Help electronics are all frying

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  #1  
Old 08-09-11, 12:02 AM
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Help electronics are all frying

I am at a loss here and am clueless on what is happening. The other day I turned on my home theater receiver and noticed no sound coming from the speakers or even from the headphone jack so I just assumed that it overheated and is time to get a new one. Today, I tried to turn on my PC and it would not turn on even when plugged into different outlets. I assume it will need a new power supply. Just a moment ago, I went to turn on my PS3 to watch a movie and once again there is no power coming on even when tried on different outlets. Why are all my electronics getting fried? They are all behind power strips and the other things that are plugged into the same strips still seem to be working. There has been a few storms in the last couple days but nothing bad enough to lose power. Does anyone know what is going on here I can't afford to be losing any more electronics in my house. Thanks for any input you all may have?
 
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Old 08-09-11, 03:53 AM
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Welcome to the forums! Have the POCO come out and check for a floating ground or some other malady in your panel or their meter base. Don't wait until after lunch. Let us know what they find out.
 
  #3  
Old 08-09-11, 05:19 AM
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To expand on what Larry said, if you have a loose or poor ground connection coming into your home then the 220v service doesn't know how to balance itself and give you 110 volts on each side of the line. It will often remain 220v, but inside you may get 180v at some outlets and only 40 volts at others and it changes based upon what is running on each side.

Setting the technical explanation aside, the first place to go is your power company POCO, as they will come out immediately to check the connection to your home. If they are at fault, they may even help with your repairs, you can ask. This is a safety issue, so repeating from above, call now.

Bud
 
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Old 08-09-11, 07:47 PM
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nasachusetts,

Likely your service has lost ether the ground or the neutral connection, either altogether or intermittently. You need the help of a qualified electrician to correct this. If the neutral is lost and you have 120/240V in your house, the 120V outlets are using 1 or the other hot leg and neutral. Other circuits in the house are using the other hot leg and neutral. The power flows from hot to hot using the neutral between them and the neutral also carries any imbalance back to the transformer out on the pole. The neutral is required to maintain the 120V circuit voltages. If it looses connection back to the transformer the voltage floats and you may be supplying 150-240V to your 120V electronics, which some computer power supplies will handle, others not so well.

If you loose the ground, any over voltage spikes due to lightning strikes on the lines will not have a path to ground to take even if your electronics have surge protection. The lightning does not even have to be on your side of town to do this. A 6kV spike that only lasts for 8ms, that's 8/1000ths of a second, can do substantial damage but not be noticed by watching the lights when it happens.

The circuitry your failed items are on may be one circuit and may possibly indicate an issue in that circuit between the outlet and service panel. If they are on separate circuits (breakers) then that may indicate an issue with the service to/from the panel. Either way, an experienced, qualified electrician is going to be needed to correct the issue.

I am not an electrician but I have played one
20 years as a commercial field service tech and then I went back and got my electrical engineering degree. Wish I had better/cheaper advice, but ...
 
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Old 08-09-11, 08:49 PM
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Jerry, Welcome to the forums!
 
  #6  
Old 08-09-11, 09:00 PM
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Thank you for all the replies,
Are you guys sure that huge solar flare we had a few days ago wasn't the culprit? All joking aside, this really sucks for me since I am a poor college student working min wage. Jerry, any idea on how much of any ballpark estimate this kind of fix would cost so I have some kind of idea of pricing so as not to get ripped off? Also, my power company is the infamous ComED with their lousy non-existant customer service. It would take some time for them to even come out and I'm sure even if they were at fault, I would probably have to hire a 3rd party to recover my losses from them.
 
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Old 08-09-11, 09:04 PM
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The circuitry your failed items are on may be one circuit and may possibly indicate an issue in that circuit between the outlet and service panel. If they are on separate circuits (breakers) then that may indicate an issue with the service to/from the panel. Either way, an experienced, qualified electrician is going to be needed to correct the issue.
The PC which quit powering on days later is in fact on a different circuit breaker than the stereo system and ps3. I am also guessing that the ps3 and receiver went out together at the same time but I don't know for sure since I hadn't used them prior to the incident.
 
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Old 08-09-11, 10:32 PM
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The PC which quit powering on days later is in fact on a different circuit breaker than the stereo system and ps3. I am also guessing that the ps3 and receiver went out together at the same time but I don't know for sure since I hadn't used them prior to the incident.
They could still be on the same leg.
I would call my poco's Emergency service Immediately.
 
