lights dim

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Old 07-27-08, 03:03 PM
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lights dim

A recent storm knocked out the third leg of power which controls the air conditioner in my home. The power company restored the power but since then every time we run the washing machine, dryer or any major appliance the lights dim throughout the entire house. I checked the breaker box and one of the breaker seems loose. Not the toggle switch that turns the power on and off but the entire breaker seems like it doesn't have a tight connection. The house was built in 1965 and all of the breakers look old. How often should the breakers be replaced?

Thanks,
Derek
 
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Old 07-27-08, 05:55 PM
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If you shake the breaker do the light dim?
Just replace the one breaker if you think it's causing the problem. I wouldn't start replacing all of them.
 
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Old 07-27-08, 06:21 PM
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You said "throughout the entire house" that tends to indicate a problem on the feed to the house. Since the occurrence happened outside the house it is possible that there is a bad connection outside between your main box and the pole transformer. You said third leg. Not sure what you mean by that. There are two legs, so to speak, of 120 in a home. One leg could be out and the other could work fine but there are all kinds of conditions that could affect the power, including an open neutral.

If you have a way to measure the voltage, a test meter, you should measure the voltage at the main box. There are three wires that enter from the meter. Two blacks and a white or it could be a black with red strip, black, and white. The black and black/red measured individually to the white wire or case of the box should read around 120 volts. Measure this with a heavy load turned on, like the washing machine as you mentioned.

If it drops down below about 110 there may be a problem. I would call your utility company. It still could be a problem on your property but they will check it and tell you that if it is.

Oh and be careful in the main box. No metal tools in there and keep one hand in your pocket! The cables from the meter are energized even with the main breaker turned off.
 
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Old 07-27-08, 08:49 PM
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lights dim reply

Thanks for the info. I mentioned the third leg because my air conditioner guy said that my house has 3 phase power. When the air conditioner wasn't working I called him so he could look into it for me. He said to call the utility company and tell them the third leg which feeds the air conditioner was not working. They came out and restored the power and I assumed they would check everything running to the house. I have called an electrician to come over tomorrow to see if he can figure it out. Do you think I should have the utility company come first to avoid any unnecessary costs?
 
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Old 07-27-08, 09:54 PM
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OK, unusual to have three phase power in a residence. Where are you located?

Yes, I would call the utility first, especially since this happened after an outage.
 
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Old 07-27-08, 10:15 PM
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Not saying this is the case or not. I ran into a problem close to this when installing a new dryers into a customers home. We tried replacing the dryer 3 times before I decided to look further into this. Everytime the dryer would start, lights would dim.. everytime the microwave was turned on, lights dim and some items would power off. I decided to look into the circuit breaker box and check grounds as all the power legs read fine. I managed to locate a grounding issue in the circuit box itself. Apparently the box itself was ground but not the internal grounds themselves. I went ahead and grounded them using some electrical wires. Couple days later the customers called me up and was happy to inform me that they could run the microwave along with dryer at same time with no dims.

Just my 2 cents.
 
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Old 07-28-08, 01:20 AM
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What you are refering to this 3 phase 4 wire service this is not very common with resdentail service and they do come in two verison Delta system or Wye system

Most older home which they used the old 3 system the thrid leg is most common used with central air system and it still around scattered but not very wide spread and the other thing with the third leg is that the voltage will read very weird it will show 208 volts line to netual we called them wild leg or red leg { there are other names for that but I will keep it G rated in here }

First get the POCO to check out the system from their transfomers to the meter socket to make sure their side is good or have loose connection if that good then you got some issue with load side of meter like breaker box or fuse box.

Some case POCO crew did not relized that you have 3 delta system to your house due majotry of them are used to see single phase feed to the house.
If that the case they will have to get third leg hook up and that should take care of that issue.

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 07-28-08, 07:13 AM
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lights dim

I live in an older section of Birmingham, AL called Mountain Brook. The electrician I called thought it was odd that there was 3-phase power going to a residence as well but that is what my air conditioning guy told me. I'll call the power company today to have them look into to it. Thanks for the advice everyone.
 
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Old 07-28-08, 07:21 AM
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Ahh that make sense it possiblty still have old system there.

Just like any other older larger cities they have that set up in some area and the other time you will end up haveing three phase there is next to commercal building that useally have three phase system which it is common.


Merci,Marc


P.S. I am famuiar with Brimingham Alamaba area nice city with pretty good hills around it
 
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