Weird/Scary Electrical Problem...

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  #1  
Old 03-08-06, 07:54 PM
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Weird/Scary Electrical Problem...

Hello,

I've got a recurring electrical problem throughout the house. Here's the situation:

About two weeks ago I woke up and smelled something burning. I looked at my alarm clock and it was flashing like it had lost power. My wife's alarm was fine, and yet they are both on the same circuit (and her's does not have a battery backup)! I unplugged my alarm clock thinking it was that. I then went down stairs and could smell a burning smell in the kitchen. I smelled everything from the disposal, to the dishwasher, to the light fixture, to the oven. And nothing smelled worst then the other. I then went into the living room and tried turning on the Hunter fan light and it would not turn on. The Fan is wired with one of those Hunter wireless fan deals (there's 12-2 NM running from the switch to the fan, yet we wanted to be able to control the fan & light without having to use the chains). That was odd! I smelled the fixture and no smell. I then checked the office, bathroom, and basement and again, no smell! In the basement I flipped the light circuit breaker and the master bedroom outlet breaker so see what would happen (if it was a dead short I figured I wouldn't be able to turn the breaker back on). Again, all of this was very surreal because it was about 3AM. I went back to bed leaving it to worry about in the morning (although I couldn't sleep out of fear I was going to burn alive).

A few days later I replaced the wireless device in the fan in the living room and it worked great again. I could control the fan/light with the wireless wall mounted controls just fine. The smell went away and I thought I had fixed the culprit (although it was odd that the wireless device in the fan did not smell nor did it have any burn marks).

So I chocked it up to me being crazy and it being a fluke.

A week goes by and today my wife and I are out shopping. We come home and the smell is back! I go into the living room, and the light fixture/fan has stopped working again! So I begin smelling everything, and just like before the smell is only in the kitchen. So I smell all the appliances and it appears the stove is the worst. So I pull the stove away from the wall and unplug it. I then proceed to take off the back metal panel. And there's no doubt: the circuit board is burned! What looks like a capacitor has burned and left a scortch mark on the PCB circuit board.

Here's my question:

Can the stove going bad cause the wireless device inside the fan to go bad as well as my alarm clock to loose power and reset even though they are on different circuits? Or is the problem not the stove, but whatever it is has fried the stove, the wireless device, and caused the alarm clock to reset?

Thanks!!
 
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Old 03-08-06, 08:18 PM
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You have cause for concern. Don,t hesitate call your power co. 1st thing, you could have a problem with the electric feed to your home. which could cause problems as you described.
It is good you found the origin of the smell, electronics can be affected by over/under voltage
or loss of neutral.What were the conditions weather wise,windy,rain etc.

The utility should be able to narrow it down, how old is the house?
 
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Old 03-08-06, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by lectriclee
You have cause for concern. Don,t hesitate call your power co. 1st thing, you could have a problem with the electric feed to your home. which could cause problems as you described.
It is good you found the origin of the smell, electronics can be affected by over/under voltage
or loss of neutral.What were the conditions weather wise,windy,rain etc.

The utility should be able to narrow it down, how old is the house?

The weather was really bad today. There were big rain showers and what not especially while we were out. But I don't think the weather was very bad the first time that it happened.

More info: none of the breakers tripped during this whole thing. And the stove worked just fine after this happened the first time.

Is it possible that the stove went bad and sent a surge through the rest of the house?

The wiring in the house was just updated last year and has been working great for nearly 1 year. There's a new 200A panel, all new wiring/outlets/boxes/switches/fixtures and double aught main feed.
 
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Old 03-08-06, 08:41 PM
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You have two main options: You could keep typing on this thread and trying to figure it out, or you could call your power company. I strongly advise the latter.
 
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Old 03-08-06, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by John Nelson
You have two main options: You could keep typing on this thread and trying to figure it out, or you could call your power company. I strongly advise the latter.
I'll give them a call tomorrow. If you guys think of anything, please reply. Thanks!
 
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Old 03-08-06, 09:01 PM
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If you see more symptoms tonight, don't wait until tomorrow. The power company answers its emergency line 24x7 and has crews that work all night.
 
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Old 03-09-06, 04:25 PM
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I called the power company and they sent out a crew to look at the pole and breaker on the pole. Apparently the breaker on the pole smelled burnt so they went ahead and replaced it. They're not sure whether that could have been causing our problems or not. What do you guys think? Thanks!
 
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Old 03-09-06, 06:14 PM
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I think you have an intermittant neutral, either inside your panel, or (most likely) on the poco side. A bad neutral can cause voltage spikes which can kill your equipment.
Hopefully the crew checked and tightened their neutrals?
 
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Old 03-09-06, 07:38 PM
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Sx: It seems the power co. found somthing on their end. THATS Good, and bad. At the very least I would sleep better. They may not admit it as a corp. But you must understand they have a HUGE area to cover . We are all glad it worked out.

To ALL on this page,If ever in DOUBT, CALL THEM OUT!! Thats why they are there, and they don't mind.
 
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Old 03-09-06, 08:25 PM
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you might for the heck of it, look under your electrical panel cover at the neutral leads.. I found one of mine black and melted.. it was loose, caused bulbs to burn out and of course the smell of something burning... loose or open neurtrals play havoc on your electrics...
 
  #11  
Old 03-10-06, 08:01 PM
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Here's the latest:

I talked with the power company and they thought there was a problem with the main breaker on the pole. They claimed they could smell smoke and so apparently there was a problem at the pole.

After the advise of frhrwa I checked out our electrical panel to look for any loose/burned neutral wires. I didn't find any (thankfully). I did notice one interesting thing: all the problems that we've experience had been powered by the same 110 leg:

The master bedroom circuit, the 1st floor light circuit, and the stove (220), all are powered by the same 110 leg (obviously the stove is only half powered by the bad leg). So I'm convinced that one of the 110 legs were spiking and causing the problems. The power company claimed to have fixed whatever was wrong at the pole so hopefully the problems we've been experiencing are solved.

Thanks for all your help guys!
 
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