Suspicious electrical device deaths


Old 09-14-06, 08:00 PM
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Question Suspicious electrical device deaths

Hi, there have been an unusually high frequency of electrical related issues that I consider suspicious going on in my house. My suspicion is that the electrical fluctuations in the home are causing some of these issues and they are as follows:

This past year alone I have replaced a microwave (2 yr old), an electric cooktop (3yr old) and six (6)- 1 year old florescent bulbs (various types all of which are advertised to have 3+ year lifespans). I make an effort to purchase the best quality florescent bulbs in order to reduce electricity costs and the number of bulbs listed constitutes 1/3 of the bulbs in the home. That said, in more modern homes I have lived in, the turnover rate on every item listed has been extraordinarily rare in comparison.

The house was built in the 1930's and while it has undergone modifications through the years, the electricity is not grounded. We experience power fluctuations a few times a week during the day. The lights do not flicker during the fluctuations but the computer UPS (uninterruptible power supply) beeps in acknowledgment that it had to kick in.

I should add that I live in Southern California, an area prone to brown outs, especially during the warmer season.

My question is this- what can I do to prolong the life of electronic related devices and could their lives be theoretically shortened by any of the conditions I have mentioned?
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Old 09-15-06, 02:17 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: New Bern, NC
Posts: 1,623
A ground is essential to most of the items on your list.

A ups does not provide a ground. In fact its surge protection, if any, is defeated if there is no ground wire.
Old 09-15-06, 03:05 AM
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Join Date: May 2006
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Low voltage may cause any or al of the problems you have as well.

I would suggest speeaking with your POCO, especially since you have some personal evidence that the voltage is fluctuating (the UPS thing). It may be unique to your house or it may be a larger area that is affected. If it is a larger area, the POCO needs to deal with this or they may already be aware and just have to deal with the brownouts.

If it is unique to your home, there could be several things (mechanically) that could be a cause.

First thing you need to do though is get the POCO involved to check out their end.
Old 09-15-06, 04:43 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
The fact that you receptacles are not grounded means little. The fluorescent bulbs that you use in place of regular incandescent bulbs don;t need a ground. The cooktop doesn't need a ground for normal operation.

The computer, and possibly the UPS needs a ground. Some more expensice UPS devices do not absolutely needs a ground, others do. The computer can function without a ground, but you may notice strange behavior with older peripherals.

Call the power company. Have them investigate the power feeding the house. They will do this for free. Tell them your UPS has been "complaining" about the quality of the power anhd yu think there may be a problem. Even if the problem is not on their end, they may point you in the right direction.
Old 09-15-06, 09:47 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 17
DC.... First, I am no electritician... but I had a simular situation..... you never did say how old your main panel is, only that upgrades were done........ that may be a factor, In my case, my neutral bus bar became defect behind the mounting and it took a electrician to find out that little point of interest, my panel would have sparks inside the connector from the meter to the panel, power was being drained somewhere, the newly installed ground line stoped the first problem untill the ground wire shorted itself out to the upline to the meter from the ground...... I now have a new panel and no problems...... just a possibility to check out..... hope this gives you yet one more thing to check off. good luck.... Brian...

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