Power Surges?!?!?!


Old 04-03-11, 08:27 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: USA
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Power Surges?!?!?!

I'm a new homeowner and am new to home electrical systems. Lately, I have noticed that my lights flicker, mainly when larger appliances are on in my house. I noticed it first a few weeks back while I was watching TV. I have a Power Supply/Surge Protector on my entertainment center that has a digital readout of the voltage coming from the outlet. It usually sits around 118-124. While watching TV the other day, I heard the furnace turn on, and when the blower started up, the Surge Protector went into Protection Mode because the voltage spiked at 133, turning off all the appliances in my entertainment center. Today, I was running the dishwasher and the furnace kicked on and the voltage went up to 140. I saw this and immediately turned off the dishwasher as I am not sure of the harmful effects of such a voltage on appliances. Now with just the furnace running, its sitting at 127-130. Turning off the furnace, it sits at 120, and running the dishwasher, it goes back up to 130 with the furnace still turned off. I originally thought it had to do with the furnace, so I called a local Heating and Cooling company, they recommended calling the electric company to come out and check the power running into the house from the outside wire. I did so, they came out to check it, and determined that everything checked out OK. So this means that there is some sort of vulnerability inside the house or in the electrical box.

I was out looking at the wires today and found three main power wires coming in from the meter outside. Two of the wires are connected to the two breaker connections, while the third was just dangling. So I went outside and removed the meter, disabling the power to my house and moved the third wire from any nearby wires. When I bought the house, the electrical box was replaced by the previous owner. They did not provide the contact information for the person who removed the old box and replaced it with this one, however in my experience, this looks like the work of a rookie...

I love learning new things about the house/electrical systems, but am wondering if anyone has any tips on how to try to isolate the source of the problem to resolve these surges, or if I am over my head with this and should just hire an electrician. I'm also wondering if I should have the electrical box rewired so that everything is wired correctly by someone who knows what they are doing to see if that would resolve the problem. Thanks in advance for any help!

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Old 04-03-11, 09:13 AM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 9,213
The third wire that is dangling is probably your neutral. I think you'd be best to call an electrician. The lack of a neutral connection is probably what is causing your voltages to increase over 120 to 124 volts. You may now be operating using the ground wire as a neutral and that is not a safe condition.
Old 04-03-11, 09:24 AM
Gunguy45's Avatar
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No electrician..they'll be around....but never ever remove your meter! If there isn't a disconnect after the meter and before your panel, then get one installed (if possible), but never remove your meter yourself. As I understand there's a risk of arc flash (though small in a residential system) which can seriously injure or kill you.

Why there is an unused wire..I dunno. If the PoCo checked their side, then you need an electrician to check your side. I'd guess a loose neutral?
Old 04-03-11, 09:29 AM
pcboss's Avatar
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Given the description of the problem this sounds like a loose neutral in the panel. The pic in the other forum was too small to verify.

Pulling the meter was extremely dangerous and probably illegal.
Old 04-03-11, 09:54 AM
Gunguy45's Avatar
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Sometimes I'm an idiot...of course there should be 3 wires connected from the meter. 2 hots and the neutral....good thing the Pros are here.

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