Electrical problems in house

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  #1  
Old 04-17-06, 01:53 PM
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Electrical problems in house

Hello guys,

About a year ago we replaced all the electrical in our house plus the undergound feed. We're now having cronic problems with the electrical.

Several times an hour our stove and dish reciever chirp audiably. They sound like there are crickets in the house. The dish reciever is protected with a surge protector power strip along with the TV and DVD player. However the TV and DVD player don't make the noise. Also today I was out in the garage (detached, but connected to main house panel with it's own sub-panel) and at the GFCI in the garage I heard the same chirping noise. Very odd!

To me it is obviously something common because many different things are being affected by this.

In the last 3 weeks we've had to replaced the electronic controls on the oven because they fried. The resistor overheated to the point that it melted the surrounding plastic. We've also had to replace the wireless controls for the fan in our living room because it fried and melted.

The computer has had no problems.

I've had the power company check the meter with a special device they use and they said everything looked great. They did replace the breaker at the pole just to be safe.

The severity of the problem differs. Usually it's just the effected appliances making chirping noises. But sometimes it's really bad and the lights will flicker. Last night it happened while we were sleeping and the microwave began beeping and the power died long enough to have to reset all the clocks.

Off hand the guy I talked with at the power company recommended that I try and replace the main breaker and see if that helps.

Any thoughts?
 
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  #2  
Old 04-17-06, 02:11 PM
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You have a neutral problem. The neutral wire is loose and causing voltage swings on the two hot wires. Depending on the exact loads, one hot wire will go up in voltage, the other will go down in voltage. This is not good for sensitive electronics. It fries them.

The surge suppressors are doing their job and telling you have a problem. Why have you been ignoring them?

Normally I would say call the power company and have them check their end. However, you have already done that. So now I say call an electrician.

Don't wait, call one now. In the mean time, don;t use your 120 volt loads. Every time you do you run the risk of frying more of your electronics.
 
  #3  
Old 04-17-06, 02:38 PM
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>They did replace the breaker at the pole just to be safe.

Breaker?

> the guy I talked with at the power company recommended that I try and
> replace the main breaker and see if that helps.

I don't see how that could help.

You have symptoms of a loose neutral.
Probably something was left loose when it was replaced.

It could be anywhere from the point just past where the poco tested the meter. They should have verified that the neutral is tightly clamped in the meter pan.

So that pretty much leaves the lug where the neutral is tied into your main panel.

Probably you need a big Allen key for it. Make sure it is hand tight.
 
  #4  
Old 04-17-06, 08:57 PM
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There is a breaker on the pole just after the meter on the pole feeding the house. It's a 200A breaker that I have access to to kill the power to the house if need be.

They did come into the house and check the panel and thought it looked great. They retightened everything in the box including the feeds. And apparently they checked the connections at the pole and it all looked fine.

One possibility is that the underground wire could be bad. We had a new septic system installed a few months after the electrical system. One of the lateral lines runs very close to the supply in the ground and the power company is convinced that the wire was nicked by the septic system installer. They claim that even though it is a well shielded wire, it wouldn't be hard to nick the wire and cause it to allow moisture to enter and ruin the wire in the ground. This sounds ligitimate, however the septic system installer I choose is a friend of a friend a very good at his trade, plus he used a back hoe to dig the trench, not an agressive trencher.

Any thoughts?
 
  #5  
Old 04-17-06, 09:03 PM
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Also, could it be a grounding problem? The house has a copper ground rod and is connected to the house through a bare 6G copper wire. Also, I don't have the grounding screw installed to ground the neutral wire. Suggestions on this....
 
  #6  
Old 04-17-06, 09:36 PM
pendoreilleskie
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Originally Posted by sx460
Also, I don't have the grounding screw installed to ground the neutral wire. Suggestions on this....
you lost me here
 
  #7  
Old 04-17-06, 10:00 PM
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> They did come into the house and check the panel and thought it looked great.

Did they check the voltage?

> it all looked fine.

Did they check the voltage under load (every even numbered breaker turned off; then every odd numbered breaker turned off)?


> the power company is convinced that the wire was nicked by the septic system installer.

Okay, did they test the voltage under load?
If not, what convinced them?

I can be a reasonable person. So they should be able to convince me also.


> it wouldn't be hard to nick the wire and cause it to allow moisture to enter
> and ruin the wire in the ground.
True. How long ago was this?


> plus he used a back hoe to dig the trench
He could have damaged it and not even known it.
 
  #8  
Old 04-18-06, 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by pendoreilleskie
you lost me here
I believe there is a green grounding screw that came with the main panel box. This screw from what I understand joines the ground bar to the neutral bar.
 
  #9  
Old 04-18-06, 06:15 AM
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> Did they check the voltage?

Nope. They said that it would cost money to have them do a more thorough inspection ($50 an hour).

> Did they check the voltage under load (every even numbered breaker turned off; then every odd numbered breaker turned off)?

Nope.

> Okay, did they test the voltage under load?
If not, what convinced them?