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Old 08-10-11, 02:55 AM
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Originally Posted by nasachusetts View Post
Thank you for all the replies,
Are you guys sure that huge solar flare we had a few days ago wasn't the culprit? All joking aside, this really sucks for me since I am a poor college student working min wage. Jerry, any idea on how much of any ballpark estimate this kind of fix would cost so I have some kind of idea of pricing so as not to get ripped off? Also, my power company is the infamous ComED with their lousy non-existant customer service. It would take some time for them to even come out and I'm sure even if they were at fault, I would probably have to hire a 3rd party to recover my losses from them.
If it's a problem at their end (which is usually is), then they can't charge you to fix it, AND you can go after them for the damage.

Call the emergency number because this is an emergency.
 
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Old 08-10-11, 07:31 AM
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They will come out and check it out for you very quickly. Especially if you ask to speak with their emergency service (not their usual billing/customer service).

If they come out and determine everything on their side is good and tight, then you can start looking at other options.

When they come out, make sure they have access to your main panel too. If you're nice, and lucky... they may check the main lugs there too for you.
 
  #11  
Old 08-10-11, 07:54 PM
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Been busy with work. I'll try and give them a call tomorrow on their emergency line. In the meantime, I've just unplugged everything. Something did occur to me when I woke up this morning... I remember that our ceiling fan in does not work it just buzzes when on. Also the lightbulb connected to it flickers so I am wondering if this may also have some relevance to the situation because it may have been on without me knowing it. Also, I am always replacing lightbulbs constantly back here. I'd say a lightbulb goes out about every four or five months. They are the energy efficient coil bulbs that are supposedly supposed to last 5 years I just thought they were crappy bulbs but it happens to pretty much any bulb I put in. Once again I'm not sure if this may have any relevance to this situation but I was just thinking...
 
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Old 08-10-11, 09:55 PM
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Don't be afraid to bother them. You're paying them to give you power, they're required to fixit. Time doesn't matter. You could call at 1 in the morning.
 
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Old 08-11-11, 02:59 AM
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nasachusetts. Your house may not be important to you, but you have not heeded the advice of capable advisors. DO NOT WAIT to call the POCO. Your procrastination could lead to dire consequences. Just because you have protected your electronics doesn't mean you have prevented a possible fire in the wiring in the house, say to your ceiling fan. You didn't unplug it, right? How 'bout the switch that controls it?
Man, you gotta get on the phone, NOW. Do it before breakfast.
 
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Old 08-11-11, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Justin Smith View Post
Don't be afraid to bother them. You're paying them to give you power, they're required to fixit. Time doesn't matter. You could call at 1 in the morning.
Originally Posted by chandler View Post
nasachusetts. Your house may not be important to you, but you have not heeded the advice of capable advisors. DO NOT WAIT to call the POCO. Your procrastination could lead to dire consequences. Just because you have protected your electronics doesn't mean you have prevented a possible fire in the wiring in the house, say to your ceiling fan. You didn't unplug it, right? How 'bout the switch that controls it?
Man, you gotta get on the phone, NOW. Do it before breakfast.
Exactly the reason the emergency line is open 24/7/365. What you have definitely qualifies as an emergency and needs to be diagnosed immediately
 
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Old 08-11-11, 02:45 PM
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Thank you everyone for your concern. I called the poco today after waiting on hold for 30min and they are sending someone out within the next couple days. I am going to borrow my uncles voltage meter to see if any specific outlets are reading low, high, or irratic responses. Hopefully I can figure out this situation soon.
 
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Old 08-11-11, 03:37 PM
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I called the poco today after waiting on hold for 30min and they are sending someone out within the next couple days.
What number did you call? What did you tell them was wrong. Did you ask them if they were going to buy you a new house if the house burned down before they got there? You need to be aggressive when you get a clueless rep.
 
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Old 08-11-11, 03:53 PM
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I have never heard of an emergency response taking days. Hours at the most. This is sort of like calling 911 in a medical emergency, except it is to protect your house, belongings and souls resting inside. You're gonna have to bow up a little, hoss. As Ray said, get aggressive. I hope you called the emergency number and not customer service. Please tell us you did.
 
