I Have a Serious Mess!!


  #1  
Old 11-28-08, 12:40 PM
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I Have a Serious Mess!!

Gentlemen:
A brief history. My father passed away a few years ago and I decided to have my mother's electrical service upgraded from 100 Amp to 200 Amp. All went smooth with the upgrade. My father had two (2) sets of 2 wire #6 and twisted neutral running underground to two garages approx. 100 ft. from the house. Everything in the garages has been working fine...until the upgrade. It seems that "Pop" had used one of the black #6 wires for a neutral (evidently the twisted aluminum neutral had a break). So, when the electrician hooked the new service panel correctly, I had 120 V on the hot buss and 120 V on the neutral. Not good! I lost a computer, air conditioner, microwave, TV, and air compressor. All fried. Of even more concern, when I hook everything up in the garage correctly, I have 12 V to and thru the circuit breakers, but have no power to the receptical circuit and lighting circuit. What could have "fried"...receptical, light switch. etc.
Thanks in advance for any advice.
Jim
 
  #2  
Old 11-28-08, 01:22 PM
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My father had two (2) sets of 2 wire #6 and twisted neutral running underground
I'm not sure I know what you're saying, but it sounds bad. The phrase "twisted neutral" can hardly be good.

I have 12 V to and thru the circuit breakers
Is this a typo? Do you mean 120 volts?

What could have "fried"...receptical, light switch. etc.
It's unlikely that anything is "fried". It's probably still not connected correctly. We need more details of the connections.
 
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Old 11-28-08, 02:24 PM
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Sorry about your misfortune. Reminds me of story but leave that for another time.

NOTE: REMEMBER TO TURN OFF THAT MAIN BREAKER AT THE 200A PANEL BEFORE YOU HANDLE ANY WIRES. WE WOULDN'T WANT YOU TO GET KNOCKED ON YOUR BUTT. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.

disconnect the feeder circuit in the garage from every thing, maybe there is a sub panel breaker or fuse box there.
Disconnect everything in garage sub-panel by pulling fuses or breakers.

connect the black, white, bare wires in the 200 A box as normal. turn circuit on. measure for correct voltage at the disconnected wires in garage. black to white 120V black to bare 120 volt white to bare 0 volt.

If not correct then wire broken. Have to make do like old man did. forsake the bare wire make it white and mark it with some white tape. Just make sure the hot wire is an insulated wire AND MARKED BLACK.

If correct then rewire feeder to sub-panel. check voltages on sub-panel bus bars and grounding lugs.

If correct then connect one garage circuit making sure lugs are tight. check voltages.

the procedure is isolate, check, connect, working yourself toward the end of each circuit.
 

Last edited by french277V; 11-28-08 at 11:09 PM. Reason: clean up one word
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Old 11-28-08, 07:01 PM
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John:
1.) You are correct...not a very good description. The existing feeders are two underground cables, in conduit, with each cable containing 2-#6 black wires and a bare neutral.
2.) Right again, it is 120 volts.
3.) I failed to mention that I ran an extention cord from the house to verify the condition of all electrical equipment and lighting. Some of the equipment survived O.K., but as previously mentioned, alot didn't. All lighting fixtures work...just not connected to the existing lighting circuit.

John, with a meter. I'm reading 120 V thru the circuit breaker, but nothing at any receptical. My uncle seems to remember that pop had a problem with the bare neutral wires and that is why he used one of the spare hot wires. Could it be that when I connected it correctly, the bare neutral is in fact...bad (broken)? Could I be getting the other side of the 120 V from something else, i.e. subpanel ground?
Thanks again,
Jim
 
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Old 11-28-08, 09:31 PM
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We still need more details on the connections. In fact, I don't think we yet have any information on the connections.

It's hard to guess what's wrong when we don't know anything.
 
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Old 11-28-08, 11:15 PM
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To OP.,

You say two garages right so that mean one set of conductor was wired to one garage then run to the other garage or each set go to each garage ??

