Can this cause appliance failures?

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  #1  
Old 01-17-06, 03:37 PM
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Can this cause appliance failures?

I've got a rental house (2 years old) that is managed by a property mgr. I got an e-mail that said the tenant is concerned about "not enough power coming into the house". She said her TV broke and the repair man said it was caused by "low power". She also said she has had other electrical things go bad (toaster, curling iron, and flat iron) I'm thinking it was simply a coincidence.
Wouldn't low power be detectable in things like dim lights, hvac motors, or even tripped breakers? To my knowledge she hasn't had any problems with her computer. Wouldn't a surge protector trip with a power problem? There hasn't been any problems with the big stuff (washer, dryer, refer, HVAC)
Is there something I can test to check the supply?
Would the local power co be able to test the service?
Any obvious place to start looking?
Thanks
Bill
 
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  #2  
Old 01-17-06, 04:38 PM
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surge strip won't tell you anything. you could check voltage at the receptacles. the proper way is with a data logger but they're hardly floating around. also check at the service entrance for a good 240 VAC feed. could be a lug integrety issue. any 240 VAC appliances acting funny ?
 
  #3  
Old 01-17-06, 06:29 PM
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Bill,

I'm not sure if this is helpful or not but I have found that "surges" or "power problems" are often given as a reason of an electronics failure when no definite cause can be found.
It is possible there is a problem with your power but it could also be the tenant taking a statement like "It could have been low voltage" and twisting it around.
As flopshot said, logging equipment is expensive and was it used by the tech to make the diagnosis?
If there is a power problem, the tech should be able to give you the details to relay to the power company or electrician.
 

Last edited by GregH; 01-17-06 at 06:43 PM.
  #4  
Old 01-17-06, 08:36 PM
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Thanks for the input. I think I'll have a qualified electrician out to the house to check the actual connections on the terminals just to rule that out. And inquire with the local power co about power fluctuations in the area.
The neighborhood is new so I can't imagine there's a supply problem. You never know though.
There have not been any problems with any of the 240 V appliance that they've reported. All the failures have been small "used" equipment. If you can call a TV small.
As a footnote: I live in California where we used to have serious brown outs that caused major problems with some of our stuff. The things the tenants are talking about are just outright failures with a "guess" as to what the cause may be.
Thanks again for the help.
Bill
 
  #5  
Old 01-17-06, 08:41 PM
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Call the power company first. They may check this out without the need to get an electrician first. Or, they may not, so you might still need the electrician.
 
  #6  
Old 01-18-06, 02:20 PM
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You can buy a UPS with logging capability that will record the voltage level coming into the house over time. You can even make graphs of the logs and visually see the voltage vary throughout the day. You need a serial cable and software that comes with the UPS to do it but it is not hard to set up. I was really surprised at how much the voltage fluctuated during the day and how many spikes and brownouts we had.

Steve
 
  #7  
Old 01-18-06, 03:35 PM
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Not sure if this is to late getitng to you. First, have a qualified electrician check the voltage on both legs, at the circuit box & at the meter. He should find 118-125v on each leg coming in, and around 240v across both. Most times you'll find that the problem is on your secondary service, i.e. bad underground conductor or even a loose meter lug. Are the neighbors having any problems? Not to say it's not a power co. problem, but if the house is in a new development, any consumers on that transformer would all be having the same problem. Be careful, and good luck.
 
  #8  
Old 01-18-06, 04:33 PM
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I'll throw another tip at this problem.

When checking for a low voltage problem it is sometimes helpfull to put as much electrical load on the system as possible.
Often problems don't show up untill a connection or component heats up with current flow.

In other words turn on as many appliances as reasonable to bring up the current draw.
 
  #9  
Old 01-20-06, 12:01 PM
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It's possible that there could be a faulty neutral connection in your service equipment, in a feeder connection from the power company, or even at the power company transformer. A faulty neutral would actually raise the voltage on 120V appliances, which of course could cause debilitating damage. 240 V appliances would not be affected.

And as someone else said, if an electrician comes out and measures the voltage without a load, then they might not see any problem. The higher load being passed through the faulty connection creates arcing and overheating - it actually "opens" the circuit, and in the case of an open neutral, allows a normal phase to neutral connection to be completed phase to phase.

Has she been having any problems light bulbs?
 
  #10  
Old 01-20-06, 04:49 PM
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I re-read my tip about increasing the load to detect high temperature failure but forgot to mention that this must be done with great care and by a qualified electrician only.
 
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Old 01-20-06, 04:55 PM
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I agree with mcjunk. We had an older rental house in which the appliances started to burn out, and the resident's toaster, tv, etc. We found out through the power company it was a floating neutral on their side, thank goodness. They found the triplex rubbing against a tree, corrected it and allowed the resident to file claim against them for the damages.
 
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