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Old 08-11-11, 07:43 PM
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Alright gentlemen do me a favor and check out ComEd customer service complaints, reviews, ratings and comments which lists some customer complaints. Maybe this will help you understand the scope of this monopolized corporation that is ran by federal lobbyists.

I have never heard of an emergency response taking days. Hours at the most. This is sort of like calling 911 in a medical emergency, except it is to protect your house, belongings and souls resting inside. You're gonna have to bow up a little, hoss. As Ray said, get aggressive. I hope you called the emergency number and not customer service. Please tell us you did.
Their emergency number 1-800-EDISON1 is the same as their automated customer service line. The only way I was able to get through to anyone was by repeatedly entering "0". In fact, just a few weeks ago my father/landlord (my fiance and I rent out the back part of the house), called them about a tree limb hanging over a power line right next to our house and right overhead of a schoolbus stop. No one from ComED has shown up since the report was made. He was and has been aggressive but still they make it really hard to get through to them. It is easier for them to brush it off their sleeve and wait until the line actually goes down.

nasachusetts. Your house may not be important to you, but you have not heeded the advice of capable advisors. DO NOT WAIT to call the POCO. Your procrastination could lead to dire consequences.
In short, I've done what I can at this point and have shut off the breakers to the problematic areas as this incident seems isolated to the addition of the house that we live in. Also, this house is very important to me and my family which is why instead of doing absolutely nothing I came to this forum for some guidance. However, if all the help you are going to give me is to accuse me of being lazy and not caring about the problems at hand, then feel free to close this topic and I'll go somewhere else.
 
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Old 08-11-11, 07:49 PM
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Then call an electrician. Some of the testing that needs to be done is unsafe for a DIYer which is why we haven't offered more to help. We really don't mean to be rude but or hands or somewhat tied because the circumstances.
 
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Old 08-12-11, 05:46 AM
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I/we have never heard of a power company that does works this way. Around me (and many others we have helped on this site) you call the PoCo with a trouble call, and describe the issue you are having, they come out within 2 hours or less. This is for FREE and 24/7. It is the same thing as if you have a power outage. If you want to get faster results tell them you have lost power. That will get a crew out faster I would think.

What it sounds like you have is a classic loose/open neutral. This can be a very bad thing because what is happening it your getting 240 volts across your circuits and electronic equipment. That equipment will not handle that kind of voltage and will burn up.

Now, since you are renting this space, see if your landlord is having any issues. If not then you might want to open your electrical panel (power off) and tighten all the neutral wires. DO NOT touch the big wires at the top. they are still HOT.

About that tree limb: Info found here: https://www.comed.com/sites/customer...ringtrees.aspx
"ComEd does NOT perform line clearance tree trimming for the service wires coming directly into your electric meter. "
 
  #21  
Old 08-12-11, 08:54 AM
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Comed came today and tested the ground and neutral outside and said it was fine.

He also told me to check the panel in the house and tighten any loose wires to see if that was the problem. My "landlord" has not experienced any trouble whatsoever in their section of the house so I believe this is isolated to my electric panel back here.

"ComEd does NOT perform line clearance tree trimming for the service wires coming directly into your electric meter. "
The line runs along the street not the line that runs to our house.
 
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Old 08-12-11, 09:20 AM
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Sorry about what must seem like a wild goose chase but it wasn't. We were advising you what we would do.

Suggest you follow Tolyn's earlier advice:
then you might want to open your electrical panel (power off) and tighten all the neutral wires. DO NOT touch the big wires at the top. they are still HOT.
 
  #23  
Old 08-12-11, 11:42 AM
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I'm sorry I took everything the wrong way, I seem to get defensive when frustrated.

Anyway, I cut the power off and opened the panel up. I tugged at all the wires and they all felt snug and tightened all the neutral connections which were all pretty tight.

We did have quite a few bad storms last week so I wouldn't be surprised if some of those were culprits of spikes and surges. Here is what I am thinking at this point:
The PS3 was hooked up with an ethernet cable which was always set to a network standby mode meaning it was always receiving internet even when the console was turned off. The PS3 was connected with component cables directly into the a/v receiver. Now the A/V receiver still powers on the only thing wrong has to do with the output to speakers when I opened up the receiver I saw a blackish mark on the part of the circuit board with the left/right/surround etc labels on it. The computer is also wired through the ethernet connection. I am also the only one in this house that uses direct internet wired connections everyone else uses wifi. Since the only electronics which have been damaged are ones that are hooked up through the internet phone lines it is leading me to believe that maybe the surge came through the phone lines. Do you think this could be a possibility?

