I have 120v but only Dim Light


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Old 10-17-10, 10:07 AM
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I have 120v but only Dim Light

Hello, Here is the background. I'm working on a house that has been vacant for 20 years with the power turned off at the fuse box. This is an 60+ year old home with 2 wire outlets. A couple years ago the power company put on a digital meter. I now turn the power on at the fuse box and when I plug my drop-light into a socket it blows the light bulb out. I test the outlets and they all have 240v. I test the power coming into the fusebox and it is 240v on one wire and literally nothing on the other. The power company comes out and finds that with the fuse box turned off I have 120v on both wires coming in the house and they tell me I have a ground problem. I turned off all but one fuse and tested the outlet and now have 120v but when I plug a light into it the light is very dim. I decided to start at the source and I turned off the main beaker and pulled the individual breakers out of the box. Now when I test the power coming into the fuse box I get 120v on each wire but when I use my test light on each wire coming into the fuse box the bulb only comes on very dim. What does this mean?

Thank you, Mike
 
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Old 10-17-10, 10:15 AM
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Welcome to the forums!! OK, you are using the term "fuse" and "breaker" in the same sentence. One or the other, please.
Did you correct the grounding problem brought up by the POCO? What did you do to correct it?
 
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Old 10-17-10, 10:17 AM
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So....is it a fuse box or a breaker panel?? How are you checking the voltage? Check each hot leg to ground, then each hot leg to neutral and finally, check across the 2 hot legs and tell us what you get. Do this both before and after the main breaker.
 
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Old 10-17-10, 10:46 AM
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Hello and thank you for your help. It is a breaker. As to the grounding problem. I disconnected all but one ground wire and turned on only one breaker. I went and found the outlets that had power. When I tested them they had 120v but the light would only come on very dim. I then went back to the source (the wires coming in from the electric meter) I tested each one of the covered wires to the bare ground wire and got 120v on both but when I tested with a light it was still very dim. Making me believe the problem before the breaker box.
 
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Old 10-17-10, 10:55 AM
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It is a breaker panel. I'm using a ohm/voltage meter. I had tested each hot leg to ground and got 120v for each but when I tested it with a light it was very dim. I got 240v across them. From the meter I only have the two covered hot legs and a bare ground wire. I do not know how to check to neutral?
 
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Old 10-17-10, 10:58 AM
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Hello and thank you for your help. It is a breaker. As to the grounding problem. I disconnected all but one ground wire and turned on only one breaker. I went and found the outlets that had power. When I tested them they had 120v but the light would only come on very dim. I then went back to the source (the wires coming in from the electric meter) I tested each one of the covered wires to the bare ground wire and got 120v on both but when I tested with a light it was still very dim. Making me believe the problem before the breaker box.
 
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Old 10-17-10, 10:59 AM
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At the top or bottom of your breaker box you should have three wires coming in, do you?* Very carefully because it is always hot measure the voltage across the two wires going into the main breaker. Then measure the voltage coming out of the main breaker. Is it 240v in each case?

Now repeat your measurements but to the neutral wire first to each incoming wire on the "in" side of the main breaker and then to the "out" side of the main breaker. In all cases it should be 120v.

Have you tested your test light at your house to be sure it is functioning correctly? By test light you mean a real test light with two probes not a non-contact tester don't you?

Note the ground is for safety only. It is not functional and your system should work fine even with no ground.

*You say over 60 years old. Your meter and breaker box was originally supplied with 240v not 120v, correct? There are three wires coming out of the weather head, correct?
 
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Old 10-17-10, 11:09 AM
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Yes I have three wires. I will be very careful. The measurement for both is 240v.

"Now repeat your measurements but to the neutral wire first to each incoming wire on the "in" side of the main breaker and then to the "out" side of the main breaker. In all cases it should be 120v."
I did that and both had 120v.

I did test my test light. Yes it is a test light with 2 probes. With the test light on both the "in" and "out" side it is very dim. Leading me to believe that there is a problem from the meter to the breaker panel.
 
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Old 10-17-10, 11:16 AM
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I'm sorry, I missed this part of your question.

*You say over 60 years old. Your meter and breaker box was originally supplied with 240v not 120v, correct? There are three wires coming out of the weather head, correct?

I'm not presently at the property but it seems to me there were 2 wires twisted around a cable coming into the weather head. I will check later today. What would this mean?

Just FYI and this probably makes no difference but when they put in the digital meter they started charging it as a commercial account. We called and had it charged as residential.
 
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Old 10-17-10, 11:20 AM
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With the test light on both the "in" and "out" side it is very dim.
If I understand what you wrote it should be very dim or not at all if you measure across the in and out of one pole of a breaker.

You may need to get an electrician for this because the problem may be in the meter pan but the Poco isn't seeing the problem. They should but if they don't not much you can do but get an electrician because you can't safely troubleshoot the meter pan.
 
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Old 10-17-10, 11:34 AM
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"With the test light on both the "in" and "out" side it is very dim."

I meant with the test light from the ground wire to the "in" and then again from the ground wire to the "out" separately it was very dim (not across both). It seems like no amperage.

I did test it across both and quickly blew out the light with a little spark from the probes connection.

I will try the POCO again tomorrow.
 
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Old 10-17-10, 01:03 PM
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I meant with the test light from the ground wire to the "in" and then again from the ground wire to the "out" separately it was very dim (not across both). It seems like no amperage.
You need to test to neutral not ground or is that what you meant?
 
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Old 10-17-10, 01:32 PM
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Yes, for now forget about the ground and do your testing to the neutral wire. The only reason you need to test to ground at this point is when you are comparing the readings to that of the neutral readings. Ray is right, you need professional help to check the meter pan (or meter socket).
 
 

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