought it was due to wind, but then I started to notice dimming even when the winds were calm. Then the power would go out to those same rooms, for short periods of time, and then come back on a couple minutes later. The breakers never tripped. This also affected the thermostat, with the temp going down to 55-60*F at least twice overnight. I thought maybe the furnace was on the same breaker as the rooms that had problems, but when I mapped out the breakers I noticed that 3 breakers are being affected, one by itself, and two breakers are across from each other on the panel. When I turned off the whole breaker panel once and back on to see if this would reset the power to the furnace, I heard a typical "short" sound coming from the panel. I haven't taken off the panel cover yet.
Reply:

First what type of panel do you have?

Second, I'm going out on a limb, and saying you need to have the panel inspected by a qualified Electrician with the door off, and a few breakers out. To see the bars the breakers are attached to. As well as the main, And also with every thing on as if you was using it. take an amp reading, then have the electrician do a load calculation "demand load" on the house it may be time to up-grade the size of your panel. This sounds like something you may need to do very very soon.

None of this has anything to do with the drunk hitting the pole, Sorry...
 
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Old 02-04-03, 04:08 PM
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I agree that a visual inspection by a person familiar with the inners of a panel is needed. They may need to torque some of the terminations (including the always hot termination on the incomming). Hopefully that will help with the dimming. You might call the utility company and ask them to torque the terminations on the meter and the pole.
I don't think a demand load calculation will be productive, since you would need quite a big house to require a bigger service than a 200A (which you have).
The items all on the kitchen breaker need to be separated to distribute the load amongst multiple breakers.
 
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Old 02-04-03, 04:08 PM
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The second problem with power going out is probably a loose connection to one of your hot condcutors. It may be in your panel, in the meter base, or on the power company side of the drop to your house. Start by calling the power company.
 
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Old 02-05-03, 02:24 PM
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Would loose connections make certain circuits go out for minutes at a time while not disturbing other circuits?
 
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Old 02-05-03, 02:30 PM
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yes it would. Remember you have two "hots" coming in from the electric company. And from there you have various circuits connected to various others. So, if you have a loose connection anywhere, it could (and most likely would) affect ALL the outlets from that point on.
 
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Old 02-05-03, 02:32 PM
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yes, if one of the hot feeds is loose, it would make every other breaker in the panel lose power due to the way panels are wired, getting the poco out to check their end and getting a qualified Electrician out to check the panel guts is probably the things you will have to do to remedy the phantom outages!
 
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Old 02-05-03, 02:38 PM
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I would still call the electric company first. If it is on there side they will detect it quickly, and should not cost you a cent.
 
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Old 02-05-03, 02:41 PM
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GOOD POINT
 
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Old 02-05-03, 04:40 PM
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ignernt
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Thanks everybody for your replies. I took the cover off the panel and tightened down all the connections, and some were quite loose. I'm just starting midnight shift tonight, so I'll see how things go and call after the weekend.

Edit - I figured I'd ask, what would I expect to pay for the electrician to come out if it comes to that? I'm guessing a flat fee to come out and then $75 per hour beyond that, plus parts.
 
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