I am going to try to get a hold of my uncle today to borrow his voltage meter and test the outlets to make sure there isn't any imbalances anywhere. And I want to also remove my power supply from my PC and try it out on a different computer to rule out if it is a bad power supply or if the motherboard is fried.
 
  #24  
Old 08-12-11, 12:20 PM
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Just a quick note. Measuring the voltage is a good step, except that the high/low voltage only appears when there is an imbalance in the current being drawn on one side of the 220v vs the other side. If return current can't return through the neutral, it will flow through the opposite leg and that is what causes the shift in voltage. This isn't a perfect explanation, but close enough as when you measure, it all depends on what is being used and if the loose connection is currently loose.

An intermittent problem like this can only be found when it cooperates. There is one more neutral which you need an electrician to check and that is the one where the power from the meter outside connects to the panel. It is before your circuit breaker so we advise you not try. This is the one Tolyn mentioned.

Now, here's an important detail. You mentioned previous issues with flickering lights and frequent bulb failures. Those are strong symptoms of a loose neutral and not a power surge.

Last detail, the POCO may have already fixed your problem, time will tell, but admitting to you that they found a loose connection means they might have to pay. I know that's being cynical, but it happens. But, continue checking as, as has been stated often, this is an important issue.

Bud
 
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Old 08-12-11, 12:59 PM
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Yes, it is possible for surges to come through a phone or cable TV line. This is why they should all go through surge protection devices.
 
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Old 08-13-11, 07:44 AM
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I have had many items in my home destroyed by lightning. Around here it always comes in on the phone line. Of course, since everything is connected together through the network the surge could just keep going. To stop this I have phone surge protectors before the phone/DSL line gets to anything. Here is my setup:

DSL line>Surge protection>DSL modem>Router>computers/Xbox/Tivo etc.

During storms I even disconnect things from the wall if I'm home because the surges will destroy the surge protectors.
 
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Old 08-13-11, 04:48 PM
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Nasachusetts: There was no animosity in anything any of us said, believe me. We have all been around the block, and a few of us have seen the devastating damage that can happen if this type situation isn't handled with the utmost expediency. That is why we got so frustrated when you didn't seem to take it with the speed of light we felt necessary. Even an overnight wait could cause irreversible problems or a fire. We're on this end listening to you "wait". So please take it as it was intended.
 
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Old 08-13-11, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Bud
You mentioned previous issues with flickering lights and frequent bulb failures. Those are strong symptoms of a loose neutral and not a power surge.
Actually I should revise that. There is only one bulb in our ceiling fan that is flickering. It is one of those energy efficient ones all the rest of the lights in the house do not flicker. Now since that ceiling fan doesn't operate anyways, it was on it's own circuit breaker and I just went ahead and switched the breaker off. We have other lamps so I really don't need that old fan anyway. Furthermore, no other lights in the entire other side of the house flicker either. I buy those cheap energy efficient bulbs from Walmart and they always just seem to never last longer than four months, also, I heard somewhere that those energy efficient bulbs are only rated at 5 years if they are left on and not switched off. The good old power sucking lightbulbs I have seem to last longer.

Originally Posted by Tolyn
I have had many items in my home destroyed by lightning. Around here it always comes in on the phone line. Of course, since everything is connected together through the network the surge could just keep going.
I am really starting to think that the phone lines were to blame. I have ordered a good surge protector rated at 5000 juoles which also has telephone line and ethernet connections on it as well. I plan on purchasing a few more in the near future.

During storms I even disconnect things from the wall if I'm home because the surges will destroy the surge protectors.
Yeah I do think that is the safest way to go. Today, before the storms I unplugged everything from the outlets just to be on the safe side. Actually, my boss showed me pics of last weeks storm of what her surge protector did to her floor. It caught fire she was lucky it only left burn marks on the hardwood floor instead of potentially catching fire to carpet had she had it.

I am off work tomorrow so I will test the voltage on the outlets and see if I can post the results.
 
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Old 08-14-11, 08:31 PM
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OK tested all wall outlets and they all came in between 119-121 AC. I guess I will just have to be more cautious with storms next time.
 
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