Was this underground cable is UF cable ?? or other type ?

somecase you may have to bite the bullet and run new set of underground conductors to get it working right due you have a open conductor somewhere along the route of conductor espcally if you have alum conductor they will just disappair and leave white ash trail behind.

Did you say you got 120V from hot to netural ? what about the Hot to Ground and Netrual to Ground ? the only time it will read near zero or zero is Netrual to Ground

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 11-28-08, 11:49 PM
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OK, I'll try again. Originally my father ran two sets of UF conductors (2-#6 & a bare neutral each) between the existing 100 Amp service panel and his detached garage. These two sets were placed in 2" conduit. In the service panel, he attached one set of connectors to a 40 Amp fused disconnect and taped off the other set to use as a spare if needed later. I later found out that the bare neutral did not work, so he used one of the spare conductors for the neutral. Worked great for years. I then decided to have the house upgraded to 200 Amp service. Not knowing that one of the black connectors was hooked up to the neutral buss in the garage, when the electrician wired up the new service panel he hooked up all of the #6 connectors and neutrals (the ones "in use" and the spares) on two separate 50 Amp breakers and both bare neutrals to the neutral buss. Now, as previously stated, one of the black leads was connected to the neutral buss in the garage sub panel. Therefore, after the new panel was activated, it immediately threw 120 V to the hot buss and the neutral buss in the garage. I hope this explanation is less confusing.
Thanks again for your patients,
jim
 
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Old 11-28-08, 11:58 PM
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Ok.,,

Now we are getting somewhere now.

Belive or not., You did got full 240volts there .,

what kind of voltmeter you used and that voltmeter it should able read at least 250 volts.

Really the electrician should check the garage panel to make sure it was hook up properly or make a note how it was connected before it upgrading and when pull all the conductors off from old box to new box somewhere along the line it got mixed up It should not happend if the electrician make a note how it termated in first place.

So therefore you may have to talk to the electrician to come out and have him fix the goof there.

Merci,Marc
 
  #9  
Old 11-29-08, 01:35 AM
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My thoughts exactly, Marc.

The electrician assumed that everything needed to be connected, and that is a mistake.

The first thing I was taught was to make sure you know what's at the other end of the wires before you connect anything.
 
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Old 12-04-08, 06:07 PM
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french277V: It appears that you were absolutely correct. We checked continuity on all conductors and both bare neutrals were "open". The local utility rep said he has seen what you described (bare neutral turn to white powder) on numeruos occassions. This wiring has been in the ground for almost 30 years and exposed to alot of ground water. All other conductors were OK. We used one of the spare #6's for a neutral (identified with white tape on both ends) and voila...everything is working correctly. It has been checked and approved by the electrician, electrical inspector and the local power company. I have another RFI for this learned group albeit not hard core electrical. I previously mentioned that when 120V was inadvertantly applied to the neutral, I lost several pieces of equipment (air compressor, TV, window air conditioner and a computer). These items were not "on", just plugged in. The air compressor motor barely turns and is making a "growning" noise. Would you suspect a burnt winding, brushes? The TV is totally dead. Do you know if there is any type of fuse protection or would that not have helped? Same question on the air conditioner...protective fuse or fried compressor? The computer was old...wanted a new one anyhow. Total value not worth claiming on home owner's policy. Thanks for any advise. Jim
 
  #11  
Old 12-04-08, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by jhhowell View Post
These items were not "on", just plugged in.
A lot of modern appliances are always "on" even when the switch is off.

The air compressor motor barely turns and is making a "growning" noise. Would you suspect a burnt winding, brushes?
I'd check or replace the capacitor first if it's accessible.

The TV is totally dead. Do you know if there is any type of fuse protection or would that not have helped? Same question on the air conditioner...protective fuse or fried compressor?
There could be a fuse in the TV, but that probably wouldn't have helped. Fuses protect against too much current; your problem was too high voltage.

The computer was old...wanted a new one anyhow. Total value not worth claiming on home owner's policy. Thanks for any advise. Jim
It probably just toasted the power supply -- should be under $50 to replace it. Much cheaper if you have a surplus PC parts store around.
 
 

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