They didn't check the voltage under load. The reason they believe it could have been nicked it because the underground wire which runs directly from the meter on the pole to the house, appears to cross through the last 6" or so of the first lateral line.

> True. How long ago was this?

The septic system was installed back in June of 2005.
 
  #10  
Old 04-18-06, 06:18 AM
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I have done some simple voltage tests of my own with a digital multimeter and it's a pretty consistent 121V - 122V.
 
  #11  
Old 04-18-06, 06:18 AM
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Call an electrician. Have them check the underground with a megger. This will tell you if the cable insulation is damaged, which it would be if hit by digging equipment, lightning, etc.

If the underground is a direct bury cable or wires and indicates a fault with the megger, there are fault locaters that can be used to find out where the damage occured. At this point, dig up the fault and repair with an approved splice kit (better yet, have the sparkey do it - the repair anyway)
 
  #12  
Old 04-18-06, 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by itsunclebill
Call an electrician. Have them check the underground with a megger. This will tell you if the cable insulation is damaged, which it would be if hit by digging equipment, lightning, etc.

If the underground is a direct bury cable or wires and indicates a fault with the megger, there are fault locaters that can be used to find out where the damage occured. At this point, dig up the fault and repair with an approved splice kit (better yet, have the sparkey do it - the repair anyway)
That's a great suggestion. Any ideas how much something like that might run? Thanks!
 
  #13  
Old 04-18-06, 06:26 AM
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So the census so far is that the underground wire is damaged? Thanks again!
 
  #14  
Old 04-18-06, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by sx460
I believe there is a green grounding screw that came with the main panel box. This screw from what I understand joins the ground bar to the neutral bar.
How many wires are there from the pole to your house in that underground cable?
 
  #15  
Old 04-18-06, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by sx460
So the consensus so far is that the underground wire is damaged?
It could be. Too little testing has been done.
 
  #16  
Old 04-18-06, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by bolide
How many wires are there from the pole to your house in that underground cable?
There are three wires burried in the ground. Two hots and one neutral. Then there is a ground rod outside the house connected to the panel by a #6 copper wire.
 
  #17  
Old 04-18-06, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by sx460
There are three wires buried in the ground.
There's another reason to upgrade to four (or five) wires.

It is critical that you put the green screw in until you get the new wires installed.

Then remember to take it out before you energize the new wiring.
(Also, you may not have ground wires on the neutral bar after this time. So you should get those separated too.)
 
  #18  
Old 04-18-06, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by bolide
There's another reason to upgrade to four (or five) wires.

It is critical that you put the green screw in until you get the new wires installed.

Then remember to take it out before you energize the new wiring.
(Also, you may not have ground wires on the neutral bar after this time. So you should get those separated too.)
Intruiging... 4/5 wires?
 
  #19  
Old 04-18-06, 02:36 PM
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Sorry, it appears that I've confused your thread with another.

Anyway, ideally, you should have had 4 wires from the pole to your house. But you don't.

So you must use the green screw at all times until such time as you upgrade to a four-wire connection.
 
  #20  
Old 04-18-06, 11:04 PM
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Just out of curiosty, are you out in the country with your own transformer?

We ran into a simlar problem, in the past two years, i went through numerous surges and my ups sytems chirping, until they recently replaced my transformer, and all problems were solved.

Prior to that, I had tried re-running a ground rod/wire, and installing a whole house surge suppression system to no avail.

My best guess as a homeowner, is to keep harping on the power company until they find something. whether it be your problem (wiring on the inside of your home) or theirs.
 
  #21  
Old 04-19-06, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by RpmQ
Just out of curiosty, are you out in the country with your own transformer?

We ran into a simlar problem, in the past two years, i went through numerous surges and my ups sytems chirping, until they recently replaced my transformer, and all problems were solved.

Prior to that, I had tried re-running a ground rod/wire, and installing a whole house surge suppression system to no avail.

My best guess as a homeowner, is to keep harping on the power company until they find something. whether it be your problem (wiring on the inside of your home) or theirs.
Yep, we're out in the country with out own transformer. The pole/transformer/meter are all brand new as of ~2004. But do you think it might be possible that the transformer is bad/going bad?

Thanks!
 
  #22  
Old 04-19-06, 12:03 PM
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There could be something loose or defective. Most likely the transformer is okay. First you need to rule out damage to the underground feeder.
 
  #23  
Old 04-20-06, 09:13 PM
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2 years old? its probably not the transformer...
Ours was probably around 20 years old. I have no idea how long theyre supposed to last, but the workman said it looked like it was due for replacement and told us our problems would probably be solved.
 
  #24  
Old 04-21-06, 12:51 AM
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> I have no idea how long they're supposed to last
Definitely a lot longer than 20 years. Lasting only 20 years suggests that it was overloaded a lot. Lasting 50 years suggests that the nameplate rating was not significantly exceeded.
I can tell you that there are rural electrification project transformers that have outlived their original pole. These are where the xfrmr serves one residence, has probably never had over 80A load at one time, and normally runs within the nameplate rating.
 
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